Will and I had the best time last weekend, and we have the pics to prove it 🙂
A couple of good friends of ours asked a while back if we were interested in spending a weekend with them sharing what we know about barbecue – specifically smoking briskets. There’s a certain University in the great state of Texas that offers a barbecue class every year but getting in to the class was proving to be a problem so our friends decided to take matters into their own hands.
For those of y’all that don’t know us real well, we have done several cook-offs around our area and through a mix of trial-and-error, luck and patience our Hardwood Habits team has acquired a good amount of trophies, awards and honors. We even won Grand Champion at the Mosquito Festival in Clute back in 2013, giving us the honor of travelling to Kansas City to compete in the American Royal Invitational. We enjoy cooking, barbecuing and all that comes with it… so why not talk a little about how we do it and have a little fun along the way?
We planned with our friends, put some information together, set a date and the HowdyQue Brisket Academy was born! (HowdyQue may have come as a nod to that aforementioned University…) Our true intention was to talk meat, seasoning, wood choices and all that comes with it, testing out different pits and equipment, taking a small detour to talk wine, whisky and scotch pairings and grilling ALL THE THINGS.
Here’s how we went about the weekend:
On Friday, we all met up just outside Sommerville, TX, pits in tow. It was first off to pick up firewood with some discussion about what type and how much would get us through the weekend. We then made a grocery run to pick out briskets, ribs and chicken and talk about what to look for when selecting meats for barbecue. Back at camp, Will prepped some ribeyes for dinner and we talked meat basics.
How lucky were we to have our very own SPIRITual advisor for the weekend?! After dinner we discussed (and sampled) attributes of wine, whisky, scotch and beer, noting potential pairings with our menu throughout the weekend.
Saturday morning began the real work. We trimmed briskets and ribs, seasoned them up and talked about chicken brining. We we working with one choice and three packer briskets, two racks of spare ribs, four racks of baby back ribs, three chickens, two different pits and a Green Egg smoker. We truly wanted to note any differences between grades of meat, style of rib, wood choice and pit used.
Ribs and chicken were placed on the two pits in the afternoon. As the meats smoked we relaxed and hatchets were thrown. Yep, hatchets. It was awesome!
Saturday evening our goal was to have every portion of dinner somehow grilled or smoked. I mean, let’s really do this barbecue thing! Will started with a little oyster shucking lesson and they were so delicious a few may have been enjoyed pre-smoke.
Throughout the night we enjoyed grilled cheese (not the sandwich but a cheese called Halloumi that holds it shape and gets that wonderful grilled crunch… try it!), roasted oysters, crane poppers (have you ever had Sandhill Crane?! You should!), ribs, chicken, smoked artichokes and smoked cabbage. Clearly we needed more food options as this list just isn’t long enough 😉 It was a feast!
Before crashing for the night, the final lesson of the day: Brisket. Meat was already seasoned, so a couple briskets were placed in one pit, one in another and a final on in the Green Egg. Schedules were discussed and various BBQ-ers took shifts throughout the night to check the temperature and add logs to the fire if needed.
Sunday morning it was time to wrap the briskets up. Smoking a brisket is truly a labor of love – but such a delicious one!
A little later in the day it was time to address burnt ends. Who doesn’t love burnt ends?! We discussed removing the flat from the point, chunked the meat up and slathered some sauce on the brisket bites. Back to the pit they went.
The culmination of the HowdyQue Brisket Academy was Sunday lunch. As friends and family arrived the fruits of our labor began to make their way to the counter. I promise, we did not lack for food this weekend! There was so much laughter, conversation, making new friends and promises to cook more together – a promise I most definitely intend to keep.
As I said at the beginning of this post – we had a blast. I think everyone did! And what better seal of approval than a kid with a rib bone 😍