Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Wendy's Pulled Pork Sandwich Review (aka "Tom Ventures into the Questionable" - cue the Adventure Music) 

Wendy's Pulled Pork Sandwich Webpage

Back in July Starbucks released their BBQ Brisket sandwich. Texas Monthly's Daniel Vaughn bravely rode forward, sampled one of them, and gave us his thoughts. Well, let it not be said that BBQ Recon fears to follow where Daniel leads. Since he took Starbucks, we'll take Wendy's.
(Al's comment: We will?!, sure...You go first.)
I picked one up from Wendy's for dinner tonight. It comes with slaw on it (I got mine without) and your choice of three types of sauce: sweet, spicy, or smoky (I got the smoky).

Unlike Starbucks' brisket sandwich, Wendy's actually claims on their website that this is "hickory-smoked pulled pork". Being brutally honest, I just didn’t taste it. The only smoke I got was from the sauce. The meat had no smoke flavor itself. It was overly salty, and while the meat itself was tender, there was a fair amount of gristle mixed in. In short, it was closer to salted pork than anything else.  

The sauce wasn’t bad and (as noted above) is the only thing that added any flavor besides salt to the sandwich. If they are making their own sauce they haven't done badly. It's a shame they wasted it on such a poor sandwich. 
Is it worth a visit? From a BBQ perspective, nope.

Is it worth a trip? You're kidding, right?
(Scott's comment: It's only worth the trip if it was hand-fed to me by the lovely red-headed woman from the Wendy's commercials.)


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

White Sauce Musings (aka Tom's latest thoughts on White BBQ Sauce) 

Back in July I went to Slab BBQ. Among the things I tried was their white BBQ sauce. My verdict at the time was that it tasted like salad dressing (Caesar, to be precise). It wasn’t a bad taste, and in fact I used what was left on a salad later that day. But it didn’t seem to be a taste that went well with meat. 
My comments started a heated debate (OK, a few comments here and there) that Slab must have a very poor sauce, and wasn’t a “real” white BBQ sauce. A variety of suggestions came through, but one I noticed repeatedly was Big Bob Gibson White BBQ sauce.  

Using the advantage of an Amazon Prime membership I ordered a bottle ($9.99), and then tried some with BBQ I picked up this weekend, as well as some chicken I had. I tried it on brisket, pork ribs, pork shoulder, and chicken. My verdict? 

This is still salad dressing. Big Bob’s tastes a little more like a sharp ranch dressing with some extra vinegar, but it’s not anything I haven’t been putting on green leafy vegetables for years. My web perusal of the ingredient lists of other white BBQ sauce recipes seems to indicate the same thing. The flavor may range from Caesar to Ranch to Buttermilk, but the range all seems to be within the range of the white creamy salad dressings.  

Again, let me stress: The flavors aren’t bad. But to me the two I’ve tried just don’t seem to go with smoky meat. I’ll try my Big Bob on some fish next, as that seems like it might be a more complimentary flavor.

We’ve always stressed on this blog that taste is subjective. It may also be regional. I understand that this is very popular in the S.E. part of the country (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, etc.). Maybe they use different rubs that make the flavors more complimentary. Maybe their tastes are just flat out different. Either way, they like it, I don’t, and that’s cool. It’d be a boring world if we all liked the same thing. 


Monday, September 7, 2015

John Mueller Meat Company Review (Austin, TX)

John Mueller Meat Co. info on Website, Facebook, & Twitter (@JSM_meat)

Does this mean Bevo is a cannibal?!
John Mueller Meat Company is a small trailer just off of 6th street in east Austin. Pits are plainly visible and unlike some trailers you wait while they prepare. I swung by there today to pick up lunch for myself and my wife, getting 1 pound each brisket and pork ribs, and a half pound each sausage, pork shoulder, and beef ribs (they were out of turkey and smoked prime rib). There wasn’t much of a wait, probably because of the holiday. 
Sausage: The sausage has a good snap in the casing, is juicy and tender. It starts with an extremely mild flavor, in fact so mild that I was starting to get disappointed. But then some heat kicked in and the rest of the taste came with it. It’s got a nice flavor once the heat comes. It’s not too hot, but provides a nice low warmth. 8.5/10. 

Brisket: The brisket has a nice bark, is moist and tender. It has a wonderful smoke flavor. On a personal preference note I’d like a little more pepper in the rub, but it is well prepared. 8.5/10.

Pork Shoulder: The pork shoulder has a good smoke flavor and a sweetness to it (and maybe a hint of fruit?). It’s not overly greasy. This is good stuff. 9.5/10.

Beef Rib: These are beef short ribs, so not quite as enormous as some you get, but still have ample meat. The bark is good and there’s a good smoke flavor. They are tender without being overcooked. Again, I wouldn’t mind a little more pepper. 8.5/10.  

Pork Rib: The rib has a good crust, is tender and has a good meat/bone ratio. It is nicely flavored and again, a hint of fruit?. 9.5/10.
For those who follow John on Twitter, you know he takes great pride in his food, and is more than willing to “talk the talk”. Now, having tried his food, I can say he walks the walk as well. 

Is it worth a visit? Absolutely. Definitely swing by if you’re in the neighborhood.  

Is it worth a trip? Again, absolutely. Everything I tried fell into the exceptional range. That’s always worth a trip. This place definitely rates among the top names in the area.  


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Review of BBQ 512 (Austin, TX)  

BBQ 512 info on Website, Facebook, & Yelp

Scott and I decided to stop there for lunch today after running an errand. This place used to be Chisholm Trail Icehouse and BBQ. It’s typical counter-line service. We each order a three-meat plate. Scott gets brisket, pork ribs, and venison sausage. I get turkey, pork loin, and regular sausage. We will be sharing.

Pork Loin: Somewhat tough and very dry. Almost smoke flavor. The sauce doesn’t really help it al all, and there’s no real flavor from the rub. I have an end piece and can’t taste anything but pork flavor. Scores: Tom: 3/10, Scott: 4/10.
Turkey: Hard to see in the picture, but there’s a whitish/yellowish substance on the turkey (was covering the turkey when they brought it in). Turns out it is apparently butter (that’s what it tastes like anyway). The turkey has a decent smoke flavor and is reasonably tender. Not sure why the butter is there, and there’s enough clinging to the outside that it actually gets in the way. Both of us score it 6.5/10.
(Note: Would have been higher if there hadn’t been so much butter on it.)
Regular Sausage: Decent snap in the casing, and it is tender and juicy. It has a decent flavor with some spice. Both of us score it a 7/10.

Pork Ribs: Mine is tough and like the pork loin doesn’t have much rub flavor. While there is a smoke flavor, it’s actually more of a burnt flavor than a smoke flavor. It’s also a little on the dry side. Scott likes his a little better. Scores: Tom: 3/10; Scott: 5/10.  

Brisket: First thing we notice is that the bark has been cut off. There’s not a lot of smoke flavor, and rub flavor is minimal because the bark is gone. It is tender and reasonably moist. Scores: Tom: 5/10, Scott: 5.5/10.
Venison Sausage: Again, decent snap in the casing, and it is tender and juicy. It also has a good flavor (if a little more gamey). The spice starts softer than the original but finishes stronger. Both of us score it a 7/10. 
Like many places, BBQ 512 has some things it does well and some things that need work. I’d recommend leaving the bark on the brisket for starters.  

Is it worth a visit? It’s a decent place for a lunch. I’d stick with the sausage or the turkey. 

Is it worth a trip? Nope. While the sausage was on the upper side of good, nothing was on the exceptional side.