Barbecue mastermind Aaron Franklin revealed that Franklin Barbecue’s approximately four-hour wait can shrink to as little as one hour during the week or two after school starts in early September (keep it in mind for next year).
Franklin shared this and more when he sat down with Bon Appétit’s podcast during Feast Portland last month (where he cooked his sold-out event and his brisket was used in a magnificent chocolate bar). Here are the eight tastiest morsels shared, including his introduction to running a barbecue joint, where he sourced his cookers, what he did to stay awake during overnight shifts, and whether there are any expansion plans.
Pitmaster parents. Franklin’s parents were "dabblers in barbecue," having bought an existing barbecue spot [Ben’s Bar-Be-Que] in his hometown of Bryan, Texas when he was around 10 years old. However they only ran it for a few years. "It took them about two years to realize it was a terrible way to live," explained Franklin, adding, "I didn’t pick up on that. I just thought it was cool."
The smokehouse. Behind Franklin Barbecue’s shop, you’ll find the smokehouse, a hot, smokey screened-in room with five cookers built by Franklin and his team from 1,000-gallon propane tanks. Four of the cookers have a cook chamber roughly 16’ by 42" in diameter that can fit 24 briskets each. The fifth cooker called "Shorty" had to be cut to fit into the smokehouse. (Where can one find 1,000-gallon propane tanks? Craigslist, of course.) There’s also a giant rotisserie for ribs.
Great brisket in Texas and elsewhere. Franklin confessed that he doesn’t eat a lot of barbecue these days because, "it doesn’t mean the same thing as it used to." Though when he does sample other restaurant's brisket, he can absolutely tell how they’ve cooked it. He did share his recommended lone weekend Central Texas barbecue itinerary with Eater earlier.
Taking the show on the road. Franklin only travels for events twice a year—Feast Portland and a three-day barbecue pop-up in Chicago around the 4th of July. He did make an exception for a recent trek to Sweden.
No sleep till brisket. When he worked overnight shifts manning the cookers, he relied on seven or eight espressos and crossword puzzles to get through the night.
Franchising. How does he resist offers to expand? "By simply reminding myself that I don’t want to. We work way to hard at this one place to keep it...almost as good as it can be."
Make it a Lone Star. In a lightning round of "either/or" questions, which pinned Vans against Doc Martens (Vans got it), Veracruz All Natural against Tacodeli (Veracruz for the win), and Houston against Dallas (any guesses?), Franklin was quick to choose Lone Star (in the tall boy variety) over Shiner Bock.
As for using sauce, "dipping is okay."
- Bon Appétit : Episode 79: Aaron Franklin, Brisket God [Soundcloud]
- Aaron Franklin Wants You To Make Better Brisket [Bon Appétit]
- All Coverage of Franklin Barbecue [EATX]