First annual BBQ Throwdown sells out, stretches boundaries
November 9, 2015 - bbq set
CorkScrew BBQ won a People’s Choice Award (for a primary brisket and Texas caviar taco) during a initial Houston BBQ Throwdown sponsored by a Houston Barbecue Festival and Saint Arnold Brewing Co. on Sunday, Nov. 8 during Saint Arnold.
CorkScrew BBQ won a People’s Choice Award (for a primary brisket and Texas caviar taco) during a initial Houston BBQ Throwdown sponsored by a Houston Barbecue Festival and Saint Arnold Brewing Co. on Sunday,
The Godfather Sandwich (smoked beef rib and candied pig swell with sauteed mushrooms, smoked garlic and immature onion aioli on Italian hoagie bread) from BBQ Godfather during a initial Houston BBQ Throwdown sponsored by a Houston Barbecue Festival and Saint Arnold Brewing Co. on Sunday, Nov. 8 during Saint Arnold.
The Godfather Sandwich (smoked beef rib and candied pig swell with sauteed mushrooms, smoked garlic and immature onion aioli on Italian hoagie bread) from BBQ Godfather during a initial Houston BBQ Throwdown
Smoked oxtails? When we consider about it, they’re a Houston natural. And Trent Brooks, pitmaster of a Brooks Place BBQ trailer in Cypress, walked divided with a championship for his stellar smoked oxtail image during yesterday’s initial annual Houston BBQ Throwdown.
The conflict among 14 distinguished Houston pitmasters was orderly by Houston BBQ Festival founders J.C. Reid and Michael Fulmer in and with Saint Arnold Brewery, during whose Fifth Ward brewery a eventuality took place. It captivated a sellout throng who lined adult early for initial impulse during a ‘cue. we concluded to be one of a judges, even yet that’s a monument for me. (Officiating during food competitions is a lot some-more exhausting and a lot reduction fun than it sounds, usually).
But we couldn’t conflict a possibility to see what a rising house of grill stars would move to a “Houston in one bite” concept, privately geared by Reid to plea participants to wobble smoked meats into a city’s abounding merger of culinary traditions. With a inland strains of Mexican. Southern, cowboy and Louisiana cooking, and some-more new Asian and South Asian influences, there’s a lot to work with.
That’s how Trent Brooks’ soulful smoked oxtails showed adult on my plate, bony kaleidoscopes of proposal beef, melting fat, crisped membrane and copiousness of deliriously sticky, gooey connective-tissue ooze that glassy a tail cross-sections front and aft. My word, they were good.
Brooks served his oxtails with a fluffed baked honeyed potato and a raise of extreme cabbage that hadn’t been stewed to death. They reminded me that a sides during his grill trailer have a country Southern lean that’s really appealing.
We judges tasted blind, with no idea about who had smoked what. The row enclosed pitmaster Wayne Mueller of a distinguished Louie Mueller’s in Taylor; Houston’s possess Greg Gatlin, pitmaster during a new Gatlin’s in a Heights; Texas Monthly’s food editor and censor Pat Sharpe; and Robert Jacob Lerma, a gifted Austin grill photographer and immoderate grill road-tripper.
I had Patrick Feges’ miraculous “pig wing” neck and neck (or maybe we should contend “shin and tail”) with Brooks’ smoked oxtails. Feges, who helped Ronnie Killen open Killen’s BBQ and now smokes during Southern Goods grill in a Heights, coats these glossy pig shin-bones with a manly jalapeno-mustard glitter and a extreme showering of coarse-ground black peppercorns for even bigger flavor. Texturally, these deeply hazed shins had it all: love total with volatile open and a tight, gratifying bark. I’d call them a new Houston classic.
Also in that new Houston classical realm: Roegels Barbecue Co.‘s pretentious smoked lamb clout with a side of deep, dim collard greens. The clout was ideally middle rare, profoundly smoky, discreetly seasoned and a kind of thing that begged to be scarfed in only a few overjoyed bites. It was a covenant to a excellent work Russell and Misty Roegels are doing during their Voss Rd. mark these days.
