How Stanley's Famous Pit Barbecue Smokes its Brisket

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

In "Shigging," we ask pitmasters to give us some specifics about how they smoke their meats. In the spirit of barbecue secretiveness and competitiveness, they're allowed to lie once.

This week, we're asking Nick Pencis of Stanley's Famous Pit Barbecue (525 S Beckham Ave in Tyler, and a joint that's on Texas Monthly's list of the 50 Best BBQ Joints In the World) how he smokes his brisket.

Here are his answers to our shigging:

What are the names of your smokers? Dutch, Freak, Tank, & Biggun

What kind of smokers are they? We have four: two custom barrel smokers with offset fireboxes (fabricated from recycled 1,000 gallon propane tanks) and two customized rotisserie smokers.

How old are they? Both barrels and big rotisserie were put into service almost two years ago and the newest rotisserie was built last May.

What kind of capacity do they have? We can cook 100 briskets between the four.

At what temp do you cook your briskets? We like 220-240 depending on which smoker they're on.

For how long do you cook them? We like 16 hours, but if we get behind we can cook hot and pull great briskets in around seven hours.

What internal temp do you shoot for? Have no idea. We just shoot for the sexy jiggle.

Do you have a complicated rub, or do you keep it simple? What's in it? (Other than Jonathan Shaw's beard musk.) There are probably a few bits of Shaw's beard in there for sure. Other than that, we use kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper.

Do you inject? Do you spritz? We love the hot beef injection and usually spritz afterwards.

Do you mess with the brisket while it's cooking (move it around inside the smoker, or flip it or make out with it)? We definitely mess with the briskets and I often feel like they may be jiggled & squeezed unnecessarily...

For how long do you let your brisket rest? At least 30 minutes - but most get a few hours to chill before we open.

Brown paper or foil wrap? We wrap in paper when they are done...

What kind of wood do you use when smoking your briskets? Pecan

What's your personal preference, lean or fatty? FATTY!

Do you own any items of clothing that don't smell like smoke? It's almost impossible to get the smoke out of your clothes. Your socks and underwear will smell like smoke!

What kind of smoker do you have at home? I don't have a smoker at home...

If you were just smoking meats on the weekend at home for friends, where would you buy the goods? We have a great butcher/meat market down the street. But you can get good stuff at most any grocery store or big buyer like Sam's.

I've seen you drum the shit out of some drums at Pit Master's Picnic here in Dallas. What's on your brisket-smoking playlist? The playlist varies by whose turn it is in the Pit room (we rotate who is in control of the iPod) ... But Shaw, Jordan, and I definitely agree and rock out to Gary Clark Jr., The London Souls, Black Keys, Derek Trucks, Allman Brothers. And we get our groove on with anything Motown, old-school blues, funk, and soul like Charles Bradley, New Mastersounds, The Meters, etc... We listen to a lot of the bands that play at Stanley's too! Shinyribs, Uncle Lucius, Oil Boom, & Quaker City Nighthawks are some great Texas bands that are in heavy rotation! Check 'em out!

Many thanks to Nick Pencis and Stanley's Famous for putting up with our shigging this week. Make plans to get yourself out to Tyler to try the barbecue at Stanley's. It's the real deal.

And always remember: if you're not eating smoked meats, you're not really eating at all.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.