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Salt Lick Texas - BBQing, not Smoking?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I was watching on the Travel Chanel or Food Chanel or some place about Franklin and Miller's in Austin.  Franklin smokes meat and Miller says he bbqs not smokes meat.  That was a big revelation to me because although I've been at this for 10 years, I never thought of it that way.  I know true BBQ includes smoke but it's not necessarily "smoking meat", although your meat does get smoked. For example Franklin will use the offset and let it run for over 15 hours for a brisket and if I recall correctly Miller will have his brisket done in a fraction of the time.  I've never been to either of these places so I don't know if Miller's would turn out really moist and tender like a full smoke session like Franklin would be.


Okay now to my question about the Salt Lick. You guessed it, I've never been to any of these places so all I get to do is learn about these places on TV and on the net.  The Salt Lick looks like BBQing too rather than smoking meat. Not that that's a bad thing but the question is, is the Salt Lick smoking meat or BBQing?  I've been at this for 10 years like I say but I'm still a rookie compared to most of you that's why I ask such questions.  


Also, don't mean to insult any Texans but doesn't the Salt Lick look like Santa Maria style like we have out here in California? It's on a grill or grate over the wood just like Santa Maria and if I'm not mistaken I think the Salt Lick gets to raise and lower the grill/grate too.


Sorry for the newbie questions but I'm curious. 


My fascination with BBQ and smoking meat just grows by the day. In fact, I have never been interested in Santa Maria style ever but recently I started to, so today I made my first Santa Maria style tri tip. Turned out good but I learned some things I need to work on and improve for next time. I prefer brisket over tri tip any day but I thought it would be fun to do. I will do this again until I get it right. 


Thanks ...




post #2 of 9

Hello James.  What tha HE**??  2 minutes ago I was talking to my wife about this very subject.  Then I see your unanswered post??  What are the chances??


Told her I don't go there on the open forum.  Yes, I guess I am now gonna be stupid enough to go there.  This will probably be opening a can of worms.  Fat side up or down?  Soak chips on no soaking?  225f. or 325f.?  Trim the meat before or after the smoke?  At my age you would think I would know better.  You asked but I am dumb as 2 bags of rocks for offering my opinion but here I go.


Just for background reference: I am from south Tx. and moved to England when I was 40-41.  Been here 17 yrs.  I "cooked" my first brisket when I was about 16.  None of that has ABSOLUTELY anything to do with the question.


Just for discussion sake we will refer to it as "cooking".  Not Smoking or BBQing.  Santa Maria style means nothing to me so I cannot comment.


What I can tell you about the Salt Lick ( no I have never been there but plan to go ) is that they are NOT cooking all that meat on those open pits.  Not with the quantity they sell every day.  Those open "grills" are for SHOW.  You have seen the pictures or the films; can you imagine trying to serve their volume every day using those open grills?  Especially brisket.  Brisket needs to be covered and allowed time to render fat and connective tissue to become tender.  There are smokers or ovens in the back.  My guess is ovens and then the briskets are thrown on the open grills to add some smoke flavor.  Yes I have heard good things about it and I will go try it but that is what I think they do.  I may be disappointed.


Now to your main question.  BBQing or smoking; to-may-to OR to-mah-to?  Being from south Tx. the 2 are the same for me.  It is a process of slow cooking usually poor cuts of meat and then producing an end product folks love.  Do it in a hole in the ground or a commercial cooker you paid $4000 for.  As long as the result is the same.  Can you cook a brisket at 225f. for 15 hrs. and cook another at 325-350f. for less time and achieve the same results?  YES!  ( here we go!  I knew better!  Be kind guys.  Please.)  Now if we are talking hot and fast "grilling" verses bbqing/smoking that's a whole different ball game.  Well that's my opinion for what it's worth.  Keep Smokin!


post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Small world that you and your wife were just talking about this!


You live in England now?  So do they have any American style BBQ joints there? If so, how are they over there at doing out BBQ? 


I one day will go to the Salt Lick.   


Interesting, you must be right with the volume they do they probably are just doing that open pit for reheating and adding smoke as well as heating up.


Oh I spelled "Mueller" wrong, I spelled it "Miller".  The way that John Mueller said his name made it sound like the Anglicized version of Mueller, "Miller".  But it's Germanic Mueller, just it sounded like "Miller", as in "Miller" beer.


