Stephen Rushmore Jr.
Day 13: Austin to Llano to Dallas Hill Country sightseeing
Roadfood: Cooper s Old Time Barbecue
Today was a casual travel day. Our only objectives were to drive through the Hill Country and get some barbecue in Llano.
After a leisurely start we found our way over some scenic back roads to Llano, arriving about 12:30. Many people were arriving at Cooper s after church services and the place was quite crowded. We had to wait about 15 minutes to get to the pit and place our order with the pit man.
Coopers uses charcoal rather than wood to fire their pits. This charcoal is made on premises in large hollow steel silos behind the BBQ pit area. The general area can get quite thick with smoke and ash if it is a windy day, so be careful where you park your car. As we waited in line we talked with some people from the area and they told us that Cooper s also makes their own sausage on site.
Our newly made friends recommended that we get the steak because they thought that it was better than the brisket. Cooper s usual smokes large pieces of rib eye, prime rib, and sirloin steaks. In addition Cooper’s offers sausage, chicken, pork chops. Our partners in line recommended we also try the goat. They said they have a relative who will bring a goat down to Cooper s to be smoked and then takes it back home to eat it.
When it was our turn to order we got some sausage, brisket, half a chicken, sirloin steak and a pork chop. I wanted to try some goat, but there was none at that time. Cooper s offers to dip the meat in their sauce before you leave the pit. We opted to dip our own at the table. This way we could try the meat with or without the sauce so we could experience both. All the meat was put on a try and we went inside to have it weighed, pick up our sides, and pay for everything.
We got sides of potato salad, warm blackberry and peach cobblers, and a pickle. Drinks were iced tea and Big Red. The condiments are free and consist of onions, jalapenos, and barbecue sauce. Beans come with the meal and are also supplied at the condiment bar. Loaves of white bread are placed on the table. Cooper s provides silverware so you do not have to eat with your fingers. I was polite and only ate a few bites with my fingers.
Here is a run down on the meats. The brisket was excellent. Sharon really liked how tender and flavorful it was the smoke having seeped through the entire brisket. It was as good as any that I have eaten on the trip. Cooper s uses the same rub on all their meats and it seems to work very well with the type of hardwood charcoal that they use.
The steak was a little on the dry side as was the pork chop. I think the pork chop was made the day before and rewarmed which caused it to lose some tenderness. The chicken was tasty, but the side with the bone was a little dry. The side under the skin was much more tender and juicy. I found the sausage to be similar in concept to a kielbasa, but with less garlic and much more heavily smoked.
We agreed that the brisket was the best of the meats we had sampled, but since we were coming home we had some fantastic leftovers to take back. We even stood in line a second time so Sharon could buy some more to bring back. She wound up buying an entire brisket.
As to the side orders other than the relatively ordinary potato salad we thought they were very good. The beans were excellent. They were prepared with salt pork and tasted just like they were home cooked. The pickle, raw onion, and jalapenos were just the jolts to waken up your taste buds in between different types of meat. We found the barbecue dipping sauce to be thin as sauces in real Texas BBQs tend to be. However that does not mean it is not flavorful. The thin sauce leaves a slight coating on your meat after you dip it. We found this ,21,203894.081,1,7586,126.96.36.199
203974,203894,203894,2006-05-29 15:27:00,RE: NJ to TX In Search of TX BBQ”