Most Americans have a grill, whether charcoal or gas, at home. When we’ve had a busy day at work, throwing some burgers and hot dogs, or even some pork chops or a steak, on the grill make for a quick and delicious dinner. While that is an excellent way to use your barbeque, Texas style barbeque enthusiasts prepare their meals a little differently.
While hotdogs, hamburgers, and steaks are typically seared over a relatively high heat, the secret to Texas style barbeque is a low temperature and a long cooking time. The motto for this delicious, melt-in-your mouth style of cooking is “low and slow.” This method produces a mouth-watering and luscious texture paired with a delicious smoky flavor. The meat is typically cooked at a temperature of 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit, and is not placed directly over the flames. This method of slow, indirect cooking produces delicious food, however, it can take up to 6-7 hours to cook one piece of meat. Texas style barbeque is not much more difficult than simply throwing things on the grill after a busy day at work. However, due to the amount of time it takes to cook, and the preparation that must be done ahead of time, Texas style barbeque requires planning and patience.
Favorite cuts of meat that stand up to the low and slow method of Texas style barbeque include brisket, pork shoulder, and ribs, although many other cuts of meat can be used. Typically, rather cheap cuts with lots of fat marbling are used. These meats, which would be tough and leathery if cooked on a regular style barbeque, become soft and tender as the fat and collagen melt during the slow cooking process.
For this style of barbeque, most of the flavor comes from the fat in the meat and the smoke in the barbeque. Because of this, care must be taken when choosing what you fuel your grill with. The most popular hardwoods for Texas style barbeque include mesquite, pecan, hickory, and wood from fruit trees. These woods impart the sweet flavor that is characteristic of this style of barbeque. You have likely heard of the famous “smoke ring” that forms inside Texas style barbeque. This reddish ring, which can be viewed on the interior of the meat as you slice it, is due to a chemical reaction between the smoke and the air. Although many argue that the smoke ring serves no purpose other than to be aesthetically pleasing, others feel that the smoke ring, and its size, serve as evidence for the amount of smoky flavor in the meat.
As mentioned above, the primary flavor in Texas style barbeque comes from the fat and the smoke. However, dry rubs are frequently added before cooking to add another level of flavor. These rubs can be purchased, or you can make your own using prepared mustard, dried mustard, salt, pepper, cumin, Cajun seasoning, sugar, or whatever other flavorings you would like. Some people like to prepare a mop of more liquid-y ingredients, such as beer, vinegar, and spices, which they use to baste the meat as it cooks. No matter what rubs or mops you use, the most important thing with Texas style barbeque is that it is never slathered in barbeque sauce. Although it may be served with sauce on the side, Texas style barbeque enthusiasts feel that the meat should stand on its own with the sauce simply serving as a condiment.
Although burgers and steaks are really easy to grill, turning the temperature on your grill down and trying some Texas style barbeque will produce excellent results. It takes a little preparation, but the luscious results are worth it.