Back in the arms of an old lover.

When Franklin Barbecue fled French Place, I was left out of sorts and spent a couple months moping around and hopping into the sack with whatever pit boss I could round up for roll in the smoker.

Our love was dashed on the rocks of commerce.

But Franklin’s move to a big, nice brick and mortar also mean the lines, barely tenable, would quickly simulate the times when Waylon would hand out free sheets of acid outside the men’s room at the Armadillo. I can’t stand in a line. My heart begins racing, I get panicky like a stallion in a pen next to a field of phillies. I snort; I stamp the ground; I freak out til I bolt and run wild and free to a happy place far, far away from that blasted line.

Then it happened. I got a call from a comrade who’d laid down major money to buy a bulk order of Franklin via their call-in system where, if you’ve got the dough and give them fair warning, you can SKIP THE LINE.

The meat arrives in a Creekstone Beef box. It’s wrapped in foil, then wrapped once again in butcher paper. It’s a motherlode. The box groans under the weight of brisket, pork butt, sausage and pork ribs.

We all go native and begin tearing hunks off the nearest smoked mammal. I start in with a burnt end of a brisket. It’s fucking divine. The bark has nearly survived the inevitable steaming effect and still has a good, rugged texture.

The commercial sausage is good. I love Texas Sausage Company and used them for years before we got dead serious and bought a grinder/extruder to make our own in the test kitchen. With the rise of young buck sausage princes like John Lewis of LA BBQ and Tom over at Micklethwaite Craft Meats-Austin has never had it so good for the real deal. Texas Sausage Company will do in a pinch but it will never be mistaken for craft links.

The pork ribs have given up the ghost. A mere glance and the meat slips right off the bone. It’s the steam effect. Franklin can not control that, and I imagine the patient souls that get to dine-in do not suffer the same fate. The flesh is good; salty and peppery and tasting of sweet Texas oak.

The pork butt’s fate is sealed. A heavy crust of black pepper holds the assemblage in place but barely. I wrench a chunk off. It is wonderful. It’s nice to see the Central Texas pantheon accepting the hog like the pit bosses of the Deep South. Franklin’s meat man earns his bona fides by giving this cut justice.

Sauce: Why bother? Meat this good has no business coming anywhere near sauce.

Summary: Franklin is putting out some high-calibre barbecue. It’s a dicey proposition welcoming an old lover back into the fold but it was nice having a one-off tussle on the flannel sheets of Texas barbecue. I can only imagine the wild meaty orgies taking place on a daily basis inside their brick and mortar on East 11th.

celebrate Texas Independence Day with us this Saturday http://bigbeefpopup.eventbrite.com/

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