Once we had the Big Green Egg my husband began smoking more and mostly making pulled pork, either with a homemade Carolina vinegar sauce or a ketchup based homemade barbeque sauce. You really couldn't buy real barbeque of any style anywhere near our home in Connecticut.
My husband had talked about real Texas barbeque which he'd indulged in while visiting Texas on business trips. When we moved to the Houston area last year our barbeque joint journey began. I was speechless the first time I saw this Texas thing: they combine casual barbeque restaurants with gas stations! You pull off the highway to top off your gastank then you go inside for a big meal. You buy the meat by the pound, and various side fixings, and they give you free slices of white bread. Then you sit family style at picnic tables (usually indoors in the nice cool air conditioning) and make your own sandwich using giant bottles of the restaurant's signature sauce (in various flavors such as mild or spicy).
Real Texas barbeque focuses on beef brisket and it is usually offered lean or fatty. Some also sell it chopped in bits already smothered in barbeque sauce.
It is tricky to make barbeque beef brisket at home because it is imperative to keep the temperatures very low and to cook it really slow. By slow, I mean like all day slow. You need to be home monitoring it to make sure it doesn't get too hot. That's how the brisket becomes soft and tender - long slow cooking. Cooking it too fast yields tough meat. The longer is barbeques, the more smoke the meat has, so rushing it will also compromise the flavor.
Barbeque brisket at home is so persnickety to deal with that some persistent people have invented devices to add onto your Big Green Egg to help move the air around in an even manner. One device actually lets you monitor the temperature from a remote location via the Internet (such as from your desk while you work downtown at your day job). Using the program you can tell the device to increase or decrease the ventilation in order to make the fire hotter or to cool it down. Now that is dedication to your barbeque!
It is common in Texas to have big parties and serve barbeque. The men usually start the process early in the morning. As guests arrive, the men gather around the smoker and drink cold (usually alcoholic adult) beverages while tending to the smoker, adding more aromatic wood, making the fire hotter or cooler. They dote on that barbeque with special attention and care. They also discuss what they are doing and why, and each shares their opinion of how they like it best. Everyone has a special way of smoking their meat. Once it's done smoking they proceed to the last steps, the slicing or the shredding, depending on what it is, and then they proudly serve it up. Due to all the work involved, people usually make big portions and enjoy having it being the centerpiece of the meal at their party.
As we travel around the state of Texas we have our eyes peeled (and sometimes the aid of iPhone apps like Urban Spoon) to find the best local barbeque joints. We love the ambiance and the unique nature of these places to which the word "joint" is a perfect word to describe.
After sampling real Texas barbeque brisket from all over the place my husband is gathering up his courage and is almost ready to give it a try at home. He's perfected pulled pork so he's riding a wave of self-confidence. I can't wait for him to give it a go.