HE’S SMOKIN’ IT LIKE NEVER BEFORE AN’ BETTAH THAN EVAH!Image
The Porkchop happened into Austin this past Tuesday and jumped into the line at Franklin Barbecue only to find out that it was still an hour wait and no meat guaranteed if he made it to the meat counter! While standing in line on the horns of the “do I stay or do I go?” dilemma, mention was made of John Mueller’s new place.

That sealed the deal. Porkchop bailed from the line, googled Mueller and soon found his way to the John Mueller Meat Company at 2500 East 6th Street.

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Best decision of the week! Like Mueller’s last, ill fated establishment on South Congress, The John Mueller Meat Company revels in its simplicity: A big trailer pit, a second trailer where friendly staff slide the meat onto butcher paper and collect the money, picnic tables, tents, and portapotties. That’s it.

This place is – by The Porkchop’s reckoning – Mueller’s third barbecue business adventure in Austin in the past ten years. There are those who say he is plagued by demons.

None of that matters.  The meat is everything. And it’s everything it should be. The Porkchop sampled the brisket and the pork shoulder and found each to be some of the best ever tasted. This past Tuesday, Mueller’s barbecue was about as good as barbecue can be.

At Mueller’s last place the brisket was characterized by just plain too much heat. Pepper to the point of distraction obscured the artistry of the Pitmaster’s process. Not so now.

The pepper was seemingly exorcised along with the demons. What came off the pit the other day was near perfect brisket, the rub perfectly in balance with the meat and the smoke.

The same held true of the pork shoulder. Moist tender shoulder meat, balanced seasonings and deep, velvety smoke.

So, The Porkchop say: GET TO THIS PLACE AND EAT SOME! Before the demons come back and it’s gone.

Buzzies

Questions Remain After The Porkchop’s Visit: Questions like “How on earth did this place end up on the Texas Monthly Top Fifty list?”

The Porkchop, always keen to taste finest, made the trip to Kerrville, TX the other day to see what all the fuss was about. After all, Buzzie’s has scored two big kudos this past year: A win on Texas Pitmasters and the placement on TM’s list of the top fifty barbecue restaurants in Texas (and therefore, the world, as per typical Austin hubris).

Admittedly, it was a cold Tuesday on the day of my visit , but it was still peak lunch hour, 12:30, and including The Porkchop and his lunch buddy Brian, the number of patrons in the place totaled eight. Ominous!

All The Porkchop can surmise is that there must have been a slight disturbance in The Force on the day the TM tasters came through.

What I found bore no resemblance whatever to a place you would expect boasting these credentials. As you might deduce from the picture of the facade, the place itself has a somewhat sterile atmosphere. The last thing a barbecue joint should be is bland looking from the curb!

Inside more of the same, no character, no vibe. The staff was unsmiling,almost but not quite resentful resentful. Most importantly, the meats – we sampled brisket (dry), ribs (dry), pork loin (really dry), and sausage – were uniformly dry and uninspiring. Anyway, if what I sampled was any indication, there are a lot of corrections needed to make this place happen at a level with the hype surrounding it.

Go figure! But until The Porkchop tells you different, don’t go to Buzzie’s.

All the best to all y’all.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s meat!”
– Clarence “Porkchop” Dupree

 

Skylight Sign

 

Well, I just heard from my most excellent compadre Jeff Maloney, in New York City, about a place the eastern part of North Carolina I have never tried, The Skylight Inn in Ayden.

Jeff and I have been friends for longer that either of us cares to recall. I trust his judgement of fine food implicitly. We have sampled all manner of fine fare from Los Angeles to Aspen to New York, and a whole bunch places in between. I can say without qualification that his knowledge of where to find the real goods has always been right on the mark. So here is his brief clue to where to sample some of the best Q in all of the Piedmont. Here’s what he has to say about the Skylight:

Over the years I have gone on pilgrimages to North Carolina in search of the best East Carolina style bar-b-cue.  And while there are many fantastic places to try, I highly recommend a trip to The Skylight Inn, in Ayden, North Carolina.  For my money and my taste buds, it’s the best there is.

The best there is? You make the hog call.
The best there is?
You make the hog call.

So Here’s the deal on the fare at the Skylight: It’s Carolina all the way: Whole hog, cleaver chopped meat on a sandwich or in a small paper boat, coleslaw and corn bread (from a recipe that dates back to 1830) and that’s pretty much it. And that’s pretty much the way it has been from the time Walter B. “Pete” Jones opened in 1947.

Pretty much.

All things must change. Pete Jones passed away in 2006 and late last year barbecued chicken and banana pudding were added to the menu. By any reckoning, the Skylight Inn is a true legend of Carolina barbecue and a not to be missed experience. If you require further affirmation, I would also point to the following links, from sources as disparate as the North Carolina Barbecue Society, Chopped Onion, and  BBQ Jew:

http://www.ncbbqsociety.com/trail_pages/skylight_large.html

http://www.choppedonion.com/id21.html

http://bbqjew.com/2010/10/20/bbq-jews-view-the-skylight-inn/

As I said at the beginning of this post, I’ve not been to the Skyline. But on the basis of all I’ve learned about this place, I’m goin’ to Carolina in my mind. This place is ON THE “GET TO IT” list!

If YOU haven’t been to the Skyline, you might want to give it a try next time you’re anywhere near Ayden, North Carolina. And if you HAVE tried this place, the Porkchop would sure like to hear from you.

All the best to all y’all.
“Where there’s smoke, there’s meat!”
– Clarence “Porkchop” Dupree

The Porkchop says: Smoke all day, pork all night. Now, you know what that means: meat’s gotta be cooked low and slow. Means you’re up early in the morning, setting’ up that fire just the way it’s supposed to be, bringin’ that temperature to the just right place.

And you know all this is taking place AFTER all the work you did the past couple of days getting the meat ready: Makin’ the rub, the mop, the sauce; gettin’ that rub on at just the right time for it to bring the meat to that place where when it goes on the smoke, there’s going to be some mighty harmonic convergence of flavors of wood, smoke, rub, mop and meat, so a long time later when it’s time for the meat to come off the smoke, and rest a while, some whole lotta people are gonna be real glad you did all that!.

Oh, yeah, smoke all day, pork all night!

All the best to all y’all,
“Where there’s smoke, there’s meat!”
– Clarence “Porkchop” Dupree