Bean Eater

J-BAR-H BEANS- The Magical Fruit

Pinto BeansFor years I have kept my pinto bean recipe in my pocket, and only shared it with a few select people, I even threatened one guy with a gun if it got out.  Now in my old age I feel like I have gotten to the point where it is time to share the goodness…



  • 10 pounds pintos, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 pound bacon, diced
  • 5 big onions, cut into strips
  • 1 green pepper, cut into strips
  • 4 large jalapeños, seeded and cut into strips
  • 8 whole garlic cloves
  • 2 pounds brisket burnt ends
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt + 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • Coarse black pepper


  1. On a sheet pan, pour a pile of beans on the left side and slide them across a few at a time looking for rocks, dirt & broken beans- give them a good rinse
  2. Get your bacon sweating in a big boiling pot
  3. Get the pot pretty hot and throw in the veggies
  4. Cook them till they start getting some color then throw in the garlic cloves
  5. Add the tablespoon of salt and about 3/4 cup of coarse pepper (this salt is for the veggies, not the beans) cook for a few more minutes until a scab starts forming on the bottom of the pan,
  6. Pour in about a quart of water and work up that scab from the bottom until the bottom of the pan is clean and the liquid looks like pond water
  7. Pour in your beans and enough hot water to cover by about 4 inches
  8. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a bubbling simmer for an hour
  9. Throw in a handful of salt (if you do it before this point the beans wont soften) and a couple pounds of brisket burnt ends.  If you don’t know how to properly cook a brisket then add 6 or 8 ham hocks, but what will set your beans apart will be the deep smoky flavor you get into them
  10. Give it a good stir and let simmer uncovered for another few hours, keeping about 1 inch of water over the top-  NO MORE- NO LESS,
  11. Start checking after about 2.5 hours to see if the beans are done.  You don’t want them mushy and you don’t want even the slightest hint of a crunch or too firm of a texture.
  12. They are done when they are done.
  13. Pour off into a couple of shallow pans and chill overnight. This is an important step in the process!  They will be creamy and awesome.  As my favorite food-geek says “Your patience will be rewarded.
bean feast

The greatest Bean-Feast in cinematic history.


For Charro beans we take our awesome beans and pour some chicken broth into them, add some Rotel tomatoes, cumin, minced garlic, fresh finely chopped onions, cilantro and lime juice.  NOTE: You gotta use real chicken broth, it makes all the difference in the world.


For refried beans you kind of have to make them in batches. I use a big-ass braising pan (real wide, low sides) and warm it up over 2 burners.  Get about a 1/4 pound of lard per batch melted up and hot in the pan.  (Lard is a critical ingredient to great refried beans, and your local carniceria will have the freshest and best.)  Since we used veggies in the beans you don’t need to add them here, but if you start with canned beans you need to dice up a couple. onions and cook until translucent.  Strain the beans and reserve the liquid (from our good beans, toss that crap in the canned beans, rinse the shit out of them and use 50/50 water & chicken stock as your liquid.) Dump as many beans as you can get into the pan (including the veggies and meat) and while they are sizzling, mash the shit out of them.  I use a stick blender to do the dirty work.  Keep adding liquid to the pan while you work until you get a decent consistency, but not too fine.  I think it should have the consistency of a good loose baby shit.  This is managed by the liquid you add as you mash.  Leave a decent amount of “mostly” mashed beans in so that people know you didn’t get it from a can.  The smoky flavor and bits of jalapenos & onions will also tell them you went the distance. 


Don’t bother soaking your beans- it’s pointless.  no one from Mexico would ever do that and they invented beans.

food trucks

My Case Against Food Trucks…

food trucksBefore you pound me with messages about how a small business advocate such as myself could POSSIBLY be against food trucks, let me clarify my position:

I am NOT against food trucks from a business stand point.

I think they are the epitome of the entrepreneurial spirit.  Food trucks and trailers go way back in our Texas food lore and deserve all respect that they are getting.  (One of my favorite restaurants, The Salt Lick, in Driftwood, started out as a little trailer in the middle of nowhere and they have risen to legendary empire status.)  Food trucks take investment, time, creativity and hard, hard work.

