Ravens at Texans, Sunday Dec. 21, 1:00 p.m., NRG Stadium, CBS
Baltimore heads to the Lone Star State this week to play a reeling Houston team in the season's penultimate regular season game. The Texans lost their starting quarterback for the season in a loss at Indianapolis last week, so they'll be playing a backup against the Ravens. They are, however, mathematically still alive for a playoff spot. I'm a bit surprised that Baltimore is only a 4½-point favorite. I plan on betting on the Ravens, devouring a boatload of barbecue, and watching what offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak has in store for the team that fired him as its head coach after last season.
What to Eat: Texas loves its barbecue, and down there beef is the favored meat. Of course, true barbecue is smoked, which is notoriously tough to do at home without the right equipment. I found this recipe for Texas oven-roasted beef brisket that's a worthy non-smoked substitute.
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 bay leaf, crushed
- 4 pounds beef brisket, trimmed
- 1 1/2 cups beef stock
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Make a dry rub by combining chili powder, salt, garlic and onion powders, black pepper, sugar, dry mustard, and bay leaf. Season the raw brisket on both sides with the rub. Place in a roasting pan and roast, uncovered, for one hour. Add beef stock and enough water to yield about a half inch of liquid in the roasting pan. Lower oven to 300 degrees, cover pan tightly and continue cooking for three hours, or until fork-tender. Trim the fat and slice meat thinly across the grain. Top with juice from the pan.
As I wrote about in the fall, Baltimore is an up and coming barbecue city. Big Bad Wolf (5713 Harford Rd.) serves beef ribs, as does Midtown BBQ and Brew (15 E. Centre St.). Blue Pit BBQ (1601 Union Ave.) has been open since the summer, but just started serving a full menu, which includes Zeke's-coffee-rubbed brisket, which I can't wait to try.
What to Drink: One of the country's most beloved beers comes from a little town of 2,069 residents about two hours west of Houston. Shiner Bock is a dark lager brewed with roasted barely malt and German specialty hops. It was originally a seasonal beer, but its popularity convinced the company to begin producing it year round in 1973.
If You Go: Houston is a sprawling metropolis of more than 2 million citizens, making it the country's fourth-most populous city. Spread over nearly 600 square miles, it's not the most walkable of cities. No matter how you get there, definitely check out the Saint Arnold Brewing Company. Texas' oldest craft brewery offers tours on Saturdays between noon and 2 p.m., and its beer hall is a great place to sample Fancy Lawnmower, a German-style Kölsch.
In a city full of great barbecue restaurants, Gatlin's stands out. If you make the pilgrimage, be prepared for lines out the door and some of the best ribs you've ever had.