Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mac's Bar-B-Q

BRADY: Mac's Bar-B-Q
1903 S Bridge St
Brady, TX 76825
Open Sun-Thur 10:30-8, F-Sat 10:30-9

The Texas Hill Country is dominated by direct heat mesquite cooking. Up until a few weeks ago, Hard 8 up the street from Mac's had been cooking that way since they bought out Lone Star BBQ some years back, but they're now closed. Now Mac's is the only joint in town and they're smoking with oak. Colette McBee had been running the joint with her husband for several years, but a recent divorce gave her the reigns eight months ago and she's riding the business for all it's worth. The barbecue business is a tough one that can really kick your ass, but you can hear it in her voice that the petite Colette is kicking right back. When asked if the barbecue is any better since she took things over, her answer without hesitation was a confident "Hell yes!" In a state with few women pitmasters, it was nice to see Colette working the pits with authority while still being self-conscious of her bad hair day.

From then on the meat did the talking. Stopping in at 4:30 in the afternoon could have meant dried out lunch leftovers, but this meat was all good. Slices of briskets from the flat had a nice quarter inch line of smoky fat clinging to firm, flavorful meat. A good bark and a thick smokering made the brisket irresistable to the whole table at the end of a long BBQ day. Thick spare ribs with a deep red hue also had great smoke and deep flavor from the generous seasoning. The meat and fat could have used more time on the smoker to soften a bit, but the ribs were still commendable. Beans were forgettable, but the potato salad that was dyed and sweetened with French dressing was a great complement to the meal.

I thought the prospect of moist chicken at this hour was out of the question, but these pieces had both crisp skin and moist meat beneath, even the white meat. Good smoke and a nice salty pop from the rub took the chicken to another level. A commercially made sausage has nice snap in the casing and a good bit of smoke. The meat was juicy, but not fatty and had some aggressive black pepper seasoning. I didn't catch the supplier, but they chose a good one.

I can't believe it took me three trips to Brady to finally stop here, but it was worth the wait. Now that they're open seven days a week, you've got no excuse not to stop. Colette will not disappoint.

Rating ****

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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.