Wednesday, November 16, 2011
TC's Ponderosa: Dickens, TX
TC's Ponderosa was a memorable bit of BBQ in a sea of memorable BBQ at last month's Texas Monthly BBQ Festival, so after camping at the beautiful Caprock Canyons State Park recently and realizing we were close by, we decided to alter our course home to go through Dickens and try it outside of the festival context.
Post-camping meals are by default some of the best-tasting meals the world can offer, and post-camping BBQ has to be up there with some of life's indescribable pleasures... but even without that extra help TC's is just plain good eatin'. Apparently, they use a propane smoker... but with wood chips or something, I'm not sure what exactly (we were too busy shoving food in our mouth to ask), because it does have a nice, subtle smoke flavor, a great black crust, and a substantial smoke line. This is BBQ Hank Hill would use to promote propane and propane accessories, no doubt.
My friend ordered a plate with brisket, beans, and potato salad. All hit the spot. The beans had a teeny tiny kick to them that I approved of, and the mustard potato salad was very traditional but fresh and had lots of flavor (not a big lump of mustard-y mush). Sausage is always a must, so we shared some of the German sausage. There were several varieties to choose from, and if their German sausage is a measure then rest must be pretty great too.
I was craving a chopped beef sandwich, and theirs was exactly what I was wanting. The meat was tender on its own and the sauce—which has a nice vinegary flavor— was only there to round out flavor and act as a binder.
As I had learned at the festival, their seasoned saltines should not be passed up, so we got a container of these. I have had crackers like this before, but none as good as these. And I know that sounds kind of silly. I mean, they are saltines with cooking oil and seasoning, after all... nothing fancy. But that's part of why they are so great and so perfect with BBQ. I am definitely going to have to try to master my own recipe for these for when we make BBQ at home.
Late addendum 1/4/12: Check out Texas Monthly's interview with TC Ponderosa about their BBQ techniques, here.