Sunday, December 21, 2008

Big Bang at Bill's BBQ

The hunt for Texas barbecue continues with a stop at Bill’s Bar-B-Que “ (“Where the Bull Goes on Forever”)– a joint (in the best sense of the word) if ever there was one.

A quick visit to the "kitchen" shows those beautiful barbecue smokers set to "low and slow" cooking. This is the source of those wonderful aromas wafting over the hills of Kerrville.

When you enter and take two steps, you face a U-shaped counter, so we had to be ready to place our order. Bill's offers brisket, chicken, sausage, ribs, turkey, and pork loin in sandwiches and plates. Plates come as 1/3-pound meat (one meat), 1/2-pound meat (two meats), and 3/4-pound meat (three meats). With both the plates and sandwiches you get to choose two sides from slaw, potato salad, and beans.

At the first station we met the owner’s mother (the owner was out on injury leave and his mother was helping run the restaurant) who took our meat order.

Next came the serve-yourself sides, and on the final leg of the “U” we found the beverages and paid the cashier.

Since it was only 4:00 p.m., we had the restaurant almost all to ourselves. Entering the dining area was like entering a sport memorabilia showroom, a hunter's trophy wall, and a space featuring a child's collection of drawings that would ordinarily cover a refrigerator.

We both chose a half-pound platter – mine turkey and sausage and Chuck brisket and sausage. I took slaw and potato salad, while Chuck chose potato salad and beans.

Again, the sausage was the best of the three meats we tried. It was mildly seasoned and lightly smoked and was a combination of pork and beef. My only complaint was that the casing was a little tough. The turkey was the second best of the meats. It was again lightly smoked and very juicy and tender. I only wish the slices had been cut a little thinner. Chuck’s brisket more closely resembled pot roast than brisket barbecue. It was extremely lean but still extremely tender. The owner’s mother later explained that they are known for their very lean and tender brisket and for smoking their meats less than other restaurants.

I have noticed that most of the potato salads we’ve eaten in Texas appear to be a combination of mashed and cubed potatoes. Bill’s was virtually all mashed – it was tasty, but the texture was disconcerting. Both the beans and slaw were above average but not exceptional.

We are still looking for the ultimate Texas barbecue and didn’t find it at Bill’s. Still, we enjoyed our meal enough to give Bill’s Bar-B-Que 4.0 out of 5.0 Addies.

Oh, about the big bang. Not too long ago, the barbecue operation was in full swing one day. In a barbecuing process that is a bit more complicated than I understand, the firebox was getting the wood started for the smokers. It was very hot when it began to rain--heavily. One hot firebox plus cold, heavy rain on the exposed firebox equals a big bang. The results of the combination are shown in this photograph.

I was curious and would have been interested in hearing more about the conditions that led to the disaster that produced the crumpled firebox, but we were guests and believed that further questions would not be appropriate.

Barbecuing can be dangerous.

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