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The definition of barbeque has nearly as many meanings as sauces. First, you can attend an event or outdoor party, which, in Texas is usually held on a ranch. The act of barbecuing is the process of preparing food with smoke, low temperatures and long periods of time. Don't be confused by the backyard griller who claims to barbeque, but simply heats food outdoors, often over a gas source. And, don't try to find the best recipe as everyone claims their method holds prize winning secrets.
I recently found myself in San Antonio with an opportunity to sample my first Texas BBQ. I was seated on the patio of the Palmer Grill overlooking the magnificent 18th hole of the La Cantera Resort Palmer golf course. Therefore, this was not a ranch BBQ party but a meal served family style at a Southwestern themed country club. I'm not sure what I expected, but I was pleasantly surprised.
Waiters offered three meat or protein selections: salmon, smoked turkey or beef brisket. Usually I'm not big on beef, but wanted to try the brisket as this was considered the real thing. The chef said he hand rubbed the meat with in his special spice mix and cooked it low and slow (225 degrees) for 16 hours the previous day. Then he wrapped and stored in the refrigerator overnight. Before serving, the brisket was reheated. Barbeque or mop sauce was supplied in gravy boats and I poured some on top of my slice.
Now, I was ready to taste. Yahoo. I almost jumped up and danced a little two-step. This was the most tender meat; not tenderloin but not stringy like a ropa vieja. I'd say the forkful more of less crumbled on the tongue. Absolutely beefy, moist and super delicious. The BBQ sauce was neither sweet nor sour, just a tangy vinegar/spice blend with a little punch.
Potato salad, green salad, borracho beans and grilled corn on the cob were served along side. Dessert was a tumbler of mixed berries with three cubes of creamy cheesecake.
I've been told that Texas barbecue goes back to German butchers who settled in the hills of Central Texas during the mid-1800s. They apparently learned from neighboring Mexican vaqueros or cowboys who used beef rather than pork. The cooks worked near fire pits filled with available hardwoods like oak, hickory, pecan and mesquite. Quite different from what this southerner usually eats, like those saucy ribs in Alabama's Dreamland Restaurant.
If you go:
La Cantera Resort lies 14 miles from downtown San Antonio and is listed by Conde’ Nast on the “Gold List: Top Golf Resorts Around the World." The facility offers two fabulous 18-hole courses and fine restaurants including The Palmer Grill in the Clubhouse.