Friday, January 9, 2009

Blowin' Smoke 002 - Barbeque Sauce

Barbeque sauce....just those two words can start an argument. Mustard based, tomato based, or vinegar...sauce or no sauce...serve it hot or room temperature...baste with it while cooking, or only while eating. You've read reviews by the BBQ Snob that show disappointment when meats are sauced without asking, but this isn't because my palate is anti-sauce. In fact, I love sauce, I just like to have the option. I don't have an answer to all of the other arguments, but I can share where I've found the best or most unique sauces in my travels around Texas.

The City Market in Luling has a tangy mustard based sauce that is so good that a Houston joint called Luling City Market was founded because an original Luling employee defected to Houston and gave up the sauce recipe for a cut of the new restaurant. The imitator sauce is now sold in grocery stores, but I'd suggest you get the original from the source right in downtown Luling. You won't regret it.

The Salt Lick in Driftwood also has a mustard based sauce, but it's much sweeter and thinner due to the addition of oil. This consistency makes it perfect for pouring over hot slices of brisket and sausage. In addition to the delicious original, they also offer a habanero version if you like some spice to balance the sweetness.

Lambert's in Austin offers three sauces with each platter. Two are tomato based, one mild, one hot, and the other is mustard based. The server there suggested I mix the mustard based and the hot which worked nicely. Try your own combination.

Peggy Sue's in Dallas has a hot sauce so thick it turns solid in the refrigerator. My guess is that a significant amount of animal fat is used in this recipe along with the black pepper and sugar. I usually spread it on the Texas toast just to get a few more bites of it.

Cooper's in Mason and Llano as well as the Hard Eight chain all have a vat of thin, sweet yet vinegary sauce sitting next to the pits where they will dunk the cuts of meat you've chosen for your dining pleasure.

Another thin sauce is at Jasper's in Waco. They call it gravy rather than sauce, and it's kept warm in a large crock pot. I couldn't detect the base for this sauce, mainly because I couldn't detect any flavor at all.

E-mail me and tell me which joint has your favorite sauce.

- BBQ Snob

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Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.