Barbecue is serious business in Houston, where each smokehouse has its signature flair and flavor. But even if you can’t make it to Space City, you can still cook up seriously tasty dishes at home—even without a smoker. We asked two of Houston's most creative pitmasters to weigh in.
Quy Hoang (left) and Scott Moore Jr. (right)
Quy Hoang, pitmaster at Blood Bros. BBQ in Bellaire, is known around town for his Asian fusion take on traditional Texas barbecue. Scott Moore Jr. (a fifth generation Texan) is a double threat—he’s both the pitmaster and chocolate maker at Tejas Chocolate + Barbecue in Tomball. Here are their tips for the aspiring home barbecue cook.
This is Moore’s favorite dish to make at home. “Roasting a pork butt will fill your house with aroma. You can put it in the oven at bedtime and check it in the morning,” he says.
Season a pork butt with salt, black pepper, and smoked paprika.
Place it on a roasting rack or pan and put it in a 225°F oven for about 8-10 hours. It’s done when you can pull the shoulder bone out with a pair of tongs.
Let it rest for a couple of hours before pulling the meat.
Save pan dripping to drizzle over the pulled pork.
“Smoked paprika will add a nice color and slightly smoky taste,” Moore explains. “You can do the same with guajillo chili powder. Buy spices in small quantities for home. You don’t want to use a smoked paprika that has been sitting the pantry for a year.” If you’re local to Houston, Moore recommends Granel Spice Market for an excellent selection.
Chicken ranks as one of Hoang’s favorite barbecue meats to cook at home. “If you don’t have a smoker, you can do the chicken in the oven,” he explains.
Preheat the oven to 275°F.
Season the chicken (half or whole) with salt and pepper, plus any other spice blend you prefer. Cayenne, garlic, onion, and paprika are good options.
Roast the chicken until the thickest part of the breast reaches 165°F on a meat thermometer.
To recreate Blood Bros. signature fusion flavor, opt for some classic Asian ingredients. “Gochujang is a Korean chili paste that can be used to make a sauce to glaze the chicken with. Soy sauce, sesame oil, and fish sauce are also some ingredients commonly used in Asian cooking,” says Hoang.
Both Hoang and Moore recommend pork ribs as an excellent option for preparing barbecue at home. Hoang goes for St. Louis-style ribs, while Moore prefers pork spare ribs. Both can go in the oven.
Preheat your oven to 225°F.
Season your ribs with salt and pepper.
Bake the ribs for 5-6 hours, or until the bone pulls out easily.
Baste at the end with your favorite barbecue sauce—don't be stingy here, add enough so it gets sticky.
“When selecting ingredients, I try to pick the best quality meat I can,” suggests Hoang, who sources meats for Blood Bros. BBQ from Black Hill Meats in Houston. Most grocery chains will also stock quality ingredients, says Hoang. “In a pinch, HEB will have great stuff.”
Brisket is perhaps the most quintessential Texas barbecue dish, but it’s also the toughest to recreate at home. “An oven roast brisket can be done, it just won’t have a smoke ring or smoke flavor,” explains Moore.
Preheat the oven to 225°F.
Season the brisket and place it in the oven for 6-7 hours.
Carefully remove the meat, wrap it in tin foil or pink butcher paper (no wax paper), and cook for an additional 3-4 hours.
Remove the meat when the internal temperature reaches around 200°F on a meat thermometer.
Rest the brisket for at least an hour before slicing.
“If you can afford prime grades, upper choice, and all natural proteins go that direction,” says Moore. “I like Smitty’s Meat Market in Tomball. They have great cuts and will get you anything you want. Their jerky and boudin are the bomb. The Tomball Farmers Market on Saturdays has a fantastic selection of vegetables, eggs, meats, and other craft items.”
Scott Moore Jr.’s pick: “Make a good coleslaw or potato salad and you have a barbecue meal without the smoke. Green beans or pinto beans will also round out a barbecue meal.”
Quy Hoang’s pick: “For sides I go with slaw, potato salad, beans, and mac and cheese.”
Lydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.