Look up Santa Maria BBQ on YouTube. It's a central California thing but I live in So Cal.  But it has gotten me interested. 

post #4 of 9

Salt Lick has huge gas fired wood smokers in the back of the place. Next time I'll look closer for the brand name of them. The large circle grill inside the restaurant is for show and keeping the meat warm. I've stood in line enough to watch them rotate the meat in and out of the hot spots, occasionally throwing wet pecan shells into the fire to create the smoke.  

post #5 of 9

Hi.  There are 2-3 places down near London that I hear are good.  They are run by Americans from what I hear.  Dunno.   Not many commercial restaurants who serve good/bad Que from what I have had and heard.  Is there a core group of English folks who know what they are doing with BBQ?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  A BUNCH OF ENGLISH GUYS MAKING BBQ?  GIVE ME A BREAK!  WHAT THA HE** DO THEY KNOW ABOUT BBQ?  They can't even SPELL BBQ right??  WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I have guys in the U.K. Group I'll put up against anyone from Texas, Main, California and all parts in between!  No offence was meant and no offence was taken.  Not trying be hostile.  Far from it.  Just an explanation.  I often come across like an A**.  Please forgive me.  I don't mean to be.  Just not a wordsmith and I jump to the point.  Yes it is new over here but the word is spreading.  They don't have the background base for BBQ.  They didn't grow up watching Grandpa doing it.  I can tell you these guys know their sh**tuff!


Sorry for the novel!  Back to the original question:  I have to say; Franklin,  Mueller/Miller,  Billy Bob,  Joe Don,  LeeRoy,  Jose.  I am NOT impressed.  I'll put up and back Bearcarver to take 'em on any day of the week.  Just to name ONE member.  There are Many others!  Just my thoughts.


post #6 of 9

I can't comment on the Restaurants, nor am I from Texas, but I have ate Texas BBQ. I was in Nacogdoches at a Blueberry Festival. Some folks had a huge pull behind smoker/grill thing set up. Serving beef ribs on a hotdog bun. It was unique. Had a very slight smoke flavor. Bust mostly just salt and pepper. It was delicious though.

post #7 of 9
I can comment as I go regularly and love it, they have smoke pits that hold a couple hundred briskest and other cuts, the one you see is the finishing pit they will pull warm briskest out and put them on there to heat up and make the crust crispy, also to keep sausage and etc hot as the number one plate sold is called the family style so it is all you can eat for each person at the table that ordered family. They bring out bowls of sides then fill the plate with your choice of ribs sausage and brisket. And as you get low they fill it up again, I recommend Burt ends to by the way and brining a cooler full of beer and sitting under the live oaks outside. Can't be any more hill country than that
post #8 of 9

I admit to living  in Austin. Have been to Salt Lick many times, have never been to Franklin's because of long lines and bad knee.

Poster is correct the circular grill at Salt Lick is just for presentation and finishing. Not any where big enough for the volume they sell. Usually get the all you can eat plate and hurt myself. There are several locations in Austin however feel the original in Spicewood is the best.

I had a supervisor who would visit once a year from Oregon who loved Texas BBQ and I was always challenged to find new experiences for him.

Another good place in Austin is the Green Mesquite and the Rudy's on 183. Many Rudy's but this takes the prize.

BBQ in Texas is low and slow but not what this group would consider real smoking. For the most part the smoking is just additional.

My father made his wood grills from 55gal oil drums and he had waiting list of people requesting he make them one. Grew up with BBQhhhh

post #9 of 9
I think too many people get hung up on labels. BBQ vs. Smoking, vs grilling, etc...

In my mind, barbecue encompases a whole range of different cooking techniques (which use wood and/or charcoal somewhere in the cooking process), which include low and slow smoking using indirect heat, hot and fast using direct heat, even low and slow using direct heat (think whole hogs in the cinder block pits using burnned down direct doals), or burying a whole or large portion of an animal in the ground over a bed of coals (barbacoa style).

I think the one signature of barbecue in general is a smoke flavor to the meat (and vegetables), which you can get from all of these techniques. This is to distinguish barbecue from other styles of cooking such as frying, baking, sautéing, boiling or stewing, etc...
Edited by JCBigler - 12/22/15 at 9:03am
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