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1701 Calder Avenue .... A Place for Craft Barbecue

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    1701 Calder Avenue .... A Place for Craft Barbecue

    Texas is a mighty big place with distinct regions, a growing cultural diversity and a food scene that holds its own with any in the country. Of course if you had to choose just one thing that exemplifies that which Texas is renowned for it would have to be Central Texas style barbecue and specifically beef brisket. That said when one talks regionally there are distinct styles of barbecue that draw their traditions from other influences outside of the Central Texas region.

    In my Taco Chronicles series, for instance, I write about the strong Tex-Mex influence on South Texas barbecue that takes on the style developed in Mexican cooking. Known as the champions of fajitas and barbacoa, open fire grilling and slow roasting in earthen ovens are the hallmarks and influencers of their style.

    In East Texas, influences from the deep south with attention to pork and pork products tend to downplay, and in some cases ignore, classic beef cuts like brisket. Sausages tend to be made from all pork products and are quite fatty. They really need an acquired taste to appreciate. Whole hog and pulled pork might be the predominating choices on the menu rather than low and slow beef products.

    But as stated, when one thinks of Texas barbecue, the real star is Central Texas low and slow smoked meats with beef being the predominant protein of choice. This region draws its style from German and Czech immigrants who, starting in 1831, were some of the first settlers to the vast Stephen F. Austin colony land grants. They brought with them European sausage making traditions and tendencies to smoke meat as a preservative measure. Beef of course became king with the opposite tendency, like that found in East Texas, to downplay the role of pork.

    Fast forward to the 21st century and the explosion of barbecue all over the world. With that the old guard, traditional German style pit barbecue joints that dot the Hill Country have had to ramp up operations to keep up with the high demand for the ever growing popularity of their products. Unfortunately, as with a lot of large scale operations that have enjoyed years of success, what used to be attention to detail and emphasis on local customers have grown to become somewhat complacent, run of the mill tourist destinations.

    To counter that and meet the ever growing demand, a series of younger pit masters have come to the forefront and have revived Central Texas style barbecue on a smaller scale. With that the labor of love, passion and attention to craftsmanship are also being revived, and in many cases exceeding that of many of the old guard establishments. They tend to come from backyard cooks, to local pop ups, to food trailers and eventually small to medium size brick and mortar restaurants. Emphasis can also be seen not just on the meat products, but in all things on the menu. Dynamic new sides as well as fusion type dishes that marry Central Texas barbecue with other cultural cuisines have upped their game.

    So how does the small, southeastern Texas City of Beaumont, steeped in traditional East Texas style of barbecue, home grow a true Central Texas style barbecue joint? All one has to do is visit 1701 Calder Avenue to find out. That’s where you will find Blue Broussard, along with his sidekicks Travis Cox and Derek Ray, doing not only a great job of presenting true Central Texas barbecue, but holding their own against some of the best (more on that in a moment). Blue is a prototypical example of a guy who is largely self-taught, cooked in his backyard for family and friends, owned a trailer operation for a time and now finds himself serving great food from a family owned building all in the span of about 10 years.


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    So how good is their ‘cue? Well in a recent meat-up in Rockdale where many of us got to taste some of the best of the best the Hill Country has to offer (including Snow’s, Louie Mueller’s and the Lockhart trinity), we tested one of 1701’s briskets against that of one obtained from Snow’s. In a blind taste test among eight or so folks lucky enough to be there, Snow’s seem to edge out 1701’s by just a hair. Considering 1701’s was a re-heated, couple of day old example, versus a fresh offering from the competition, being that close in flavor and tenderness was really nothing short of remarkable. The final verdict was both briskets were excellent with the smoother, less peppery bark of Snow’s being the deciding factor.

    With that I knew I was going to be in Beaumont on business so I called upon one of my new traveling barbecue friends, 58limited to meet me at 1701 to get the full local treatment. I found Travis cutting up the day’s fresh briskets after waiting in a 15 or 20-minute line and introduced myself. They were very accommodating, offering me a few extras from the menu to go along with a large tray full of goodies I chose for myself.

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    The brisket, to start with, was super moist and perfectly rendered with that trade mark peppery bark that I tend to like. I did ask for a half pound cut from the point end which produced the best quality of meat but unfortunately had a thick layer of decal fat to go along with it. It didn’t distract from the unctuousness of the beef but did yield a little less meat than I would have expected for $13 per half pound. That said, the meat itself was absolutely delicious and perfectly cooked.

