I hate people who are not serious about their meals. -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Salt Lick Barbecue

Om Nomz Hero Note to Self: Salt Lick was the first time I got actual utensils let alone metal ones…it left me confused

One of the final places I visited in my mini-barbecue quest was the Salt Lick. I guess wanting to go to the Salt Lick is like when people not from New York rave about Grimaldi’s. This was my introduction to Texas barbecue when I first sampled them at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. The first time I thought their brisket was fine and the sausage was out of this world. I however, we ate this at the end of the trip, after eating at a lot of other barbecue places. In short, it is okay.  

The Sauces
Sausage and Turkey

It is a tourist trap no doubt. There are just droves of people there and tour buses parked on the side. It is literally in the middle of nowhere, I was surprised Garmin was able to find it. It is a ranch basically and the inside is a cavernous dining hall. We were hitting our proverbial wall and instead of going by the poundage, we went with 2 combination platters and an extra half order of sausage. The combination allowed us to sample the pork ribs, brisket, turkey and surprise, more sausage. This is too easy to make an immature sausage joke. 
Ribs and brisket
The pit at the Salt Lick is impressive; you cannot be impressed by this. It is an open round pit with a grill and just mountains of meat and sausage just hanging from up above. We just ate barbecue about forty minutes before hand and this sight made me hungry. The Salt Lick differs in which they do not do the low and slow method; they are going for high heat, well high heat for Texas. There is no 200-275; it is more like 300-375. They are using oak like others but in addition they use soaked pecan shells to add flavor and as a makeshift temperature controller. 
One gripe, they did not have sweet tea or Big Red. How can you claim to be Texas barbecue if you do not have these iconic Texas, specifically barbecue beverages? I mean this is what I have come to know and love, Big Red? I just taste like Red. They did have Dr. Pepper though so I guess you get a pass. The brisket though tender had no flavor. It did not pick up any of the smoke from the wood. It was edible but did not wow me at all. The pork ribs were very good and if I was to eat at the Salt Lick again, this is what I would go for, the pork was able to get a bit more of the smoke and the meat was just right. The turkey was great and question why anyone would not smoke their turkeys for Thanksgiving (I know I do). Maybe it was the combination of beef palate fatigue but we wanted more, regardless the breast meat was supple and juicy. The sausage was good here though very different from the sausage that we had at other places. It was a finer grind, heavier on the salt but good amount of spice. It was similar to a kielbasa in texture, which lead it to have the best snap. The sauce however, is great and I can understand the cult-like following for this sauce. I personally brought back two bottles, and rationing it sparingly. It is a perfect mix of sweet, tangy and salt and just something that makes everything taste better. I guess I will soon be joining the legions trying to crack this recipe. 
I had to do dessert, I mean if the option is out there and it is descent, no matter if I am burping up enough meat to re-taste my meal I will always take a gander at it. I went with the blackberry cobbler with a scoop of ice cream on top. I am glad I did not skip it, this was one of the best desserts I had all trip, the cobbler was full of fruit, flaky crust and ice cold ice cream just melting all over it. Even my friends that were at their limit could not resist a taste of it. Besides, you need a bit of sugar to cut all the salt and fat.
Now that I have eaten a lot of Texas Barbecue, the Salt Lick is more about the atmosphere. It relishes in that Hill Country romantic nostalgia of cooking on an open pit and relaxing with others while eating copious amounts of meat. They do what works for them, using high heat cooking which you lose the smoke essence in the barbecue. However, their methods are warranted given the high volume of business they are doing. I am conflicted, the barbecue let’s face it, is just average compared to what else you got. But at the same time, it is sure a hell of a lot better than the majority of the places here in the Northeast. Though I would eagerly wait in line during the Big Apple BBQ block party, I do not see myself coming back here the next time I come through Texas. Though I will be picking up a couple of bottles of the sauce the next time I pass through the airport. Here is a tip, unless you are desperate for ‘cue do not do the airport Salt Lick, it is all hot/steam bagged, you might as well go to a Famous Dave’s. 

Pit Porn

Salt Lick
18300 FM 1826
Driftwood, TX 78619

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