Tuesday, October 30

Lone Star Dispatch: More Barbecue, More Better

One last dispatch from guest blogger Daniel Vaughn, in which he relives his favorite meal of our recent symposium. 

Thanks for representing the Lone Star State in our Summer/Fall of BBQ blog, Daniel! 
You can follow Daniel Vaughn on Twitter at @bbqsnob. Look for his book, The Prophets of Smoked Meat (Ecco/Anthony Bourdain Books), with photos by Nicholas McWhirter, to hit shelves in 2013.

Tim Byres works beef-rib magic. Photo by Daniel Vaughn
Even with a bovine-free logo that prominently features the pig, the SFA had the wisdom to invite Tim Byres to cook at the annual Symposium. He brought a taste of Texas in the form of smoked beef ribs. These behemoth hunks of meat layered with generous melting fat are attached to bones the size of my forearm. This proved a counterpoint to the finely chopped whole hog at the next table over that—while luscious—seemed dainty by comparison.
Photo by Daniel Vaughn
 I consumed that hog in just a few bites but relished each nugget of meat, fat and black-pepper-infused crust that clung to the beef rib bone until I eventually gnawed its surface down to a clean white color.

"More barbecue, more better." Photo by Brandall Atkinson
These ribs symbolized what had become the theme of the evening after a costumed Brett Martin had argued the simple point of “More barbecue, more better” in a surreal Lincoln-Douglas style debate. Diners around me were equally enraptured by this salty hunk of beef, many of them stating that they’d never been impressed by beef ribs.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Knowlton
I guess it’s not that hard to fathom why a good beef rib is hard to come by. Many racks of beef ribs stacked impressively on a plate get all of their heft from bone. These are beef back ribs that are cut away from the rib roast leaving almost no meat on the bone. All that can be gnawed away is meat between the bones, and it can be very tough and sinewy.
Know your ribs: back ribs (L) and short ribs (R). Photo by Daniel Vaughn
If you’re lucky enough to visit a barbecue joint that serves beef short ribs (from the front end of the rib rack near the brisket) then you won’t be wanting for meat. There can be upwards of two pounds on a single bone, but it is loaded with collagen – more than most any other cut. This collagen provides a luscious texture if it’s adequately broken down, but chewing through an underdone short rib is seriously unrewarding.

What Tim Byres provided on this evening were beautifully rendered hunks of smoked meat and salty fat proving to Yankees and Carolinians alike that more barbecue is more better, even if it’s Texas beef.