Yesterday we drove to Lockhart, the BBQ Capital of Texas, to taste-test some meat sundaes. They weren’t real meat sundaes the way they’re done in Montana, with a pile of “moist” brisket as the base, piled with baked beans, a layer of sausage rings, then a scoop of creamy coleslaw. Instead, it was meat by the pound served on sheets of wax paper (no forks allowed!) with a loaf of white bread. I turned to Phil. “I wonder what people here watch on TV.”
“Moist” brisket– it’s not commonly known– actually, quite simply, means FATASS. It’s for people who want elbow cellulite. We ordered a quarter pound of said brisket with each stop we made. We hit up Smitty’s, where the baby back ribs were lacquered with molasses. Avocados and blocks of cheese were sold upon checkout. The brisket was sliced thick and deckled with fat, then scooped off the waxy paper into my mouth. “Eh,” I said. “Not for me. But these ribs… I like my ribs to taste like meat candy.” I want my ribs to be shellacked in a sticky sugary sauce, and please for the love of God, don’t mess them up by smoking them. Ew. That said, Smitty’s ribs were by far my favorite.
Onward to Black’s Barbecue, which is where I’d send someone if they could visit only one of the BBQ stops in Lockhart. For it’s brisket and its sides of creamed corn, deviled eggs, Nilla banana pudding, and peach cobbler. Its brisket, Phil and I agreed, trumped anything we’d ever tasted, including the offerings of Rudy’s, The County Line, and yes, even The Salt Lick. It was heartwarmingly tender and reminded me of my childhood. The brisket was threaded with fats that had broken down under heat, rendering the slices into meat accordions, glistening, tender, with the perfect salty sting on the outer edges. It coats your mouth in a velvety bloom and reminds you of campfire and fine holiday dinners when the house was cleaned for company… all at once.
Kruetz market is the Bergdorf’s of meat. It’s a powerhouse offering dried meats behind glass cases, as if they’re upmarket jewels. Of course when we walked in to the smoking room–pits of fire attached to long dark smoking boxes, low to the ground– Phil made some comment about “This way to the showers,” that still disturbs me. The weekend ended with a meat coma and one little boy he made pee pee on the pot for the very first time. Lucas fell asleep holding the car sticker he’d earned for his effort.