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I am not a native Texan. Although I have spent more years here than not, I can’t honestly claim to be entirely steeped in the culture of the Lone Star State. And, while I’m not crazy about everything that Texas has to offer, culturally speaking, I have found lots of things that this state does right. And in the center of it all, both physically and metaphorically, lies central Texas style BBQ.
Tex-Mex is awesome, and German food is great, but no local cuisine (at least in my oh-so-very humble opinion) holds a candle to central Texas style BBQ. The way the dry-rubbed and oak-smoked proteins develop that spicy bark on the outside while staying incredibly juicy and tender on the inside is simply magnificent. This style is so ubiquitous around these parts that every family has their own recipe, and the “best BBQ in town” argument will continue completely unresolved in eternal perpetuity. And while it might be impossible to get a group of people to decide who does it best, there is some consensus to be found; that this stuff is stupid delicious.
There is a large variety of proteins to be had at any given BBQ restaurant in Central Texas. And while I’m no stranger to brisket, turkey, and sausage, my personal favorite is pulled pork. Even by itself, I find pulled pork to be a wonderful juxtaposition of all the best components found in all of my favorite smoked meats. It’s tender and savory like brisket, but it’s a lighter protein like turkey. It’s relatively difficult to screw up like chicken, and boy, does it make a good sandwich. In Texas, we try not to waste our time with silly things like cole-slaw, and instead opt for the bold and pungent flavors of pickles and onions to cut through the savory smokiness. The Texas style pulled pork sandwich was the real inspiration behind this poutine.
Now let’s talk about the dish itself. It all started with a simple pork shoulder roast. I whipped up a simple dry rub consisting of equal parts coarse ground coffee and black pepper, and half as much ancho chili powder and coarse salt. Then, it was on to the smoker, where it was fed a constant supply of oak and pecan smoke, cooking low and slow at around 250 degrees. Several Lonestars and 6 hours later, the pork shoulder had developed a beautifully crispy bark, and was absolutely fork tender. I brought the roast inside to rest, and got to work on the gravy. I sliced off what was left of the fat cap, and rendered it out with some pork lard in a cast iron skillet. When the fat was rendered completely and the roux was all ready, in went the pan drippings (As a quick aside, if you don’t save the pan drippings of your BBQcooks, then you are a monster). I thinned the sauce with a bit of chicken stock, and we were in business.
The assembly was easy. It started with, as always, some perfectly fried hand cut french fries. On went the pork, with a layer of gravy. We opted for yellow cheese curds this time, because we were feeling fancy and wanted some nice color contrast (but the white curds would work equally well), which I think turned out pretty nicely. After the cheese, it was time for more meat, more gravy, and some thinly julienned onions and some of Jenny’s pickled peppers. And finally, we tossed a couple of sour pickle spears on the side, just for good measure. All in all, this dish was so delightfully savory, smoky and salty that I broke my diet and shamelessly devoured the entire plate in one sitting. No regrets.
So, if you liked this post, be sure to share it with your buddies! Also, what’s your favorite BBQ restaurant or dish? Do you have a favorite recipe? Let us know in the comments below. As always, we love to hear from you.