HOUBBQ News & Info

Truth BBQ slicing the brisket

Are Texas barbecue joints thinking about not serving brisket? Maybe

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 $10 to produce a pound of high-grade brisket. This includes the wholesale price of raw brisket, the loss incurred when trimming and cooking it and other expenses, like salt and pepper and the wood needed to cook it.  In order to cover the other costs of running a restaurant, specifically labor and overhead like rent,

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Smitty's Market Lockhart

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

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 under the meat (grilling). Why did barbecue in Central Texas, and later in other parts of the state, adopt this unique cooking method? There is no definitive answer, but piecing together the histories of both barbecue and culinary culture in Texas offers some clues. The earliest barbecue pits in Texas can be traced as far back

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Willow's Texas BBQ brisket

In Texas cuisine, brisket has been around for ages

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, lard — is a request for “Fresh beef, 12 lbs. of good round steak and 18 lbs. good brisket each day, to be delivered by 6 o’clock A.M.”  Round steak and brisket were cheaper cuts used to make stews and other dishes that combine meat with fillers like beans and rice to stretch the ingredients

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Truth BBQ brisket fold-over

Foldovers are a tasty throwback to barbecue history

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 of the time.  But sometimes, you just need a Texas barbecue fix. You may be short on time or money, and a $30 three-meat plate doesn’t fit the bill. In this case, a classic Texas barbecue foldover is the answer. It’s a do-it-yourself item that isn’t normally listed on the menu.  The process is simple:

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Cured vs uncured meats

What’s the difference between cured and 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 with certain chemicals, is complex and contentious. Generally, many scientists and some governments have concluded that chemicals in the curing process, when ingested in high concentrations and prepared in specific ways, may cause cancer in humans. How could hot dogs or bacon possibly cause cancer? Ironically, it is due to a concern for food safety.

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Tejas Chocolate & BBQ banh mi

Banh mi is getting a makeover at Houston barbecue joints

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 opening at that time.  Les Givral’s specialized in the banh mi sandwich, a Vietnamese classic that started popping up in Houston in the late ’70s and ’80s, along with classics like pho (noodle soup) and goi cuon (spring rolls). Like most delicious sandwiches, banh mi seem deceptively simple but are actually a complex combination of flavors and textures:

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