Fourth Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting held

Davey Griffin talking to the participants at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting
Davey Griffin and Ray Riley talking about beef carcasses at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

Davey Griffin and Ray Riley talking about beef carcasses at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

Owners/operators and pitmasters from some of the leading barbecue restaurants throughout Texas with a special guest, Jack Timmons, from Seattle, Washington, participated in the fourth Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting, which was held at the Kleberg Animal and Food Science Center and the Rosenthal Meat Center on Monday, December 11, 2017. About 50 people were in attendance, and participants received updates on livestock and meat markets for beef, pork, chicken, and turkey by David Anderson, professor and extension economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, brisket aging research by McKensie Harris, graduate teaching/research assistant in the Department of Animal Science, beef carcass grading by Davey Griffin, professor and extension meat specialist and Ray Riley, manager, Rosenthal Meat Center, and beef carcass utilization and cut-out values by Griffin and Jeff Savell, distinguished professor and E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal Chairholder in the Department of Animal Science.

The meeting was sponsored by the E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal Chair in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University, and Davey Griffin, Ray Riley, and Jeff Savell served as hosts with assistance from student workers, Kirby Bohls, Kenna Turner, and Jordan Hevner. Graduate student Clay Eastwood helped with the beef carcass and cut-out value demonstrations.

David Anderson giving a market update to the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

David Anderson giving a market update to the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

Dr. Anderson gave an update on current market trends for livestock and meat. For the most part, meat production is increasing and with that, prices may reflect that during the upcoming year. While this is not necessarily good news for livestock and poultry producers, this could be good news for those in the restaurant business.

David Anderson

David Anderson

McKensie Harris reported on her work on the effects of aging on beef brisket palatability. This Beef Checkoff-funded research was designed to address the recurring question about whether aging of briskets that are to be prepared as Texas-style barbecue benefit from aging the same way that beef ribeyes and strips do. McKensie found that aging did not impact brisket palatability, which means that briskets can be cooked without concern about aging. She also found that consumers gave samples from the flat higher overall like ratings than samples from the point, even though samples from the point had lower shear force values (more tender) than samples from the flat. McKensie’s research, Assessment of Postmortem Aging Effects on Texas-style Barbecue, was published in the journal, Meat and Muscle Biology. Thanks for Southside Market and Barbeque for their help in conducting this research.

McKensie Harris talking about her work on aging of beef briskets

McKensie Harris talking about her work on aging of beef briskets

McKensie Harris describing where samples were taken from her project on brisket aging

McKensie Harris describing where samples were taken from her project on brisket aging

Ronnie and Brek Webber from Tin Roof BBQ provided lunch for everyone. Smoked sirloin along with wonderful sides of potato salad and broccoli, cheese, and rice casserole were a hit. Thanks so much for coming up to meeting and preparing such great food for us.

Ronnie and Brek Webber serving Tin Roof BBQ at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

Ronnie and Brek Webber serving Tin Roof BBQ at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

Smoked sirloin served by Ronnie and Brek Webber of Tin Roof BBQ

Smoked sirloin served by Ronnie and Brek Webber of Tin Roof BBQ

After lunch, the group moved to the Rosenthal Meat Center for a beef carcass grading demonstration led by Davey Griffin and Ray Riley. Participants were suited up with frocks, hard hats, hairnets, and, where appropriate, beard nets to spend time in the refrigerated cooler learning about beef carcass quality and yield grading.

Davey Griffin talking to the participants at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

Davey Griffin talking to the participants at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

The USDA beef grading standards have been revised to reflect the use of dentition as an indicator of the age of the carcasses rather than the traditional use of skeletal and lean maturity. Ray Riley used a beef head to show the participants how dentition is used to determine age in cattle.

Ray Riley describing the upcoming changes to the USDA beef quality grading system related to dentition

Ray Riley describing the upcoming changes to the USDA beef quality grading system related to dentition

Davey Griffin showing the marbling cards used to evaluate beef grading

Davey Griffin showing the marbling cards used to evaluate beef grading

Davey Griffin talking about beef grading

Davey Griffin talking about beef grading

After the carcass evaluation segment, the participants moved to the Rosenthal Meat Center classroom to learn more about beef carcass cut-out utilization and value. Davey Griffin showed some of the muscles that could be used for barbecue and other cooking applications and answered questions from the participants about where the cuts came from.

Davey Griffin describing beef cutout values for the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

Davey Griffin describing beef cutout values for the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

Davey Griffin talking about beef cuts

Davey Griffin talking about beef cuts

The next Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting will be held next December, and we look forward to our continued work with the people in the business of making the best barbecue around.

Tindel, Savell help with Texas Monthly’s ‘Cue Course

Jeff Savell, Daniel Vaughn, Spencer Tindel, Mike Black, and Mark Black at the Texas Monthly 'Cue Course
Jeff Savell, Daniel Vaughn, Spencer Tindel, Mike Black, and Mark Black at the Texas Monthly's 'Cue Course

Jeff Savell, Daniel Vaughn, Spencer Tindel, Mike Black, and Mark Black at the Texas Monthly’s ‘Cue Course

Spencer Tindel and Jeff Savell participated in the first ever Texas Monthly’s ‘Cue Course on Saturday, November 4, 2017, which was one of the programs sponsored by the Texas Monthly Barbecue program ahead of the TMBBQ FEST 2017. The event was held at Terry Black’s Barbecue in Austin, with Daniel Vaughn, BBQ Editor of Texas Monthly teaming up with Tindel and Savell for the program.

Texas Monthly's 'Cue Course

Texas Monthly’s ‘Cue Course

The first part of the program was a discussion of three topics: beef grading, briskets, and beef ribs. For beef grading, marbling cards depicting the different marbling degrees were shown to the participants along with other grading charts to describe how the grades of Prime, Choice, and Select are determined. In addition, a brief discussion on programs such as Certified Angus Beef was given.

Spencer Tindel and Daniel Vaughn talking about beef brisket

Spencer Tindel and Daniel Vaughn talking about beef brisket

The next topic of discussion was about beef briskets. Spencer brought a bone-in brisket with her to demonstrate where the bones and deckle were located on it. She removed both the bones and deckle to produce a 120 beef brisket, deckle-off, boneless, which is what is found most often in the marketplace. Further discussion was held regarding why briskets are so inherently tough and how the “low and slow” method of Texas Barbecue preparation achieves such a miraculous transformation into something so wonderful.

Spencer demonstrating a beef plate short rib

Spencer demonstrating a beef plate short rib

Beef ribs were the final topic covered. The cuts discussed were the 123A Beef Plate, Short Ribs, Trimmed, 124 Beef Rib, Back Ribs, and 130 Chuck Short Ribs. Comparisons were made of all three beef rib cuts with uses in the domestic and international markets presented.

Spencer answering questions about beef

Spencer answering questions about beef

There was time after the presentations for some questions and answers regarding the products shown during the presentation. A tour of the pit room at Terry Black’s Barbecue was conducted for the participates after a welcome by Mark and Mike Black.

Mark and Mike Black, Terry Black's Barbecue

Mark and Mike Black, Terry Black’s Barbecue

The final activity was everyone dining on a great meal of Terry Black’s Barbecue beef brisket and beef plate short ribs with wonderful sides. Everyone came away full of knowledge and barbecue.

