When Pitmaster Jim Buchanan from Houston joined Doziers BBQ last year, he did so with a mission to turn the beloved Fulshear institution back into a contender for the acclaim of food writers and the prestige and recognition that come with so much Praise in the Texas grill community goes hand in hand
He and Ara Malekian of Harlem Road Texas BBQ in Richmond both did so in their own way when the two were recognized in the magazine by Texas Monthly perform from “50 BBQ Honorable Mentions” released last week.
“It’s really nice to be recognized for the effort we put into the product,” said Buchanan. “It’s fantastic, especially for an institution that has been around for so long, it has never really received such recognition.”
Malekian agreed, adding, “It’s a great honor to be part of the Texas Monthly List.”
The Harlem Road Pitmaster said he saw a boom in business and customers who mention they read about him in the publication.
Dozier’s, 8222 FM 359, is a significant piece of Fort Bend County lore that opened in 1957 and is appreciated by locals and visitors throughout the Houston area and state. But Dozier brought in Buchanan – who proudly bears the nonconformist label given to him eight years ago by Greg Morago of the Houston Chronicle – to bring the iconic restaurant up to speed with the rapidly evolving world of modern barbecue.
“(Dozier’s) hadn’t really kept up with the latest trends in what people call craft barbecue these days,” said Buchanan. “When I joined the team, the community expected us to put Dozier’s back in the spotlight and bring a quality product to market that was the same as or comparable to what the best places in the state put out.”
Last September, Jim Cummins and Steve Baur bought Dozier’s from brothers Scott and Smedley Evans, who had owned the restaurant and market since 1985.
Buchanan said Dozier’s now uses five different smokers, including one that was used by the previous owners to cook brisket with pecan smoke, which has gone out of style with many modern pit masters but remains indispensable for traditional grilling spots like Doziers.
The methodology is “similar”, but also “a bit deeper,” said Buchanan of the new techniques he used as Doziers Pitmaster.
“I don’t want that to kick off Scott and Smedley here,” said Buchanan. “They made a time-honored barbecue practice all over the state of Texas.
But trends and techniques change, and so Buchanan decided to tweak the way he cooked meat at Dozier’s, including paying attention to the fine details like the quality of the meat, the way it was cut and eventually was cooked.
“They really pay attention to the doneness of the product before it comes out of the pit,” said Buchanan. “You don’t cook to a specific internal temperature of the meat, you really cook to a level at which the meat is completely cooked, and the core can be different for each piece of meat.”
At the same time, Buchanan does not want to compromise Doziers’ time-honored feeling that
“You know, we’re not, we’re not trying to keep up with the cutting edge of where everyone wants to do new school barbecues,” he said. “We are who we are. We are a traditional barbecue area and that is all we strive for. “
Malekian opened the Harlem Road Texas BBQ in 2018, where he combines his classic Swiss cooking training with European and Middle Eastern influences and uses oak smoke and a cabinet smoker.
He said the opening of the 9823 Harlem Road location in Richmond was “pure coincidence” and happened before Amazon, Academy and HEB expanded into the area.
Malekian said he experimented with different types of wood and different smokers before opening Harlem Road and eventually settling in the Pitmaker Vault.
“(It) produced the most consistent and efficient way of smoking meat,” he said.
Malekian’s method is expensive and uses French oak wine barrels, which can cost more than $ 1,000.
The Armenian chef is also famous in barbecue circles for his Armenian coffee, which he prepares for every customer on request, even if it is not on the menu. He sells the beans, which are sourced locally from Katz Coffee Roasters in Houston.
He describes it as “a much easier roast” and even uses the bottom in his barbecue sauce and chocolate bread pudding. He makes all of his desserts from scratch, he said.
Harlem Road, Malekian said, is one of the few places that cooks beef ribs every day. Doing things a little differently has always been part of his charm. He said he appreciated that Latin American and Asian flavors flow into the mosaic of the Texas barbecue.
“Everyone will always make the brisket and the sausage,” said Malekian. “So this will never go away. But Pitmasters are now bringing in some of their culture and heritage to take grilling to the next level. Before it got that big, the barbecue took the cheaper cuts of meat that weren’t in great demand by other people and people who couldn’t afford the better cuts to smoke it for long periods of time to make it more tender. I think this is the next evolution of barbecue that we all bring our heritage and our background to the table. “
Buchanan said he thinks Malekian is a good friend, emblematic of his characterization of the Texas barbecue community, which he said has developed a unique sense of camaraderie and family by using the hashtag #BarbecueFamily when they are visit each other’s restaurants and post about those visits on social media.
“There is some competition,” said Buchanan. “But we do what we don’t because we’re trying to become celebrities or get rich. We do it because we love what we do. Because we love barbecues. So everything we do for the Texas barbecue community, and in general terms, is really focused on promoting the barbecue heritage in the state. “
The brisket, the brisket sausage with cheese and the Texas caviar from Dozier’s BBQ in Fulshear will be on display. (Photo by Stefan Modrich)
Pictured is the Brisket, Chipotle, Pulled Pork and Mac and Cheese from Harlem Road Texas BBQ in Richmond. (Photo by Stefan Modrich).