I keep waiting on Andrew Knowlton, the editor of Bon Appetit to come up for air in his breathless analysis of Franklin barbecue but am left wondering if he mastered the circular breathing technique of Ornette Coleman or Roland Kirk.
He is quite the talker.
Unfortunately, parts of his Texas barbecue article don't hold water.
Knowlton: "Whereas most places smoke brisket for seven hours at a blazing 500°, Franklin cooks his for about 18 hours at 250° to 270°
Exactly which "most places" is he talking about?
I've eaten at dozens of barbecue joints ranging across Texas and one of my favorite parts of the meal is when I wrangle the pit boss for a bit and inquire about what kind of wood he's using, what's in his dry rub, how hot's his fire, where does he get his meat etc.
There are a few holdouts doing the old, cowboy style, direct heat grilling like Coopers in Llano but you'd be hard pressed to find many following this method and certainly not "most".
And I reckon his next trip to Texas might involve getting dry gulched out somewhere near Abilene for this pearl of wisdom:
Knowlton: "Let it be known that before visiting Franklin Barbecue a few months back, I never considered Texas brisket real BBQ"
The guy's got some sand I'll give him that.
Maybe he's used to having his brisket done up with "Merlot and Prunes" or better yet "Apricot, Prunes and Aromatic Spices". A quick search of Bon Appetit, his employer, and their recipe database, found both of those gems waiting for the adventurous pit boss to tackle.
Could you hear John Fullilove, the friendly-giant of a meat-man at Smitty's saying "damn I forgot to get in the apricots and aromatic spices, we're not going to be able to open up today"
Then Georgia native Knowlton allows that it took moving to New York City, "yes, New York City" before he came to the conclusion that beef could be considered part of the barbecue pantheon.
I've had my share of barbecue epiphanies before but they never came on a trip to New York.
A roadside stand by a farm to market road in the great states of Texas or Alabama maybe but not New York.
I do like that he uses the collective we to start the piece on Franklin: "Today, his bricks-and-mortar restaurant serves what we're calling the best BBQ in Texas, if not America. Let the debates begin."
Before you go to issuing grand proclamations about Central Texas barbecue you might oughtta get out to Alexander's in Cedar Creek, Wilhite's down in Creedmoor, R&G in McMahan or even Willie's over in East Austin.
They're the lesser lights of Texas barbecue, not because they're not as good as Louie Mueller's up in Taylor or Black's down in Lockhart, they just haven't been pounced on by the cognoscenti.
After you build a good base of knowledge, which might take a year or five you can get all heated up on your Mac book and write another article about the "best barbecue in America", until then you're not going to find many Texans willing to buy what you're selling.
Otherwise, you just brought a knife to a gunfight and out here in the great state that's one hell of a bad idea.
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