"This year, Lockhart Smokehouse is going to smoke some of the turkeys for us, and so is Hutchins BBQ in McKinney. So, really, it'll be even easier this year," Jeffery C. Hobbs, HMFIC at Slow Bone barbecue, said with a smile on his face and fresh brisket smoke wafting from his beard. (HMFIC is his official title, as reported to us by Jack Perkins. I'll let your mom explain to you what that acronym stands for.) The Slow Bone barbecue will, once again, be hosting an event they call Freebird on Thanksgiving Day. It's a free Thanksgiving meal to anyone who wants it. And when you're talking about smoked turkey and Slow Bone's sweet potato casserole, everyone wants it.
Jack Perkins (owner, pit master and show-runner at Slow Bone) says that last year, the event was as much fun for his team as it was for the patrons. "It's Thanksgiving dinner, free to anyone and everyone. We had people here who had been stranded in Dallas with no place to go [if you're stuck here on Wednesday, getting a reservation somewhere is hard]. Police and fire were here last year. We reached out to shelters, too. We're just trying to get the word out to as many people as possible, hoping they can get the word out to people who don't have Facebook and who really need this." Perkins says one of the most challenging parts of this has been telling people who could desperately use a warm, free meal. Last year, he encouraged police to spread the word to anyone they came in contact with on their shift that day. He said, "Bring them here and we'll feed them." And they did.
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The outpouring of support from the Dallas food community is enough to make you get all feelgood-teary-eyed: Pak Quality Foods, Colorado Boxed Beef and Sysco donate the turkeys. Slow Bone, Lockhart Smokehouse and Hutchins BBQ will all smoke the turkeys. Chefs' Produce is donating produce, which Slow Bone will turn into sweet potato casseroles, cranberry sauce, gravy and other drool-worthy sides. Empire Baking Co. will offer up bread and pies. And Cafe Momentum is cooking stuffing, which Perkins loved last year. "The recipe is my mother's, and it turned out great. Cafe Momentum's was as good as she's ever made. The whole meal was the best Thanksgiving dinner I've ever had. Jeffery's gravy — I'd pour it on a turd, it was so good." For those of you unfamiliar with Perkins, this is the highest form of praise.
Perkins has plenty of volunteers for Freebird 2015 and expects a larger crowd of patrons this year. He's hopeful that we'll all spread news about the event to people who really need a good meal in a warm, dry place on Thanksgiving Day. Leftovers from the event will be sent to nearby shelters, fire stations and police stations.