How ‘low and slow’ became the standard in cooking Texas barbecue

Black's BBQ

Texas barbecue has many unique characteristics, mainly related to how it is cooked — low and slow — and how it tastes (salty and smoky). Central Texas-style barbecue is further characterized by the method used to cook the meat low and slow. Specifically, it uses a technique in which the heat source is separated (“offset”) […]

Are Texas barbecue joints thinking about not serving brisket? Maybe

Truth BBQ slicing the brisket

Texas barbecue has a math problem. Specifically, with the cost of brisket. Both in how much a pitmaster pays to acquire and cook the raw product and in what the customer pays to consume the finished product.  First, a quick refresher on how brisket is made and sold. Conservatively, it costs a barbecue joint about […]

How food safety helped push Texas barbecue cooks to use offset pits

Smitty's Market Lockhart

Above-ground brick pits with a firebox to the side (offset) of the cooking chamber is the quintessential cooking appliance of Central Texas-style barbecue. This device gave rise to “indirect-heat” cooking, in which heat and smoke flow horizontally over and around the meat, cooking and flavoring it, rather than the “direct-heat” method, in which the fire is directly […]

In Texas cuisine, brisket has been around for ages

Willow's Texas BBQ brisket

One of the earliest references to brisket in Texas cooking comes from a rather ominous advertisement in the November 12, 1876 edition of The Galveston Daily News. “Proposals are invited … for furnishing supplies for the Asylums for the Blind, Deaf and Dumb, and Lunatic.” Among the many food staples solicited — flour, rice, beans, […]

Foldovers are a tasty throwback to barbecue history

Truth BBQ brisket fold-over

Depending on your point of view, the ample menu choices at a typical craft barbecue joint are either liberating or overwhelming. Beyond the trinity of brisket, pork ribs and sausage, options have spiraled into specialties such as beef ribs, brisket burnt ends, smoked chicken wings and tacos, just to name a few.  More is better, right? Sure, most […]

What’s the difference between cured and uncured meats?

Cured vs uncured meats

If you’ve spent much time in the hot dog aisle of your local supermarket, you may have noticed more choices labeled “uncured.” What does this mean, and should you buy “uncured” instead of “cured” meat products? The current debate over the safety of processed meats, such as hot dogs, sausages and bacon that are preserved […]

Banh mi is getting a makeover at Houston barbecue joints

Tejas Chocolate & BBQ banh mi

If you spent any time in Houston in the late ’90 or ’00s as a student or otherwise underemployed young person, you were well-acquainted with Les Givral’s on Milam. In the beginning, you could order a well-endowed sandwich on freshly baked bread for $1.50, which was even cheaper than the faux-filling sandwiches of chain shops […]

Texas barbecue feud: stick-burners versus pellets

Pitts & Spitts hybrid smoker

Feuds — family or otherwise — are a tradition in Texas barbecue. Sauce or no sauce? Is it better to cook a brisket fat-side up or down? Do beans belong in chili?  That last one may only be tangential to barbecue, but you get the idea.  One of the most fierce and long-lasting feuds in Texas […]

What’s the difference between competition and commercial barbecue?

Ribs on the smoker

There are essentially three places to start cooking barbecue in Texas: in your backyard, in a competition, or in a restaurant. Traditionally, backyard and competition venues act as farm teams. Aspiring pitmasters cook for friends, family or judges who act as de facto talent scouts. As these amateurs accumulate praise or trophies at competitions, they may […]