A Hamburger Today
Scenes From Texas Monthly's Barbecue Takeover at Hill Country
Following the success of their last New York pop-up with Franklin Barbecue, magazine Texas Monthly brought more barbecue to Hill Country Brooklyn last night with three different pitmasters off their Top 50 list.
"I will give you the God's honest truth about this whole thing...I just got finished reading Gregg Allman's biography, and they were doing their stand at the Beacon Theatre," explained Nick Pencis, pitmaster at Stanley's Famous Pit Barbecue. "This is gonna be the last time they did it...I know Wayne [Mueller of Louie Mueller Barbecue]'s a big fan, and we're big fans, and we're just like 'Dude, we gotta go. Let's have some fun for a minute, let's go to Brooklyn or New York and go see the Allman Brothers.'"
Having fed guitarist Derek Trucks several times, Pencis couldn't "resist the urge to do [his] thing," and since they were going to be in town anyway, he called up Texas Monthly to organize a pop-up.
While the Allman Brothers postponed their shows due to illness, the pop-up went on, and showcased some of the finest barbecue Texas has to offer. Pencis brought baby back pork ribs from Stanley's, located about 100 miles east of Dallas in Tyler. Wayne Mueller brought beef ribs and brisket from Louie Mueller in Taylor, and Kent Black of Black's Barbecue in Lockhart provided sausage and turkey.
Texas Monthly's barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn and Marketing Services Director LeighAnn Bakunas organized the event, and were both in attendance (Vaughn fresh off a trip to Hometown Barbecue in Red Hook.) Vaughn also moderated a panel discussion with all three pitmasters, where they discussed their approaches to barbecue, and how they see the style evolving, nationally and in New York.
"What I really see happening here is sort of the central Texas style of barbecue, this meat market style, is really transplanting itself up in the northeast, particularly in New York, and Brooklyn, in my opinion, is becoming the central Texas of the northeast. You can see it, the culture is developing. It doesn't have the depth of it yet, but it's creating the breadth. And over time and longevity, I think you're gonna see that culture start to develop." Mueller explained. "In Texas, it was a necessity: it was all about spoilage. Here, it's an artisan approach: it's about taking an art form of cooking that traditionally has been left to backyards and amateur enthusiasts, and now making a career out of that, but putting a special passion, putting a special stamp, putting a love into it that I think surpasses what you might find on your patio or your backyard."
Adding further, "there was a time when it looked like what we do was gonna fade away, that it was all gonna become very commercialized...that's not what's happening now, and it's really because of this infusion of youth and enthusiasm and changing of ideals for what a career is that's driving what I think is going on in New York."
Despite that ringing endorsement of New York's growing barbecue legitimacy, an opportunity to experience Texas barbecue straight from the source is not something to be passed up. We were there last night to take it all in, and you can see more in the slideshow.
About the author: Ben Jay is a Serious Eats contributor, photographer, carnivore, beer and whisky drinker, and music nerd. He died of meat during the making of this article, and he wouldn't have it any other way. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.