Thursday, September 4, 2014

The thing about brisket...

I've been making the rounds picking up takeout brisket here and there, and you know what always is my sticking point between great and mediocre barbecue?  It's as simple as this… two things I look for in a quality barbecued brisket:

1. Moisture… is is juicy is it succulent?  
2. Crust… do you get that smoky aroma from the meat?

I've had some great success at some spots and less success at others.   I know, this is California so anyone in Texas or North Carolina is going to laugh at all of this and tell me to go home.    Within the context of what we have though, we do have some pretty good choices for brisket, and some less impressive ones.

Again, nobody believes me, but the Brisket at Whole Foods Market is simply very good.  It's not done medium rare, but its very tender, and man… the smoker they use is tremendous!  you get that smoky flavoring all over the meat.  Like you put a piece in your mouth and the mesquite taste or whatever it is fills the mouth.   It's a great aroma!   It would undoubtedly not be the *best* Brisket in LA, but as a quick takeout item its just wonderful.  The catch is that you MUST eat it fresh.  If its been cut open and sitting around for 6 hours its just not going to be that good, and it'll come out very dry.  Watch for it… to play it safe, just go to a Whole Foods early in the day.  Maybe around 11am and I think it will be safe.

The BEST?  I think many people out here can tell you Bludso's BBQ in Compton, run by a fella from Texas, is the pinnacle of all barbecue in the southland.  Think I'm exaggerating?  Read the accounts of those who've tasted it all… guys from Texas who go there, and I think they all can attest it's as good as it gets for Los Angeles.

I remember a few years ago I drove back home from jury duty down in Inglewood, and I saw a car with a bumper sticker advertising Bludso's.  The next two years I wanted to find out more and more about the place, and ultimately I went to their website.  It was over in Compton, actually not too far south from the border where Compton meets Lynwood.   It wasn't until last fall when I went down to check it out for myself.   It was so good… simply phenomenal.  It took an awfully long time to get the food because it's a haul from where I live plus the demand for their meat is so high that you're waiting a while for it to cook.  I got the 30 dollar sampler combo and it was worth it.  In fact there was so much meat in it that I had food for nearly a week.  The deets of this experience are in a previous Daveblog, perhaps a google search will find it.  Anyway, the best brisket I've had come from this fine establishment.  

Second best goes to a sit-down place that is pretty darn good itself.  Baby Blues BBQ over in Venice.   I've had the brisket and while it costs quite a bit for what you get, the brisket is just wonderful.  Everything checked out… smoky flavor, texture, taste.  Boom, boom, boom, it all hit home.

So, I sought out some other choices and happened upon Smoke City Market in Van Nuys.  I had high hopes.. unfortunately, I think it fell flat.   The thing was, while we had no issue with the texture and moisture, I didn't get the taste.  There were signs there dissuading me from using barbecue sauce because the meat was said to be flavorful… but… I gotta say, it did not hit the flavor levels I expected.   It's a little disappointing, although the sides were pretty well done, meaning mac and cheese and cole slaw.

--best Mac and cheese there is comes from a place called Dulan's Soul Food back in Inglewood… ooh I dare you to find me one better!  So good, ok back to the action.

It's too bad.  My friend went to a place called Dr. Hogly Wogly's also in Van Nuys, not that far from where Smoke City is.  I'll have to travel up to see the difference in brisket.

Also on the agenda, I'd lie to return to Jim's Fallbrook Market, which to ME still has the best pork barbecue I've had period.  That's way in the valley, so far in that I'm near Ventura County, but as I travel that way I shall check it out.   The question for me is whether they do brisket, and if they do, I shall try it out.  Their smoker is amazing.  The flavor, unforgettable.  

You know, I just answered my own question.  I don't think they do brisket because they specialize in Tri Tip which is the same meat but done a little differently… meaning it's the leaner portion of the roast whereas brisket is the fattier composition.  Jim's forte is tri tip and pork ribs.   On we go!

So the quest for brisket continues!   It's an easier assignment than my Tri Tip adventure a few months ago, simply because I'm in a market that caters to Brisket eaters.  It's a much easier find by and large than Tri Tip.  Tri Tip is a specialty where I'm from in Ventura County and also from its birthplace along the Central Coast.  So in LA proper, Brisket dominates the landscape.   I'll keep updating you all on my Brisket runs as time allows.

Enjoy your Thursday!

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