Chef Chat, Part 3: Gilbert Arismendez of Phil's Texas Barbecue

We end our meeting with Arismendez by trying a three-meat combo plate with sliced beef with jalapeno sausage, barbecue ribs, garlic cheese grits and barbecue beans.

Look carefully and you'll see that the ribs don't have the typical pink smoke ring. Instead, the ribs are pink all the way through, which means Arismendez practices what he preaches about smoking low and slow. The jalapeno sausage was true to Arismendez's description: fantastic. The nibbles of jalapeno throughout the sausage give the tongue a slow burn. The sausage recipe is a Phil's original that is made fresh by a local supplier using the recipe.

The lean brisket was moist and flavorful. Arismendez explains that he achieves this by placing the brisket fat side up so that while it smokes, the fat will drip down through the lean side of the brisket.

If this plate was a movie, the meaty lead actors were made greater by their supporting cast, namely the sauce and the grits. The garlic-cheese grits were a welcome change from the standard side of potato. The chipotle-base barbecue sauce was like the girls at my old high school, it started off pleasantly sweet, luring me into a false sense of security, and then kicked me when I least expected it. The chipotle sauce is a must for anyone who likes spice on his or her barbecue.

We finished off the meal with Phil's Bananas Foster bread pudding served with a chocolate rum sauce. The bananas were firmer than expected, which leads to me believe small plantains were used. This wasn't a bad thing. The blander, firmer plantain balances out the sweeter, softer bread pudding. Growing up on plantains myself, I thought the dessert was great. Definitely a nice end to a deliciously smoky meal.

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