You know how after you donate blood they give you a cookie? Well this is kind of like that.
For the second year in a row We Are Blood, previously the Blood Center of Central Texas, will offer 30 blood donors a chance to enjoy Franklin Barbecue without the line. Or the threat of selling out. Or the early wake up call.
Those who donate blood during the month of January will be entered to win tickets to a private dinner at Franklin Barbecue on February 11. Donators who give blood within the first half of the month will receive two entries into the giveaway. Each winner, who will be announced Feb. 3, will be allowed to bring one guest to their special meaty feast.
To give blood you must be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 115 pounds. There is no age or weight requirement to eat Franklin Barbecue.
I’ve had time to soak up the glamour. I’ve meditated on the ermine-clad government intrigue and its applications to our current political climate. My main takeaways from Netflix’s addictive period drama “The Crown” are as follows:
Fog will kill you.
Queen Elizabeth’s family, if I am to put stock in Matt Smith’s cad-tastic performance as the Duke of Edinburgh in particular, are a bunch of self-centered, toxic emotion-tornadoes.
Austin needs its own royal family.
This last point might be an unpopular one. But consider: Austin is already a politically and culturally isolated enclave in Texas, a state that often romanticizes the idea of its own sovereignty. Queen Elizabeth has stopped by our fair burg before (former Gov. Ann Richards looked completely at home next to the monarch). In an ever-changing city, we need some some comforting stability. Also, I am definitely joking.
However, with Belgium’s Princess Astrid visiting Austin this week, the Statesman webdesk wondered: If Austin had a royal family, who would wear the crowns? We stayed away from political figures, mind you. Here are our picks, with complete disregard for primogeniture and the definition of the word “family.”
His Majesty King Willie
Prince William will eventually inherit the British throne, but we’ve already got a Willie on our throne. Could there be anyone else at the head of this royal family? Defender of the weird, emperor of the outlaws. He’s already got his own statue. Trigger is his sceptre, his hat is his crown. God save the king.
The Austin billionaire, who is the founder of the John Paul Mitchell Systems hair-care empire and the Patrón tequila brand, certainly brings a royal purse. And up until recently, he owned a ranch full of exotic animals, which is aggressively imperial.
Princess Quita of Culpepper
Part of any royal’s responsibility is to capture the hearts and minds of the people, in part as a function of ceremonial public appearances. KVUE’s Quita Culpepper, a veteran of Austin’s news world, more than fits the bill. Plus, she’s got the whole “comfort in times of tribulation” thing down pat.
Aaron, Duke of Franklin
Lest we forget that food is as important to Austin as duty is to the British crown. Aaron Franklin is the defender of our faith in smoked meat.
Kendra, Duchess of Hexagonal Jewelry
What says royalty more than crown jewels? And who says turquoise can’t be a crown jewel? Any ruling class needs a little glitz. Best part: Austin jewelry magnate Kendra Scott brings her own baubles.
One of the most prestigious kingdoms in the Austin realm, UT’s sports programs are some of our most prized institutions. Who better to reign over the burnt orange isle than Olympic champion, Texas alumna, entrepreneur and TV star Sanya Richards-Ross?
How do things at Franklin Barbecue look like at the other end of the line? Bon Appetit deputy editor Andrew Knowlton set out to see just what goes into making his favorite barbecue when he signed up for a 24-hour shift (nothing on pitmaster Aaron Franklin’s reported 76-hours) at 11th Street’s crowning glory.
You may or may not be surprised by how much of his day comprised of mopping up brisket fat. You can watch the full video above, or check out some of the more notable moments in his shift below:
How does a meat master start his day? At 6 a.m. and with a shot of espresso made with a machine handily located in the back of the restaurant. A pitmaster, and a barista. You’re full of surprises, Aaron.
Most of the early morning is spent prepping the meat that will be put in the smokers for the next day. Those briskets aren’t going to trim, season and wrap themselves in foil.
A little before 9 a.m. orders are taken straight from the line. At this point those first in line have been waiting nearly five hours and have consumed probably as many beers. This is also when a lucky group is appointed the “last in line” status, dependent on how much food those ahead have ordered.
After the doors open it’s time for everyone’s favorite part: eating meat! While Knowlton gives brisket slicing a shot, a craft Franklin makes look effortless, he winds up butchering the job (literally) and giving out free meat as compensation for his rough cuts.
The restaurant’s close in the afternoon kicks off a long couple hours of cleanup. What’s greasier than a slice of fatty brisket? The mess it makes everywhere.
A day at Franklin ends a lot like how it starts: plenty of preparation. Later in the night sauce is made by mixing ingredients in a dozen 5-gallon buckets, more meat is seasoned and “tucked in” for the night (wrapped) and wood carts are restocked. It’s an end to a good, smoky day, that blurs right into the start of another. And you thought waiting in line was hard.
Just when you thought there was a way to skip the line…
Franklin Barbecue posted a warning on its Facebook page last week alerting smoked meat lovers of Austin to a man posing as an employee and offering free food in exchange for rides.
According to the post, people have come to Franklin Barbecue at least 10 times asking for “Chris” or “Shawn” to redeem their free meal, only to be told that they were lied to. The man, who claims to be a pitmaster, is reportedly “very convincing” and has been soliciting rides from the parking lot of the restaurant. He even dons an apron when approaching drivers.
Chances are you you’re not thinking too much about the history of barbecue when taking that first bite of brisket, but just like any other cuisine the art form of smoked and grilled meats has a rich, delicious backstory. One, which food writer Robb Walsh asserts, is African-American based and increasingly outshone by the trendiness of the Central Texas barbecue scene.
In a recent piece for First We Feast, Walsh says, “The relentless fawning over Austin’s ‘cue scene paints a narrow picture of the Texas tradition, as does the maniacal focus on brisket.” According to Walsh, barbecue was first introduced to Texas by black slaves in the 19th century. Since then, Central Texas has become the “darling of the national food press” and its golden boy pitmaster Aaron Franklin has won the James Beard Award for Best Chef.
Walsh believes this focus overlooks East Texas where “black barbecue is booming,” because when food writers cover barbecue, they come straight to Austin.
Additionally, brisket, which has become the “yardstick” by which publications like Texas Monthly judge a pit’s prowess since its 1970s debut, is a fixture of “mostly white-owned, joints of Central Texas.” Instead of these prime cuts, black barbecue is still centered around beef links and “inexpensive meats made delicious by slow cooking.” As you might already know, in Central Texas “prime brisket and beef ribs are selling for $20 to $25 a pound.”
So how are black pitmasters responding? According to Walsh one of Houston’s “hippest,” Greg Gatlin, remains on-trend with spins on traditional black barbecue fixtures and items like “smoked deviled eggs” and “barbecue eggs Benedict.” He’s even said he’d serve beef links on cronuts.