SAN ANTONIO — Almost every guy in Texas thinks he can smoke a brisket, ribs or chicken.

Laura Loomis, however, has accomplished something many guys never do.

She has almost perfected the art of smoking any meat - brisket, ribs, chicken, turkey, etc. In fact, she's one of a select group of female pitmasters; Loomis estimates that there's "less than a dozen."

Loomis says she became intrigued by the pits while working at Two Bros. BBQ. She began coming in on her time off to learn the secrets, such as using 6-9 month aged oak for smoking.

While the oak heats up, she trims some of the fat from the brisket, to ensure the fire doesn't flare. Then, it's time for her secret rub before plopping the brisket on the grill.

"Just slow and low, having patience," Loomis recommends. "You can't rush barbecue."

"It's kind of ironic because I'm actually a really impatient person in my life, but when you're out here you've got to be patient."

The timing varies with the different meats. "The brisket is the longest," Loomis says. "You know, 12-16 hours. The ribs about 4 hours, the turkey 3-4 hours."

During that time, Loomis says pitmasters need to be on top of the fire and the temperature, maintaining about 225 degrees of heat. It shouldn't fluctuate, and the fire shouldn't go out. Loomis says sticking to these steps almost guarantees success, but like most things, practice makes perfect.

"It's all about the touch and feel to tell when a brisket's done, and it's nice and soft," Loomis says.

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