The ice has thawed, Opening Day is weeks away, Pete Delkus' sleeves are no longer controlling the weather (I'm a Finfrock Fangirl anyway), and my allergist just bought a new car. That must mean spring is approaching.
In an effort to be a better Texan and rouse a little envy in my neighborhood once spring is officially here, I attended the sold-out Brisket 101 class Monday night at The Slow Bone (2234 Irving Blvd).
For the occasion, owner and occasional busboy Jack Perkins brought in Stephen Joseph from Joseph's Riverport Barbecue in Jefferson, Texas to drop some knowledge and answer questions from 50 hungry students. Among the the meat-curious were Katherine Clapner of Dude, Sweet Chocolate and the BBQ Snob himself, Daniel Vaughn. Pause for the sudden realization that meat school is much more fun than graduate school.
A live guitarist churned out slow and bluesy chords at the entry while Knob Creek made their way around the restaurant. All 50 students trickled in around 6:30 and took their seats around a table with foil trays holding two large, raw briskets.
What some might have expected to be a watch-and-learn format was anything but. Joseph and Perkins manned either side of a butcher table and began with a short bovine anatomy lesson and then moved onto a how to select a brisket. Perkins' former career as a teacher came through immediately, while Joseph's remarkable experience gave the discussion weight and plenty of fodder for questions.
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Slow Bone's meat expert and owner of the best line of the night, Kyle Thornton, demonstrated trimming techniques and offered up a few tips on how to get the perfect fat-to-meat ratio. Joseph described the aerodynamics of his brisket-trimming techniques, peeling away unnecessary chunks of fat and proclaiming in a perfect east Texas drawl, "If I could sell these for breast implant, I'd be a millionaire."
Perkins, after confirming the likeness of brisket to breasts, explained his trimming methods for a rotisserie-style smoker. Then came seasoning, and a Styrofoam cup of Slow Bone's brisket rub was passed around for free smells, and to incite chaos when it was finally time to eat.
A solid block of time was dedicated to cooking; temperature, time, and wood choice dominated to the topic. When the finished product, a perfectly black and smoky brisket, was de-foiled and placed upon the block, a small whimper came from the back of the room as the knife came closer to the black, crusty bark for first slice. Thornton piped up: "I get emotional." And with that, dinner was served, questions were answered, and Brisket 101 came to a close.
In what will likely be a series of meat classes, Brisket 101 served to uphold all the tenets of a great learning experience, except with much, much better food on your lunch tray. On March 24, Jack welcomes Jonathan Shaw from Stanley Famous Pit Barbecue for a class on ribs. The format will be much the same, with serious talent talking candidly about his techniques, and a rather impressive meal served up by your teachers. Call The Slow Bone at (214) 377-7727 to grab a spot. Your smoker will thank you.