Taste of Texas BBQ: Bigger and Better

You simply don’t go to Texas and not have yourself some BBQ.  They say that everything is bigger and better in Texas.  When it comes to BBQ, they’ve sure got that right.

Texas BBQ roots run deep.  In fact, it is thought to date back to Czech and German settlers who lived in Central Texas in the mid 1800’s.  It really came about out of practicality rather than as a luxury.  Butchers smoked leftover meat that had not sold in the market so that it could be stored and used without spoiling.  The smoked meats went over so well, they quickly became a favorite for the locals.

Around the same time, freed slaves began to experiment with BBQ as well, especially in East Texas.  They cooked with a whole different style though.  Meat was cooked long and slow until it was literally falling off the bone.

Texas is so big into BBQ, it is actually divided into four BBQ regions, each with a character all its own.  Central Texas is famous for its rubs and spices and for being cooked over hickory or oak wood.  East Texas is not only known for BBQ that falls off the bone but also for sweet tomato based BBQ sauces that are heaped upon the meat as it cooks over wood, typically hickory.

West Texas favors using mesquite wood, probably because it is plentiful in the region.  The mesquite makes for a slightly bitter taste that sets it apart from other Texas BBQ.  Down in South Texas, you will find a Mexican influence in the preparation as well as in what is prepared.  In addition to beef, sheep or goats are often cooked and sometimes, they are cooked whole.  Don’t be surprised if your South Texas BBQ is cooked in a large hole with maguey leaves and is covered in a thick molasses sauce.

If you are going to be in Texas, for sure you simply must eat some BBQ.  You really can’t get a good feel for Texas BBQ though unless you try out all four types.  Not only is the BBQ different but also the way they are served.  Some establishments urge you to dig in with your fingers while others serve up a more formal meal with actual knives and forks along with rolls, beans and other fixings.  Still others are big into BBQ sandwiches served with sides.

Variety in Texas is never lacking and it is evident in their BBQ.  As far as which is the best, there are many ongoing arguments within the lone-star state on that very subject.  While the question is the reason for competition cook-offs between the four areas, the best way to answer it is to be your own judge and help yourself to each, then decide for yourself.  If you’re like me though, you will find that they are all so delicious, it’s almost impossible to choose one.  In fact, I think I could make a more informed decision if I had…just one more taste.