I have a number of friends who own them and I have been inside a few and they are as clean as most restaurants I have visited.  Food safety and sanitation standards have to actually be higher, given the mobile nature of the setup.  (This doesn’t mean that there aren’t roach coaches out there, and it also doesn’t mean that there aren’t terrible restaurants either.)  Some of the most creative and loved food concepts in the world come from the streets and I respect a chef that is a total geek for what they are making.  You would have to be to work long hours in the cramped, hot, crowded environment of a food truck.

As an event professional I am against food trucks as a replacement for catering.

I went to a great event recently (as a guest for the first time in years.)  Everything was well thought out and there were lots of activities. They had firetrucks and water jumpy things to escape the heat of a hot August afternoon; inside activities (with lots of A/C, yeah!) and even snow cone vendors and slushies.  From all standpoints a success, except on one front: the food.  There were three food trucks plus a pizza trailer and a couple slushie/snow cone guys; apparently a couple of the trucks didn’t show up (typical for anyone that’s planned an event like this.)  It was 100 degrees, in a concrete parking lot with no shade, and barely a breath of air: the worst case scenario for a food truck setup- why?  Because for all their food-awesomeness, food trucks are notoriously slow under a heavy load scenario. My experience was to wait in line for 30 minute in the blazing sun, order, then wait 20 minutes for my food. (I ordered from a churrasco truck and it was amazing.)  This was 80% of my time at the event; waiting, either on line to place my order, or waiting for the order.  By the time I got my food & found a place to eat, I was sweaty, sapped from the heat and grumpy from standing on line and really just wanted to go home.

Food trucks are also not very cheap.  By the time you get your sandwich, side & drink, you are hitting $15-20.  This works well for the host because they are able to shift that cost burden to the guest, but not necessarily great for the out of work guy with a family of 5, or the economically challenged.  And don’t think you are going to be able to negotiate their prices down.  They are a small business and need to make money, just like everyone else.  The problem with bringing food trucks in and letting them fight it out is that they have no idea how many of anything they are going to sell.  If they give you a 20% discount and end up selling only half of the amount that they thought they would, they are going to lose money and that’s not good for anyone.

Food trucks can be inconsistent. Just the nature of the mobile equipment they use causes inconsistencies, as opposed to a restaurant setting.  My experience today was fantastic from the churrasco truck, but the lady in front of me was served almost raw beef because they were running behind and tried to make up for the pressure coming from a long line by pulling the meat off too early.  Long lines and complaining customers can make folks cut corners to keep the client happy.

Food trucks are loud and not environmentally friendly.  Well, not so much the truck as their ever-present generators.  A generator running all day is first and foremost LOUD and secondly has a large carbon footprint, especially if there are multiple trucks at the event.

Food trucks are outside. For a street festival under the trees in the spring or fall, food trucks are great.  But they are decidedly weather sensitive and there is really no “plan b” if your event is inside and the food is outside.  Also, it pulls people away from other activities for long lengths of time.

For the right event food trucks are an attractive option for the following reasons:

  • They are cool.
  • They offer a variety of cuisines.
  • They transfer a big chunk of the event cost onto the guest, freeing resources for other event elements (like more jumpy-things!)

But for all the reasons I stated above they are, in many cases, not the right choice for a successful event.  I have fed hundreds of thousands of people during my time as a caterer and I will tell you that people don’t want to stand in lines, especially if they are on a schedule or if the weather is anything but perfect.

The Case For Hiring A Caterer

Caterers know how to feed large groups of people efficiently, consistently and on schedule.   Food trucks are great at what they do, but speed and efficiency is not their hallmark.   And if your event has a timetable, food trucks are certainly not the way to go.  Most caterers can get everyone fed in less than 30 minutes, not something food trucks can manage.  (We did a fajita event for 2500 people and had everyone back in their seats in 25 minutes.)

Caterers are invested in the success of the event.  I have a friend who had a food truck event that got off to a slow start and one of the food truck operators got impatient and left.  Once the bulk of the crowd arrived, the other trucks couldn’t keep up, making everyone look bad.   Most food trucks are run by artists, people who are passionate about the cuisine they are selling.  Caterers are event professionals that can be a resource from the planning stage all the way through the clean up of the event.

photoCaterers can offer price efficiencies because the menu and pricing is worked out ahead of time, while the food trucks generally have no idea how much of anything they are going to sell.

