Killen’s Barbecue – Pearland, TX

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Name
: Killen’s Barbecue
Date: 1/20/18
Address: 3613 E. Broadway, Pearland, TX
Order: ½ pound brisket, ½ pound burnt ends (special), 2 sausage links, 1 beef rib, mac & cheese, fried mac & cheese, onion rings, baked beans, green beans (link to menu)
Price: $90

Speedy: I was down in Houston to visit some friends lately, so of course I convinced everyone to pop over to Killen’s, which is known as one of the top joints in Houston. Killen’s is a bit outside of Houston proper, and we went on a rainy day. All this meant we were left with a short line (though it quickly grew as the weather started to clear). Walking up, I could smell the wood coals burning and got a whiff of some beef on the smoker, so I immediately knew I was somewhere serious.

Monk: Seems like you stumbled onto the perfect time to check out Killen’s, seeing as how I’ve been reading about the long lines there for years. Brilliant, Speedy. Brilliant.

Rudy: Killen’s has been on my must-eat list for a while.  I’ve heard great things about since it opened. Houston is not known for having high quality barbecue like some of the other areas of the state, so I know this place has been getting swamped with people. Since I almost never get down to Houston, I haven’t been able to eat there.

Speedy: Killen’s is cafeteria style, where you first order meat, cut right in front of you, and then sides. One of the guys I was with had been there before and advised to skip the pulled pork, so we went all beef, with the exception of the sausage, which is a pork and beef mix. At Killen’s, you can order plates, or by the weight, and we opted for the latter. They only needed two clarifications with our order – fatty or lean brisket (fatty, duh), and jalapeno sausage or regular (regular). After about 20 minutes in line, we were ready to eat.

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Like at any Texas joint, I started with the brisket. I had high expectations based on my prior Texas trip (when I visited Franklin’s and La Barbecue), and let me tell you, this lived up to expectations. The brisket was peppery, moist, and as good as I could have imagined. I think it was 99% as good as Franklin’s and La Barbecue, and tasted very similar. I did not use any sauce, as none was needed. Overall, nearly flawless execution.

Monk: Wow, 99% as good as Franklin’s and La Barbecue? That’s high praise!

Rudy: Yeah, that is huge praise! Add to that the 20 minute wait and that’s even better.

Speedy: The sausage was also great. Made in house, the casing had good snap and a nice spiciness to it. It did start to fall apart a bit, but overall, it was great and is not to be missed.

The burnt ends were a daily special – made with wagyu beef and covered in sauce, they were tender and perfectly chunked. Overall, there was a little more sauce than I liked, but it was tangy and good.

The beef rib was the only thing that I thought could have been better. The rib was crazy tender and easy to cut with a plastic knife, but the bark was not as good as I had hoped and did not touch the brisket. Our beef rib was 1.4 pounds, so nearly $30 – I would have much preferred another pound of brisket.

The sides were good, but like any good barbecue joint, they were a compliment and did not stand out in any way.

I also really liked the atmosphere at Killen’s, as there was a large area of outside seating and lots of seating inside. It’s the definition of a Texas joint, and though it’s only been open since 2013, it’s damn good and not to be missed if you’re in the Houston area. I, for one, can’t wait to go back.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 5 hogs
Beef Rib – 3.5 hogs
Sausage – 4.5 hogs
Burnt Ends – 4 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs
Killen's Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

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Linkdown: 1/24/18

– Three Charlotte barbecue restaurants make this fries list, including The Improper Pig’s sweet potato waffle fries, Midwood Smokehouse’s pimento cheese fries, and Seoul Food Meat Co.’s kimchi fries

 

– Bob Garner’s latest for The Daily Reflector waxes poetic on The Angus Barn in Raleigh

– For these cold we’ve been experiencing the past few weeks, Midwood Smokehouse has seven new soups for the soul including the loaded baked potato with pulled pork and brisket and a brunswick stew

– Men’s site The Manual has a podcast on barbecue and booze

Finally, the conversation turns toward what the panel was all waiting for: booze pairings. Slaughter suggests (and the guys all agreed) the best booze pairing for barbecue is a definitely a whisk(e)y with a smokey, peaty flavor. Scotch is possibly the most appropriate since it calls back to the smokiness of the meat. The group also touches on wine pairings, emphasizing that a bolder, heavier, red wine is best, such as a Zinfandel or a Napa Cabernet.

– RIP

– Bib’s Downtown in Winston-Salem contributed some comfort food recipes for the local Fox affiliate

– Keanu voice: Whoa.

Speedy Lohr’s BBQ – Lexington, NC

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Name
: Speedy Lohr’s BBQ
Date: 1/15/18
Address: 3664 NC-8, Lexington, NC 27292
Order: Small chopped tray with hush puppies and a Cheerwine 
Price: $9

Monk: On our way to Cook’s BBQ just after Thanksgiving, we actually passed Speedy Lohr’s BBQ, a barbecue joint with a very similar name to two other joints in the town of Lexington: Speedy’s Barbecue Inc. and Speedy Lohr’s BBQ of Arcadia. While Cook’s was alright, after this trip in hindsight maybe we should have just stopped at Speedy Lohr’s instead of heading another 4 miles south.

