Tuesday, November 23, 2010
LLANO: Laird's Bar-B-Q Pit
1600 Ford St. (Hwy 16)
Llano, TX 78643
Open W-Sun 11-7
Update: While they're officially open until 7:00 on Saturdays the Laird's were about to shut down for the day when I arrived at 2:30. They had a big catering job, and I didn't blame them since business wasn't exactly hopping. It was unfortunate that I was the only customer after having just left Cooper's a few blocks away which was still packed wall to wall with patrons. The menu was also sparse since everything was gone except a few slices of brisket and sausage.
The brisket was very similar to what I'd just eaten at Cooper's, which I later learned was due to the similar cooking method. Pitmaster Kenneth Laird once worked at Cooper's and his pit also uses direct heat from mesquite coals rather then indirect smoke. The rub has a high salt content, but is not overpowering. The meat could have been a bit more tender, but it was still moist and flavorful. The ribs I liked so well last time were not available so I went for the only other option which was sausage. I think it had been removed form the pit a bit soon since it was in need of some smoke, but the meat was well seasoned with just a hint of spice.
Out back, Kenneth showed me the pits and the firebox where the mesquite is cooked down to coals. He's a man of few words, so it was a mostly self guided tour, but he was happy to let me take photos of the whole operation. I'll make sure to make it back earlier next time so I can grab one of those ribs.
2006: Laird's has a steady church crowd on Sunday's, and they're packing them in for a reason. The smoker is right outside the door in order to wet your appetite with the smoke dancing on the breeze. The large spare ribs had a slight reddish crust which led to expectations of little flavor. Instead the tender meat and perfectly rendered fat were packed with deep smoke flavor. As my teeth teased the meat off the bone, I realized that it was a near perfect rib. Then I got to the brisket. These slices of meat also had little crust to speak of, but the smoke was incredibly intense. The pull-apart tender beef had excellent flavor throughout with a small strip of flavorful fat at the edge. Next time you're in Llano, detour from the famous place down the road, and stop in here for a deep breath of smoky air.
Posted by BBQ Snob at 7:04 AM
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.
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT
-THE PROPHETS OF SMOKED MEAT