Texas is famous for BBQ—smoky brisket, mouthwatering ribs, tender shreds of pulled pork and more. Texas BBQ: Platefuls of Legendary Lone Star Flavor from the Editors of Southern Living magazine, reveals the secrets of making different regional styles of Lone Star BBQ from sauces and marinades to meats, fowl, and seafood to sides and sweets in this pretty new cookbook that’s illustrated with beautiful food and scenic photographs.
Unlike what’s found in many cookbooks today, the writing is beautiful, almost lyrical. In the introduction, they write: “The genesis of Texas barbecue can be traced to the Native American, Caribbean, and Mesoamerican tribes who first cooked meat over open flames beneath a canopy of stars. These indigenous peoples knew how to bring out the best in a slab of meat, which spices would dance on the taste buds, and exactly how to translate smoke into layer upon layer of food.”
Texas BBQ begins with the basics of BBQ from grills to smokers, types of wood to use, and whether to cook with direct or indirect heat. While this part of the book isn’t extensive, it is accessible and makes the beginner feel like making good Texas ‘que is possible.
They jump right into recipes for rubs, sauces, and condiments. They offer seven different dry rubs, two marinade recipes, and two BBQ sauce recipes. I appreciate that they give a brief explanation of each. For example, under Beef Marinate, they write: “This marinade infuses beef with the aromatic flavors of rosemary and green onions, while honey helps counter the acidity from the vinegar.”
The condiment recipes include Texas classics like chowchow, sweet onions and peach relish, peppery pickles, several salsas and guacamole. Each recipe in the book is easy-to-read and offers yields and both hands-on and total timing.
Next come Starters such as dips, coleslaw, nachos, deviled eggs, and Texas caviar (black-eyed peas, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, corn), among others. Again, the Editors offer comments on each recipe. And, throughout, under “Lone Star Legends,” they provide interesting bits of Texas history or descriptions and addresses for famous Texas restaurants.
The Land and Sea portion is the “heart” of this cookbook, offering delectable recipes like Grilled Tri-Tip with Citrus-Chile Butter, Smoky Barbecue Baby Back Ribs, and Pork Chops with Apricot Mustard Sauce. But it’s not just about beef and pork. There are recipes for chicken such as Smoked Chicken and King Ranch Chicken; and for fish and shellfish such as Texas Fish Tacos, BBQ Oysters with Two Butters, and Grilled Redfish with Cilantro-Serrano Chimichurri.
The Spectacular Sides chapter provides recipes for perfect compliments to Texas BBQ such as charro beans and potato salad with sweet pickles. And, of course, even Texas ‘cue needs to end on a sweet note and this cookbook offers recipes for everything from Texas Sheet Cake (chocolate cake topped with pecans) to Fruit Cobbler and Tequila Lime Pie.
Real Bottom Line: From the sweet pork of East Texas and the brisket of Central Texas, to the Cajun dishes and briny seafood of the coast to the Tex-Mex of South Texas, this easy-to-use cookbook gives readers the whole range of Texas BBQ. It certainly made me better appreciate the diversity of ‘cue in Texas and inspired me to want to explore the state’s cuisine even more thoroughly.
I love the fact that this cookbook “unpacks” Texas BBQ, making it easily understandable. The recipes are not only delicious, they’re relatively easy to make even for the novice. If you love Texas barbecue or if you’re just curious about the Lone Star state’s legendary cuisine, Texas BBQ: Platefuls of Legendary Lone Star Flavor belongs in your kitchen. I know we’ll be happily using this cookbook for years to come. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor