Why is Franklin BBQ in austin so good?

Discussion in 'Beef' started by waytoodeep03, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. I have enjoyed reading this topic/thread. My wife is a UT Austin alum and she took me to Austin to see a part of her history. We did a BBQ tour of the great epitomes in and around the area. We hit Kreuz's, Smitty's, The Salt Lick, Black's and some other small places in Lueling and Lockhart areas. My first impression was that a Yankee such as myself (I live in Denver now) should have familiarized myself with the local BBQ lexicon. These are high volume places and the people taking your order are none to please to slow down and answer questions about the difference between moist and super moist, candy or burnt ends. It was very muck like the SNL skirt: Cheesebooger, cheesebooger, coke no pepsi, NEXT. By the second place on our BBQ tour I was able to place an order without cowering. LOL! 

    As we would sit with our butcher papers (we ordered enough food for 8+ people and it was just the two of us) in front of us, I couldn't help but to think that something in the taste profile was 'strange'. It wasn't until we got to the our 3rd place that I asked if I could take some pictures of their pits. Since lunchtime was winding down they let me into the back. While taking pics and striking up a chat with the pit master I learned that all of the joints in this part of Texas used post oak. I am not an export on woods and I don't know the difference between post oak from red oak, but it dawned on me the 'strange' flavor must have been the post oak. I mean everything about each place was perfect except for the 'strange' flavor. As a CBJ I have never tasted that flavor since that tour. I assume if you grew up with smoking over post oak you appreciate the flavor, but as for me, I would have to say it's not my preference in flavors. Now this is not to say, you should not go to Austin and replicate my tour. Contrarily, I would highly recommend it. It was a blast, the food was perfectly rubbed and prepared and the folks in the dining room were a great selection of local color. An unforgettable experience.
  2. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  3. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    To those that like to add 14 different ingredients to their rubs, inject 4 different liquids at various times, layer 3 different smoke flavors, wrap in foil part way thru the smoke, hire a priest to stand over the meat while it rests, and have your wives dance naked in front of the brisket as you unwrap it...... here is the simple way to smoke and let the meat be the star. Good beef, salt and pepper, oak wood smoked. Eat and enjoy. Nothing too magic about it.
    and I guarantee ol' Aaron ain't losing money on brisket at the price he pays and the volume he does.
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2014
  4. Here is an email I received from Franklin BBQ about their Beef --------

    Thanks Gary, 

    We will have our online store up and running in a few weeks, if you don't mind checking back soon. 

    If you are ever in Austin, please come visit us. 

    P.S> We do not serve "grass fed" beef, but instead for the majority of their lives the Black Angus cattle graze on lush pasture land throughout the mid-west. Prior to processing each animal is feed a high quality corn-based feed ration that enhances meat tenderness and flavor. The beef contains no growth hormones or antibiotics.



    On Wed, May 29, 2013 at 4:55 PM, Gary S
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  5. bigtexun

    bigtexun Newbie

    I live in Austin, and I have sampled some of the best that is around here (mostly not IN Austin proper), but I am /not/ going to stand in line for two hours, or make an appointment two months in advance to try Franklins.  My brisket at home is as good or better as the best that I have tried, so other than being curious, I don't really have a strong desire to invest the time standing in line.  There are a lot of "secrets" to good brisket, but the real secret is to learn to use your particular smoker, and to learn how to be consistent, and to understand the chemistry of the meat.  Salt, pepper and oak are the main things I add to the meat, though I have occasionally been known to use a Cajun style rub as well, but most of the flavor comes from the meat, with everything else just adding to the nuance.  The other flavor add-ons can make it taste a little different, but it is the chemistry in the cooking that makes it good or not.  You need a good bark, and you need to reach and hold the temperature where the collagen fibers break down, and you need to do it over time without drying it out, and the other flavors you add are just spice. 

    But you can't just put out some instructions that fits every situation, I have found that there are a lot of localized variables ranging from the way the smoker works, to the attentiveness and skills of the cook.  And the origins and prep of the meat is another factor.  So many of the guides I have seen seem to leave out enough of the variables to just not be complete.

