Monday, December 17, 2007

Texas Bar-b-que: Its the Meat

In Texas, bar-b-que always means beef brisket slow cooked over a wood fire, some sausage, and pork or beef ribs. Sauce is secondary, and bread is only provided to mop up the sauce. Usually the sauce is served on the side, in a squeeze bottle or a small paper cup, not poured directly over the meat, and at least one of the most respected bar-b-que places in Texas serve their sliced brisket on paper, without sauce.

Let me explain it this way: For a biker it’s the ride, for a Texan it’s the meat, and in Texas meat means beef brisket, not pork. You may be able to get pork ribs in Texas, but almost never sliced or pulled pork.

Since I am not a Texan (I only live here) I simply don’t have the genetic make-up to enjoy my bar-b-que without sauce. Further, I like my sauce to be tangy with the vinegar sweetness I have savored in the Carolinas. My favorite bar-b-que sandwich is pulled pork on a fresh bun, with a pile of slaw on top, and covered with Carolina tangy sauce.

I haven’t mentioned the pickles because I am trying my best to ignore them, and you will be better off if you do likewise. The pickles served with bar-b-que in Texas are worse than the bread. If you are served some don’t eat them, if you aren’t served any don’t ask. You will be happier. I have eaten bread and butter pickles, homemade by Texans, and they were terrific; sweet, tangy, and crisp, so what the heck is going on? The only thing I can think of is that nothing should detract from the flavor of the bar-b-que, but if thats not that the case then whoever started serving those limp, tasteless slices of dull green is still laughing.

I have already said what the bread is for, but I still don’t understand. It’s white “wonderbread” for goodness sake. What’s that all about? Why couldn’t it be a nice baguette with a soft center and crispy crust? Now, mop up the gravy with that, and you would have something.

My most favorite bar-b-que place in all of Texas is the Salt Lick, located in Driftwood south of Austin. Their family style serving of “heaping helpings of beef, sausage, and pork ribs, served with potato salad, cole slaw, beans, bread, pickles, and onions” is not to be missed. I took the stuff between the quotes right from their menu. If you go there don't forget to try their peach cobbler with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The photo, by the way is absolutely authentic Salt Lick.

OK, I will admit that my father was born in San Antonio, and I have a sister born in Fort Worth, so maybe I do have a tiny bit of Texan genetic material.

The Salt Lick’s web site is at:

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