Austin Barbecue God Aaron Franklin Brings His Brisket to Hill Country


Franklin’s brisket was a smoldering heap of pure pleasure.

Pitmaster Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas — currently one of the most celebrated BBQs in the Lone Star State — brought his beef brisket to Hill Country Barbecue Market yesterday evening, and the line of supplicants snaked through the restaurant to the front door.

The brisket was served from 6 p.m. till it ran out, sometime before 9 p.m. Franklin smoked the briskets, as he does in Austin, for a whopping 15 hours — a more usual amount of time for Texas brisket would be eight or 10 hours — and the blackened beef cuts turned out meltingly tender and smoky as hell, with a texture somewhere between brisket and pot roast. The flavor was unforgettable, and my companions and I wrapped up slices glistening with fat in white bread with raw onions, pickle chips, and jalapeños, which is the usual method of eating it, and washed mouthfuls down with Shiner Bock beer.

Soon after 6 p.m., the line extended to the front door and beyond.

Proudly wearing his Texas Monthly Pitmaster T-shirt, Aaron Franklin stands before the carving station at Hill Country.

I had a chance to talk with Franklin as we stood before the counter, and Hill Country employees bustled around us cutting his ‘cue into slices and serving it up on sheets of butcher paper.

Me: Did you use your own briskets or Hill Country’s?

Franklin: I used Hill Country’s. I was amazed at how fatty they were. I cut off some of the fat.

Me: What did you think of the facilities here? This is kind of a home-away-from-home for Texans living in NYC.

Franklin: I know. [Smiles.] The smoker kind of shocked me. It looked like a big oven. The first time I saw it was last night. How do you think the brisket came out?

Me: I thought it was great, way smoky. It’s really different than the usual Hill Country brisket, which is also really good, but in a different way.

Franklin: I haven’t tried the usual Hill Country product.

Me: Are you thinking of opening your own barbecue here?

Franklin: [Laughs.] No, it’s way too much trouble up here. You’ve got to import the wood, and do things on such a big scale.

Tonight, Aaron Franklin will be serving his smoked brisket at the Second Annual Eater Awards.

Cutting Franklin’s brisket at Hill Country

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