Spencer Tindel and Lily at the Texas Monthly's 'Cue Course

Spencer Tindel and Lily at the Texas Monthly’s ‘Cue Course

 

Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting, Monday, December 11, 2017

Davey Griffin talking about beef carcasses in the Rosenthal Meat Center
Davey Griffin talking about beef carcasses in the Rosenthal Meat Center at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

Davey Griffin talking about beef carcasses in the Rosenthal Meat Center at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

The Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting, a one-day event dedicated to those involved in the commercial barbecue business, will be held at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas on Monday, December 11, 2017. This meeting will be hosted by the Meat Science program of the Department of Animal Science and will be held in the Kleberg Animal and Food Sciences Center and the Rosenthal Meat Center.

Dr. David Anderson discussing increasing beef carcass weights during his livestock and meat forecast

Dr. David Anderson discussing increasing beef carcass weights during his livestock and meat forecast

“This is the fourth year for the Town Hall meeting. We have had great turnouts at our previous meetings, and we look forward to hosting this event again this year,” according to Jeff Savell, one of the leaders of the Texas Barbecue program at Texas A&M University. Dr. David Anderson, economist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, will be back to give an update on the livestock and meat markets.

Davey Griffin and Ray Riley serving Tootsie Tomanetz, Snow's BBQ

Davey Griffin and Ray Riley serving Tootsie Tomanetz, Snow’s BBQ

The meeting will begin at 10 AM (coffee and kolaches at 9:30 AM) and end around 3 PM and will involve both lectures and hands-on demonstrations. “We choose Mondays for these meetings knowing that many restaurants are closed that day, which may allow for some operators to bring key in-house staff with them,” said Savell. “Hopefully, people can drive in, attend the meeting and be back home later that night without having to spend too much time away.”

We are fortunate to have Tin Roof BBQ of Atascocita, Texas to provide lunch for the Town Hall meeting. Thanks to the Webber family for offering to feed us during the event.

The Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting is sponsored by the E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal Chair in Animal Science. To register for the meeting, email Jeff Savell at j-savell@tamu.edu or call at 979-845-3992 (office) or 979-255-6676 (mobile), or contact Davey Griffin at dgriff@tamu.edu or call at 979-229-0273.

Previous Texas Barbecue Town Hall posts

Top pitmasters convene for third-annual Texas Barbecue Town Hall at Texas A&M

A&M BBQ Town Hall Meeting

Third Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting held

Texas barbecue owners, pitmasters learn about price trends at town hall meeting

Second Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting held

The End of Cheap Beef: TMBBQ

Texas barbecue restaurant owners hear beef price forecast, discuss trends | AgriLife Today

Barbecue town hall meeting attracts owners, pitmasters to Texas A&M

Aggies participate in second annual The Woodlands BBQ Festival

Micki Gooch, Ty Robertson, Spencer Tindel, Alec Lucas, Libby Schneider, Marc Vogelsang, Devon King, Kenzie Lackey, Chandler Steele, and Sandy Martinez
Jack Stibbs, Stibbs & Co., P.C.; Micki Gooch, Ty Robertson, Spencer Tindel, Alec Lucas, Libby Schneider, Marc Vogelsang, Devon King, Kenzie Lackey, Chandler Steele, Sandy Martinez, and Stuart Lapp, Stibbs & Co., P.C.

Jack Stibbs, Stibbs & Co., P.C.; Micki Gooch, Ty Robertson, Spencer Tindel, Alec Lucas, Libby Schneider, Marc Vogelsang, Devon King, Kenzie Lackey, Chandler Steele, Sandy Martinez, and Stuart Lapp, Stibbs & Co., P.C.

The Texas Barbecue program at Texas A&M University was honored to be asked once again to participate in The Woodlands BBQ Festival on Sunday, October 8, 2017. Faculty members Davey Griffin, Ray Riley, and Jeff Savell along with grad students, Spencer Tindel, Micki Gooch, Marc Vogelsang, and Chandler Steele, and undergrad students, Libby Schneider, Ty Robertson, Alec Lucas, Devon King, Kenzie Lackey, and Sandy Martinez traveled to the festival to make new and renew old acquaintances with the folks in the Texas barbecue business, and to visit and share knowledge with the participants at the festival.

This is the second year for The Woodlands BBQ Festival, which benefited the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. The festival was a community partnership between Stibbs & Co., P.C., the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, The Woodlands Area Chamber of Commerce, and a number of other sponsors. Congratulations to Stuart Lapp and Jack Stibbs for their hard work in getting the festival organized and back for a second year. Thanks also go to Chris Reid and Michael Fulmer, organizers of the Houston BBQ Festival, for their help and encouragement for this festival and their desire to showcase the great barbecue that is in and around the Houston metropolitan area. Houston is making a mark in the Texas Barbecue scene, and events such as these help to showcase these great establishments.

Visiting with pitmasters

We enjoy the opportunity to visit with the pitmasters at every festival we participate in. Our goal is to get there early enough to go by and introduce ourselves to those we do not know and to say high to those we do. We will be hosting the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting on Monday, December 11, 2017, and we invited each of the companies represented at the festival to come to campus to attend.

The Aggies and Blood Brothers BBQ folks

The Aggies and Blood Brothers BBQ folks

Russell Roegels preparing quail for The Woodlands BBQ Festival

Russell Roegels preparing quail for The Woodlands BBQ Festival

Ronnie Webber of Tin Roof B-B-Q showing photo of products to students

Ronnie Webber of Tin Roof B-B-Q showing photo of products to students

Greg Moore, Ray Riley, Scott Sandlin, and Russell Roegels discussing all things barbecue

Greg Moore, Ray Riley, Scott Sandlin, and Russell Roegels discussing all things barbecue

The Aggies with Bryan Bracewell of Southside Market and Barbeque, Elgin and Bastrop

The Aggies with Bryan Bracewell of Southside Market and Barbeque, Elgin and Bastrop

Libby and Marc visiting with Southern Q pitmaster

Libby and Marc visiting with Southern Q pitmaster

Scott Moore, Tejas Chocolate Craftory, telling Spencer what they are serving at The Woodlands BBQ Festival

Scott Moore, Tejas Chocolate Craftory, telling Spencer what they are serving at The Woodlands BBQ Festival

Sampling great barbecue

The major benefit of going to the barbecue festivals is to sample the great barbecue and side dishes that each of the vendors has to share. At each event, we try to pace ourselves, but it never works! Everyone does such a great job of bringing the best at what they do, and we are never disappointed that we have sampled so much great food in a short time without having to travel around for hours or days to do so.

Marc and Spencer sampling the barbecue at The Woodlands BBQ Festival

Marc and Spencer sampling the barbecue at The Woodlands BBQ Festival

Great smoked product at The Woodlands BBQ Festival

Great smoked product at The Woodlands BBQ Festival

Misty Roegels and John Brotherton

Misty Roegels and John Brotherton

The Southern Q BBQ and Catering folks

The Southern Q BBQ and Catering folks

Devon sampling the banana pudding

Devon sampling the banana pudding

Answering questions about barbecue

The organizers provided us a Texas A&M University tailgate tent for us to hang out in. We had many people come by to talk to us about the Texas Barbecue program: ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue, Barbecue Summer Camp, and Camp Brisket. Some knew about these programs, but most did not so it was good to share what we do and why we were at the festival if we were not serving barbecue to everyone.

