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Texas Saturday Night

When the last 14 days straight have seen high temps of 100 degrees or above, you know you are in the middle of High Summer in Texas. Over in the poor section of town, folks are sitting out in the yard under the shade tree for some relief. Forget about cooking anything on the stove! Over in the well to do part of town; doors are shut, blinds are drawn and the only thing you hear are the cicadas thrumming and the outside AC units running. Reflective windshield screens are a necessity whenever you park your vehicle. Your whole day revolves around moving from one welcoming AC environment to another. Sure weeds out our Northern ‘Friends’ in a hurry. 🙂

I have never been one to go out to movies or the mall as a form of entertainment and the Old Girl sure does get small after awhile. Of late, we have been going to Estate Auctions and the items purchased have done well on eBay. A big plus is most of the auctions are air conditioned. This Saturday, we went up to Rosebud, TX which is about 25 miles northwest of Calvert in the general direction of Waco.

Main Street - Rosebud, TX

Rosebud is typical of a thousand small Texas towns that the interstate has passed by. Main Street is lined with the facades of old hardware stores and banks and food markets of days gone by. Whenever I check the demographics of a particular small town, Calvert for instance, all will show a population decline from 1960 onward. Many saw a maximum population in the 30’s or 40’s. These rural towns were thriving hubs of agrarian local commerce back then. Most boasted a cotton gin or two, a local livestock auction, multiple banks, butchers, hardware stores, dry good stores, a movie theater and more. The little town I lived in for years in far North Texas up on the Red even had an Opera House and a semi-pro baseball team. Those days are long gone now. What usually survives is the Bank, an auto parts/hardware store, a Dairy Queen, a struggling restaurant and a plethora of antique stores. Everything else is boarded up or falling in. If the town is not close enough to commute to a Metro area or if it is not on an interstate exit, this is what you get.

Rosebud fit the template. On Saturday evening, normal business was done in town and the only activity was the cars parked in front of the Auction House on Main Street. We went in to preview the auction items and it was a disappointment. The online catalog had touted several antique items that would be choice if bought right. On inspection, they proved to be reproductions and virtually worthless.

So it was time for a pow wow and a smoke outside. Being as how it

Jake and Boo

was 45 minutes until the auction started, the suggestion was made to step across the street for a beer and a bite to eat. I had already pointed out the sign to “Jake N Boo’s Backdoor Bar and Grill” which was hanging from the front of Melba’s antique store. Why not check it out? The auction seemed to be a let down at best.

So you walked into Melba’s Antiques and way in the back of the store you could see some tables.  Odd right off the bat since it is “Backdoor Bar and Grill” and you came in through the front door of Melba’s  to get to it.  I was sorta digging it. No more than 5 tables and as many booths lining the walls, a cheery lady said “Sit where you please” when we walked in. I was surprised but encouraged to see several of them occupied and it smelled good! The cheery lady soon stopped by the booth and I asked for a Miller Lite. Miss Kathy wanted a Shiner Bock. No Shiners but the cheery lady did say she had just mixed up some ‘Ritas which hit Miss Kathy just right. So being the type guy I am, I am trying to figure out just what is going on here. Perusing the menu, I figure the cheery lady is Melba aka Boo and Jake, most likely, is her husband. The front wall of the joint is also lined with trophies floor to ceiling but too far way for me to see just what. I noticed a very small chicken trophy on my table and it said ” North Texas BBQ Cook Off – Second Place Chicken 2009″ Ok, I was getting it. The menu was heavy on BBQ so those were BBQ trophies on the front wall. Melba or Jake must be good…..

Then I notice IT on the menu… Nirvana for a boy raised in West Tennessee. Pulled Pork BBQ!  This is how the BBQ deal went down in Texas – and it is a sordid story. Back in the day – like WAY back in the day – when Texas was being settled; you didn’t see many folks from Cincinnati or Minneapolis or Bangor, Maine. It was cotton farmers from the South. The brought all their stuff with them … including hogs. Hogs are smarter than smart and I guess they found the heat here in Texas to be untenable. To protect all the future hogs-to-be in Texas, these First Gen hogs figured enough was enough and up and died in the heat. So, no more hogs in Texas. Now these brand new Texans loved their BBQ and were wandering around lost. I don’t exactly think cabrito was in the running even though these stout folks think Mountain Oysters are a delicacy. Go figure. So the only meat they had was chicken — and beef. Now I don’t know who raised their hand up and said ” Lets’ try to BBQ us some of that beef brisket.” To me, the brisket is the most unlikely source of Texas BBQ. But hey, there is that Mountain Oyster thing so I have to throw logical thought out.

Just so’s you know. I can cook a pretty danged good beef brisket. I like to eat a good beef brisket. And when you are in Texas, you generally have two BBQ choices… brisket or chicken. When I first came to Texas, I got the taste for some good BBQ and waltzed into the BBQ joint and ordered a pork plate and got sliced ham. I can’t make this stuff up. I was mortified and went directly home to research WTF was wrong with these Texians. That is when I discovered the Great Hog Sacrifice back in the day and all that stuff that you just read up there somewhere.

You just can’t turn your back on your raising and when you are raised 80 miles north of Memphis, TN, BBQ is pork shoulder with a tomato based sauce.

So Boo aka Melba comes back to the table with her order pad in hand. Miss Kathy orders and it is my turn.

I say:

” You have pulled pork?”

“Sure do”

“Sorta unusual to see that here in Texas. I was raised up north of Memphis and their is NO BBQ but pulled pork.” I have her interest now.

“Not unusual around here. We do about 100 competitions a year and pulled pork is our specialty.”

“Not brisket?”

