“The Salt Lick began as a way for my father, Thurman Roberts, to stay close to home and spend time with his family,” says current owner Scott Roberts. He served as Pit Master at the Austin institution for several years before passing the torch to the Gonzalez family, who have been there for more than 38 years. Today, the popular BBQ joint uses recipes and cooking methods that have been passed down for three generations, originating with Roberts’s great-grandmother Bettie, who travelled to the Lone Star state from Mississippi in the mid-1800s. Nearly 150 years later, The Salt Lick shows no sign of cooling down. “Last year we cooked and served over 950,000 pounds of brisket and 550,000 pounds of pork ribs,” Roberts tell us.
Here, he shares his top tips for adding a little Texas to your grill this summer.
Simplify the spice.
Instead of a marinade, we apply a dry rub consisting of salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper – just make sure you apply immediately before cooking, as the salt extracts juice and moisture from the meat. Then we baste with our original recipe BBQ sauce throughout the cooking process. You can use any type of BBQ sauce that you prefer, however be careful when using a tomato-based sauce, since it can burn at high temperatures and create a bitter taste.
Cook slow and steady.
We sear our meat over high heat (225 degrees) for around an hour, then slow cook (185 degrees). The general rule of thumb is to give 75 minutes for every pound, so a 14-lb brisket would cook for about 17 ½ hours.
What pairs best with BBQ? Wine, beer and whiskey. Seriously, though, I prefer coleslaws of all kinds: vinegar- or mayonnaise-based, or any type of salad dressing. The crunchy texture and refreshing taste pairs really well with smoked meats. Be bold with your slaw! I’m currently experimenting with a Jicama and Bell Pepper combo. I haven’t quite perfected it yet, but the slaw has great promise. One tip to keep in mind: use red and yellow peppers; their sweetness pairs best.
Photo copyright Kenny Braun