BBQ FROM YESTERYEAR
The several thousand pound commercial steel
and cast iron BBQ pit is contained in a smokehouse located across
the swimming pool from the main house. The smokehouse, is complete with its own
structure, roof and ventilation system. The pit was constructed and has been
maintained by A. N. Bewley Co. , the Texas premier maker of restaurant BBQ
pits for most of the last century.
The only source of heat for the pit is pure smoking logs which can be delivered on site by the cord or half cord from a variety of vendors. Hickory is usually the wood of choice but mesquite and other woods are available to suit your taste.
A thermostat control regulates the pit
temperature by opening and closing a magnetic cap which either allows or cuts off
the outside air supply to the firebox. With no air, there is no oxygen to
burn. The amount of smokiness is controlled by a
the top of the pit which is opened to provide the desired amount of
smoke for the finished product.
Although as many as forty
briskets have been smoked at a time for a large party, typical use is for a single
brisket. The only cost is the wood and it does not vary much from the pit being
empty to being full. Typical smoking time for a 15 pound untrimmed brisket is
20-22 hours. It is smoked over night at about 175 degrees and is finished off
the next day at 235 degrees. No overnight tending is required., The result is
mouth watering smoked juicy brisket which is tender enough for a 1 inch thick
slice to be cut with a fork, The inside of the brisket is slightly pink in
color due to the smoke, as opposed to a steak cooked on a grill
which is pink or red inside because it has not been fully cooked.
The Smoking Begins
Most BBQ restaurants these days undercook the meat to reduce shrinkage and thus get more meat to the pound. This approach sacrifices taste, smokiness and tenderness. Prior to the 1970s the common practice among the great Texas BBQ restaurants was to cook the meat fully at a low temperature to enable consistent thorough smoking resulting in a great product. Only a professional pit can bring back the BBQ from yesteryear. Most BBQ restaurants today are more concerned with cost than quality.
Some average cooking times are:
Brisket - 20 hours
Chicken - 3 hours
Turkey – quick smoked for 6 hours (or cold smoked for 20 hours)
Baby back (or preferably loin back) Ribs – 4 hours
Pre Cooked Sausage – 1 Hour
Prime Beef Ribs (Ribs from prime rib roast) – 5 hours