For those of you who don’t know me (not sure how you ended up here if that is the case), my name is Jay Arnold. I have four prevailing interests in life. Traveling, barbecue, sports, and music. As we begin the new year, I am attempting to force myself back into writing by whatever means necessary so I’m going to attempt to make this blog a weekly series where I talk about the beauty of Texas barbecue, provide somewhat intelligent sports betting advice, and suggest a song for you to check out and add to your listening rotation. Hopefully I’ll get a little travel talk in as well with some of the barbecue which is what we’ll start with.
Some of you reading this probably already have quite a bit of barbecue knowledge so bear with me as I explain the basics to those who may not have been blessed with the opportunity to spend weekends in Texas hunting for the best smoked meats. Generally, Texas Barbecue centers around slow-smoking meats over indirect heat. Depending on where or who is doing the smoking, different types of wood are used. Post Oak tends to be the most common in Texas, but others such as Mesquite, Pecan, Hickory, or fruit woods like Apple or Cherry may be used. Carolina Barbecue (North or South, Coastal or Upstate) generally centers on pork, in Texas beef is king though pork also gets a seat at the table. The “Texas Trinity” is brisket, spare ribs, and sausage, the focal point of most barbecue spots in Texas. However, given the wide range of influences and the way the Texas-barbecue scene has evolved, I definitely don’t want to stick to just the Trinity and want to highlight some of the best bites all around the state or wherever else the road takes me.
Barbecue of the Week: LJ’s BBQ – Brenham, TX
Currently, I’m in the midst of a quest to collect stamps from the top 50 barbecue joints in Texas, as rated by Texas Monthly. Most recently, a few buddies and I made our way out to LJ’s BBQ in Brenham, about an hour northwest of Houston. I am not much of a reviewer, and prefer to let the beauty inherent in the images of the barbecue speak for themselves but I will use a binary scale to rate barbecue spots, a 0 being don’t go there, a 1 meaning yes, absolutely go get some barbecue at this spot. LJ’s is obviously a 1.
Everything from top to bottom is well worth trying but the brisket in particular is everything you would hope for from a Texas barbecue joint. As far as sides go, the collard greens available at LJ’s may be the best example of greens I’ve ever had. A lot of greens end up with a characteristic bitterness but that was not the case here and I am not ashamed to admit that when we finished the greens, I decided to turn up the container and drink the juice like an uncivilized person.
We were also lucky to grab a couple of the specials that LJ’s had available in their pork belly burnt ends and their fried brisket mac-n-cheese balls. The latter is everything you could hope for considering that both their brisket and mac are elite. Fried together in a crispy ball, they are enough to make you cry tears of joy. If you’re reading this and haven’t made the trek to Brenham to try out LJ’s, I suggest you do so as quickly as possible.
For the next section of the blog, we get into the sports betting aspect. There are some sports where I will gladly admit I have not the slightest shred of knowledge for betting. If you are looking for someone to get basketball advice from I suggest you stay far away. The sports I do watch enough to bet on are college football and MMA. I’ll probably throw in some Premier League or NASCAR bets as well. May even mix in some NHL stuff when the playoffs roll around but for now, we’ll start with MMA.
Bet of the Week: Calvin Kattar +195
When Calvin Kattar and Giga Chikadze take the UFC Octagon on Saturday, violence is the most certain bet but I love the value on Kattar here. Chikadze has been open about his desire to fight for a title and I think the Georgian fighter may be looking past Kattar a little bit. That will prove to be a grave mistake as I’m expecting to see the best Kattar yet after his setback against Max Holloway. Calvin Kattar remains one of the best boxers in the UFC and while Giga has a wider arsenal of weapons (keep an eye out for that incredibly dangerous liver kick) I expect Kattar to come with a gameplan of crowding Chikadze and getting into boxing range while limiting the effectiveness of Chikadze’s kicks. I wouldn’t be surprised if both fighters get good shots in but I think Kattar edges this one out.
Beat of the Week: The Bird Hunters – Turnpike Troubadours
For our last bit of the blog, we’ll get into the music section. In the interest of transparency, more often than not, my suggestion is probably going to be a country song. Considering the most notable news of the scene around Texas right now is the return of the Turnpike Troubadours, it is only fitting that we kick this off with my personal favorite song by the boys from Tahlequah. “The Bird Hunters” is as majestic an example of frontman Evan Felker’s songwriting as there is. A tale of dealing with the end of a relationship set against the background of a bird hunt in the hills of Oklahoma may not sound picturesque, but damn does this one take me to another place every time I hear it. Check it out at the spotify link below:
Like I said, I’m hoping to make this a weekly segment. If you enjoy it, let me know and if you got to this blog without following me on social media, head on over to my twitter feed at @JArnoldTAMU85 to get more thoughts on barbecue, sports, and music as well as generally terrible opinions.