Culinary Arts

Aaron’s Journey to Pitmaster

Aaron Franklin

Lesson time 15:55 min

Aaron’s journey began with a botched brisket cooked on a $99 smoker. Follow the unlikely path Aaron took to become a pitmaster, and learn what sparked the birth of the most famous barbecue joint in the country.

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Aaron Franklin
Teaches Texas-Style BBQ
Aaron Franklin teaches you how to fire up flavor-packed Central Texas barbecue, including his famous brisket and more mouth-watering smoked meat.
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[MUSIC PLAYING] - I was born in Bryan, Texas, which is only a couple hours from Austin. I would spend a lot of time at my grandparents' house. They owned a record store. Loved being over there. We lived super close. So in the evenings, they would go play dominoes with their friends at this barbecue joint. Dirt parking lot. Old pit. It was built in the early 1900s. And I just remember being, like, four or five years old and kind of be sitting on my grandpa's lap. He's playing dominoes. I'd knock them over and stuff. But I could always smell the smoke in the air. It smelled like your classic barbecue joint. There's grease, and you could kind of smell it, and it's kind of hazy, it's kind of smoky. You kind of go back into the kitchen and you could see the fire in the floor, and you could see the brick pit, and you could see the patina up the wall. You could hear the squeaky door when you walk in and you could see how the ceiling tiles were kind of yellowed from the smoke. But that was kind of my first barbecue experience. It wasn't so much eating it. It was just kind of the ambience of it, like, the feeling of it. When I was about 10, my parents ended up operating a barbecue restaurant for a few years. It was a restaurant that had this old red brick fire pit. And it had a fire in the floor. And it was a real small place. I think he probably cooked 12 briskets a day. And I thought that was just an insane amount of food. They were only open at lunch. And my mom ran the front. She waited the tables. And I found myself doing food prep at about 10 years old. And I was really into it. I loved it. I loved sitting back by the fires. And then I would cut onions and I would slice lemons. And then during lunch, I would do the sides. And I ended up really loving to work there. Although it is exhausting for my parents and they quickly realized that it was way too much work, I found that I enjoyed it so much. And I just loved the smell of the fire and I loved hearing it. And then when I was 24, my then girlfriend, now wife Stacy, and partner, in Franklin Barbecue, we had gotten our first little apartment together. We had a tiny little backyard. Moving in, I was really excited. I'm like, I'm going to go buy a grill. So I go to the sporting goods store. And I'm looking around. And I see this offset barbecue pit. And it was a $99 thing. It wasn't good. Flawed all over the place. Thin metal. All this stuff. But I didn't know any better and it didn't matter, because I probably only had about $100 anyway. So I call up my dad, because he used to own a barbecue place. And I was like, hey, I got this cooker. I bought a brisket at the grocery store. How do I cook it? He was like, ah, boy, I don't know. Just throw it on the cooker, and cook it for a really long time. And when it's really black, it's probably about ready. I'm like, OK, that's some good directions. So I take that and I kind of run with it. I put it on, I cook it, and it was black. But ...


The art of smoke and fire

Once a backyard hobbyist, Aaron Franklin is now the James Beard Award-winning owner of Franklin Barbecue, where the line for his famous smoked brisket is hours long. Now the Central Texas barbecue specialist teaches you his meticulous low and slow process for mouth-watering ribs, pork butt, and brisket. With perfectly seasoned cuts and optimal temperatures, you'll learn to handle an offset smoker like a true pitmaster.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Aaron could (should) host a show on one of the cooking channels. Very personable - I felt like he was just a dude in the neighborhood talking about his food.

This will definitely up my bbq skills, so happy that i did this !!

Great details and tips! interesting myths about bbq have been squashed, etc.

The early instruction aspects were filled with unpretentious sharing of experience-earned wisdom. Golden advice just thrown off the cuff. The biggest surprise was I did not expect this to end up inspiring. Well done Masterclass!


Comments

Nick B.

Aaron, How Big is the double wide Smoker set up in this video? How can I get one?

Jerry

Great information. Once you really get into it you never realize how much science goes in BBQ. I know for a fact ever BBQ I have at my house I cook my meat and BBQ sauce different every time. It depends on how I feel that day if I want a sweet, bold, spicy or tangy taste but still comes out good with no complaints.

Octavius N.

Aaron, you are so right! We are always learning and that's what makes it so fun and engaging! I agree that trying to be the best is wasted effort but working to give people the best product we possibly can makes all the hard work and sacrifice worth it!

Josh

Terrific. Great info. Great stories. In my top 5 classes. I had the pleasure of eating at Franklin's last year, so this was highly anticipated. Did not disappoint. More of this, please.

Casie

Hey guys, make sure you join Aaron's Community! There you can discuss BBQ techniques and other class material, network with other BBQ-loving students, trade recipes and stay up to date on class contests & activities. Here's the link: https://community.masterclass.com/c/culinary-arts/af-workbook