Franklin Barbecue's smokehouse will be fully operational soon, which means the insanely popular barbecue destination will be able to expand its operation. They will close for two weeks from June 23-July 7 to finish up the smokehouse and perform other maintenance. Pitmaster Aaron Franklin tells Eater what's next, from two new cookers (one named Bethesda) to a take-out window.
Franklin Barbecue will close for two weeks in order to get the smokehouse up and running. Can you talk a bit about what you will need to get done?
Things are getting close - we're wrapping up and framing the roof this week. The Monday we're closed, the crane will arrive, and we're going to hoist all the cookers up in there. We're also going to redo roof on the main part of the building, retile the bathroom, maybe other stuff that takes more than six hours to do. We've been saving up for a long time.
You're going to hoist your original cookers up to the smokehouse?
Yep. It will hold the four big cookers that we use now, plus one small sausage cooker that I'm hoping to have built by then. I might not and will have to get creative with pulleys and counterweights to get it up there. We'll also have a new rotisserie - her name is Bethesda. We'll start cooking ribs on that, and that way we can overlap our cooks a bit, instead of having to scramble. All the briskets will stay on the brisket cooker, the ribs in the rotisserie, and so on.
Having those extra cookers will also free up kitchen space and let us make our sausage in house. So overall, we'll have in-house sausage, a little more meat, and more consistent product. And hopefully we won't have to work 24 hour a day. We should eventually end up with a to go window, too.
What's your plan for sausages? Will you experiment with new flavors?
We'll keep the recipe we do now, but our casing will be a little bit different. Eventually we'll have more fun with it, maybe get some jalapeño cheese specials going. I'm in no huge hurry.
I have in my head what the recipe will be. Texas Sausage makes a certain recipe for us right now. We have to fire them off during lunch, so they come pre-cooked. The casing is inconsistent, and making it in house should take out one of the biggest variables. Until now we just didn't have the room.
Is this your first time closing for such a long stretch?
We close once a year, normally about five days. Everyone goes on vacation and visits family. Normally I do one big maintenance project during that time. It's just a slightly bigger maintenance project than usual this year. But this is a long time to close. I'm nervous.
Maybe we might get a day off in there, though looking at the calendar, I don't know that it's going to happen. We might open up more exhausted than when we shut down.
Do you usually slow down in the summer? Is that why you chose to close now?
No, that first week of July is one of the busiest weeks of the whole year. We were trying so hard not to have it not happen. In a perfect world, it would happen around Christmas. But it's ready to go, and so we're just going to go ahead and do it, we're so anxious to get out of the sun.
Won't it be hot in the smokehouse?
We'll have a lot of fans. It's basically a screened-in shelter, but we'll have a roof, and we'll have covers to keep rain off the cookers. It might be super crazy hot, but most of the heat hopefully will be going through the exhaust. I guess if it gets really hot, I can just drop wood completely and just use the heat of the sun.
I'm surprised no one has actually tried that here in Texas.
I'm totally going to get on it. Ambient smoking.
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