Caterers can offer a variety of cuisines.  We did an event similar to the one above a few years ago and had a barbecue booth, grill booth, wrap booth, funnel cake booth as well as snow cones.  The organizer only had one contact to deal with for all the food and beverage and was able to focus on other aspects of the event.


If you still feel that food trucks are the way to go for your event, consider the following ideas:

  1. Have them pare down their menus to 3 or 4 items that they can get ahead on and serve as people order.  Having too wide of a menu means that they may or may not sell that item and wont take the risk of making it up ahead of time.
  2. To reduce the expense to the guest, offer a coupon system.  Have them check in when they get to the event and give each person a ticket worth, say $5.  At the end of the day, have the food truck operators turn in their tickets for payment.  This way you are only out the cost of what was actually spent.  The coupon system can have many variations depending on the type of event you are sponsoring and the group involved.  (If you are collecting the money, definitely sign up for a SQUARE or PAYPAL account to take credit cards, you will thank me later.)
  3. As a condition of entry have the food truck operators develop one menu item that equals your coupon price.  This way when people get up they can order the $5 special (easily could be a hotdog, chips & canned drink) or use that coupon towards more interesting items.  Using this system makes sure that no one is excluded from the event just because they don’t have the money.
  4. Do NOT compete against your food trucks.  I actually was invited as a vendor at a large school event where the booster club operated a concession stand that undercut all the vendors.  It was devastating because we had all prepared for a group of a few thousand people and 90% of them went to the concession stand, and the remaining 10% was divided up amongst the vendors.
  5. Create an environment where everyone can succeed. Most food trucks will need to feed around 150 people to make the event worth their while.  (Remember, they are not non-profit organizations.)  So if your event has 600 people coming, and 20% of those that attend won’t eat from the trucks, then booking any more than 3 trucks could wind up a loser for the operators.  From a planning standpoint you have to fight the urge to over book trucks because if they lose money, you will never get them to come back.  Moreover, they have an uncanny ability to smell a loser event and will just not show up.  If more than one pulls out, you could be left under provisioned.

In the end, whether or not food trucks are right for your event is something that needs to be considered carefully, weighing not only the needs or your organization, but your guests’ as well as the food truck operators.  Food trucks can offer variety and hipness, but also a whole lot of headaches as well.

John Homrighausen is a nationally recognized chef, caterer, speaker and consultant. 



brisket lady

Never Pick A Fight With A Jew About Brisket

OR: Two Great Ways to Make Brisket Without A Smoker

I think it is a reasonable statement to make that Texas is known for brisket. Brisket IS Texas barbecue and no one does it like Texans, right? Right. (As a shameless plug, it is a natural extension to say that no one does Texas Brisket like JBARH does, and certainly no one does it better.)

BUT, and this is a HUGE but, don’t make the mistake of saying that Texans make THE BEST brisket, especially if there is a Jew within earshot! I made this assertion on a national catering forum and let me tell you…the retribution was swift, harsh and unrelenting. I was dog-piled by a number of good natured folks informing me that the Jewish people were making brisket thousands of years before Texans even learned to speak English. GENERATIONS of people were thrown at me to make this point, and like the true cowboy I am, I stuck to my guns…for a time. But as the great cowboy poet once said, you’ve got to know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.

So, out of respect for the East Coast Mavens, I experimented with Jewish Brisket and found that there are, in fact, other ways to cook this challenging cut of beef.  A slow braise works perfectly as this cut needs time and low heat to break up the hard working fibers.

