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March 04, 2023
A few things come to mind when thinking of Texas: the Alamo, crude oil, and BBQ. Not in that order, but BBQ is in the top 3! BBQ hails supreme as one of America’s favorite foods. Amateurs and professionals pour over this timely and religiously rigorous food. People take their time learning the techniques and flavors of such methods. There are tiffs over what sauce (if any) should be used, how long to cook the meat, and even which types of meat to cook. People will even drive long distances to indulge in the mouth-watering delicacy of smoked meat.
If you’re a Texas BBQ loyalist, you know that beef brisket wins, but pork has just as much influence as the cow. There are four styles of Texas BBQ, all with their profile of bursting flavors.
Central Texas style uses a dry rub on the meat, then smoked over hardwoods like oak and hickory for 12-24 hours. Czech and German immigrants who operated butcher shops introduced the style to the area.
West Texas BBQ utilizes a grill over an open pit at high heat, resulting in a quicker cook time and no smokey flavor. This style, influenced by the cowboys who roamed this part of the state, would cook over open fires and direct heat while camping and herding cattle.
South Texas BBQ is heavily influenced by Mexican culture. Barbacoa (BBQ) is often made with tougher meats like lengua (beef tongue) and cheek meat. Traditionally, the meat is covered in agave leaves and then slowly cooked in a pit. The consistency of the meat is then tender and shredded, creating excellent beef for a taco.
East Texas is steeped in southern traditions and African American culture with the use of pork, lots of side dishes, and a variety of sauce options. In many southern states, pork was a more sustainable option for meat folks could release pigs into the woods, not having to supply them with grazing acreage.
So, what does make Texas BBQ so great? No matter what area of Texas you wind up in, you’re sure to find something for your tastebuds. The variety of styles and dedication of the pit masters help create a dining experience only found in Texas.
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