Friday, May 20, 2011

Germantown Commissary BBQ & Ribs

MEMPHIS: Germantown Commissary
2290 S Germantown Rd
Germantown, TN 38138
Open M-Sat 9-9, Sun 11-8

Germantown Commissary was the name of an old general store outside of Memphis. In 1981, Walker Taylor bought the historic building to open a BBQ joint. A big Southern Pride smoker is enclosed by a wood fence on the side of this small joint, which explains the mild smoke flavor on the meats. It was getting pretty late in the day as we squeezed past those waiting for to-go orders at the counter and made our way to a small table. Even after five prior stops on the day, we still were able to justify adding a quarter chicken to our standard order of ribs and a pulled pork sandwich.

This wasn't so much "pulled" pork as it was a huge chunk of pig muscle on a bun. The meat had some good crust and plenty of flavor, but the meat was a bit dry. A good crispy slaw and a thick sweet sauce, heavy on the worchestershire, topped off the sandwich. I actually had to remove some meat to make this behemoth comfortable to handle, so portions are not an issue here.

A side of beans was sweet with a kick from some chili powder, but had a tinny flavor from the can. A perfect deviled egg made up for it, and I was wishing you could just get a half dozen of them as your side choice.

Ribs were also a bit dry, but these large St. Louis ribs held together well enough to be sliced, and the overall flavor was great. While they are seasoned on the pit, the choice for dry rub or sauce is up to you as they are both available on the table. We opted for dry rub which added a sweet and salty tone to the smoky ribs. Chicken was moist with a smoky flavor, but paled in comparison to the ribs and pulled pork. I'd suggest a Monday night visit where you can get all the ribs you want for $23.

Rating ***
Germantown Commissary on Urbanspoon


extramsg said...

"A big Southern Pride smoker is enclosed by a wood fence on the side of this small joint, which explains the mild smoke flavor on the meats."

Quit perpetuating the myth. It's not the machine but the operator.

BBQ Snob said...

If I've been to 250+ BBQ joints that cook with gas or electric smokers, I can count the ones with well smoked BBQ on two hands. You can call it a myth if you like, but my experience justifies my expectations.

Scott--DFW said...

You're talking past each other. BBQ Snob is describing a correlation (i.e., meat is rarely smoky at places that use gas/electric smokers). ExtraMSG is saying here (as he did on the Texas BBQ Posse site) that it is a fallacy (i.e., cum hoc ergo propter hoc) to assume that correlation implies causation.

Unless BBQ Snob would claim that a Southern Pride cannot possibly make barbecue as smoky as an all-wood method (which could easily be demonstrated to be false), this seems to be nothing more than a disagreement about the use of words.

BBQ Snob said...

Scott-DFW - I could not have said it better myself, as evidenced with my previous comments above.

smokinronniesbbq said...

you guy's speak english would ya.... pits are pits. you can't beat a pit. sr

smokinronniesbbq said...

and i wasn't speaking of u mr vaughn. these other guys. kinda funny. sr

Scott--DFW said...

Pits are pits? That's helpful.

smokinronniesbbq said...

kiss theory mr scott. keep it simple stupid. sr ie brad orrison The Shed BBQ. Ocean Springs MS

extramsg said...

It's one thing to say that you expect worse or less smoky BBQ at a place that uses Southern Pride and quite a different thing to say that the Southern Pride causes it. BBQ Snob, you said that the Southern Pride "explains" the less the smoky Q. Perhaps it was a sloppy use of the word, but normally this would imply causation, not just correlation. It didn't sound like a matter of expectation, but of establishing why the results were as they were.

Straight-forward questions:

1) Do you believe that it is significantly more difficult to produce smoky BBQ in a Southern Pride than with all-wood methods?

2) Have you ever tested electric or gas smokers vs all-wood smokers yourself to see how the results compare with generally equal effort at making good and/or smoky Q?

If you want to pay the costs of the shipping, I'll make a brisket so smoky in my Cookshack it's inedible. And I can do so by setting it and forgetting it.

BBQ Snob said...

1. I don't know because I have not worked in a kitchen that uses one, and I can't afford to buy one just for fun. I can only infer that it's much easier to produce BBQ in a Southern Pride with little smoke flavor from my experience eating it. I also know that a Southern Pride, Ole Hickory or Cookshack can put out good BBQ because I've eaten it in the past at places like Gage BBQ in San Saba and Michna's in Waco.

2. No. I do not own or have access to a fleet of commercial smokers with various fuel sources that I can use for testing, but you've got me thinking about who I can call.

3. I eat enough awful brisket as it is, so I'm not interested in adding to the heap, but if you want to send your best work with a Cookshack, I'd be happy to work something out and give you a kick start on your mail order business.

smokinronniesbbq said...

portland, yeah right. shoulda known. sr

extramsg said...

@BBQ Snob
It is easy enough to produce BBQ without smoke in an electric or gas. Afterall, you can use it like an oven instead of a smoker, if you are a fool. And while I'd say that smoke is an important component to me in BBQ, it's probably not one that's a) that important to most customers (since most customers are first and foremost about sauce, maybe even in Texas), and b) not something that will make BBQ inedible. Bad cooking/holding, leaving the BBQ dry, undercooked, or overcooked are all more likely to fully ruin BBQ than it just not being smoky enough for you or myself. In that regard, the electrics and gas smokers have an advantage, although the all-wood alternatives like the Oyler, Ole Hickory, Bewley, etc, seem to combine the ease of gas/electric with all wood, though I haven't used any of them, just seen them in action. (Here in Portland, Buster's uses the Oyler, Podnah's uses the Ole Hickory.)

But what I'd like to hear you explain is why the brisket I had at Lockhart in Oak Cliff had such a "mild smoke flavor" despite using the Bewley? I thought my pastrami had a lot more smoke. I even got some nice smoke belches from just the little bit of pastrami ends I ate, but never got any from Lockhart. And dammit, smoke belches are one of the best ways good BBQ can keep on giving hours later. ;-)

Ox190 said...

IMO you missed the best thing at Germantown Commissary....the deep fried sweet potato fries.....heavenly.

Jackson Whitlock said...

Using an oven, no matter the smokiness, is not really the essence of BBQ.

BBQ is meant to be cooked over or indirectly situation next to wood or burned down wood, i.e. charcoal.

You can extol the virtue of "set and forget" but it's not the same, and it never will be.

And yes, it's much more difficult to get the same type of flavor that you would at, say, Paynes, with a gas fired smoke oven.


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.