I don't think a Texas barbecue place does itself any favors by boasting that it's a favorite of an Ivy League, blue-blood Yankee, but Cousin's Web site brags about serving George H.W. Bush. Had I known that before trying the food, I'd have been a tad skeptical.
But on this occasion, even the most dubious of Cousin's endorsements--that of EuroDisney, seriously--couldn't have deterred us. It was my father-in-law's 60th birthday party. Nothing less than Cousin's would do. Besides, for most of the family members at the party, Bush family approval would have been an unimpeachable endorsement. We were in Weatherford, in Sarah Palin's Real America, where political opinions were preceded with "I'm not racist, but..." and the fact that John McCain didn't have "one of them Salami names" was reason enough to vote for the man. Thankfully, the political conversation was mostly stifled by mouthfuls of barbecue.
We ordered from the pick-up catering menu, which offers your choice of two meats (sliced brisket and chicken were ours), three sides (baked beans in honor of H. W., potato salad and green beans), "Texas Toast," iced tea and garnishes, along with plates and flatware starting at $7.49 per person.
Normally dudes consider chicken a third-class meat: flavorless, lean protein suitable for times when wallets are thin or waistbands aren't. The slightest bit under-seasoned or overcooked and eating becomes a chore. But Cousin's chicken was robust, perhaps even manly. Smoked nearly black with an outer crust that kept the meat juicy it didn't even need sauce.
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Of course, in Texas, brisket is the true barbecue test. And, of course, opinions regarding proper seasoning and cooking vary. But in mine, Cousin's nailed it. For starters, the little plastic knives included with the catering package proved unnecessary. In fact, it was so tender that slices often fell apart when forked. The savory, juicy, smoky-but-not-too-smoky meat was so beautiful that covering it with sauce would have been like throwing a blanket over a nude Scarlett Johansson.
Assuming she attends Texas barbeques. And forgets to dress.
The potato salad was OK and the green beans weren't bad either. The baked beans were the winner: smoky, sweet and mushy--at least that's how I like 'em. I didn't even mind that the "Texas Toast" turned out to be a loaf of Mrs. Baird's white bread. I'm pretty sure Patton ate white bread once in awhile. And although he may not rank up there with the three star George, at least the H. W. knows good barbecue.
Dude Factor: 9, or "Andrew Jackson," on a scale of 1 (Dubya) to 10 (Teddy Roosevelt). Point deducted for having no bacon or salt pork in the green beans. Green beans just ain't the same without some pork fat. -Jesse Hughey