The first recipe I came up with, (under advisement from my accusers) and have since served in my catering company at least 100 times, is my JBARH KINKY FRIEDMAN BRISKET.  I call it that because Kinky is a Texas Jew that does things his own way and doesn’t care.  He is one of my heroes and I am honoring him by creating a Texas version of the venerable Jewish Brisket.  This brisket is a little sweet & a little spicy and and a whole lotta fork tender & can be served over anything that will sop up the juices. (I suggest my JALAPENO CHEESE POLENTA)

The next recipe is an old standby JBARH BEEF TIPS.  This is a hunting camp recipe that has been in my box since I started cooking.  You can pretty much take any cut of beef for this recipe and, if given enough time, it will turn out delicious and perfect.  I like to use brisket because of it’s beefy flavor and texture and because it is CHEAP.  With prices in Texas ranging from $1.50 per pound to $3.50 per pound, there isn’t a cheaper cut of beef.

Many times I will have people tell me that they would love to cook a brisket, but just don’t know what to do with over 10# of beef.  These two recipes are perfect because you can buy 1 10# brisket, cut it right down the middle and make the JBARH KINKY FRIEDMAN BRISKET with the fat end and the JBARH BEEF TIPS with the lean end.  And BOTH recipes freeze wonderfully.

Try them out and let me know what you think. (To get the recipes, click on the links.)

J-BAR-H Kinky Friedman Braised Brisket
J-BAR-H Beef Tips Over Rice


J-BAR-H Fajita Seasoning

This recipe was shared with me a while ago by one of my dearest friends.  It just goes to show that you don’t have to be a chef to be an amazing cook!

I rub this liberally on chicken breasts, beef skirts, shrimp or portobellos and let them marinate in it for about an hour before grilling over high heat.

You will notice my spice recipes are in “parts,” not specific measures.  This makes it easy to knock out a batch, whether it is one cup or 5 gallons, it will come out perfect every time.  Just grab something to measure with and follow the recipe.


  • 3 parts sweet paprika
  • 3 parts chili powder
  • 3 parts coarse ground pepper
  • 2 parts granulated garlic
  • 2 parts cumin
  • 2 parts sugar
  • 1 part smoked paprika
  • 1 part onion powder
  • 1 part dried cilantro
  • 1/4 part allspice

Dump in large bowl and mix with whisk for 4 minutes.  Store in airtight container in a cool dark place.


J-BAR-H Beef Tips

This is a hunting camp recipe that has been in my box since I started cooking.  You can pretty much take any cut of beef for this recipe and, if given enough time, it will turn out delicious and perfect.  I like to use brisket because of it’s beefy flavor and texture and because it is CHEAP.  With prices in Texas ranging from $1.50 per pound to $3.50 per pound, there isn’t a cheaper cut of beef.  And honestly, this isn’t a dish that benefits from a higher price cut of meat.



  • 1/2 of a 10# Beef Brisket, lean end, cut into 1″ chunks. (A great recipe for the other half is my J-BAR-H Kinky Friedman Brisket )
  • Flour for dusting
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Beef Fat
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 1 pound button mushrooms, quartered
  • 3 tablespoons garlic
  • 24 oz Bock Beer
  • 2 packets onion soup mix.


  • Season brisket with salt & pepper, then dust with flour, tossing to coat evenly, let rest.
  • Take a chunk of the hard fat from the brisket and render a few tablespoons of fat in a dutch oven over medium.
  • Saute the meat in batches, reserving in a bowl
  • After the meat is finished, saute the onions until they take on a little color and add to the meat.
  • Saute the mushrooms until golden brown around the edges, add to the meat.
  • Add the garlic to the pan and saute until fragrant.
  • Deglaze the pan with the beer and add in all previous ingredients and soup mix.
  • At this point you can either dump everything into a crock pot and cook on high for 4-6 hours or dump everything back in to the dutch oven, put the lid on and cook in the oven at 300 for 3-4 hours.
  • Serve over white rice.

Serves from 6-8 depending on the size of the brisket and appetites of the cowboys eating.


J-BAR-H Jalapeno Cheese Polenta

This polenta is one of my favorites and works nicely with my JBARH KINKY FRIEDMAN BRISKET.  He doesn’t know we call it that, but I am certain he’d be proud of it.



