Forward: Last year when we were making our barbecue predictions for 2012 we spoke of the rise of the young pit bosses in Austin who had yet to be turned loose on the commercial front. This is the second in a series on these young bucks:
Blue Ox Barbecue pit boss Chase Palmer estimates he was 6 years old the first time he ever struck a match. The John Mueller alumnus comes by his art naturally; his granddaddy LeRoy Palmer is a celebrated barbecue man who's fed thousands of people at the Canton Texas First Monday Trade Days. In business since the 1800s, this festival is considered the largest flea market in the United States.
Lots of Texans hungry for barbecue and LeRoy Palmer fed 'em all.
Buzz Mill Coffee is Austin's newest entrant in our 24/7 coffee shop scene. It also hosts Blue Ox Barbecue on its Texas-sized patio. The giant iron pit comes courtesy of one Aaron Franklin, who, when he's not busy welding smokers, is known to put out some pretty fair barbecue in his own right.
The young Palmer, a Kirbyville, Texas native has chops worthy of his pit's provenance.
Lean brisket is a tough nut to crack. By the time the fatty deckle is tender, the lean, flat portion of the steer hunk is often dried out and rendered into a jerky. Not off Palmer's pit it's not. His lean is wet and juicy with a serious inch high smoke ring.
The pork ribs are bearing the weight of an intense crust of sea salt and cracked black pepper. We have a deep love for the heavy hand of a pit man when it comes to salt application and Palmer does not let us down.
The sausage is a proprietary recipe brought to life by Texas Sausage Company. We sequester Palmer and he admits that he wants to make his own but hasn't figured out how to crank out enough to feed the crowds that are sure to arrive at his young business. The commercial link has a good snap and plenty oak smoke riding through the pork. We're spoiled for the handmade stuff and can't wait for Palmer, who gets real passionate when speaking on hot guts, to start producing his own.
Pulled pork shoulder is more like candied pork meat. The shreds of pork have crystallized and turned into a meat manna. While pork barbecue of this quality is widely available in the South it's a rare score in Texas. Palmer has got his pork cooking down flat. It was a real treat to watch him pull out a pair of Grizzly Bear Paws to pull the shoulder with. Big boy was having a field day ripping into the meat.
We normally eschew sauce when we're at barbecue but in the interest of a thorough field report we sampled Blue Ox's version. Delicious. More Deep South than Texas, the sweet thick sauce saw heavy action at our table; a rarity in Austin where most sauces are pure throwaways and not fit to eat.
The hang at Buzz Mill is a good one. The enormous patio could handle a few hundred people and mini fire pits dot the landscape. Almost all the tables are occupied and the youngsters adjacent to us are excited to be venturing to New York City soon to attend an anarchy symposium!
Inside, the bar/coffee shop has been re-imagined into an Alaskan hunting cabin with acres of gleaming, polished wood. Staff are the tattooed ruffian sort. Barkeeps delivered the Chainbreaker IPA's with nary a grimace and seemed to be happy to be at work. A rarity in Austin service.
Chase Palmer uses Angus Choice briskets and is hoping to start curing his own pork bellies in the tiny cart. We stole him away from his job for a few minutes and he's clearly obsessed with the craft side of barbecue cookery. This man has found his life calling. He's working on a beef chuck rib recipe currently and will roll it out once it's achieved a level resembling his former boss; the Texas legend John Mueller.
The pit under Palmer's command is a giant, able to hold 32 briskets. We predict that Blue Ox will have to start doubling down (doing an evening and morning load rotation) to accommodate the crowds that will be descending on Austin's newest smoked meat house.
previous Buzz Mill and Blue Ox BBQ coverage http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/index.cfm/2013/1/17/Austin-Daily-Photo-A-New-Life-For-Aaron-Franklins-Barbecue-Smoker-At-Buzz-Mill-Coffee-Blue-Ox-BBQ?adminview=true