This story ran well after I left Dallas. It was a pleasure to hang out with Clyde for several hours, watching the master go through all the motions of preparing true, traditional barbecue. Every barbecue man I’ve ever met (and I’ve met a lot) has been a character, and Clyde was no exception. He told a ton of stories and anecdotes and he’s had a colorful past. Hopefully his comeback is successful. And yes, after getting my sample the next day made sure to drop a Hamilton into the tip jar.
Pitmaster Clyde Biggins walks around stacks of oak wood in his front yard after preparing his smoker to barbecue on July 26, 2012. Biggins, who once ran a barbecue shack in Dallas, is attempting a professional comeback after being sentenced in 1993 to 20 years in prison for his role in a drug ring. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)
Pitmaster Clyde Biggins grabs several racks of pork ribs out of a cooler before preparing them to smoke on July 26, 2012. Biggins went on to seasoned the meat with only a blend of salt, pepper and chili powder, denouncing many of the more complex rubs and marinades commonly used today. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)
Pitmaster Clyde Biggins enlists the help of his daughter to rinse of pork ribs with a hose before smoking them on July 26, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)
A shaft of afternoon light is visible through the smoke as Clyde Biggins places beef briskets on his smoker on July 26, 2012. In preparing his traditional Texas-style brisket, Biggins simply broke open the cryovac packer briskets and set them on his hot smoker. No salt or pepper to be found, just smoke. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)
Pitmaster Clyde Biggins serves barbecue to a crowd of friends from his trailer hitch on July 27, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)
Pitmaster Clyde Biggins serves barbecue on July 27, 2012. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)
A jar full of tips sits on a table as Clyde Biggins serves barbecue from his front yard on July 27, 2012. Earlier this year, he set up his pit on an East Oak Cliff corner and sold barbecue off the street. Police shut down his business because he didn’t have the required food service permit or enclosed kitchen area to cook the food. He’s been looking into how to make his barbecue business legal. (Jeff Lautenberger/The Dallas Morning News)
Almead Stutts stands in the kitchen at Stutts House of Barbecue on Apache Street on July 29, 2011. Stutts has owned the restaurant for 18 years, but the building has served as a north Tulsa barbecue joint since the 1950s. The original smoke pit is still in use today, JEFF LAUTENBERGER/Tulsa World
I’m always up for good barbecue. Anyone who knows me knows I’m really picky about it, too. I can’t count the number of hole-in-the-wall barbecue places I’ve hit up in my life. From my travels, I’ve pretty much narrowed down my favorite places in each major “region,” Carolina, Kansas City and Texas. But I also like finding above average places else too. Stutts in north Tulsa falls into that category, and is easily in the top 10 of places I’ve been. To say I’d definitely go back is a big deal for me, since I’m pretty quick to dismiss a second chance at a place if I’m not impressed. Like I said, I’m picky.
Almead and her employees were super nice to me and our food reporter, even giving a peek inside the 60-year-old smoker in the back of the kitchen. It’s always a good sign when you walk up to a place and smell nothing but burning pecan and hickory wood. I didn’t need an actual photo of food for the story, but after the reporter left, I was so hungry that I decided to order up some food to try anyway. I was so focused on gnawing at my ribs that I took a bite before taking a picture, which is why there’s that little empty spot under the bread below. Oops.
A serving of St. Louis style ribs is accompanied with buttermilk pie, baked beans and cole slaw, along with the customary fixins of onions, pickles and white bread at Stutts House of Barbecue. JEFF LAUTENBERGER/Tulsa World
Clarence Robinson, a school bus driver and longtime customer sits at a table in Stutts House of Barbecue on Apache Street. JEFF LAUTENBERGER/Tulsa World