In the first of our new series reviewing special insights into cultural practices around the world we take a look at the Texan’s obsession with the Texas Barbeque with our essential guide to the Texas BBQ.
Barbecue, which incidentally is actually spelled Bar-B-Q in Texas, is more than an occasional treat or alternative to cooking indoors, it is a cultural institution in Texas and the quest for smokehouse perfection dominates the lives of American’s living in this state. Magazines and journals are devoted to it, neighbors genuinely compete with one another in the battle for BBQ supremacy and families work hard to perfect and guard the Bar-B-Q recipes that have been handed down through generations.
If you’re living in Houston, then it is a necessity that you understand this great Texas tradition and get involved with the sprit of the great Texas Bar-B-Que.
The Cooking Method
Many expats may be surprised by the cooking method employed. Although barbeques are typically associated with grilling meats over a hot fire, the Texan barbeque involves a much longer cooking process over a very low-heat wood-burning fire. The slow cooking process produces the most succulent and tender meats that are infused with the deep smoky flavor that Texans love.
The meat most commonly used on Texas barbeques is beef, with the most popular cut being brisket. Although the tough nature of brisket may not sound too palatable to the average expat living in Texas, the long, slow cooking process ensures that the meat is transformed into a tender and delicious, melt-in-the-mouth treat.
Other specialties include racks of ribs, sausages and sliced pork lion.
The Seasoning and Sauces
One of the most important elements of any respectable Texas BBQ is the seasoning, or rub, as it is commonly called. There are wet rubs and dry rubs. Wet rubs consist of oils, juices and vinegars that are mixed into a paste and applied to the meat before cooking. Dry rubs are made from herbs, spices and salt and are rubbed into the meat to seal in the juices and flavor.
Barbeque sauce is a source of great debate among the barbeque elitists. Some people swear by it while others will be insulted if you ruin the taste of their painstakingly marinated and cooked meats with lashings of sauce. The best advice is to use sauce if it is available but never, ever request it if there is none in plain sight.
Yes, barbeques Texan style are really quite messy and the chances of you emerging from a meat feast without stained clothes are somewhat slim. Just go with the flow and enjoy yourself, think about the washing later!
If you’re considering living in Texas then you may benefit from reading our guide to moving to Houston. It contains fantastic insights into working, living and barbequing in Houston and it will be an invaluable source of information during your relocation.