Thursday, September 13

Lone Star Dispatch: A Barbecue Journal

From the keyboard of guest blogger Daniel Vaughn, whose computer smells vaguely of brisket. 

The twenty-five year career of Roy Perez as the pitmaster at Kreuz Market has been documented by his own hand in a series of barbecue journals. Every morning he marks down what goes on the smoker and then takes account of what’s left at the end of the day. He’s been doing this every day (except Sundays, when they’re closed) he’s been watching over the pits—meaning: since the Reagan administration—at this historic barbecue joint in Lockhart, Texas.

Photo by Daniel Vaughn

We were discussing the weather on a quiet Monday morning when he first mentioned the journal. What seemed like an acre of stacked post oak was drying behind us, and smoke filled the air. The pork ribs were almost finished. Roy had a few minutes to spare before they needed to be pulled, so he brought out a couple of the journals to humor us. We were in awe perusing the chronicles of Kreuz, but in his usual humble nature, Roy seemed puzzled why anyone would be interested in seeing them at all. I thought they should be preserved for the Smithsonian.

Photo by Nicholas McWhirter
When we were finished with the journals, it was time to sample that day's offerings. The brick pits were brimming with hunks of beef shoulder, briskets, and whole pork loins. With a stainless steel spike in his hand, Roy poked and prodded as he searched for the right piece. There are no thermometers in these pits. Meat is done around here when it feels right, and Roy knows how to find it. After a few rapid slices at the butcher block, breakfast was served. Thanks to us, there would be a few pounds of smoked meat that wouldn’t have to be accounted for as leftovers at the end of the day.

Follow Daniel Vaughn on Twitter at @bbqsnob.