Ty answering questions about barbecue

Ty answering questions about barbecue

Davey Griffin visiting with Greg Mueller

Davey Griffin visiting with Greg Mueller

We love the opportunity to visit with people, eat great food, and help support worthy efforts such as the Pulmonary Hypertension Association. We hope that we see everyone in The Woodlands next year.

Ninth year of ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue underway

ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue, 2017 class
ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue, 2017 class

ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue, 2017 class

This year marks the ninth year of ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue. The class has had many different prefixes, but the course name has been the same, and the purpose of the class has never wavered: to help freshmen make the difficult transition from high school to college, to know that each week they will learn about Texas Barbecue and will enjoy a great meal, and they will interact with faculty and students who care about their success and will serve as mentors to them during and after the class.

Jeff Savell addressing the freshmen in ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue

Jeff Savell addressing the freshmen in ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue

Ray Riley and I are blessed to get to work with such great students, the 30 freshmen in this year’s class and the graduate and undergraduate students who make this such a great experience for all of us. Even though we have a large group of people in the classroom each Friday, we are enriched by getting to know so many students through this activity. Thanks to Katy Jo Nickelson and Marc Vogelsang for providing such great leadership for this class.

First meal in ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue, 2017 class

First meal in ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue, 2017 class

Katy Jo Nickelson pulling pork for class

Katy Jo Nickelson pulling pork for class

We thank Jackie Savell for providing such great sides and desserts and for being at each class to provide motherly love and advice to our students. Many of the greatest memories made each year are about various items she makes.

Jackie making coleslaw

Jackie making coleslaw

We look forward to this semester and getting to know this year’s group of freshmen.

Grad, undergrad students provide valuable assistance for ANSC 117

Snazzy Seniors, ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue, 2017 class

Since the beginning of ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue in 2009, graduate and undergraduate students have provided outstanding leadership to help Ray Riley and me teach this class. We have enjoyed working with these students and watching them progress on their journeys through Texas A&M University.

The Texas Barbecue teaching assistants help with the weekly set up of the kettles, smokers, and/or pits, with cooking/smoking/serving meat, and with clean-up and put-away of equipment and utensils. There is a lot of work that goes into preparing each week’s activity, and having experienced assistants makes everything go very well. The knowledge that goes with being a sophomore, junior or a senior with respect to coursework, extracurricular experiences, and college life gives these students special credibility as they work with the freshmen during the semester.

Marc Vogelsang and Katy Jo Nickelson

Marc Vogelsang and Katy Jo Nickelson

This year, Katy Jo Nickelson and Marc Vogelsang are the graduate students who are working with ANSC 117. Both Katy Jo and Marc have unique advantages in that they were first freshmen in class and have been teaching assistants since that time. We appreciate the support that these two have given to Texas Barbecue over these years.

Snazzy Seniors, ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue, 2017 class

Snazzy Seniors, ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue, 2017 class

This year’s Snazzy Seniors are:

  • Carley Armstrong
  • Abbey Chrz
  • Marti Hanson
  • Ty Robertson
  • Vanessa Sanchez
  • Libby Schneider

Each of these seniors brings his or her unique talents and skills to the class, and we are grateful for their continued service to the freshmen.

Carley Armstrong introducing herself to the students of ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue

Carley Armstrong introducing herself to the students of ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue

Jazzy Juniors, ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue, 2017 class

Jazzy Juniors, ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue, 2017 class

The Jazzy Juniors this year are:

  • Rebecca Anderson
  • Christina Borquez
  • Cody Carroll
  • Mallory Eilers
  • Marley Grams
  • Devon King
  • Kadden Kothmann
  • Kenzie Lackey
  • Alec Lucas
  • Nikki Martinez
  • Sandy Martinez
  • Cassidy Reddout
Kenzie Lackey (middle) introducing herself to ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue

Kenzie Lackey (middle) introducing herself to ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue

Super Sophomores, ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue, 2017 class

Super Sophomores, ANSC 117, Texas Barbecue, 2017 class

The Super Sophomores this year are:

  • Anahi Arredondo
  • Rylee Barber
  • Wade Baty
  • Mark Bosse
  • Emily Bush
  • Sarah Crum
  • Bo Garcia
  • Clayton Garrett
  • Courtlyn Ranly
  • Kelley Ranly
  • Holly Sanders
  • J.D. Schnitker
  • Jason Shamburger
  • Menzi Spiller
  • Morgan Thomas

We look forward to a great year with these student leaders.

Barbecue Summer Camp, June 2017 version, photo and summary wrap up

AgriLife Logo

Barbecue Summer Camp, co-hosted by Foodways Texas and the Meat Science Section of the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University, was held on Friday, June 2nd through Sunday, June 4th, 2017.  The camp is coordinated by meat science educators, Davey Griffin, Ray Riley, and Jeff Savell. Activities were held at the Rosenthal Meat Center and O.D. Butler Animal Science Teaching, Research, and Extension Complex.  This was the eighth Barbecue Summer Camp with the first one held in 2011.

Note: Kelly Yandall  (@kellyyandell) a member of the Foodways Texas Board of Directors has graciously provided the bulk of the photos for this year’s Barbecue Summer Camp review.  Unless otherwise noted, please credit Kelly for the tremendous photos and for coming and being a part of our team!

Kelly YandellKelly with Bryan and DaveyKelly Shooting into pig pit

Pre-camp dinner at Kreuz Market, Bryan

On Thursday night, before the camp began, participants and instructors gathered at Kreuz Market in Bryan, Texas for some great barbecue and a glance at the newest barbecue establishment in the Bryan/College Station market. Pitmaster and General Manager James Landes gave the participants information on how barbecue is prepared at Kruez and offered tours of the pit room for anyone wanting to take a closer look.

James Landes Pitmaster at Kreuz Bryan

James Landes welcoming Barbecue Summer Camp Participants
A photo posted by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

Introductions

On Friday morning, Marvin Bendele of Foodways Texas and Davey Griffin, meat science Extension specialist at Texas A&M Agrilife welcomed 53 participants to the camp. Before the participants spent some time introducing themselves to the the instructors and to the rest of the camp, Griffin and Ray Riley, Rosenthal Meat Science and Technology Center Manager introduced the grad and undergraduate students who would be serving vital roles in the camp.

Graduate students being introduced

Pit design and maintenance

The first panel was on pit design and maintenance.  A great group of pitmasters and pit manufacturers were led by Davey Griffin, professor and extension meat specialist at Texas A&M University. The panel consisted of Kerry Bexley, Snow’s Barbecue, Bryan Bracewell, Southside Market and Barbeque, John Brotherton, Brotherton Barbecue, Russell Roegels, Roegels Barbecue,  and Ryan Zboril, Pitt’s and Spitt’s. The panelists talked about the pits they use or have used, proper design for creating good, clean smoke, and how to get the best performance out of them. In addition, the panelists discussed proper break-in, maintenance, and cleaning to get maximimum performance.  A message that rang loud and clear from each panelist was “know your pit”!  Everybody emphasized that knowing your pit whether it be big or small was the key element in producing quality barbecue.

