In Texas, no two barbecue pit-masters will agree on a spice rub, but they’ll unanimously tell you that barbecuing brisket, sausage and ribs with gas is false advertising. And serving it with sauce? That’s just wrong.
“When you’re dealing with a quality ingredient, you don’t need to fix it,” says Tim McLaughlin of Lockhart Smoke House in Dallas, Tex. Ask the 33-year-old what’s in his rub and he might politely say, “We use 18 spices, and I’d tell ya but I’d have to kill ya.”
Just four years after moving to the Lone Star State, the St. Louis-raised former executive chef has fully embraced Texan cuisine (and vernacular).
McLaughlin followed a trend of North American chefs adopting what has been, for decades, the state’s equivalent of poutine. He spent three months learning the pit in the town of Lockhart—the “BBQ Capital” of Texas—and named his restaurant after it.
Any pit-master worth his spice follows three simple steps: rub the meat, smoke the meat, serve the meat (in Texas, usually on white Wonder Bread, without utensils). Woods are usually selected by geographic abundance, which makes Texas post oak the choice for Lockhart, once aflame, to indirectly smoke the meats at low temperatures. Brisket, the tough underbelly commonly used for corned beef, is king of the pit and requires half a day of heat to break down the connective tissue and make it juicy enough to drip down your chin.
As McLaughlin puts it, “You have Kansas City, which has more of a tangy sauce. You got Alabama, which is a mayonnaise sauce. But Texas just focuses on the meat and smoke.”
The Food Network-featured southern smokehouse barbecue restaurant is so careful with its brisket that each cut is cooked fat side up to let the juices soak into it.
The secret ingredient to this brisket sandwich is not the rub, but the red wine marinade before a light hickory smoking.
Barbecue purists might scoff, but even this unfussy French eatery is having fun with smoked brisket, putting it on foie gras nachos, a spicy burger or on a plate with porcini veal jus.