Speedy Lohr’s is located in a no frill building off NC Highway 8 south of Lexington, a classic Lexington-style joint that actually caught fire in 2015 and closed. Thirteen months and $200,000 later, it reopened in August 2016 with its barbecue pits now conforming to current code and has been seemingly humming along ever since. Prior to Speedy Lohr’s taking over the building and its pits in June 2013, it was a barbecue restaurant named Whitley’s Barbecue. Owners Randy and Amy are no strangers to the barbecue business though, with Randy’s father previously running a barbecue joint in the area that was a casualty of when the state of North Carolina expanded highway 8.

Knowing that I was likely going to go to one more spot that day, I tried to keep it simple with a small chopped pork tray with hush puppies instead of buns (duh). Little did I know, the small tray is actually quite big and I left a bit more stuffed than I would have liked. Thankfully, what I was stuffed with was really good smoke-kissed chopped pork basted in a traditional Lexington dip. I couldn’t stop eating the pork until it was all finished even though I knew that I was going to pay for it later due to my limited stomach space. But it was just that good.

The basket of fresh, small orb hush puppies was also a rather bountiful and the slaw on the other side of the cardboard tray was maybe a tad heavy on the dip but still good. Each part of the Lexington trinity was hitting on all cylinders that day.

In all honesty, I actually meant to go to Speedy Lohr’s BBQ of Arcadia that day to try and knock out another joint on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail. I’ll get to that some other time but I was very happy with the meal I got at Speedy Lohr’s BBQ. In my preliminary “Speedy” power rankings of Lexington joints with that in the name, Speedy Lohr’s BBQ wins out over Speedy’s Barbecue Inc. simply because they smoke over wood as opposed to electricity (even though we gave Speedy’s 4 hogs back in 2012). Next up I’ll have to try Speedy Lohr’s BBQ of Arcadia to see who takes the belt.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs
Speedy Lohr's BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday Find: Zagat Discovers the Soul of South Carolina Barbecue

Zagat explores the different meats and side dishes of South Carolina barbecue in a short documentary entitled “Hogs & Hash: Discovering the Soul of South Carolina BBQ”.

BBQ in South Carolina means whole hogs, hash, and plenty of mustard sauce. And although certain areas and establishments don’t abide by all of these features, the passion these pitmasters have to carry on the legacy of their state’s barbecue reputation unites them.

 

Linkdown: 1/17/18

– As good as the man’s barbecue is, at some point you have to wonder if Ed Mitchell’s business sense doesn’t match up; his Raleigh restaurant and food truck are both currently on hold and don’t look to be moving forward anytime soon

– Due to the fire at the old Lexington Home Brands Plant No. 1 and the expected clean-up time, Uptown Lexington has decided to cancel the annual BBQ Capital Cook-off in April

– A new all wood barbecue joint named Meating Street BBQ has opened in Roswell, GA; it was opened by a SC native

– The team behind General Muir in Atlanta are opening a wood-fired barbecue joint called Wood’s Chapel in the Summerhill neighborhood that will smoke whole hog among other meats

– An eastern NC native is now smoking whole hogs in central Virginia as part of a Carolina Q Pig Pickers catering operation

– The Smoking Ho starts 2018 off with a review:

– Fuller’s Old Fashioned Bar-B-Que gets a mention on this post on where to eat in Fayetteville, NC

– In another travel guide (this time from the Chicago Tribune via The Washington Post), both Henry’s Smokehouse and Bucky’s BBQ are mentioned as “100-mile barbeque”

– When there’s a threat of 1-3″ in the forecast in NC:

 

Product Review: Maverick Industries Bluetooth Thermometer and BBQ Tool Set

In early December, Maverick Industries were kind enough to send me some products for review just in time for my annual Christmas smoke. This year, I was doing a small 5lb brisket that my brother had mailed in from Mount Pleasant Meats in Texas as well as a bone-in turkey breast.

Here was the final results of the meats, and while they didn’t turn out quite as I was hoping – I had some temperature issues which led to not being able to rest as long as I wanted – the tools were certainly not at fault and more than held their own.

-Monk

ET-735 Bluetooth Thermometer (link)

On my own dime, I’ve used previous models of the wireless meat thermometer from Maverick, but the bluetooth version is pretty slick. It has the same unit that connects to the probes that attach to the grill surface and meat. But instead of a separate unit that reads out the temperatures and sets alarms if the temps start to fall out of range, I downloaded the Redi Check app from Maverick which accomplishes the same thing. Instead of having to keep up with the other unit to monitor temperatures, I was able to just keep my phone on me as I normally do.