Pit Maintenance Panel

Pit Maintenance Panel.  Ryan Zboril illustrating how smoke travels through different pit designs.

Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Texas Barbecue history and culture primer/tour of Martin’s Place

A long-standing tradition at Barbecue Summer Camp is to go to historic Martin’s Place in Bryan. Pitmaster and owner, Steve Kapchinskie along with his wife and daughter do a great job of showing off the wonderful brick pits and feed everyone a great lunch of brisket, ribs, and sausage to get the camp started off well.

Robb Walsh, noted food historian and writer, answered questions from the participants about the history of barbecue and included a reading from his book, Barbecue Crossroads, which features a segment about Martin’s Place in it. This tradition is so great because reading this segment in the actual setting of Martin’s brings everything to life.

 

 

Meat Safety and Thermometers

After returning to the Rosenthal Meat Center after lunch, Davey Griffin gave an overview about food safety and proper food handling. One item of special emphasis this camp was to discuss the issue of small particles of wire brushes breaking off and getting ingested. There have been a number of cases of emergency surgery due to the presence of these metal fragments in food, and Davey recommended using great care when cleaning grills and grates so as to not introduce these physical hazards into cooked products.

Davey also showed how best to calibrate thermometers. His recommendation is to be sure to use the best and most accurate thermometers possible so that proper cooking and cooling temperatures can be met.

Davey teaching how to calibrate a thermometer.

Davey teaching how to calibrate a thermometer. Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

Barbecue wood and smoke panel

The Barbecue Wood and Smoke Panel was moderated by Dr. Nick Nickelson.  Dr. Nick not only moderated, but gave insight into the science of smoke and the the importance of using properly dried wood.  Panelists included John Brotherton, Russell Roegels, Bryan Bracewell, and Homer Robertson. Each panelist gave their thoughts about their favorite woods to use in smoking meats with most of them using post oak because of its availability in the part of the state they are cooking in. The

Homer not only is a world champion chuck wagon competitor who does a lot of cooking using coals from burned-down logs, but he is with the Fort Worth Fire Department and knows quite a bit about fire and smoke. Homer’s suggestion about the role of oxygen in making a clean-burning rather than a smoldering fire supports the concepts often mentioned on this panel about the importance of having properly seasoned wood burning in a pit with a good supply of oxygen to allow for complete combustion to impart the wonderful things we want from smoke on the items that are being cooked.

Wood and Smoke Panel members

Wood and Smoke Panel

Wood and Smoke panel participants (L/R Dr. Nick Nickelsen, Homer Robertson, John Brotherton, Russell Roegels, and Bryan Bracewell). @foodwaysTX #tamubbq #bbqcamp

— Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

Rubs and marinades

Ryan Heger from Adams Flavors, Foods & Ingredients once again gave a great overview of the different types of seasonings available along with current trends in food. Ryan discussed the importance of shelf-life of particular products such as black pepper, and he spent a great deal of time talking about how to add heat to flavors without exceeding what people might enjoy eating.

Ryan provided a variety of seasonings for the participants to experiment with, and the students assisted them in seasoning briskets, pork Boston butts, pork baby back ribs, and beef chuck short ribs that would be cooked either overnight (briskets and pork butts) or the next day (pork St. Louis style ribs and beef chuck and plate short ribs).

Participants in rub and spice lab.

Participants in rub and spice lab.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Some of the Adams pre-blended spices available to participants

Some of the Adams pre-blended spices available to participants.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Participants spicing up a brisket!

Participants spicing up a brisket!  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Rubbing beef short ribs

Rubbing beef short ribs. Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

Brining basics

Brandon Burrows with Kerry Ingredients discussed the brining techniques for the barbecue industry.  Brandon’s presentation was excellent in helping everyone understand what brining would and would not do to aid in making better barbecue.

Hog preparation for whole hog barbecue

Mark Frenzel and Kyle Phillips prepared a brine for injection into a whole pig carcass that weighed about 70 pounds. Mark and Kyle made up a two-gallon brine that contained 1 cup of Kosher salt and 1 cup of sugar. The target pump was about 20% of the weight of the carcass.

Dinner and refreshments

Bryan Bracewell and the crew from Southside Market and Barbeque provided an outstanding meal of brisket, baby back ribs, and their famous hot guts beef and jalapeño and cheese sausage for the evening. The event was The meal was topped off with the choice of blackberry cobbler or peach cobbler along with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.

Special thanks go to the Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, Texas for providing Shiner Bock beer for the Friday and Saturday evening meals.

Sliders and sausage on the pit.

Southside Market and Barbeque sliders and hot guts on the grill.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Bryan Bracewell leading discussion

Pitmaster Bryan Bracewell discussing the pits on the Southside Market & Barbecue trailer.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Picture

Pitmaster Bryan Bracewell with Ryan Heger (Adams), Tommy Neuman and Southside’s VP of Marketing, Nick Lindauer.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Briskets resting in unwaxed butcher paper (peach paper)

Briskets resting in unwaxed butcher paper (peach paper).  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Pitmaster Bryan Bracewell at the helm slicing his brisket.

Pitmaster Bryan Bracewell at the helm slicing his brisket.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Lining up for Southside Barbecue on Friday evening.

Lining up for Southside Market Barbecue on Friday evening.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

The crew that made everything great the whole weekend!

The crew that made everything great the whole weekend!  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

Hog on the pit

The participants traveled to the TAMU Beef Center to watch the whole pig being placed inside the cinder-block pit for all-day cooking. Thanks to Make Frenzel, Taylor Rowland, and Ty Robertson for spending the day cooking the pig.

Robb Walsh taking "up close" photos of the roasting pig.

Robb Walsh taking “up close” photos of the roasting pig.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Mark Frenzel giving a tour of the pig pit.

Mark Frenzel giving a tour of the pig pit.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Pig pit crew putting the pig in to start cooking.

Pig pit crew putting the pig in to start cooking.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

The pig is on the pit, but still time for more "before" photos!

The pig is on the pit, but still time for more “before” photos!  Photo by Davey Griffin

 

Pig cooking crew: Taylor Rowland, Ty Robertson, Adam Murray, and Mark Frenzel.

Pig cooking crew: Taylor Rowland, Ty Robertson, Adam Murray, and Mark Frenzel.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

Brisket and pork Boston butt cooking

On Saturday morning, the briskets and pork butts were ready to be placed in peach paper for additional cooking to finish off. Russell Roegels discussed the overnight cooking of the briskets and butts before the products were wrapped.

 

Russell Roegels giving a tour of his pit and showing participants where their briskets and pork butts were cooking.

Russell Roegels giving a tour of his pit and showing participants where their briskets and pork butts were cooking.  Photo by Davey Griffin

Beef anatomy overview

Davey Griffin spent the morning going over the various cuts that come from beef along with a USDA beef grading overview. Ray ribbed a carcass in front of the participants, which always creates quite a photographic frenzy for those wanting to capture the moment on their cameras or phones.

 

Davey and Bryan discuss the way the briskets were cooked the evening before.

Davey and Bryan discuss the way the briskets were cooked the evening before.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Davey talking about everything beef!

