Texas BBQ: A Brief History
There is no way to avoid the famed Texas BBQ when visiting Texas. Why would you want to, anyway?
BBQ is more than just a regional dish in Texas. Barbecue is a weekend activity, a communal festival, and a source of Texan pride.
You’ve undoubtedly crossed into New Mexico by mistake if you find a Texas town without a BBQ joint.
Continue reading to see what makes Texans wait all morning for a piece of the greatest Texas barbeque.
Brushing BBQ Sauce on Meats
Barbecue is not a title that can be given to just any meat. Barbecue is a unique cooking method that use a closed lid and indirect heat to cook the meat.
The meat is frequently scattered over the coals, which are heaped to the side or in the center. Barbecue is a time-consuming method for cooking huge cuts that might take up to half a day.
Grilling should not be confused with barbecue. Grilling employs direct heat to cook tiny portions of meat like steaks or hot dogs in a shorter amount of time.
However, not all BBQ is created equal. Barbecue has regional variations in the United States, depending on the state and city.
Memphis barbecue, Kansas City barbecue, Carolina barbecue, and Texas barbecue are the four major types of barbecue.
Meats, spices, fuel, and fixings are all regional preferences.
Texas is a beef-eating, wood-burning state with a weakness for a good sauce or dry rub.
Texas BBQ Regions
Regional barbecue features get even more specific inside Texas.
Central, South, East, and West Texas all have distinct characteristics.
Oak and pecan wood are preferred in Central Texas, whereas mesquite is preferred in West Texas. East and South Texas barbecue focuses on sauce, and Central Texas barbecue focuses on the rub.
West Texas barbecue is often cooked at a high temperature, but Central Texas barbecue is smoked slowly at a moderate temperature.
Nonetheless, most Texans think that brisket is the state’s most popular dish.
The established cuisines of settlement immigrant groups in each area can explain the geographical differences in Texas barbecue.
Czech and German settlers who established butcher businesses are credited with inventing Central Texas BBQ.
They started selling smoked meat to clients, and it became so successful that they turned into barbecue restaurants.
Barbacoa is a popular dish in South Texas that was introduced by Mexican farmhands along the border.
Barbacoa was traditionally created by wrapping a cow’s head in moist leaves and roasting it for many hours over hot coals.
East Texas’ spicy, chopped barbecue is linked to African-Americans who moved there after being freed from slavery.
Because it is cooked over an open fire and originated during the days of cattle drives and trail blazing, West Texas barbecue is commonly referred to as “cowboy barbecue.”
Texas BBQ is still a big part of the Texan culture today. While grilling techniques have improved and recipes have become more interchangeable, regions retain their distinct barbecue identities and customs. Although Texas is a large state, you can rest assured that a BBQ establishment is never far away.
THE 16TH CENTURY TEXAS BBQ
In the fire pit, hot coals are blazing.
Smoking meat to preserve it is a centuries-old practice around the world.
To maintain their supply, the Caddo Indians smoked extra meat as far back as 10,000 years ago.
It’s possible that they were the first barbeque pioneers in Texas.
Spanish missionaries and troops arrived in the southern part of what is now Texas in the late 1600s.
They brought their barbacoa culture with them. Seasoned meat was wrapped in maguey leaves and buried in pits with hot coals in this cooking process.
Another popular way was to smoke marinated meat over an open fire.
In both ways, goat was regularly employed. Goats were preferred because they could forage and provide milk until they were butchered.
A goat also provided a more controllable amount of meat at a given moment.
Some Texas barbecue restaurants still serve goat, and the World Championship BBQ Goat Cook-off is held every year in Brady.
THE EARLY 1800S TEXAS BBQ
Sauce for grilled pork chops
During the 1800s, settlers began to arrive in Texas.
Many of the attendees were from the South, and they brought their barbecuing traditions with them.
Slaves frequently accompanied the settlers, who primarily came to East and Central Texas to plant cotton in the fertile soil.
Pork was the main ingredient, with a sweet tomato-based sauce.
Pork was favored in the South because, unlike cattle, hogs could be let loose to forage and then recaptured when needed.
East Texas barbecue is still known for its pork with sweet sauce.
CIRCA 1800–1900 TEXAS BBQ
Outdoor grill made of brick and stone
The Germans, Czechs, and other Central Europeans who landed in northern and central Texas were perhaps the most influential immigrants in Texas barbecue history.
These groups first arrived in the 1830s, bringing with them Old World smoking technologies and practices.
Their smokers were usually made of brick and were enclosed. When health laws were implemented in the early 1900s, enclosed brick smokers became essential.
These regulations made it illegal to utilize open pits for industrial cooking.
Most towns had a butcher who smoked unsold meats in order to preserve them.
Unsold cuts, such as brisket, were frequently regarded as inferior. Smoking the rougher portions helped to preserve them while also making them more pleasant and tasty.
TEXAS BBQ AFTER THE CIVIL WAR
The great heritage of cattle ranching began after the Civil War.
The cattle industry was centered in West Texas. The cowboys who herded the animals allegedly utilized open pit grills.
They were always on the move, following the herds, so this seems doubtful. Barbecuing is a slow procedure by definition.
However, some ranchers compensated their hired hands in part with inferior meat cuts, which were frequently smoked in open pits on the ranch.
Cattle farming resulted in low-cost beef, and beef quickly became the most popular meat in the state.
The distinctions between the various styles dissolved with time.
The annual movement of cotton picking crews across Texas accelerated this blending. Many people accompanied the cotton harvest northward from the Rio Grande to the Panhandle, much like today’s wheat harvest workers.
The majority of the pickers were African Americans and Mexicans.
The picking crews required inexpensive food while in town. A popular dish was brisket with crackers.
Smoked meat was sold to the itinerant crews by local butcher shops and grocery stores. From nightfall until dawn, enterprising individuals would set up makeshift stores, smoking and selling grills.
As a result, barbeque places popped up all throughout the state.
Settlers brought their unique style of barbeque to Texas’ many regions.
They even have distinct characteristics, such as the rub they use, the type of wood they cook with, and the temperature at which they cook.
They can all agree on one thing, though: brisket!
Which of the four Texas BBQ styles is the best? As long as there is Texas barbecue, that subject will be argued.