Smoked in Texas

Smoked in Texas: Gut Pak at Vitek’s

The Gut Pak is to Waco what rings of smoked sausage are to Lockhart. It’s part of the city’s barbecue identity. A Gut Pak is smoked sausage, barbecue, beans, and cheese, and a few other items piled high atop a mess of Fritos, making this the huskier cousin of a Frito pie. Sometime in the eighties, third-generation owner Bill Vitek (his daughter, Julie, is the current owner) added the iconic item to the menu. Construction workers from a…

Smoked in Texas: Oysters Gilhooley at Gilhooley’s

Oyster shells crackled under the car tires as I pulled into Gilhooley’s in San Leon. The parking lot is paved with them, and a pile taller than me rose like a dune at one end of the parking lot. A storm was rolling into the small town on the Gulf Coast, and beside the restaurant two men were splitting as much wood as they could before the sky opened up. Through a screen door was the…

The Year Old Brisket

After thousands of barbecue meals, I’ve never been struck ill by smoked meat. Maybe it’s the long cooking time, or the preservative qualities provided by a layer of wood smoke, or maybe I’ve just been lucky. Either way, I put that streak to the test over the weekend. “How long can you keep a brisket in the fridge before it goes bad,” a friend asked me one morning. It was April of last year, and…

The Zeke Sandwich

After an incredible championship game on Monday night, this season of college football is (sadly) behind us. But that means we can now focus solely on the NFL playoffs, in which the Texans are still alive and the Cowboys look to avenge Dez Bryant’s “non-catch” from a 2015 game against the Green Day Packers. In Sunday’s match-up against the Packers, though, the Cowboys have new stars—Dak Prescott and Ezekiel “Zeke” Elliott are the rookies to watch. And…

Smoked in Texas: Texas Twinkies at Hutchins BBQ

Leftover brisket is a fact of life for most barbecue joints, but how they use it says a lot about their commitment to quality. It’s far better suited for fortifying pinto beans than to be back on the slicing block for day two. I’ve eaten fine chopped brisket sandwiches, tacos, and even enchiladas made from leftovers, but at Hutchins BBQ in McKinney they’ve found the most regal reuse of brisket in Texas. In the afterlife of brisket,…

Smoked in Texas: Bacon Burnt Ends at Heim BBQ

Burnt ends aren’t just for brisket anymore. And let’s get something out of the way, Kansas City barbecue fans: don’t get too sanctimonious about proper burnt ends only coming from a brisket; I’ve had ham and sausage burnt ends in your city. Beef belly burnt ends were the special last week at Cattleack Barbecue in Dallas. Pappa Charlie’s in Houston and Killen’s in Pearland both serve a decadent version of burnt ends made from pricey beef…

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