Davey Griffin talking about everything beef!  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Davey Griffin showing where cattle are ribbed for grading.

Davey Griffin showing where cattle are ribbed for grading.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Davey Griffin showing beef marbling comparison for grading.

Davey Griffin showing beef marbling comparison for grading.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Clay Eastwood showing where the tenderloin is located.

Clay Eastwood showing where the tenderloin is located.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Clay Eastwood showing beef subprimals.

Clay Eastwood showing beef subprimals.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Beef cutting room demonstrations

Various cuts of beef were displayed in the teaching cutting room of the Rosenthal Meat Center with graduate students standing by to discuss the different cuts and their uses in barbecue or other methods of preparation.

Participants learning about beef cuts from TAMU Meat Science students.

Participants learning about beef cuts from TAMU Meat Science students.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

TAMU graduate student Micki Gooch teaching about beef ribs.

TAMU graduate student Micki Gooch teaching about beef ribs.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

TAMU graduate student Aeriel Belk teaching about beef middle meats.

TAMU graduate student Aeriel Belk teaching about beef middle meats.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

TAMU graduate student Jill Jobe teaching about beef clods.

TAMU graduate student Jill Jobe teaching about beef clods.   Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

Lunch: heavy tasting – meat market style

A typical market-style lunch of smoked meats, cheese, onions, pickles and bread were served to the participants. Individual cooked briskets and pork butts seasoned by the participants the day before were sliced or pulled with the teams of people who seasoned them having the first chance at sampling the cuts. Each team talked about the type of seasonings they used and how they thought the products turned out.

Russell Roegels and Davey Griffin getting team opinions on how their spices/rubs turned out.

Russell Roegels and Davey Griffin getting team opinions on how their spices/rubs turned out.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Russell Roegels and Davey Griffin evaluating a brisket.

Russell Roegels and Davey Griffin evaluating a brisket.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Brisket cross section.

Brisket cross section.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Participants got to try their own first!

Participants got to try their own first!  Photo by Madalynn Kainer

 

Using "bear claws" to pull a pork Boston butt.

Using “bear claws” to pull a pork Boston butt.  Photo by Madalynn Kainer

 

Participants sampling their work.

Participants sampling their work.  Photo by Madalynn Kainer

 

Pulled pork

Pulled pork.  Photo by Madalynn Kainer

 

The way a pork scapula should look if the Boston butt is cooked correctly!

The way a pork scapula should look if the Boston butt is cooked correctly!  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Pork anatomy overview

Davey Griffin presented an overview of pork carcass anatomy and terminology.

Davey Griffin discussing pork cut nomenclature

Davey Griffin discussing pork cut nomenclature

Pork cutting room demonstrations

Various cuts of pork were displayed in the teaching cutting room of the Rosenthal Meat Center. Graduate students talked about the cuts, and McKensie Harris conducted a cutting demonstration for the participants.

McKensie Harris breaking down a side of pork.

McKensie Harris breaking down a side of pork.  Photo by Davey Griffin

 

Micki Gooch explaining pork shoulders.

Micki Gooch explaining pork shoulders.  Photo by Davey Griffin

 

McKensie discussing the pork side breakdown with Bob.

McKensie discussing the pork side breakdown with Bob.  Photo by Davey Griffin

 

Micki Gooch showing Boston butt orientation on the skeleton.

Micki Gooch showing Boston butt orientation on the skeleton.  Photo by Davey Griffin

 

Aeriel Belk discussed pork loin options.

Aeriel Belk discussed pork loin options.  Photo by Davey Griffin

 

Katy Jo Nickelsen discussing pork rib options.

Katy Jo Nickelsen discussing pork rib options.  Photo by Davey Griffin

 

Adam Murray talking hams.

Adam Murray talking hams.  Photo by Davey Griffin

 

Whole-hog barbecue dinner

Saturday evening ended with a whole-pig cooking event along with the beef and pork ribs that had been seasoned by the participants. Russell Roegels and his crew prepared the ribs on his pit, while our students manned the pig pit. Certainly, good time was had by all.

The end product of a long day of smoking - perfectly prepared and ready for dinner!

The end product of a long day of smoking – perfectly prepared and ready for dinner!  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

TAMU BBQ Bones

TAMU BBQ Bones.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

Poultry sessions

Sunday morning was devoted to poultry, and the activities were led by Brandon Burrows, Kerry Ingredients with preparation and cooking/smoking demonstrations conducted by the Meat Science graduate students and faculty. Fajitas, homemade sausage, drumsticks with mayo/spices were prepared by the participants. Brandon shared the recipe for Peruvian Rotisserie Seasoning and showed the participants how to make it.  A new product for Barbecue Summer Camp was added – smoked turkey breast.

Brandon also presented an overview of current trends in flavor and answered questions from the participants regarding various seasonings and their usefulness for barbecue and other applications.

Brandon Burrows did an excellent job of bringing everything poultry together on Sunday.

Brandon Burrows did an excellent job of bringing everything poultry together on Sunday.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Doctors Mark and Leslie Frenzel coached participants as they made chicken sausage with cheese and jalapeños.

Doctors Mark and Leslie Frenzel coached participants as they made chicken sausage with cheese and jalapeños.  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

Mayonnaise on a chicken drumstick?

Mayonnaise on a chicken drumstick?  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

 

The newest product added to barbecue Summer Camp - smoked turkey breast - Outstanding!

The newest product added to barbecue Summer Camp – smoked turkey breast – Outstanding!  Photo by Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)

Summary

The eighth Barbecue Summer Camp came to an end with everyone leaving full of knowledge and barbecue! Although this camp came with some special challenges, the team rose to the occasion and made this a very special event.  Thanks for all of the participants, speakers, pit masters, and students who were involved in another outstanding camp! Special thanks go to Kenna Turner, Madalynn Kainer, Megan Finley and Carly Hoffman for providing such great logistic support for the camp, and to Taylor Rowland, a student from the ANSC 117 Texas Barbecue class who volunteered his time to help help cook the pig again this year.

Aggies participate in 5th Houston BBQ Festival

Spencer Tindel, Adam Murray, Marc Vogelsang, Libby Schneider, Kensie Lackey, Jordan Hevner, Bryan Bracewell, Erika Victor, Sandy Martinez, Madalynn Kainer, Vanessa Sanchez, Davey Griffin, Becca Kirkpatrick, Ray Riley, Katy Jo Nickelson, and Kadden Kothmann at Houston BBQ Festival
Spencer Tindel, Adam Murray, Marc Vogelsang, Libby Schneider, Kensie Lackey, Jordan Hevner, Bryan Bracewell, Erika Victor, Sandy Martinez, Madalynn Kainer, Vanessa Sanchez, Davey Griffin, Becca Kirkpatrick, Ray Riley, Katy Jo Nickelson, and Kadden Kothmann at the Houston BBQ Festival

Spencer Tindel, Adam Murray, Marc Vogelsang, Libby Schneider, Kenzie Lackey, Jordan Hevner, Bryan Bracewell, Erika Victor, Sandy Martinez, Madalynn Kainer, Vanessa Sanchez, Davey Griffin, Becca Kirkpatrick, Ray Riley, Katy Jo Nickelson, and Kadden Kothmann at the Houston BBQ Festival

A large group of Aggies participated in the 5th Houston BBQ Festival, which was held in the NRG Park area in Houston on Sunday, April 9, 2017. Those in attendance from Texas A&M University were faculty Davey Griffin, Ray Riley, and Jeff Savell, and students Jordan Hevner, Madalynn Kainer, Becca Kirkpatrick, Kadden Kothmann, Kenzie Lackey, Sandy Martinez, Adam Murray, Katy Jo Nickelson, Vanessa Sanchez, Libby Schneider, Spencer Tindel, Erika Victor, and Marc Vogelsang.

