Rita’s dad used to say that everyone needed to have their own barbecue guy.
He felt strongly about this, even though his guy was in Little Rock, Arkansas, and dad was in New Mexico. Still, words to live by.
Thankfully, our barbecue guy is close to us. Practical Smokers BBQ, Catering, and More, and Fruita Wood & BBQ Supply are owned by Bert Fraser and recently relocated to 596 N. Commercial Drive in Grand Junction.
Fruita Wood has been around for a long time and is a superb provider of about 20 different woods for smoking — there is fruit wood, oak, mesquite, sassafras and more. They also offer smokers, accessories, rubs and most anything you might need for smoking or grilling.
Fruita Wood ships all over the country, and we are not its only fans. We actually found out about it from Washington Post Smoke Signals barbecue columnist Jim Shahin.
Fraser opened his food truck business a couple of years ago and we have been loving his barbecue.
It is called Practical Smokers BBQ, Catering and More. It emphasizes two points. One, it is “competition style,” and two, good barbecue tastes great without being smothered in sauce.
To our taste, it’s the best smoked barbecue around. The food truck is now located on Commercial Drive, so you don’t have to go looking for it.
Our favorite Practical Smoker meats are the smoked brisket meatloaf, smoked brisket and smoked ribs. All of the meats are so moist and flavorful with just the right smokiness and chew.
For the meatloaf, brisket is smoked, then chopped and mixed with other ingredients, put in loaf pans and smoked again. There is so much flavor and tender juiciness. It is Rita’s favorite meat entrée anywhere in town.
The ribs are selected for extra meatiness, hand trimmed and smoked to a bite off the bone texture. Fall off the bone is not the goal, because that is overcooked.
The smoked brisket is trimmed, prepped and then smoked. It is so tender and moist and has that wonderful meaty smoke flavor. And, we agree that no additional sauces are needed. But if you are a sauce person, there are several house-made sauces including the popular WasabiQ.
Practical Smoker sides are great, too.
The fried pork rinds are among our favorites. We never expected to champion pork rinds, but these are made from scratch in a multi-stage process of trimming, soaking, boiling, drying and then frying at the last minute.
Cowboy caviar is a perfect summer side. It has corn, black beans, black-eyed peas, red onions (and probably other veggies) in a light and slightly sweet vinaigrette.
The Texas beans have a nice barbecue taste. The coleslaw is a bit tangy and the BBQ egg rolls are unique combination of smoked brisket and pickle in an egg roll skin.
In case you wondered what is meant by “competition style,” we asked. This refers to a process involving a series of decisions made by the pitmaster about trimming, marinating, brining or injecting the meat for maximum succulence and to bring out the best in each particular piece.
Then there are the decisions of what wood will give the best flavor and crust on the meat. And, finally, the amount of time it is cooked. Each time and each piece is different. You can see how much care goes into Fraser’s barbecue.
His new location is a large building just off Patterson east of 25 Road. He has the property divided into roughly thirds. The left third is the work/shipping area for the woods. The middle third is the retail store.
The right third is a commercial kitchen, an eating area and the smoker/cooking trailer. One enters the store to get to the trailer.
It is best to order ahead online. The current menu is on his website. Food currently is only available for Friday lunch (he is closed July 3), but that may be expanding. Always check ahead to be make sure of what is being served and when.
Fraser says, “I don’t cook barbecue to make money, I make money to cook more barbecue.” We hope he makes lots of money.
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