Of the four styles of BBQ this country boasts, Texas BBQ is the most well-known. The famed pit barbeque creates smoked meats so flavorful that side dishes are secondary: one article in The New Yorker stated, "you don't hear a lot of people talking about the piquancy of a restaurant's sauce or the tastiness of its beans; discussions are what a scholar of the culture might call meat-driven."
When you have a product so good that it stands alone -- and is purchased by the pound, even in restaurants -- the urge to change or alter it in any way seems nonexistent. However, when you take into account the popularity of Tex-Mex, a combination of Mexican and southwest U.S. cuisines, the concept of a delicious food mishmash is too good to pass up.
The Birth Of A New Cuisine
Tex-Mex barbeque has become more common in the last few years, mostly due to the presence of new restaurants like Valentina's in Austin and 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio. Esaul Ramos, owner of the latter, stated he simply studied the pit-style way of smoking meats and combined the skill with the foods he grew up eating; tacos, barbacoa, pico de gallo, and nopales all have a place in Tex-Mex barbeque.
At Valentina's, you can enjoy a slice of juicy brisket inside a warm tortilla, and a side dish of rice and beans is as common as coleslaw. The merging of the two cuisines is having quite the cultural impact on the country's biggest state. Since backyard barbeques are popular the nation over, we figured we'd teach you how to throw a Tex-Mex BBQ of your own.
This Pit Is Lit
The most important part of any barbeque is the food selection, and this goes tenfold for Tex-Mex BBQ cuisine.
Meats: Texas barbeque relies on three main meats, all smoked over the pit, of course. Sliced beef brisket, German-style sausage, and meaty ribs with a tangy, tomato-based sauce are the staples. The meat is meant to be untouched, while the Tex-Mex influence impacts how it's served and what it's served with.
Sides: Classic barbeque sides include macaroni and cheese and potato salad, but savory condiments are heavily favored. Pickled jalapeno peppers, cherry peppers, sliced onions, and dill pickles provide a little extra saltiness to the meal. Add some black bean, corn, and tomato salad for that Tex-Mex flair, or simply serve with rice and beans. As long as you're relying on Mexican fundamentals -- such as peppers, corn, and beans --, your barbeque will have some kick to it.
Beverages: Sweet tea is a great non-alcoholic choice, and there are many Texan beers and wines to choose from. Shiner Bock from Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, Texas, is a favorite among Texans, as are hearty reds (like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) from Llano Estacado Winery or Caprock Winery -- both are located in the panhandle of Texas and have won numerous awards.
How much you buy depends on how many guests you're expecting; the average party size that requires a caterer is between 100 and 250 people, so keep that in mind if you're trying to throw a neighborhood-wide rager. As much as you might want to smoke and roast the meat yourself, sometimes a professional team is needed. Gather the requisite tables, chairs, and utensils, and you've got a great party on your hands.
You don't need to be from the Lone Star State in order to host a backyard get-together embracing its cultural cuisine and history; if you possess a love of good food, great friends, and want to experience Tex-Mex barbeque for yourself, take matters into your own hands. Once their bellies are full, nobody will care where you're from or where you grew up!