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Francis Bacon, the 17th century English philosopher, is a martyr in the ancient and holy faith of BARBECUE. Most famously, he died by contracting pneumonia while studying the effects of freezing on the preservation of meat. We have all benefited from his sacrifices since then. One of his well-known quotes comes from an apocryphal tale concerning the Islamic prophet Mohammad, saying “If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, Mohammed will go to the mountain”. The moral of the story being that if things aren’t going as you would like, you might need to take another route.
Well good thing for me that sometimes instead of taking my usual BBQ road trips, which at its peak has taken me over a thousand miles from home, sometimes a BBQ joint comes to me instead. During a recent street fair in front of my office in heart of Manhattan’s financial district, I bumped into Texas Smoke BBQ, a joint located in Jefferson, NJ. Jefferson is not quite Cordele Georgia, so the drive is only 50 miles versus over a thousand, but it’s still a trek.
Texas Smoke BBQ was started by Scott and Maria Reid after a trip to Texas gave them the BBQ bug. The formed a competition team and eventually started doing catering and street fairs. They specialize in Texas style barbecue. Which region is not clear from the site but if I were to guess I would place them solidly in the Eastern Texas style. What’s nice about their menu is that it includes tex-mex foods like the Chimichanga. Having lived in West Texas for a number of years, I can tell you that a chimichanga (basically a fried burrito smothered in cheese and sauce) is just as Texan a dish as BBQ brisket. I would even argue that state-wide the enchilada has more pull than BBQ brisket.
On this particular day, the Reids were smoking brisket for chopped beef sandwiches. To this end I broke my own rule about getting brisket from an unknown source. What sold me was the fact that he had his big black metal offset smoker parked right there next to Wall Street smoking BBQ. This might actually be an special treat as there was some hint that the food at the restaurant might actually be smoked with a gasser instead of a wood burning smoker like he had that day.
In the pantheon of BBQ dishes the only dish I tend to avoid more than BBQ chicken would be the chopped beef sandwich. Now the chopped beef sandwich could be a really good thing, provided that it’s made with the fatty trimmings of a brisket or made using chuck (which dries out less). Unfortunately most people will still do chopped beef sandwiches with brisket.
Texas Smoke actually makes its own sauces. And who couldn’t resist bull dressed up as a cowboy on the label. I was given a choice of mild or spicy, and in Texas that’s always a test of one’s manhood. Are you going to step up and take on the big boy hot sauce? Or are you heading to the back to play with barbies? I elected the spicy.
As expected the meat was dry and needed the sauce. This further supports my contention that brisket is the insensitive douchebag of the BBQ world. I did like the sauce though. It was a bit spicy, nothing too challenging and wasn’t too sweet. It complements the meat well. The beef had a good deep smoke flavor and overall it was a very very solid championship lunch. Were Texas Smoke BBQ near my office everyday I’d certainly add them to the weekly rotation. Would really love to taste their chimichanga!