037 Miriam – The Salt Lick

037 Miriam -

There are few BBQ joints that have a lineage like The Salt Lick. In this case, the BBQ joint in question has been passed through three generations and the family itself can trace their BBQ origins all the way back to the Wild West in the days of wagon trains and cowboys. As part of our trip, we headed out to their original location in Driftwood, Texas on the family’s 500 acre ranch. Miriam the Chief Operations Officer and Johnny and Shane, resident Pitmasters, took us on a guided tour of virtually every inch of the place including the old family mansion. And the food! Man, the food just kept coming and coming and every bite was better than the one before. So tune in now as Miriam takes us through the history of The Salt Lick, and schools us on some of the finer points of working with beef.

THIS EPISODE'S SPONSORS

Clean Heat Charcoal burns hot, long and is eco-friendly. Whether in the backyard or a competition, rest assured it’s ‘Made with Clean Heat.’

Black Angus Reserve, sponsors of Manning Valley Natural Smokers, have the best brisket you’ll find, hands down!

Got all the gear and no idea? Australia-wide, Linda from Pit’s Perfect BBQ can help you out. Make sure you drop her a line.

SHOW NOTES

  • People start heading to BBQ restaurants in Texas in the Spring when the weather starts warming up
  • Miriam doesn’t smoke meat at home for herself, but she does enjoy grilling and has a Big Green Egg
  • Her favourite thing to cook on the BGE is chicken
  • She doesn’t like to cook with a tomato-based sauce as it burns due to the combination of sugars and acidity, and should only be put on at the end
  • She was with a large company called Schlotzsky’s Deli, responsible for the operations of 53 stores
    • She was travelling a lot and wasn’t home much so she went to Salt Lick as they were wanting to grow and she’d be able to stay at home
  • Salt Lick is currently at 4 sites around the state and they’ve opened three in the last 9 years
  • The history of Salt Lick:
    • It’s a family BBQ love story
    • The Roberts family settled in Driftwood in the 1870’s
    • In 1956 they bought the 580 acre ranch and started growing pecans, grains, vegetables and livestock
    • Mr Roberts was a bridge builder in World War 2 and met Mrs Roberts in Hawaii
    • He wanted to find something that he could do for a living that would keep him at home with his family
    • He made a list of 54 things that he thought they could do with the ranch and BBQ was number 14
    • He started cooking BBQ for people who came out to swim on the ranch
    • In 1967 he founded Salt Lick
    • The was no electricity, running water, or phones
    • He’d bring meats in on a Thursday, sleep outside on a cot and he’d cook BBQ all weekend until all the meat was gone
  • Salt Lick is the only place in Texas with an open pit
  • They have their live fire open pit which is fed with live oak wood
    • They also have Ole Hickory Pits – a large rotisseries pit with 15 racks inside
    • The Ole Hickory are also fed exclusively on live oak
  • The ‘Hill Country’ has strong German influences which is associated with Central Texas
    • Open pits are often associated with West Texas
    • Chopped meats are typically associated with East Texas
    • So does Salt Lick mix styles? Not really – they’ve developed their own styles
    • E.g. chopped beef is often left overs in other places, but at Salt Lick they do it from the brisket proper
  • Turkey
    • They always use fresh turkeys
    • Most Thanksgiving Turkeys are frozen
    • To maintain moisture, marinate the chicken with a salt, sugar and water mix
    • Avoid a dry rub as the salts will pull the moisture out
    • Baste with a sauce that does not have a tomato-base so it won’t burn. Use a butter baste or a citrus-based sauce
  • Coming up in the future for Salt Lick
    • They are looking to expand in Dallas-Fortworth
    • Catering and events are increasing
    • They are growing their mail-order business
  • The mail-order business
    • They ship up to 11,000 briskets between Thanksgiving and Christmas around Australia
    • They don’t ship anywhere that takes more than two days as they don’t want to use dry ice
    • The brisket is cooked and frozen
    • Packages include turkey, pork ribs, pulled pork, sausage etc
  • Bison is a much leaner and cleaner protein than regular beef ribs
    • Beef ribs have a lot of fat so they need to be cooked longer
    • The people in Austin are currently looking for a leaner red meat
    • Bison doesn’t have a ‘gamey’ flavour
    • Bison burgers have become very popular in the States at the moment, mixed 50/50 or 70/30 with regular hamburger
    • Bison recently replaced lamb as the ‘healthy’ red meat
  • Miriam’s favourite beef cut is a fillet, grilled with direct heat to medium rare
  • They do 100,000 briskets per year
  • They get their beef through a purveyor on a ‘buy-out’
    • The purveyor doesn’t give away their sources
    • Salt Lick bids on entire 18 wheelers of beef at a time
    • They use natural Angus beef
    • They buy briskets at 14lbs and higher weight
    • When they find a supplier they like, they’ll use them for up to ten years at a time and lock it in so that they get their beef exclusively
    • Mr Roberts personally handles all the beef supplies (the current Mr Roberts)
  • Salt Lick serves over 600,000 customers per year, just in Brisket
  • What makes Texas beef unique?
    • People in Texas have a love for red meat – it was the primary food source for a very long time
  • She prefers grass-fed
    • Animals that can graze can cleanse their systems and have better flavour
    • The best is a combination of grass and grain. Animals often need to be finished on grain
    • Grass for the flavour and Grain for the fat
  • Which is the best dessert to match with brisket?
    • The most popular desserts in Texas are Cobbler and Pecan Pie
    • The original peach cobbler was developed when the family was growing peaches on the farm
    • Mrs Roberts liked to pick wild blackberries which led to the blackberry cobbler
    • The pecans in the pecan pie are all grown in Texas
    • Their pecan pie is more like a custard on the inside with a secret recipe and homemade, handmade crusts
  • Three top tips for cooking Texas BBQ:
    • There has to be a passion for what you’re cooking
    • Learn to be extremely patient
    • You have to know how to sit back and enjoy the end results when everyone is eating it
    • It boils down to love, passion and patience
  • Burnt Ends – Beef Brisket
  • Chicken – Breast
  • Both peach and blackberry cobblers
  • Baby Back and Spare pork ribs rather than St Louis
  • Lump Charcoal over Briquettes
  • Dislikes Gas smokers
  • The tip she wish she’d learned earlier: Patience
  • Bigger smoker rings – often done with cold smoke infusions
  • Present, play with and love BBQ more
  • The Salt Lick team would be on her Fantasy BBQ League

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