Texas always smokes its competition on our food blog. Here, some of Young & Hungry’s most popular posts, along with a curated selection of comments.
Texas Brisket on Saturday Night…in D.C.
The Shitheads, as we call our little sextet, are an obnoxious lot, prone to loud outbursts in public, over-drinking, and the occasional ridicule of the blind. Four of the six Shitheads have Texas roots, which may explain something. I spent 14 years in Houston, and I’m probably the least beholden of the Shitheads to the Lone Star State, except in the cases of the Astros, Tex-Mex, single-beer-sales at convenience stores, and smoked brisket.
Some of these things I’ve learned to appreciate from afar or, in the case of real pit-smoked brisket, suffer without. Sure, you can find places that come tantalizingly close to the real thing, like Texas Ribs & BBQ in Clinton (Young & Hungry, “Smoke of Genius,” 5/9/07), but mostly they just make you pine for a square of red butcher paper heaping with slices of glistening, fatty brisket with nary a fork or sauce in sight.
I had some of that kind of brisket recently. And I had it in D.C.
This happened at our friends’ house. (Sorry about the tease.) Fellow Shitheads Jim and Jessica Shahin make regular pilgrimages to Texas and they don’t bring back bluebonnet seeds or stuffed jackalopes or other Texana crap like that. They bring an extra, hard-shelled suitcase, which they stuff with frozen briskets, sausages, and any other meat that captures their attention. “The first time I did this, I felt that I was smuggling,” Jim says.
Because the briskets are so large, they remain frozen during the four-hour flight, Jim says. Once home, he stuffs them in his freezer and smokes them as the need arises. The need arose one recent Saturday when the Shitheads convened.
But this brisket wasn’t the standard Safeway-brand beef, heavy on the fat cap, that Jim buys when in the Lone Star State. This was a fully smoked brisket from Louis Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, a Top 5 performer on Texas Monthly’s best barbecue list. Jim had stored the brisket in his freezer since last winter. He thawed the beast and then slowly smoked it for a few hours over low heat. The key, Jim says, is to heat the meat without cooking it again.
The brisket was fatty and flavorful and smoky and, best of all, covered in the cracked black pepper that is Mueller’s signature. The stuff was so hot that one Shithead got the hiccups. It was so hot that I dubbed the meat brisket au poivre. It was so tasty that I kept eating it long after my appetite had passed.
*Sigh!* I wish I was a Shithead instead of just being a shithead…
Posted by Gary on Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 3:28 p.m.
I have much respect for the version of Bar-B-Q that the Lone Staters prefer, but I gotta say Bar-B-Q = Pig.
Posted by Kelly in the Big Blind on wednesday, Dec. 3, at 1:14 p.m.
Corn Bread Is Not a Dessert
Until I moved to the District, I presumed corn bread was, by and large, a savory product, punctuated with bits of jalapeno and/or cheddar cheese. But I’ve only found the sweet version in D.C. restaurants. Most recently, I had some corn muffins at dinner at Ardeo in Cleveland Park. They were fine—if I wanted them for breakfast.
Can’t someone around these parts serve a spicier, more savory version? One recent weekend, out of nostalgia for the jalapeño corn bread I used to wolf down at Goode Company Barbecue in Houston, I made a batch of skillet corn bread loaded down with more diced jalapeños than allowed by Maryland law.
I started with the recipe for jalapeño corn bread in Robb Walsh’s The Texas Cowboy Cookbook (see Y&H blog for recipe). I cut down the sugar by half a tablespoon to make sure these babies were gonna be hot.
They were indeed hot, but they were also too dry. My home oven was partly to blame, but I’d also point a finger to my cast-iron skillet, which is larger than the 10-inch one that Walsh calls for. The extra skillet surface meant that my corn bread was thinner than usual—and therefore more sensitive to heat. I had cut the suggested cooking time by about 10 minutes, but I should have cut it even further. Lesson learned.
Corn Bread goes both ways. You’ve got your very savory, slightly dry and nutty, crusty skillet corn bread, you’ve got your slightly sweet Corn Stick (a perfect side), and the aforementioned nearly dessert course style corn muffins. Corn meal is one of those great chameleon like comestibles, such as sweet potatoes and the humble egg, that plays well in any course…
Posted by Kelly in the Big Blind on Wednesday, Dec. 3, at 1:11 p.m.
Gonna give this a try tonite. Looks mighty tasty. But only *3* jalapenos? And seeded???? Wussy boy…. :=)
posted by xcanuck on wednesday, Dec. 3, at 1:25 p.m.
NBC Washington Calls
Lauriol Plaza the ‘Best Mexican Food in D.C.’
You have to love the counterintuitive chutzpah of Sery Kim over at NBC Washington who writes that, “Lauriol Plaza is sheer bliss,” and that the much-maligned temple of Tex-Mex is “[s]uperb, superb, superb.”
She and the editors over at NBC Washington dub it the “Best Mexican Food in D.C.”
Kim should have at least done a Google search to help put this glowing review in better context; if you’re going to call Lauriol Plaza the best Mexican joint in D.C., you desperately need to acknowledge how far you’re going against the prevailing critical thinking.
You should also understand that there’s a difference between Mexican cuisine and Tex-Mex. You should also know that the chimichanga was created in Arizona, not Mexico or Texas. You should, in other words, have a much firmer grasp of the city’s Latin offerings before making such a bold statement. End of speech.
I don’t care what the haters say, I absolutely love Lauriol. The food is consistently great and the atmopshere is fun. I know some people don’t like it because it’s not “authentic” and too “mainstream.” But whatever… shorter waits for me
Posted by S on wednesday, Dec. 17, at 12:50 a.m.
Sery Kim is apparently an alumna of the U of Texas. I wonder where she could have eaten in Austin to give her this frame of reference. If Lauriol Plaza was in Travis County, there would be a mass protest against it for abusing the adjective “Mexican.” It’s not a bad place to drink …. Ah. Perhaps that explains the glowing review.
Posted by mike licht on thursday, Dec. 18, at 3:34 p.m.
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