Ray Riley visiting with Fredrick Khoury, 1934 BBQ Sauce

Ray Riley visiting with Fredrick Khoury, 1934 BBQ Sauce

Davey Griffin visiting with Wayne Mueller

Davey Griffin visiting with Wayne Mueller

We enjoy going to the festival each year to talk to folks about Texas Barbecue and to see so many of the pitmasters we have gotten to know through festivals and camps and to make new acquaintances with those we have not met yet. One of the most common questions we get is not about how to cook better barbecue, but how to get into the always-sold-out Barbecue Summer Camp and Camp Brisket, two outstanding programs we conduct with Foodways Texas.

Davey Griffin, Chris Reid, and Jonathan Cohen

Davey Griffin, Chris Reid, and Jonathan Cohen

Davey Griffin, Jason Tedford, and Ray Riley

Davey Griffin, Jason Tedford, and Ray Riley

Spencer and Marc sampling at Tin Roof BBQ

Spencer and Marc sampling at Tin Roof BBQ

Ray Riley, Davey Griffin, and Patrick Reardon

Ray Riley, Davey Griffin, and Patrick Reardon

The Houston BBQ Festival has two great champions, Chris Reid and Michael Fulmer. Chris and Michael are the event founders, and thanks for always inviting us each year and allowing us to interact with barbecue specialists and enthusiasts from around the Houston area. Your passion for shedding the spotlight on these great barbecue endeavors is making a difference throughout the southeast Texas area.

Davey Griffin, Ray Riley, Wayne Kammerl, Russell Roegels, and Misty Roegels at Houston BBQ Festival

Davey Griffin, Ray Riley, Wayne Kammerl, Russell Roegels, and Misty Roegels

With Dr Savell @jwsavell from Texas A&M Meat Science @houbbq

A post shared by Robert Sierra (@sspitcrew) on

We had a great time, but sampled way too much. The food was great, but the fun and fellowship was even greater. We look forward to next year’s event, and appreciate the opportunity to participate in these events across the state.

Camp Brisket, 2017 edition

Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue, talking about how to trim beef briskets
Davey Griffin leading beef brisket trimming for Camp Brisket

Davey Griffin leading beef brisket trimming for Camp Brisket

The fifth Camp Brisket, a joint venture between Foodways Texas and the Meat Science Section of the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University, was held on January 6-7, 2017 at the Rosenthal Meat Center and the Beef Cattle Center at the O.D. Butler Animal Science Complex. About 60 participants from around the U.S. embarked on a journey to learn more about the ultimate challenge preparing that most difficult dish of Texas Barbecue cuisine, the brisket.

Camp Brisket was coordinated by Texas A&M University meat science educators, Davey Griffin, Ray Riley, and Jeff Savell, and who were assisted by graduate students, undergraduate students, staff, and friends and family including Clay Eastwood, Aeriel Belk, Becca Kirkpatrick, Jill Jobe, Spencer Tindel, Baylee Bessire, Jordan Hevner, Adam Murray, Drew Cassens, Courtney Boykin, Crystal Waters, Madalynn Kainer, Katy Jo Nickelson, and Jennifer Willis. These great folks ensured that the needs of the briskets and guests were attended to through the camp.

Greetings and introductions are part of the beginning of each Camp Brisket. Getting to know each other is one way to create community that is so important when we conduct these workshops.

Marvin Bendele, Foodways Texas, giving an introduction to Camp Brisket

Marvin Bendele, Foodways Texas, giving an introduction to Camp Brisket

Participant introduction including Tootsie Tomanetz, Snow's BBQ

Participant introduction including Tootsie Tomanetz, Snow’s BBQ

Brisket trimming and seasoning

Before Camp Brisket starts, work begins on procuring the briskets representing different types and grades, trimming them, and applying the salt/pepper seasoning (we used a half and half mix by volume of Kosher salt and course ground pepper with 3/4 cup applied to each brisket). Davey Griffin worked with the grad students to get the briskets ready to go for the camp.

Boxes of beef briskets

Boxes of beef briskets

Bringing the team together to trim briskets

Bringing the team together to trim briskets

Vacuum packaged packer-style briskets

Vacuum packaged packer-style briskets

Davey Griffin demonstrating brisket trimming to Aeriel Belk and Becca Kirkpatrick

Davey Griffin demonstrating brisket trimming to Aeriel Belk and Becca Kirkpatrick

Trimming briskets

Trimming briskets

Spencer Tindel and Becca Kirkpatrick seasoning brisket

Spencer Tindel and Becca Kirkpatrick seasoning brisket

Seasoning brisket

Seasoning brisket

Salt and pepper seasoned beef briskets

Salt and pepper seasoned beef briskets

Brisket history, background, and anatomy

The first talks were given by Robb Walsh, noted food and cookbook writer, on history of the use of briskets for Texas Barbecue, Jess Pryles, cook, writer, and TV personality, on the difference between restaurant and competition brisket, and Davey Griffin, on the anatomy of a brisket.

Robb Walsh, talking about the history of beef briskets used in Texas barbecue

Robb Walsh, talking about the history of beef briskets used in Texas barbecue

Jess Pryles, discussing the differences between restaurant and competition brisket

Jess Pryles, discussing the differences between restaurant and competition brisket

Davey Griffin discussing the anatomy of a brisket

Davey Griffin discussing the anatomy of a brisket

Davey Griffin dissecting a brisket

Davey Griffin dissecting a brisket

Knife selection, brisket trimming, and cooked brisket slicing

Proper knife use and sharpening was covered by Jeff Savell before a demonstration on trimming raw briskets and slicing cooked briskets was led by Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas.

Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue at Camp Brisket

Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue

Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue, talking about how to trim beef briskets

Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue, talking about how to trim beef briskets

Tasting different grades of brisket

The first tasting test we did was for different grades of brisket. We obtained five different grades/types of briskets for use in this demonstration: Prime, Certified Angus Beef, Wagyu, Choice, and Select. These briskets and the remaining ones used for the camp were trimmed to have no more than about 1/4 inch of fat remaining anywhere. Each brisket was seasoned with 3/4-cup of a half and half mixture (by volume) of Kosher salt and coarse-ground black pepper. The briskets for the grade/type demonstration were cooked on Russell Roegel’s of Roegels Barbecue pit with John Brotherton of Brotherton BBQ managing the cooking cycle. Oak logs were the source of heat and smoke.

Each grade/type of brisket was sliced so that each participant received a sample to rate on a ballot. When completed, the ballots were tabulated by the students to determine whether the participants could tell the difference in the grades or types of brisket. The winner? The result of the taste test was a tie for first between Prime and Wagyu with Certified Angus Beef, Choice, and Select receiving similar consumer overall like ratings. Each year, this taste comparison usually results in Prime and Wagyu near the top and Select being near the bottom in ratings. There are perceivable differences in eating quality among different grades and types of briskets, and those interested in producing the best cooked briskets possible need to be aware of this.