“Lordy no!” Melba aka Boo says. “You know, our competitors are cooking that brisket and they ask me to taste it and it just does nothing for me.”

“I’ll have the pulled pork sandwich.” I notice there is pork, chicken and ribs on the menu, No brisket. These people are serious.

Melba/Boo says ” You want onion and pickles on that sandwich?”

My head snaps up and I say “NO!” She raises an eye brow and smiles. That onion/pickle deal must be a Texas thing.

“What kind of sauce?” I ask–knowing what the answer should be.

“It is a sweet tomato based sauce.” Bingo! Ding ding ding!

“I’ll take the sauce on the side.”

The food arrives and I am not disappointed –not even slightly. Pulled pork cooked correctly is tender but still has body and texture. It has generous amounts of the rind or smoke ring mixed in and it is NOT slathered in sauce- it is “dry” of seasoning but not dry in the least.  I could have eaten 10 of these sandwiches. It was a time machine back to the West Coast of Tennessee.

Melba/Boo soon comes back for the verdict and I tell her that this is the best pulled pork I have had in years. She is beaming. Then I say:
“The earliest remembrance I have of BBQ was probably 1960. On the 4th of July, the local Volunteer Fire Department would cook pork shoulders. They went down to the cotton gin and dug big pits under the sheds where they parked the cotton trailers. They were precisely 4 feet wide. They built a big fire out of seasoned hickory off to one side and the shoveled the coals into the pit. They had these racks like you cook fish on a grill — you know 2 sides — that spanned the pit. They would load those racks with pork shoulders and cook all night. It took 4 men to turn one of those racks over. My Grandfather was one of those men. You didn’t order a sandwich or a pound — you ordered it by the shoulder… and the didn’t have big fancy smokers on wheels – just a hole in the ground.  Let me ask you something? They made a chopped cabbage slaw that was made with tomato sauce. I have never seen it since. You put that on the bun with the pulled pork and it was heaven on earth. Ever heard of that?”

She says ” We have been invited to cook at the Kansas City cook offs for the last two years. One day, you cook what the judges require and the next day you cook what you want to. On the second day I cook pulled pork with the red slaw like you described. The judges loved it.  You like ribs?”

I am lapsing into some sort of food coma by this time but I say ” Ribs are the toughest of ALL. It is so hard to get them right and they are always served dry with a rub–no sauce. I have had way more bad ribs than good — I can tell you that.”

She tells me she will be right back and returns with 2 St Louis style ribs –cut off the rack. “Try that -compliments of the house and I will be back.”

I only thought the pulled pork was the best. The ribs were indescribably good. Succulent, juicy, fall off the bone tender with a great spicy rub and smoky flavor — not a hint of sauce. I was smacking and letting the juice run down my chin when Jake aka Jeff showed up.

Pitmaster Jake

Obviously,Melba/Boo had told him there was someone in the dining room with a non Texan BBQ palate.

“So what do you think?” he asks.

” I have to tell you this is the best BBQ I have had out side of West Tennessee.  The pulled pork was perfect and the ribs were even better!”

Then Jake/Jeff  launches into how his competition smoker is good but he built a new pit here at the restaurant and it cooks at 350 degrees and when it is going full blast it smokes like a steam engine. Well, my eyes were glazing over by that point and he was ruining my  West Tennessee food high.  I know his intentions were good and he was jazzed that I likes his stuff  but I just wanted to enjoy the food.  Luckily, he was not as personable as Melba/Boo and soon wandered off to another table — leaving me to bask in the endorphins.

Jake and Boo's Ad

Regular readers know I am not one to throw compliments around without good reason. This place is worth a visit, a side trip -whatever. I just googled them and their Google Fu is weak. Maybe being exposed here on MyOldRV will help that out. They deserve it.

Jake ‘N’  Boos Backdoor Bar and Grill
341 West Main St
Rosebud,TX 76570

They are about 2 blocks on the right east of Hwy 77 on Main street in Rosebud, TX.

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Texas Saturday Night , 10.0 out of 10 based on 11 ratings
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7 comments to Texas Saturday Night

  • Joel

    Do they ship?

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  • You’re making my mouth water early this morning. 🙂
    I haven’t found any decent BBQ in Virginia. They cook the meat and then slap some sauce on it.

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  • I had a long-ish discussion about BBQ yesterday on Facebook. Of course, being raised by men of the beeve, I’m a brisket man through and through. However, I’ve smoked plenty of hog and generated plenty of pulled pork. I’ve even bought a (dead) baby pig, and smoked it for some kind of clambake we were having at my local watering hole. That turned out great — didn’t even cut it up, just took it whole, and let people pull off fistfuls.

    Now, don’t take this the wrong way, but I’m more a fan of the North Carolina brand of hog than the Tennessee brand. I absolutely don’t like that TN sauce very much.

    Finally, as long as you’re talking ribs, anytime I’m able to get to Dallas, I carve out 30-45 minutes to sit down at Baker’s Ribs. Ever tried them? For my money, those are the best ribs in the universe, and I’ve never had a bad rib there. I had a little internet buddy who had a two-week BBQ vacation, and his Chicago self declared Baker’s the best of his trip, which included TN & KC & Luling.

    Damn, this is two days of typing about smoked meats. I’m dying here, but it’s flat too hot to fire up the pit. C’mon, October.

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    • admin

      I have been to Baker’s on Lower Greenville. Good stuff Scott!

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  • Joel

    “I’m more a fan of the North Carolina brand of hog than the Tennessee brand.”

    Me, too. My lovely and talented wife managed to get the recipe from her major professor before we left Chapel Hill.

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  • Bob

    Took me back to our 2 years in Memphis and Corkys. Man but southerners know how to eat.

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