Skip to main content
On the Road

On The Road: Bigger in Texas

Thick-cut pork chops are on the menu at Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que.
By Published Jan. 1, 2022

The drive through Texas Hill Country to the town of Llano is desolately beautiful, with long stretches of dusty dirt broken up by patches of electric-green shrubs and stout trees. The weathered roads are wide, though traffic rarely comes.

Sign up for the Cook's Country Dinner Tonight newsletter

10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

I turn into the parking lot of Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, a boxy crimson building that’s impossible to miss. I nearly walk right past the line that’s formed at the door before a young man in a camo hat and a soot-blackened apron calls me back to ask what I’ll have. He grabs a plastic lunch tray and lines it with butcher paper as I mull over my choices: barky brisket, slabs of mahogany ribs, giant pork chops.

He loads my tray with a slice of this, a link of that, and a pork chop, and then points to a deep pot of sauce at the end of the pit. Common wisdom holds that good barbecue doesn’t need sauce, so I confidently decline. He ignores me and, in one swift motion, grabs my chop with tongs, dunks it, and returns it to my tray. I consider protesting but think better of it and move inside to eat.

When I cut into the tender chop, the sauce, surprisingly bright with vinegar, clings jealously, beautifully to it. A new lesson: Listen to the pitmaster.