  • Olive oil to sauté
  • 2 cups chopped onions, mixed
  • 1-2 jalapeños minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1tsp coarse ground pepper
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1.5 cups coarse cornmeal
  • 1 cup cheddar or pepperjack cheese


  • Heat a 2 quart saucepan (I use a cast iron “chicken fryer”) over medium high heat.  Once it is hot add a tablespoon or so of olive oil.  If it immediately spreads out and starts looking wavy you are ready to cook.
  • Add the onions and peppers and sauté until the just start to take on a bit of color.
  • Add the stock, milk, salt & pepper & butter and bring to a boil.
  • Lower the heat a little until the liquid rolls down to a simmer
  • Whisk the cornmeal in gradually until it is all incorporated.
  • Once the cornmeal is incorporated, continue to stir slowly with a wooden spoon until it begins to turn thick & creamy, about 10 minutes.  (There has been much debate over whether or not the kind of spoon makes a difference in the finished product and without a doubt, you will get a creamier, better tasting polenta with a wooden spoon.)
  • Remove from heat and stir in cheese until incorporated.
  • ALTERNATE METHOD: Once cornmeal has been incorporated, cover and move the pan to a 350 degree oven.  Give it a stir every 10 minutes or so until it’s thick and creamy, about 20-30 minutes.
  •  Serve immediately or move to a wide, flat container, lined in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator.

This recipe makes 8-10 servings.

Polenta is AMAZING when refrigerated, sliced and sautéed in butter the next day.  CLICK HERE for my JBARH EGGS BENEDICT recipe using sauteed polenta cakes as the base.

shiner bock rolls

Shiner Bock Beer Rolls

I didn’t invent this recipe, and there are tons of variations out there. But this is the one we use and everyone begs for more.  At J-BAR-H Texas Catering, we have always made our own breads and from the beginning, this has been a staple in our bread baskets.  This recipe is a bit over yeasted because once we form the rolls, we freeze the dough so we can have these for last minute jobs.  All we have to do is defrost, proof and pop in the oven.


  • 3 cups shiner bock beer, flat & at room temperature (let sit out overnight.)
  • 5 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups white wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup canola oil


  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in bowl of stand mixer. Mix in honey.
  2. Add oil & beer to mixture.
  3. Sift dry ingredients and add to mixer on low, incorporating a little at a time.
  4. Mix on low with dough hook until well integrated
  5. Increase speed to medium and knead for 5 minutes.  If it is still sticking to the side of the bowl, toss a little flour in to free it up.
  6. Place in an oiled bowl & cover with a clean tea towel until doubled in size.
  7. Punch down & let rest in fridge for 1 hour.
    Shape into either 6 8oz loaves (can use mini loaf pans,) 12 4 oz burger buns, or 24 2oz balls, rolling until they are smooth. (some folks like to use a muffin tin to freeze/cook them in, but I think they look too much like popovers)  Check out THIS LINK for a lesson on how to shape dinner rolls (works with burger buns too.)
  8. At this point you can wrap & freeze until ready to use, or just trudge on.
  9. (If using frozen dough, allow to come to room temperature.)
  10. Place dough balls in buttered pans & brush on melted butter.  Cover loosely with cling wrap and allow to rise in a warm, draft free place until about doubled in size.
  11. *IF MAKING BURGER BUNS: place on an oiled baking sheet that has been dusted with cornmeal.  flatten out the ball a bit before letting it rise so you will have a better shaped bun.  Instead of brushing with butter, brush with an egg wash (1 egg + 1 TBS Water.)
  12. Sprinkle a little kosher salt on the top and place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.
  13. Remove from oven.
  14. FOR ROLLS: Brush with butter and serve.  FOR LOAVES AND BUNS: Let cool completely on wire rack before slicing.


Braised Brisket on Polenta

J-BAR-H Kinky Friedman Brisket

This is my Texas version of a Jewish Brisket.  I named it after Kinky Friedman because you never know what to expect from him, but it always turns out amazing.

This recipe is AMAZING served over my J-BAR-H JALAPENO CHEESE POLENTA, but you can serve it with/over anything that will sop up the juices.

