Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lunch at John Mueller Meat Co.

John Mueller BBQ with Mick

Monday the 28th I went to lunch with old pal Michael "Mick" Corenblith, to John Mueller Meat Co. I’ve been leading him on a tour of the great barbecue joints in town, so he can kick his Pok-E-Jo’s obsession. He usually has a flight back to L.A. to catch, and I’m away from UT for lunch, so time is a concern. We got there right at 11am 
and were some of the first customers there. Matter of fact, we waited in the alley with one other group until they un-padlocked the gate. They didn’t have turkey or pulled pork that day, but had all the other menu hits. Personally, I was worried that after the Food and Wine Festival the previous weekend, they might have been wiped-out and closed. Not to worry.

We got a couple of trays loaded down with two thick slices of fatty brisket, off of the point. We asked for a big, honkin’ beef shortrib to split, dividing it into halves. We got three pork ribs; we were going to get one each, but they looked so damn good that I had to have an extra one (and then they threw in a gorgeous meaty, crusty chunk of an end as well). We got a link each of the regular sausage, and one of the jalapeño sausage. We topped it all off with a serving each of the meaty green beans and the cheesy baked squash. An assortment of white bread, sweet onions, dill pickles slices, and a couple of waters, and we were ready for some serious gluttony.

 Brisket: moist and meltingly tender, with the unctuous fatty portions being like the semi-rendered fat on a slice of bacon, but smokier. The bark is sparkling with sugar cookies of caramelized fat, and loaded with black pepper. The smoke ring is thin (they cook a little hotter than many) but it has ample smokeossity. This is excellent brisket.


The beef rib has a deep caramelization penetrating the surface of the meat and a bark comparable to the brisket. The meat eases off the wide, long bone with ease, yielding deeply beefy-flavored meat that is tender and fine as hell. Pity John didn’t enter our Beef Rib Smackdown; good news for first place winner Tom Micklethwait that John decided to not enter and stayed home.

The pork ribs are sublime. Definitely the best pork ribs I have ever gotten at JMMC. They were thick and moist, with a crunchy, spicy, smoky bark. Each tender bite left a perfect tooth impression in the meat, yet it didn’t fall off of the bone; in the eyes of a competition judge, as good as it gets. Fantastic pork ribs, especially the tender chunk of burnt end he threw in as a lagniappe.

Mueller’s sausage is legendary, and this visit was no exception. The casing is smoky and very snappy gut. The forcemeat filling is coarse-ground, spicy, beefy, and delicious; unlike it’s cousins down the road in Lockhart, it retains full flavor and moistness without a river of grease pouring out when sliced. The jalapeño content could have been jacked-up a bit more for my taste, but exemplary smoked sausage.

The green beans were like granmaw beans, where she puts a pot of snaps on with chunks of pork and it simmers for hours. It’s almost like a beany soup; none to very little crunch left (but that doesn’t mean they weren’t delish). The squash dish is more like steamed squash mixed with chile con queso; even if you dislike waxy yellow squash the way I do, it somehow manages to still taste great.

Summation: Yet another fantastic barbecue meal at John Mueller’s, and we didn’t get yelled at by John, and all the neighborhood homies inside Kellee’s Place were chill while sucking down their late morning brews. Street construction is finished and there is plenty of parking. It still really bothers me to see those damn new condos catty corner from Kellee’s, but at least East Poultry still glides along at the far end of the block.

Mick Vann  ©            

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