On this week's episode of "What's Eric Eating," pitmaster Jim Buchanan joins CultureMap food editor Eric Sandler to discuss Dozier's BBQ, the Fulshear staple that's been smoking meats since 1957. Buchanan begins the conversation by explaining how his interest in competition-style barbecue led him to the world of professional cooking via a friendship with Pappa Charlies Barbeque founder Wes Jurena.
After a stint in Galveston operating his own restaurant didn't go as planned, Buchanan joined Dozier's earlier this year. He's adapted his Central Texas-influenced style to Dozier's traditions by using pecan wood (instead of oak) and a slightly different spice mix than he did before, but he's also trying to bring the classic barbecue joint more in line with contemporary tastes and techniques.
One change Buchanan has made is moving to a traditional, market-style pricing structure where barbecue is sold by weight instead of as plates. When Sandler observes that it can be simpler to order by the piece — "give me a slice of brisket and two pork ribs" — rather than trying to guess how much meat is in a half-pound, Buchanan acknowledges he's adopted a similar approach.
"People walk up and they say, 'you don't have plates anymore.' I tell them everything is priced a la carte now, but I can build you a plate. You just have to tell me what sides you would like and what meats you would like and then we'll talk about the quantity," Buchanan says. "It's very helpful to have a cutting block in public view where the scale is right next to the cutter. You put a half-pound of brisket right in front of them and say 'will that work for you?'"
He also discusses the recent wave of media attention Dozier's has received recently. Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel Vaughn recently wrote a favorable review, and Chronicle critic Alison Cook praised Dozier's sides after a recent visit. All the attention has barbecue fans making the trip down the Westpark Tollroad to see what Buchanan is up to.
Prior to the interview, Avondale Food & Wine owner Mary Clarkson joins Sandler to discuss the news of the week. Their topic include: Fertitta Entertainment's partnership with the King Ranch to open King Ranch Texas Kitchen, a new restaurant devoted to steaks and other Texan flavors; Hungry Like the Wolf, an 80s themed restaurant opening later this year along the Washington corridor; and what the closure of Kenny & Ziggy's location near West U. says about the challenges small restaurants face while they're required to follow social distancing protocols.
In the restaurant of the week segment, Sandler and Clarkson describe their visit to Handam BBQ, a Korean barbecue restaurant in Chinatown. They praise the restaurant's flavorful meats, extensive selection of banchan, and helpful service.