    But I'm not saying it is easy.  But for the people reading this, I'm a little surprised to see talk about going to a restaurant...  But talking about how to make brisket is sort of like talking politics, I'm sure someone will find something colorful to say... go ahead, I can take it... ;)

    My favorite place in the Austin area was Louie Mueller's before they had the pit fire.  They sold out every day too, but the line was only 10 minutes long, not two hours...  Their brisket was pretty good (mine is better most of the time *I* think), but I /really/ liked their beef ribs...  I can't find ribs like that for sale, they looked like dinosaur ribs, one rib would feed three people (or one of me).  They had a bbq pit that had 54 years accumulation of oak smoke seasoning built up, and one day it had a grease fire.  As I recall, they managed to put the fire out the first time it happened, but a few days later it caught fire again, but this time it was a total loss...  they lost their original 1959 pit.  I guess what happened is something went wrong with how the grease drippings were being channeled away from the meat, and after the first fire they didn't do a root cause analysis, so it happened again.  You pack a half-ton of beef fat into a brick box, start a fire, and loose control of where the fat drips, and you get too much fire!  They had a total of 4 pits, so it didn't shut them down, and it was a year ago, so they have recovered by now...  But I stayed away because it is a long drive for the risk of showing up and finding out they have sold out...  And that risk went up with all of the publicity, and reduced pit space.  If you have good bbq, you can only sell as much as you can cook.  The last person I sent out there didn't get any food because they were out by the time he got there.   It's an hour drive from the office, 30 minutes from home... I'd just as soon thaw out a package of my own tender morsels from the freezer.... if I have any.  It's just me and my wife, so I usually get to freeze a bunch of brisket every time I cook one.

    I'm hungry...
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
  6. Personally  I like my brisket best, 40 years of smoking, I fix it like I like. Lots of good brisket out there, everybody's taste is a little different. I am not into waiting in line, let a lone for 2 plus hours, When I emailed Arron, I was curious what type of meat he was using, I did locate the same type brisket not to far from me But I am not paying 3 times as much for a brisket. I'll probably just stick to Sam's, I have had good luck with their meat.

  7. Just saw this post for the first time and while months old this is dead on.. I love brisket. Use to do it a lot in Virginia. Moved to CO 4 years ago and have done it once because I have a really good bbq place down the street. Ill do a few more this year since I got my pellet grill this year but why spend hours and $$$ when you can buy almost as good for cheap
  8. from what it shows on the TV advertisements, he doesn't WRAP.  i tried that on a port butt and got great bark in my MES.  did wrap after it was done.  so are we making a mistake by wrapping before the meat reaches temp?
  9. He wraps in butcher paper.
  10. JeepDiver ------- Personal Satisfaction  and the joy of smoking  for me anyway

    LarryB  -----  most BBQ joints that have a high volume don't wrap, Franklin's has several pits which are long they move their brisket (all meat) to the cooler end at some point.  Franklin has a youtub video (in fact several) showing him doing brisket and wrapping it, using butcher paper, which I have been doing the last couple of years with excellent results.

  11. diesel

    diesel Smoking Fanatic

    I just finished watching all of his videos on the brisket.  I actually learned a bit.  I was cutting the tip incorrectly, wasn't aware about turning it sideways and then slicing.  Gonna try that next time.  I am also going to pickup some butcher paper and try that wrap.  Butcher paper is a lot cheaper than foil that is for sure.  I usually don't wrap at all but my partner in crime likes to pan and tent with a little apple juice.  I can take it or leave it that way.   Another thing that was talked about in this thread was how he throws away all of the scraps.  I can say that I don't trim the brisket as well as he did but what I do trim I lay back on top of the meat for most of the cooking process.  Well, not always lay the trimmings on top but if I have room I will put them on the grate above.

    I wouldn't wait in line for 2 hours unless I had access to beer and friends.  Then maybe ..just maybe.

  12. bigtexun

    bigtexun Newbie

    I don't wrap at all, I've tried it, and on some direct-fire pits (not a smoker) where I don't feel in control of the temperature at the meat surface that might help regulate the temp so you can at least get an edible brisket off of a grill not meant to be a smoker...  But on a properly set-up smoker, you shouldn't have to wrap.  I've had cases where I did wrap on a smoker, and it caused me to loose the bark...  the bark got moist and lost adhesion to the meat, came off in the foil, on the cutting board, etc...    The meat was good still, but it wasn't "right".  So if you have a good low-and-slow smoker, there should be no need for wrapping.

    Yeah, cutting is a /very/ important part of it as well.  Many places cut the tip and the flat together, and one or both sides seems even tougher than they start out when you do that.  What I do is separate the tip from the flat, and slice each at a 90* angle from the grain with a very sharp knife.  The meat will want to shred, so you have to develop a technique to hold it while slicing.  I've been thinking of making a cutting board with a short "rip fence" to help that so I'm not needing three hands, but I usually manage with my big hands.  Then after making a slice, I pick it up carefully with the blade of the knife, because my brisket chews itself, and the slice will fail to make it to the plate whole otherwise. 

    I've got a nice Smith's precision diamond hone set that I will sharpen my knife with as the brisket cooks, having a large razor blade to carve your brisket with will help give good cuts when the meat wants to just fall apart on the spot.

    My wife loves brisket, and hates potroast... so the couple times I cooked an indoor brisket in the jewish holiday style, she avoided it...  so the whole pan and tent with juices and the like...  that just isn't happening in this Texan's house...  Not any more anyway.

