September 2, 2011

Nathan Myhrvold on Barbecuing in Texas

Nathan Myhrvold on Barbecuing in Texas in Bloomberg - 

It was well over 100 degrees on the day we stopped for lunch, and as soon as you come inside Smitty's you are in the pit room, with its roaring fire. The heat was oppressive, but we ordered all three things you get in Texas barbecue -- beef brisket, pork ribs and sausage. Brisket is the defining meat of Texas barbecue. The flat portion, known as the point, is lean, and thus very dry, while the thicker back portion, known as the deckle, is fatter and juicier. Brisket is also tough, so it must be cooked slowly, typically for 12 to 18 hours. These challenges lead most of the Southeastern barbecue world to avoid brisket altogether. You find it only in Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
My next barbecue pilgrimage was more unusual. I got up at dawn on a Saturday morning and went to Snow's BBQ in Lexington, about 50 miles east of Austin. Lexington is a very small town, population about 1,200. There is almost nothing there but a water tower bearing the town name and some rusty corrugated iron buildings. "Now this," my limousine driver said as he turned around at a stoplight, "this is Texas."
Nathan Myhrvold’s email is He is the founder of Intellectual Ventures and has also published Modernist Cuisine, a cookbook.