When you want to plan a dinner party that offers good, simple food that gets you out of the kitchen quickly so you can kick back with your guests, there's no better way to do it than with some down home Texas barbecue.
I consulted with About.com's Barbecues and Grilling Guide Derrick Riches to get the lowdown on hosting a genuine Texas barbecue dinner party.
It's All About the Meat
According to Riches, Texas barbecue is sliced beef brisket, German-style sausage, and meaty ribs with tangy, tomato-based sauce carefully spooned over the meat or placed on the side. Its exact origins are uncertain, but there were influences from the German and Czech immigrants that came to the area, along with the Spanish and Mexican heritages in Texas. The word barbecue even comes from the Spanish work barbacoa. The cowboy chuck wagon also played a part in the tradition, with the choices of side dishes and desserts.
Don't Forget the Side Dishes and Desserts.
Typical side dishes include pinto beans, macaroni and cheese, potato salad, fried okra, and sweet potato casserole. Barbecue should be served with savory condiments like pickled jalapeno peppers, pickled okra, cherry peppers, sliced onions, and dilled pickles. The bread of choice is plain white Mrs. Baird's sandwich bread. Dessert is traditionally cobbler - this is where the chuck wagon influence came in, as cobblers can be cooked over hot coals in a cast-iron Dutch oven. Favorite flavors are peach, cherry and blackberry. And don't forget to top your juicy cobbler with vanilla ice cream.
How Dry I Am...
You have several beverage options for your Texas barbecue. For non-alcoholic choices, you can't go wrong with unsweetened iced tea, served with optional sugar added by the drinker, or lemonade. Some Texans also love a sugary soft drink called Big Red, but it's not available everywhere.
If you'd like to add alcoholic beverages to your menu, then you should offer a good Texas beer. If you can find it, Shiner Bock, from Spoetzl brewery in Shiner, Texas is a great choice. Another favorite is Lone Star beer, which is more widely available. It's also appropriate to serve wine at a Texas barbecue, especially a Texas wine. Llano Estacado Winery and Caprock Winery are both winemakers from the Panhandle of Texas that have won numerous awards. A hearty red wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot pairs well with Texas barbecue. French Beaujolais is another good choice with beef brisket.