A Classic American Dish
In Texas, Texas barbecue is a ubiquitous part of local culture. But even outside the state, and even outside the country, Texas barbecue is a renowned American classic. Aside from simply being part of local Texan cuisine, barbecue signifies many things — like summer gatherings, tailgate parties, and the passing down of family grilling traditions. But how exactly did this come to be? Well, there’s actually quite a long history behind how barbecue has become so ingrained in Texan history.
What is Texas Barbeque?
No barbecue is the same, and that holds true even within Texas. There are four types of barbecue that differ due to the settling of different immigrant groups per area. West Texas barbecue, also known as cowboy-style, is cooked over open fire directly on top of mesquite coals. The high-temperature results in quick cooking times. Meanwhile, Central Texas barbecue is slowly smoked on low heat over oak and pecan wood. This barbecue originated from Czech and German settlers in the late 19th century. East Texas barbecue focuses on the sauce, and it’s credited to African-Americans who settled in the area after being freed from slavery. South Texas barbecue also puts emphasis on the sauce, but their barbecue was introduced by Mexican farmhands near the border.
Traditional vs. Modern Texas Barbecue
Common traditional barbecue is beef smoked with a heavy dry spice rub, hand-carved, and served with white bread and some bbq sauce. Sometimes, pork ribs, chicken, and turkey can also be used. Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas still continues to prepare and serve their meat the same way it was 100 years ago by the German settlers. But some worked to improve their recipes. For instance, Sam’s Bar-B-Que ended up with a tomato-based sauce with a recipe they continue to keep a secret. With European influences also came smoked prime rib, full-sized beef spareribs and beef short ribs, and smoked sausages.
Briskit is King!
Despite how flexible Texas barbecue has become, it’s still nice to go back to the basics and make it the classic way. For example, despite the differences between how barbecue is made in different regions of Texas, a lot of Texans would agree that brisket is king. You can prepare this one of three ways with an offset smoker — indirect smoking, water smoking, and indirect grilling.
- 10-12 pounds beef brisket
- Kosher salt and coarse black pepper.
- Firebox for smoking.
- Put some kindling and paper sprinkled with vegetable oil in a firebox. Add logs (preferably oak or hickory) and let the temperature rise to between 225° and 250°F.
- 10-12 pounds of brisket, kosher salt, coarse black pepper
- Put the thicker end of the brisket on the grill toward the fire with the fat cap facing up.
- Put water in a foil loaf pan and put it as near the firebox as you can.
- Trim hard and excess fat off the brisket. Then generously rub with kosher salt and coarse black pepper.
- It will take at least eight hours for everything to cook — each pound taking 45 to 60 minutes.
- During that time, check the temperature every 20 minutes to make sure it’s even. You can do this by adjusting the vent, flap, and door.
- Also keep in mind that you should not poke the brisket with a fork, nor should you turn it.
- Refill the water in the foil pan as needed.
- When your instant-read thermometer reads 195° to 203°F, take the brisket off the grill. Let it rest for 20 to 30 minutes. Then slice it, fat side up and going against the grain, and serve!
A wonderful side dish to this recipe is my mustard potato salad, which is actually a must-have if you’re having a Texas barbecue.