Saturday, September 15, 2012

Queuing up for underground barbecue: following our noses (and the smoke) to ... - Dallas Morning News (blog)

brisket,barbecue,BBQ,Texas BBQ,

Clyde Biggins mans his mobile pit for guests eager to taste his "underground" barbecue. (@ItalianWineGuy )

Pitmaster Clyde Biggins was the subject of a Dallas News story by Sarah Mervosh earlier this month. ‘Told the tale of the successful restaurateur who got involved with a drug ring, got caught, paid his debt to society with 16 years in prison and is looking to make a new start in life â€" back at the pit.

Mervosh made the barbecue sound so darned good that I asked if there were a way to try it. Because Biggins doesn’t have a commercial kitchen, permits, etc., what he does for now is “cook for friends” informally from time to time. Those who attend may choose to make a contribution to cover his costs.

So today Sig O and I moseyed down to South Dallas, where Biggins and his daughter had set up a few chairs and tables (some folks brought their own) in a shady spot next to his rolling pit station. Each table had its own loaf of white bread and hot sauce. Word went out, table to table, that Biggins had been smoking some of the ‘cue since Thursday.

We sat with a couple of fellows from North Dallas and Farmers Branch who, like us, had read Mervosh’s story. Members from the newsroom showed up, including BBQ Posse wrangler Gary Jacobson himself, who has let rip some awesome prose about the state’s most revered protein. (Sorry, steak-lovers, but ‘cue unleashes tsunamis more loyalty and passion than your sad little slabs.) One diminutive barbecue enthusiast, who couldn’t have been over 4 years old, went after the ribs like they were corn on the cob. Not surprisingly, his dad is a barbecue nerd who chases ‘cue all over the state.

We waited. And waited a little longer. We were on ‘cue time, after all. When it was ready, we each took up a Styrofoam container of brisket, sausage and ribs heaped in a sauce mainly of drippings â€" more like barbecue gravy â€" and sided with home-style savory potato salad and baked beans.

Brisket,ribs,Clyde Biggins,Texas BBQ

A plate at Clyde's includes beans, potato salad and a pile o' 'cue. (@ItalianWineGuy)

The ‘cue was worth waiting for â€" deeply smoky and juicy all around. The ribs had a fine crust, and every so often you’d hit an especially sweet, tender pocket of meat. I was surprised at the juiciness of the sausage beneath its crackling casing â€" surprised that I liked so much, too, not being a big sausage fan. The brisket had some odd places where the muscles met â€" this was just the cut â€" but the flavor was excellent, and even better if you allowed yourself to indulge in a bit of the silky fat. I’d have only wished for more of crustiness to the edge. But there was so much to like (made even better by the company and cool, welcoming autumn weather), I’m not complaining.

How do you find out where Biggins is firing up his pit-mobile next? Ask to be put on an email list that goes out before each gig (lbiggins@dallasnews.com). Here’s hoping that an enterprising entrepreneur lifts Biggins from the underground circuit to his own bricks-and-mortar barbecue pit soon.

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