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    Next the beef sausage. Made in house (since once again the fatty pork sausage made locally just won’t do), it was one of the stars of the show. I’m a sausage fanatic. I love Hill Country sausage along with Louisiana style boudain, and fill my freezer with the stuff every chance I get. So finding a true beef sausage in all places like Beaumont, was a real treat. I loved the coarser grind of the meat along with the perfect balance of seasonings and the kiss of smoke that put my link over the top.

    The pork ribs were definitely top notch, the second best thing I had that day. Mopped while cooking, they had a bite through finish without being mushy or over cooked. They retained a smoky flavor without the sweetness often associated with pork rib glazing. The meat simply melted in my mouth, the smooth fattiness of the pork producing a delightful after taste. I’ve been known to cook some pretty mean ribs, but these were a cut above.


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    The turkey, which I’m not normally a fan of, was very good. Moist and smoky once again, it didn’t have the sawdust dry consistency you get in many barbecue joints.

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    But the real star of the show, the true king of beef barbecue in my opinion, were the big, bad beefy ribs. These were not the monster ribs associated with ribs 5-7 of the animal but were smaller, probably cut from the chuck. Regardless, they were cooked to absolute perfection. The rib I had blew away anything else I tried that day. As always it had a rich, peppery bark followed closely underneath by a nice thick red smoke ring. Now to put this in proper perspective, everything I ate that day was either with my fingers or with a small, obligatory plastic fork. That fork was able to peel away bite size pieces of the rib meat with little or no effort. Picture butter smooth in your mind’s eye. The texture appeared to be that of mom’s pot roast, but trust me these were not over cooked and pot roast like in flavor. As with the brisket, there was a big, bold beefiness to the melt in your mouth rib meat. Interspersed within that meat was a perfectly rendered fattiness that felt like velvet curtains within my mouth. Beef ribs are not that difficult to cook, but to know when they are at their peak of deliciousness takes skill and a sense of timing. These guys definitely know what they are doing.

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    I’ve been to literally dozens of barbecue restaurants in Texas. Some knock it out of the park and some would be better suited to turn their establishments into a Denny’s. In all cases it’s not very often that I find a place that does traditional Hill Country barbecue with excellence across the menu board. In the small, East Texas City of Beaumont I found such a place, and it’s located at 1701 Calder Avenue. I will be going back there soon to visit a real hidden gem and some of the young guns of true, Central Texas Hill Country style barbecue.

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    Last edited by raywjohnson; June 28, 2021, 07:03 PM.

    #2
    Excellent write up, outstanding pics. That sausage is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. I would have reached for that first. 👍

    Comment


      #3
      You can talk the beef off the bone! Nice write up! Just had lunch and now I’m hungry again!

      Comment


        #4
        Wow! What a great write up and excellent pictures…..as usual. But I think this one is definitely one of your best. Let me know next time you’re in the Beaumont area and I’ll make sure I can meet you and 58limited for lunch there. I wanted to try that place anyway, but now I’m chomping at the bit.

        Comment


          #5
          Man….to have the selection of BBQ you guys have in Texas! I’ll be headed to Dallas next week with my son for baseball, will have to see what I can find. Then off to Oklahoma City from there, so perhaps I need to do some research and find a few spots to hit on our trip.

          thanks for the great write up. This building to me just screams goodness. I love the look of it all!

          Comment


          • Panhead John
            Panhead John commented
            Editing a comment
            The money they saved on chairs….they spent on meat. 😂

          #6
          Making me hungry. Another reason to visit Texas.

          Comment


            #7
            I was kind of disappointed, to tell you the truth. When I saw the heading, I got excited and thought Troutman has posted his address; I am leaving for TX right now....

            Comment


              #8
              As an addendum: Sunday June 27, 2021 - 1701 BBQ did a pop-up event at Neches Brewing Company in Port Neches, Tx; about 20 miles south of Beaumont. This area is called Mid-County and includes the cities of Port Neches, Nederland, Groves, and Port Arthur. (Port Arthur and Beaumont are also known as the Twin Cities and when the city of Orange is thrown in the area is called The Golden Triangle). I showed up at the brewery at about 5:30am to observe 1701 in action and to lend a hand where needed. I mainly fetched wood for the pit (and I probably got in the way some). They cooked pork ribs and turkey breast on their brand new smoker at the brewery. The brisket, sausage, beef ribs, and pork butts were cooked at their Beaumont location and driven down.