Serving sliced briskets to participants

Serving sliced briskets to participants

Beef grading/certification discussion

Davey Griffin and Ray Riley led a discussion and demonstration of beef grading.

Ray Riley showing marbling card used in USDA beef quality grading

Participants viewing a beef carcass

Ray Riley showing marbling card used in USDA beef quality grading

Ray Riley showing marbling card used in USDA beef quality grading

Wood and Smoke panel

There was a Wood and Smoke panel at the end of the afternoon featuring Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly barbecue editor, as the moderator, Lance Kirkpatrick, Stiles Switch BBQ and Brew; Aaron Franklin; Kevin Kolman, Weber Grills; Tom Perini, Perini Ranch Steakhouse; Joe Riscky, Riscky’s Barbecue; Homer Robertson, World Champion Chuck Wagon competitor and Fort Worth Fire Department leader; and Nick Nickelson. Post oak is the featured wood for Texas Barbecue based on its abundance and how the smoke complements beef. Nick Nickelson discussed the topic of using properly seasoned wood to smoke with and how important it was to getting a clean fire that imparts the good aspects of the smoke onto the product. The positives and negatives of the other woods most commonly used in smoking — hickory, mesquite, and pecan — were discussed.

Daniel Vaughn, Barbecue editor, Texas Monthly Magazine, and moderator, Fire and Smoke panel at Camp Brisket

Daniel Vaughn, Barbecue editor, Texas Monthly Magazine, and moderator, Fire and Smoke panel at Camp Brisket

Tom Perini, Perini Ranch Steakhouse

Tom Perini, Perini Ranch Steakhouse

Fire and Smoke panel at Camp Brisket

Fire and Smoke panel at Camp Brisket

Daniel Vaughn, Barbecue editor, Texas Monthly Magazine, and moderator, Fire and Smoke panel at Camp Brisket

Homer Robertson

Friday night dinner

We moved to the Beef Center for the rest of the program. We were blessed to have two great people involved with dinner that night. Evan LeRoy from Austin provided the main meal with brisket and beef short ribs from 44 Farms. Homer Robertson, world champion chuck wagon competitor, provided bread pudding and peach cobbler for the crowd. The food was enjoyed by all!

Chuck wagon supper prep @foodwaystexas Camp Brisket.

A photo posted by Robert Jacob Lerma (@robertjacoblerma) on

Overnight smoking at Camp Brisket

The next brisket comparison was to smoke briskets overnight using the four primary woods — oak, hickory, mesquite, and pecan. Multiple pits were used for the overnight cooking. We used Choice briskets, trimmed and seasoned as mentioned before, for the comparison, and briskets were put on the smokers around 8 pm on Friday evening so that they would be ready to serve around lunch time on Saturday. Kevin Kolman from Weber Grills started four Weber Smokey Mountain cookers with chunks from the four woods as part of the demonstration.

The staff, students, and family tended to the pits overnight. Temperatures plunged to the upper teens, which continues the trend where weather is a factor at Camp Brisket.

Chuck wagon breakfast, starting fires, and pit discussion

Saturday morning became a time for a great chuck wagon breakfast of biscuits and gravy and breakfast tacos from Homer Robertson, Ty Robertson, Arthur Garcia, and friends, a primer on starting fires in off-set pits and Weber Smokey Mountain cookers, a review of the different types of pits we used to cook with, and a discussion by Homer Robertson, Tom Perini, and Tootsie Tomenetz, Snow’s BBQ about cooking over direct coals.

Chuck wagon breakfast being served

Chuck wagon breakfast being served

Tom Perini Mike Micallef, and Homer Robertson

Tom Perini Mike Micallef, and Homer Robertson

Pitt's and Spitt's pellet smoker

Pitt’s and Spitt’s pellet smoker

Jambo smoker

Jambo smoker

Offset smoker

Offset smoker

John Brotherton being interviewed by KBTX-TV reporter at Camp Brisket

John Brotherton being interviewed by KBTX-TV reporter at Camp Brisket

Patrick Reardon, discussing cooking on his Jambo, at Camp Brisket

Patrick Reardon, discussing cooking on his Jambo, at Camp Brisket

Davey Griffin describing a smoker

Davey Griffin describing a smoker

John Brotherton, Brotherton BBQ

John Brotherton, Brotherton BBQ

Kevin Kolman, Weber Grills, talking about building a fire in the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Ryan Zboril, Pitt’s and Spitt’s

Russell Roegel's, Roegel's Barbecue

Russell Roegel’s, Roegel’s Barbecue

Kevin Kolman, Weber Grills, talking about building a fire in the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Kevin Kolman, Weber Grills, talking about building a fire in the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker

Homer Robertson discussing building a fire to make coals to cook over

Homer Robertson discussing building a fire to make coals to cook over

Tom Perini, Perini Ranch Steakhouse, talking about how he cooks with direct coals

Tom Perini, Perini Ranch Steakhouse, talking about how he cooks with direct coals

Tootsie Tomanetz, Snow's BBQ, discussing cooking over direct coals

Tootsie Tomanetz, Snow’s BBQ, discussing cooking over direct coals

Pit design and maintenance panel

A pit design and maintenance panel was composed of Aaron Franklin; Russell Roegels, Roegels Barbecue; Kerry Bexley, Snow’s BBQ; Wayne Mueller, Louie Mueller Barbecue; Bryan Bracewell, Southside Market and Barbeque; Ryan Zboril, Pitt’s and Spitt’s; Kevin Kolman, with Davey Griffin as the moderator. Each panelist added his own take on what types of pits/cookers they preferred and what they did to make sure they were used to their best ability.

Davey Griffin moderating the Pit Design and Maintenance panel at Camp Brisket

Davey Griffin moderating the Pit Design and Maintenance panel at Camp Brisket

Kevin Kolman, Weber Grills, on the Pit Design and Maintenance panel at Camp Brisket

Kevin Kolman, Weber Grills, on the Pit Design and Maintenance panel at Camp Brisket

Wayne Mueller, Louie Mueller Barbecue

Wayne Mueller, Louie Mueller Barbecue

Kerry Bexley, Snow's BBQ

Kerry Bexley, Snow’s BBQ

Ryan Zboril, Pitt's and Spitt's

Ryan Zboril, Pitt’s and Spitt’s

Aaron Franklin, Frank Barbecue on the Pit Design and Maintenance panel at Camp Brisket

Aaron Franklin, Frank Barbecue on the Pit Design and Maintenance panel at Camp Brisket

Ryan Zboril, Pitt's and Spitt's, on Pit Design and Maintenance panel at Camp Brisket

Russell Roegels, Roegels Barbecue, Aaron Franklin, Franklin Barbecue, and Kerry Bexley, Snow’s BBQ

Camp Brisket participants at the Beef Cattle Center

Camp Brisket participants at the Beef Cattle Center

Seasonings and barbecue science

Brandon Burrows, Kerry Ingredients and Jeff Savell spent some time going over different seasonings outside of the normal use of salt and pepper. Jeff discussed some of the science behind meat and barbecue and fielded questions from the crowd regarding a wide array of topics.

