His wife is the chef, but this ‘country boy’ is known for barbecued brisket
Many Galveston County residents know Tim Bass as “Mr. Mary,” the husband of well-known local Chef Mary Bass. But when it comes to cooking brisket, Mary Bass insists her husband is in a class of his own.
“I just want everyone to try my husband’s brisket,” Mary said. “Where I’m an artist with my food, he is very exact. It is a combination of science, time and love, and you need all three to come together in barbecue. All the best barbecue cooks know that you must put the time in and be patient. Tim will get up at 3 a.m. to cook because he loves doing it. And he makes a beautiful product, which makes it all worthwhile.”
Tim and Mary met 16 years ago when they were both studying culinary arts at Galveston College. As a child, Tim, who was born on Galveston Island and went to high school in Santa Fe, loved to cook and dreamed of being a chef, he said.
Although he enjoyed culinary school, he decided the industry wasn’t for him and now works in oil and gas operations in Texas City.
“Although I’ve never worked as a professional chef, I have worked alongside Mary in her catering business and I’ve never lost my love of cooking and eating,” he said.
He also has his own pop-up barbecue business called Mr. Mary’s Bar-B-Que that he promotes on social media and his website, www.mrmarysbarbque.com.
Tim describes himself as “old school” when it comes to barbecue.
“For brisket, I like to use a traditional Texas rub,” he said. “I don’t use injections or sauces, as I like it to be all about the taste of the meat. It’s like when I order a steak at a restaurant, I want to taste the meat.”
He cooks on a 36-inch offset smoker he had customized by a welder to meet his exacting standards, he said. He prefers to use post oak wood in his pit and cook the brisket slowly over many hours, he said.
“A lot of time and love is really what it is,” he said. “You have to be patient and not rush it. Depending on the size of your brisket, it might take eight to 12 hours to cook and you have to check it every half hour, or so. It takes a lot of practice to get it right, but over time you’ll get to know if the brisket is ready by looking at it.”
Keeping a close eye on the fire and temperature of the meat is key to a good cook, and he jokes there often is some Miller Lite involved in the process, too.
Although brisket is a favorite thing to cook — his brisket has won rave reviews from customers and even placed in local cookoffs — Bass likes to cook all kinds of meat, including ribs, chicken, sausage and turkey. Buying quality product is important and he goes to Stone Cold Meats in League City, he said.
“I’m very critical of myself and I try to improve with each cook, but I do it because I love to make people happy,” he said. “I really enjoy hearing what people thought of a cook and how they enjoyed it.”
It’s his commitment to keeping people happy that inspired him to develop his own killer recipe for a sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, even though he’s not a huge fan of sauce himself. It’s so good Stone Cold Meats wanted to sell it in-store and customers have said they want to drink it straight, he said.
For now, he’s happy to keep things small-scale.
“I’m really just a country boy who likes to cook and eat,” he said.
Mr. Mary’s Bar-B-Que Brisket
Equal parts: Kosher salt, coarse black pepper and granulated garlic
Trim the fat on the brisket to about ¼ inch and pat dry. If refrigerated, cover and leave on counter for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
For the rub, use equal parts of salt, pepper and granulated garlic, starting with the salt. Coat the brisket in salt and rub in. Repeat with pepper and then garlic. Build a fire in your grill or smoker using post oak wood.
Cook for 8 to 12 hours at 250–275 F. Check the meat every 30 to 40 minutes to make sure the fire and temperature are consistent. Halfway through the cook time, wrap the meat in either aluminum foil or butcher paper.
Don’t be intimidated. Brisket is easy to cook if you take it slow.
Mr. Mary’s Unnecessary Sauce
(Because the barbecue is so good the sauce is unnecessary.)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
109 ounces (No. 10 can) tomato sauce
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup Worcestershire sauce
2½ cups brown sugar
16 ounces molasses
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
On your cooktop, melt the butter and sauté onions till translucent. Once soft, add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Once boiled, reduce heat, and cook slowly for 30 minutes, stirring frequently to keep from burning.
Remove contents into the blender and purée until onions are finely chopped into the sauce. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.