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              The 1701 Pit Crew

              L to R: Blue Broussard, Jake Golmon, Colton Savoie, Derek Ray, Travis Cox

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              The New Pit - this is their second cook on it. The smoke stack folds over for traveling.

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              Colton Savoie checking the temps.

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              Spritzing the turkey and ribs

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              Turkeys get wrapped at about 135 degrees or when the color looks right and are finished when they reach 165 degrees.

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              Ribs almost ready to sauce and wrap

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              Saucing. They use a Central Texas - style sauce: thin with vinegar and tomato and a peppery bite.

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              Jake Golmon, rib master

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              Food Porn:
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              By 11:30am, people were already showing up for the 12 noon opening. I ducked into the restroom to wash my hands and when I came out the line had formed and was out the door. It was 11:40am. This line entered the door, went to the side around the tables and booths to the back of the brewery and did a U-turn to come back up front to the serving area. The bar is about 60-70 feet long so this was about a 130 foot line inside. Outside, the line went down the block to Avenue Axe, an axe throwing venue located across a large vacant lot from the brewery.

              The Line. I'm leaning against the wall of the Chamber of Commerce, one business over from the brewery. The line goes past me to Avenue Axe - the building and patio across the vacant lot.
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              I sat at the bar and had a few beers, thinking that I would eat some leftovers when the line went down. WRONG. They sold out, all I got were some excellent beans - they use brisket in them so I sorta got some BBQ. Even though this was a pop-up event they cooked a full business day's worth of food and sold out within two hours.

              I had eaten there with Troutman on Thursday and I decided it was more important for the locals to try some of this excellent BBQ than for me to have it twice in one week


              Last edited by 58limited; June 28, 2021, 02:43 PM.

              Comment


              • klflowers
                klflowers commented
                Editing a comment
                You are a good man. I would have said the heck with the locals and tried to cut the line lol

              • Panhead John
                Panhead John commented
                Editing a comment
                58limited Good job! Nice addition to the write up. The babe in the bottom picture… With the shorts and long black hair? Did she ask about me?

              • Troutman
                Troutman commented
                Editing a comment
                Man, two write-ups for the price of one. Wish I could have stayed for the pop-up but I had my belly full of Port Arthur for one week

              #9
              Only 452 miles and 10 speed traps from me

              Comment


                #10
                Remember the story I told about my cat what with his purring and slobbering? Well, anyway.....

                Comment


                  #11
                  More pics of the 1701 crew:

                  Derek Ray, pitmaster

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                  The whole crew on Sunday. The tall guy in the back is Tyler, owner of Neches Brewing Company

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                  Comment


                  • 58limited
                    58limited commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Yes, the girls have been told that they have a month to grow a beard and fit in.

                  • gcdmd
                    gcdmd commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Not too many Harry's Shave Club memberships sold there.

                  • Troutman
                    Troutman commented
                    Editing a comment
                    You know when I was younger I didn't care much about a beard. But as I got older the idea kind of grew on me ....

                  #12
                  You can save a lot of time trimming by leaving that deckle of fat, I just can't stand to leave it.

                  Comment


                    #13
                    You Texans are gunna be the death of me....
                    So much fine BBQ there and and I’m stuck up here in this dump.
                    I really do appreciate the great write ups and pics but they do put me in a pouty funk cause I ain’t there....but please do keep it up.

                    Comment


                      #14
                      Damn! My screen is dripping and my keyboard ruined! But it was worth it for sure. Excuse me I need to go have a smoke.

                      Comment


                        #15
                        Ok, this settles it. Wife wants to travel once she heels up, and I think my road trip from Alabama to wherever will need to pass through Texas!

                        In the meantime I am thinking I need to take a brisket out of the freezer and cook it for July 4th...

                        Comment


                        • CaptainMike
                          CaptainMike commented
                          Editing a comment
                          There's talk of another MeatUp in Texas this Fall, PJ and I were chatting about it this morning. After getting home and telling my wife about it she was disappointed that she didn't come along. I think she will next time.

                        • Panhead John
                          Panhead John commented
                          Editing a comment
                          I can guarantee y’all there will be one in the Fall, even if I’m the only one there. 😂 Mid to late October.

                        • Troutman
                          Troutman commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Panhead John is just lonely, he needs us

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