Smoke tasting panel

Lunch that day was the tasting of the briskets prepared using the four different smokes — oak, hickory, mesquite, and pecan. Each participant received a small slice of brisket from each smoke and were asked to rate it on 9-point scales. Students tabulated the results, and there was a three-way tie among mesquite, pecan, and hickory with oak being different from mesquite, but not from pecan or hickory. Most years, either oak or hickory wins this competition.

Life as a pitmaster panel

One of the most highly regarded parts of Camp Brisket is the final panel, moderated by Jeff Savell, which featured Russell Roegels, Bryan Bracewell, Aaron Franklin, Wayne Mueller, Evan LeRoy, John Brotherton, Tootsie Tomanetz, Kerry Bexley. The title of the panel was “Life as a Pitmaster,” and it gave each person a time to reflect on their path to where they are now, the challenges and opportunities they each face, and why in this crazy world of barbecue, they love this business so much.

Aaron Franklin, Wayne Mueller, Evan LeRoy, John Brotherton, Bryan Bracewell, Tootsie Tomanetz, Kerry Bexley, Russell Roegels, and Jeff Savell (photo courtesy of Kelly Yandell)

Aaron Franklin, Wayne Mueller, Evan LeRoy, John Brotherton, Bryan Bracewell, Tootsie Tomanetz, Kerry Bexley, Russell Roegels, and Jeff Savell (photo courtesy of Kelly Yandell)

Send off meal

The final meal is a comparison of wrapped versus unwrapped briskets. At this point, we do not collect ballots any more to see who liked what. Most participants are facing “brisket fatigue” at this point, and are ready for something fairly light as they depart.

Unwrapped and foil-wrapped briskets at Camp Brisket

Unwrapped and foil-wrapped briskets at Camp Brisket

We end Camp Brisket for this year and know that many people from all walks of life have come together to bond over barbecue in general, but with the common goal of how to tackle the challenge that is the brisket! Thanks to Kelly Yandell, Foodways Texas board member, for coming and taking such great photos and being at the camp to support everyone.

Aaron Franklin being interviewed by Blakeley Galbraith, KBTX-TV

Aaron Franklin being interviewed by Blakeley Galbraith, KBTX-TV

John Brotherton placing peach-paper-wrapped brisket in warmer

John Brotherton placing peach-paper-wrapped brisket in warmer

Jeff Savell, Davey Griffin, and Ray Riley (photo courtesy of Kelly Yandell)

Jeff Savell, Davey Griffin, and Ray Riley (photo courtesy of Kelly Yandell)

Clay Eastwood removing vacuum package from brisket

Clay Eastwood removing vacuum package from brisket

Tom Perini and Nick Nicholson

Tom Perini and Nick Nicholson

Third Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting held

Davey Griffin discussing marbling requirements for beef carcass quality grading
Davey Griffin discussing marbling requirements for beef carcass quality grading

Davey Griffin discussing marbling requirements for beef carcass quality grading at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

Owners/operators and pitmasters from some of the leading barbecue restaurants throughout Texas participated in the third Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting, which was held at the Kleberg Animal and Food Science Center and the Rosenthal Meat Center on Monday, December 12, 2016. About 45 people were in attendance, and participants received updates on livestock and meat markets for beef, pork, chicken, and turkey by David Anderson, professor and extension economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, food safety overview for restaurants by Kerri Gehring, associate professor in the Department of Animal Science, beef carcass grading by Davey Griffin, professor and extension meat specialist and Ray Riley, manager, Rosenthal Meat Center, and beef carcass utilization and cut-out values by Griffin and Jeff Savell, distinguished professor and E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal Chairholder in the Department of Animal Science.

The meeting was sponsored by the E.M. “Manny” Rosenthal Chair in the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University, and Davey Griffin, Ray Riley, and Jeff Savell served as hosts with assistance from student workers, Madalynn Kainer, Kenna Turner, and Jordan Hevner. Graduate students Clay Eastwood and Courtney Boykin helped with the beef carcass and cut-out value demonstrations.

Joe Riscky, Riscky's Barbeque, Fort Worth

Joe Riscky, Riscky’s Barbeque, Fort Worth

Participants at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

Participants at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

Dr. Anderson gave an update on current market trends for livestock and meat. For the most part, meat production is increasing and with that, some prices may be softened during the upcoming year. While this is not necessarily good news for livestock and poultry producers, this could be good news for those in the restaurant business.

David Anderson talking about livestock and meat markets at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

David Anderson talking about livestock and meat markets

Dr. Gehring talked about issues related to food safety and the foodservice industry. Foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, Campylobacter, Listeria monocytogenes, Clostridium perfringens, and Staphylococcus aureus. Gehring mentioned that most foodborne illnesses could be traced to undercooking, cross contamination, and improper storage and handling after cooking. She also noted that many recalls with meat and poultry processors have been attributed to undeclared allergens and that restaurant businesses need to be careful about how allergens are used in their facilities.

Kerri Gehring discussing food safety for the restaurant business

Kerri Gehring discussing food safety for the restaurant business

Evan LeRoy from Austin provided the lunch, which included smoked beef chuck roll, pork brisket, and a sweet potato dish. We thank Evan for serving such great food to the participants.

Evan LeRoy slicing products

Evan LeRoy slicing products

Evan LeRoy serving beef chuck roll and pork brisket to participants

Evan LeRoy serving beef chuck roll and pork brisket to participants

#chuck ready for lunch #whoop #howdy

A photo posted by Evan LeRoy (@evanleroybbq) on

After lunch, the group moved to the Rosenthal Meat Center for a beef carcass grading demonstration led by Davey Griffin and Ray Riley. Participants were suited up with frocks, hard hats, hairnets, and, where appropriate, beard nets to spend time in the refrigerated cooler learning about beef carcass quality and yield grading.

Davey Griffin talking about beef carcasses in the Rosenthal Meat Center

Davey Griffin talking about beef carcasses in the Rosenthal Meat Center

Ray Riley ribbing a beef carcass at the Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting

Ray Riley ribbing a beef carcass

Tootsie Tomanetz and Clay Cowgill, Snow's BBQ, Lexington, Texas

Tootsie Tomanetz and Clay Cowgill, Snow’s BBQ, Lexington, Texas

After the carcass evaluation segment, the participants moved to the Rosenthal Meat Center classroom to learn more about beef carcass cut-out utilization and value. Davey Griffin demonstrated the breakdown of a beef chuck roll to show some of the muscles that could be used for barbecue and other cooking applications.

Davey Griffin discussing beef carcass cutout values and utilization

Davey Griffin discussing beef carcass cutout values and utilization

Davey Griffin discussing the beef chuck roll

Davey Griffin discussing the beef chuck roll

Davey Griffin cutting up a beef chuck roll

Davey Griffin cutting up a beef chuck roll

The next Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting will be held next December, and we look forward to our continued work with the people in the business of making the best barbecue around.

Texas Barbecue Town Hall meeting in the news

Top pitmasters convene for third-annual Texas Barbecue Town Hall at Texas A&M by Jake Walker

A&M BBQ Town Hall Meeting