I can’t say I’d ever wish to live in Texas, but I do wish I could eat their barbecue. All the time. Fortunately, my brother now lives in Austin for grad school which has already resulted in an epic food-related trip to visit him with hopefully many more to follow. With only a few days, we ate our way around Austin – Mexican food trucks, barbecue ‘restaurants’ of all styles, Tex-Mex and even NY-style pizza. Having consumed enough barbecued meat to anger proponents of carbon neutral eating, I returned to London with bottles of different barbecue sauces but without a way to recreate the smoky, tender meat of Texas.
How do they do it – and why can’t we seem to get it right here? Bodean’s, (of the Kansas City style BBQ) pulls it off OK, but not brilliantly. And because, sadly, I can’t justify the 9-hour plane ride to Texas just to have pulled pork, it’s become a mission to find something in London that would satisfy my craving. Enter Anna Mae’s Smoke House.
I first heard about Anna Mae’s Smoke House on Twitter last week and as I’m not the best at controlling my impulses, headed over there as soon as I found the time. Lacking a permanent shopfront, Anna Mae’s make appearances at different markets around London and spend their Tuesdays at Merchant Square Market in Paddington Basin from 12-2pm.
Holding out from chowing down on my sandwich, I spoke with Anna for a few minutes to learn more about their pulled pork. The meat is slow-smoked for 14 hours in a traditional smoker before being piled high on a light bun and smothered in their unique BBQ sauce made with 18 spices. I ordered mine topped with homemade coleslaw in a light vinaigrette and proceeded to dig in to the messy pile of meat and sauce. The meat was tender and incredibly moist, with the bit of fat that hadn’t seeped into the meat in its slow cooking melting in your mouth like ‘buttah’. If overcooked, pulled pork can often be stringy and unpleasant in its dry strands, but Anna Mae’s manages to smoke it so the meat pulls apart in individual, distinct pieces whilst retaining its juiciness. If any criticism comes to mind it would be the lack of the crispy, outer crust bits of the smoked pork in my sandwich – but that’s just because it’s my favorite of the whole joint.
Will keep waiting for somebody here in London to smoke some wonderful Texas-style brisket. Sigh.