    What I really want to try is a ribeye roast, in the smoker brisket style.  Before I got into smoking, we had a couple years when for some inexplicable reason ribeyes and ribeye roasts were being sold at brisket prices when they went on sale.  I never figured out whet happened in the meat industry to cause the glut in ribeyes, but man that made some of the best potroast I have ever made, I can't imagine what it would do if cooked like a brisket in a smoker.  Probably have to smoke it a good 30 hours...  have to be careful on the grate, the meat might just melt through and disappear...

    Back before I knew how to properly smoke a brisket, the popular cooking tool around here was the 55 gallon drum grill.  It had crappy fire control, crappy temperature control, but you could produce a good brisket if you smoked it for 3 or 4 hours on the grill, and finished it for 45 minutes in a 350* oven right before serving time.  It is cheating I know, and you can call me names if you want...  But I was 18 at the time, young and stupid... but eating a rushed brisket that wasn't too bad...
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2014
  13. coast2coast

    coast2coast Newbie

    I need to try this technique!
    acres87 likes this.
  14. bigtexun

    bigtexun Newbie

    Does it get better the more wives that are used?  But what if you know better than to wrap it in the first place?  I guess the wives have to dance naked the whole time it is cooking then.... ;)

    Sounds like a paaaaarty!
  15. geerock

    geerock Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I'm talking about the wrap/rest AFTER the cook. I never wrap part way into the smoke. Imagine having to watch the ol' lady dancing naked for 12 hours or more? We'd both be dead..... her from dancing, me from watching.
  16. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    God, I love what you wrote, geerock!
  17. A Rib Eye Roll won't take that long. Brisket takes a long time because it is a tough piece of meat with lots of connective tissue, Rib eye on the other hand should be a tender piece of meat that would not require to much time in the smoker. Now depending on how you like your steak, is kinda how you want to do your Rib Eye roll, Just think of it as smoked Prim Rib AAAAHHHHHHH,  I like mine rare, maybe even medium rare but no more than that. Let us know how it turns out, and With Pictures!!!!
  18. mickhlr

    mickhlr Smoke Blower

    Great post...with some great feedback.  Thanks everyone!

    I guess most of us Texans think the same way when it comes to BBQ.  Personally, I'm a newbie to smoking with a stick burner...and it's a cheap one at that.  Wish I could afford a bad-boy, but I bought a $500 Old Country Wrangler at Academy last summer, just to try, as my old large GSM gas smoker had bit the dust.  And, I'm getting better and better at smoking meat as I learn how to use the stick-burner...but the main thing is it's FUN!  Some of the brisket and ribs I've smoked have been amazing, to me anyway.  In fact, after not particularly being good at smoking brisket for years, the first brisket I smoked on this new smoker last year was the best one I ever smoked.  And, I do have to say that I watched all of Aaron Franklin's brisket videos before I did it.  And, I tried buying hickory, pecan, mesquite wood...and thought they were all OK.  But, finally tried splitting some of my fireplace wood, which is, of course, post oak...as it's so plentiful here in central Texas.  Finally, I stopped even splitting it...and just use the same stack for my fireplace and smoker.  You can't beat it, and the price is great!  The fun to me is playing with different rubs, smoking temps, and meats.  But, being a native Texan, brisket is what I love.  And, I love the challenge of smoking a damn good brisket...and I concentrate on the burnt ends, as they are what I really love!

    Backwoods BBQ, outstanding post.  As I'm retired Air Force and have eaten BBQ all over the world, I agree Texas BBQ for my taste is by-far the best.  Brisket IS the Holy Grail of BBQ.  And, great info on Franklins.  Thanks!

    Michief, I agree totally with all your input...right on the money.  I think Salt Lick is a novelty, but a little over-rated as well.  But, it is a fun place to go with a group.

    gary s, I agree with you as well...I'm not waiting in line for anybody's brisket...period.  I'd rather spend that time watching mine, BSing, and enjoying a few adult beverages.  I've had no problems with Sam's brisket as well.  I see you're pretty close to me as well, we're about 30 miles north of Tyler at Holly Lake Ranch.

    bigtexun, absolutely...I'm curious as well.  But, when you like your own brisket, why stand in line for someone else's?  And, I agree, smoking a good brisket is not easy...but ain't it fun???
  19. Trim it rub it give it some love smoke it for 6 hrs wrap it and finish at 195-200. Mmmmmmmmm I sell out EVERY time I vend. Good brisket is good brisket...oh and only prime
  20. His brisket really is the Holy Grail of BBQ. I've been smoking brisket for over 25 years and have been eating it all over the country for much longer than that... Aaron's brisket is the best that I've ever had... but I'm working on it!

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