People’s Choice leader for a eventuality was Corkscrew BBQ, a heroic trailer newly relocated to a section and trebuchet home in Old Town Spring. Will and Nichole Buckman used their electric jalapeno plantation salsa to tie together a brisket taco crowned with a crunchy bones of unfeeling penchant they call “Texas caviar.” Fun stuff.
So was a balmy brisket chili served by The Brisket House, out of a Tanglewood/Memorial area. (If they sole this chili by a quart, I’d lay in a supply for a winter.) Ray’s BBQ Shack, who manipulate their trade during a backdoor of a University of Houston, smoked an oxtail with a rather sweeter baste than Brooks’ Place, and it was good adequate to make me wish smoked oxtails are a subsequent large internal bbq trend.
A integrate of grill tamales showed up, any distinguished in a possess way. The Pit Room‘s John Avila pressed his stout masa mix with smoked brisket and set a finished product on a profoundly worldly chile colorado salsa that had a slow afterburn. (The garnish? Burnt finish bits. Definitely another trend in a making.)
A thinner, most looser tamal from Pizzitola’s incorporated some brisket fat into a masa dough, that was also smoked; a shreddy, burnt-ends stuffing was interestingly crusty. we ate really dump of a spare-rib-laced queso served with it, and a sweet/tart prohibited salsa done a good contrast. It was a exhale of complicated atmosphere from this longtime Houston institution.
On it went, from intriguing masala-spiced hunks of short-rib burnt ends mounted on a Ritz cracker and crowned with cider/Sriracha slaw from Pappa Charlies‘ pitmaster Wesley Jurena; to smoked brisket inside a rather droughty cheddar kolache from Jackson St. BBQ, a new Bryan Caswell/ Greg Gatlin venture. (Hey, kolaches are tricky. They don’t reason long, they don’t reheat well. Brave try.)
There was even a big, beautifully smoked shrimp pressed with brisket and jalapeno and cheese, afterwards wrapped in a softish mixed of bacon, done by a quirky Tin Roof BBQ in Atascocita.
A proposal and rather puzzling hazed meatball incited out to be a smoked brisket kibbeh round malleable with bulgur wheat, from a new Halal grill truck, Sugar Land’s Chopped n’ Smoked. Surprising butter-sauteed mushrooms sneaked into a sandwich of chopped pig swell housed on a chunk of smoked brisket, a whole thing anointed with smoked garlic and immature onion aioli, an impulse from BBQ Godfather, pitmaster Tony Faour’s Spring-based truck. (“It was so rich,” we groaned to a crony who asked me about this mini-hoagie when we saw him in a parking lot on my approach out. “Yes!” he exclaimed approvingly. “And isn’t that accurately what Houston’s all about?”)
The plate I’ve kept meditative about was a baby scallion pancake piled high with smoked chopped pig swell and super crackly slivers of pig ear. There was some kind of sesame laced grill salsa in there, too. Soft, crunchy, crackling, chewy, melting…”I only gave this my top hardness rating!” we raved to a circuitously judge.
That decider had gifted nothing of a cracky pieces and all of a malleable cartilage. A story of dual pancakes. And a sign that judging — even dual seats detached — is relative.
Yet a ambience left behind was all about Houston barbecue’s benefaction moment, and a future. That crazy smoked pork-belly scallion pancake was a brainchild of a Blood Brothers, pop-up artistes Quy Hoang, a pitmaster, who came to Houston from Vietnam as a two-year-old; and his partners Robin and Terry Wong, initial era Chinese-Americans who run a hipster-approved Glitter Karaoke bar in Midtown, site of many a Blood Bros. dinner.
These guys don’t mind experimenting. (Their gochujang beef-belly burnt ends are already legendary.) And that, some-more than anything is what this initial grill throwdown was all about. It prisoner some of a fad of a stream Houston grill boom. And we ate my approach by all 14 samples but ever losing my appetite, or my interest.