The Lone Star State is known for its delicious barbecue and potato salad. From beef to pork, and from mesquite to oak, Texas barbecue styles vary by region. The distinct flavors and special cooking methods are differentiated by the geographical areas of East, Central, South, and West Texas.
The East Texas style of barbecue uses meat that is chopped, and seldom sliced. Beef or pork can be served as a sandwich, on a bun with heavy sauce; the thick tomato based sauce has a sweet flavor. This East style barbecue is slow-smoked over-wood coals. Beef and pork are used equally for preparing and cooking this East style barbecue.
Central Texas barbecue is sold by the pound and the meat variety may include beef ribs, pork ribs, beef brisket, chicken, or sausage. The general focus of the Central Texas style is the meat. When sauce is served with the barbecue, it is used as a dip and is only a side interest of the cuisine.
In the Central Texas style the meat is cooked with wood. First, the meat is rubbed. Sometimes a rub is simple using salt and pepper, but a rub can also be more complex using many ingredients. Once the meat is rubbed with spices, it is cooked inside a wood fired oven, or an enclosed pit. The meat will cook slowly and at low temperatures over wood; oak or hickory is used to fire the pit. Slow cooking a brisket for twenty hours or more will tenderize even the hardest and thickest cuts of meat, and will produce intense flavor.
South Texas barbecue is found within the region along the Rio Grande valley. This is where a special Mexican style of meat preparation, called barbacoa, is found. Barbacoa is the Spanish word for barbecue, but in English it is used to simply describe Mexican methods of meat preparation. The southern style of barbecue was originally prepared by cooking meat inside of a pit, or a deep hole in the ground and then covered with special leaves during cooking. In modern times, the word barbacoa usually refers to the steaming of meat until it becomes tender. More information on outback spectrum.
The West Texas style of barbecue is otherwise referred to as "cowboy style". This kind of preparation uses more direct heat to cook the meat than other methods and mesquite is the preferred wood that is burned. Though it is beef that is primarily barbecued, goat and mutton are cooked, too.
When it comes to barbecue side dishes, Texans are just as serious about their potato salad as their beef brisket. Texas potato salad is heavy on the mustard and is made with large chunks of potato instead of small cubes or mashed. Big pieces of potato are mixed together with chopped onion, and hard-boiled eggs. Adding pickles gives the potato salad its texture, and doesn't matter if the pickles are dill or sweet. With a large German heritage in Texas, there are versions of German potato salad, too. Each barbecue is its own event, and the tastes of the attending Texans are individual.
Barbecue in Texas is best known for the variety of its flavorful meats, their preparation, and for the regional diversity. The Lone Star State offers a range of delicious barbecue known by the geography of East, Central, South, and West Texas.