* You can cook this brisket in a dutch oven or a crock pot, but the most important thing is that you get a good seal on it while it cooks.  The ladies who advised me while I was developing this recipe usually cook a whole brisket in a deep pan, and wrap the whole thing in a few layers of foil.  However you cook it, it is going to turn out amazing, and if you can plan ahead and cook it the day before, you will be greatly rewarded for your forethought and patience.

brisket ingredients



  • 1/2 packer trimmed brisket, fat end  (or double recipe to cook whole brisket.  For a great recipe to use with the lean end CLICK HERE for my Beef Tips recipe)
  • J-BAR-H Fajita Seasoning
  • 3 large onions sliced
  • 2 poblano peppers julienned (thin strips)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 packets onion soup mix
  • 1 can cranberry sauce
  • 24oz Beer


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Trim fat to 1/2″ and remove the hard fat (suet) between the muscles.
  • Rub entire brisket with fajita seasoning and let rest for 30 minutes.
  • Render a few tablespoons of fat from the suet and saute 1/2 of the onions and peppers until almost caramelized. Remove and hold.
  • In same pan brown the brisket on all sides in beef fat.
  • Place the raw onions & peppers on the bottom of the dutch oven (see above for alternatives.)
  • Place brisket on top of raw veggies.
  • On top of brisket dump the soup mix, garlic, cranberry sauce & beer.
  • Break up the cranberry sauce around the edges of the brisket and mix the other ingredients up a bit.
  • Add cooked onions & peppers to top of brisket.
  • Cover tightly and place in oven.
  • Lower temperature to 300 and cook for 3-4 hours, or until fork tender.
  • Let cool on counter and serve.

ALTERNATE (BETTER) ENDING: After cooling for 15 minutes, place in refrigerator overnight.  When you are ready to serve, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Remove brisket from liquid and slice or shred.  Return to the liquid.  Cover tightly and reheat for about an hour.  As my hero Alton Brown says, your patience will be rewarded.

 Braised Brisket on Polenta


J-BAR-H Crispy Eggs Benedict

I have to be honest, I don’t like most Eggs Benedict.  So many times it is an afterthought with thrown together ingredients and instant hollandaise sauce.  Every now and then one stands out, but I think people have just grown complacent with what should be an amazing dish.

My recipe comes from a place of love and respect for ALL of the ingredients.  Nothing is a throwaway, and certainly nothing comes from a packet.  It takes a little planning and a bit of time, but your guests will remember this breakfast for a long time.  Notice that there aren’t any quantities in this recipe.  That’s because it will work for 2 or 20.  Whether you are making a romantic breakfast for your favorite snuggle bunny, or a crowd of folks who are depending on you to come through for the most important meal of the day, the recipe scales wonderfully.

J-BAR-H Eggs Benedict



  • Cold Jalapeno Cheese Polenta, cut into cakes
  • Butter
  • Bacon
  • Spinach
  • Minced Garlic
  • Farm Fresh Eggs, ROOM TEMPERATURE
  • Red Eye Gravy
  • Home Grown Tomatoes, sliced


  • Cook Bacon in Cast Iron Skillet until crispy, reserve drippings.  Crumble & set aside.
  • In a small saucepan make Red Eye Gravy from your favorite recipe, set aside
  • Saute garlic just until fragrant in bacon grease & then throw in 1 handful spinach per serving & sauté until wilted.  Set aside some place warm.
  • IN A CLEAN SKILLET Melt butter in skillet until it just starts to brown and place polenta cakes carefully into the bubbling butter.  Cook until you see the bottom edges beginning to brown.  With a clean flat spatula, carefully get under the cake and turn.  (It’s very important that the skillet be clean and the spatula be clean because the polenta really wants to stick to the skillet something fierce.  It might take a few shots to get this right, but the mess-ups are just as tasty as the ones that work.)  When the other side is finished browning, carefully remove to the center of the plate.
  • In clean skillet, pour a few tablespoons of the bacon grease in and warm until shimmery. Cook the eggs until crispy around the edges and sunny side up in the middle.  Season with salt & pepper.   (one helpful trick if you are frying a whole mess of eggs is to crack them into a mason jar and then pour them into the hot skillet one at a time.  Believe it or not the yolk and white stick together and it makes sure all your eggs cook about the same time.)


  • Divide the spinach and place on top of the polenta cakes (you did put them on the plates right?)
  • Place an egg on top of each cake & then a ladle of gravy over the top of each.
  • Sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the whole thing and serve with the sliced tomatoes.