This could be the end of an era, Franklin Barbecue lovers: Starting this Saturday, the local barbecue trailer-turned-brick-and-mortar-turned-national-sensation will begin serving meat that's been cooked on its brand new mega-sized smoker. Assuming there are no technical issues, it should only be about a month until Austinites can start expecting a shorter lunch line and possible dinner service at Franklin.
Owner and chef Aaron Franklin took two months drafting plans for and building the smoker from scratch, sourcing specific cuts of metal from suppliers around town. The 20 foot long finished product weighs in at "roughly 10,000 pounds."
He hasn't actually tried making food with it yet, so he'll only be putting six to 12 briskets in there this weekend — mixing the results in with meat from the original two smokers — and will add more in coming weeks as they get the hang of cooking with it.
Below, Franklin discusses his new smoker (which is significantly bigger than his previous attempt at a new pit called "Choo Choo").
So, is the new smoker a lot bigger than the one you have right now?
It's enormous. Between the two smokers that we use now, it'll probably be about a 130 percent increase in capacity. Once we learn how to cook a little bit more on it now, though. So it'll be more of a gradual thing until we cook enough to where we feel more comfortable with it.
But what about Choo Choo?
Actually we shortened the name of that one from "Choo Choo" to "Choochy." Yeah, we don't really use that thing. That was one we were trying to have work out, but we never really could get it to yield good food. It was too smoky and didn't burn quite right. It's in the back yard now. That was our backup — we used it for about two months. Choochy holds about 18 briskets, which for a while was totally enough to offset the selling out thing, but we shortly realized that it wasn't nearly big enough. So we started working on a bigger one.
This one's bigger?
Yeah, this new one holds about 40 briskets. It's a big one.
What happens to the interim meat that y'all produce while learning how to cook with the new smoker?
If it turns out right, then we'll sell it. But if not, we'll probably just give it away to friends.
Does this mean you'll be able to take care of the ever-present line in front of Franklin at lunchtime? Permanently?
That certainly is the goal. You know, I think it will, once we learn how to use it, and stuff like that. Maybe in a few weeks down the road, we'll open until 6:00PM in the evenings. We'll probably gradually make more and more food until we get a feel for how much we need to make. It's a whole game changer for us, because right now we just cook all we can, and hope for the best. It'll be weird changing how we do everything. But that should help the line out, I imagine. It'll be cool because we'll be able to start catering again, eventually. We'll be able to take orders and call-ins and things like that. That right there should help with the line a lot. So I think once we start doing that, it should probably cut the line almost in half. That'll let some of our old regulars get back in here. There are so many people now, you know, real people that have jobs and can't wait in line for six hours.
Tell me about the craziest thing that's ever happened to you while barbecuing, grilling, cooking in general.
Aside from burning and ruining a whole day's batch of brisket, not much. I guess that's the worst thing that's ever happened. I burned up an entire batch of brisket — around 10-12 briskets — over when we were still at the trailer. We ended up just giving away free food all day. It was not very good.
· Franklin Barbecue [Official Site]
· All Aaron Franklin Coverage on Eater Austin [-EATX-]
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