The package comes with two probes but it can accommodate up to 2 more for a total of four- I could have used one more myself for the turkey breast since one of them was dedicated to the grill temperature. In the app, you can set a range for your grill and meat and get notifications if either fall out of range. I set my smoker temp to stay between 225 and 275 and the get notified when the brisket flat hit 165 so I could then wrap it in foil to finish it out. I was then easily able to monitor the smoker temp using the app and could tell when it was time for more charcoal if it started dipping, All in all, the app set up is pretty intuitive and I can’t stress how nice it is not to have to carry around or keep up with another piece of equipment during the multiple hour smoking session.

Official description:
The weather-resistant ET-735 connects to your iOS or Android device via Bluetooth. No need to stand over the grill or smoker while cooking – you can enjoy your company and monitor the temperature of your food and oven from up to 160 feet away. The ET-735 allows you to connect up to four waterproof probes (ideal when cooking with sticky sauces! – comes with 2) and will alert you via its accompanying app once the desired temperature is reached. The app includes 15 preset temperatures for all types of meat, or you can input a custom temperature.

BBQ Tool Set with Instant Read Thermometer

A complaint in some Weber Style grill tools I got years ago was the fact that it didn’t come with a carrying case and the individual tools in the set could easily get separated from one another. This BBQ tool set from Maverick does have a carrying case, and its a nice heavy duty bag at that. The stainless steel fork, spatula, and tongs included in this set are all high quality and handled the rigors of moving the brisket and turkey breast on and off the smoker and onto the tray and cutting board with ease. And bonus! It also comes with a digital instant thermometer in the vein of the Thermapen that gets a temp reading within a few seconds. A very nice set.
Official description:
Set Includes
  • PT-75 Digital Instant – Read BBQ Thermometer, Stainless Steel Fork, Stainless Steel Spatula, Stainless Steel Tongs, and a Convenient Heavy-Duty Tool Bag
  • Ergonomic Handle and Holes for Hanging
  • Tool Bag Includes Customized Pocket to Hold Thermometer

Linkdown: 1/10/18

– A small smoker has been stolen from the Durham restaurant It’s a Southern Thing

– Jelly: 52 weeks of barbecue in 2018 for the San Antonio Express News

– The recent cold snap in NC (as well as the rest of the eastern seaboard) is no thing for hogs and their modern climate controlled barns

– A new restaurant from the folks at Stiles Switch

– Fort Worth Magazine has the quintessential guide to Fort Worth barbecue

– Sadly, about a 100 employees were affected

 

The Pedalin’ Pig – Banner Elk, NC

IMG_1547Name: The Pedalin’ Pig
Date: 12/28/17
Address: 4235 Hwy 105 South, Banner Elk, NC 28604
Order: Half pound brisket plate with brunswick stew and BBQ slaw (link to menu)
Price: $14.95

Monk: Usually, I try to close out my year by taking a short trip to a barbecue joint an hour or two away but this year our family took a short, two night trip to the mountains immediately after Christmas. While the mountains wouldn’t be my first choice destination for barbecue, on our way back from the Boone area we passed by The Pedalin’ Pig in Banner Elk (sadly, our first choice Old Hampton Store and Barbeque, a wood-smoked barbecue joint in Linville, was closed until February) as we took a Grandfather Mountain detour on our way back to Charlotte so I was able to get in one last review in 2017. 

A couple days after Christmas, The Pedalin’ Pig was hopping with with folks stopping before or after skiing at  nearby Sugar Mountain on a bitterly cold day. Each of the dining rooms were more or less packed and there was a line out the door. The wait for larger parties went upwards of 45 minutes by the time we left but our party of 4 was able to be seated in less than 5 minutes.

Mrs. Monk ordered the half pound pulled pork plate while I ordered the brisket plate, allowing us to combine our powers into a 2-meat combo plate (which isn’t an option on the menu). According to my handy dandy NC BBQ Map, they use a wood-assisted gasser (my guess would be a Southern Pride) but they were able to get some decent bark on the pork. Mrs. Monk’s half-pound portion had plenty of it mixed in and the meat had a nice smokey taste. The gasser was able to get a somewhat decent bark on my brisket, but the slices were all taken from the flat and as a result were pretty dried out. Still, some decent flavor from those slices of meat.

The bbq slaw was a good rendition of a Lexington-style red slaw while the brunswick stew hit the spot on a cold day. Mrs. Monk’s sides of collards and cheddar grits were equally successful. 

And as loyal readers know, outside of a couple of outliers mountain barbecue is at best considered hit or miss. The Pedalin’ Pig is more on the hit side of the spectrum while not quite essential. 

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Brisket – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs
Pedalin' Pig Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday Find: Cuban Lechon in Miami

Before this video, I wasn’t aware that Cuba had a lechon tradition somewhat similar to the Philippines. Now La Esquina Del Lechon in Miami doesn’t cook over a wood fire, but even though this isn’t technically barbecue they look to achieve the roasted whole pig with crispy skin not too dissimilar to Filipino lechon and some places like Skylight Inn that chop the crispy skin into the whole hog.

In the first episode of Dining on a Dime Miami, Lucas heads to La Esquina Del Lechon to check out a whole-roast pig that is a local favorite, and always starts a party.