The History Of Bar-B-Que In Texas

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
Ribs at Dyer's Bar-B-Que in Amarillo, Texas

Bar-b-que is popular throughout the country, especially in Texas. There are various theories about the definition of bar-b-que and the characteristics that it must have in order to be considered Texas style. Arguments have started over the type of wood you should use to smoke with, if the meat needs sauce or rub, and which cut should be used. Many also argue about which part of the state this food it best. One thing that most Texans agree on is that Texas bar-b-que is special and tastes the best.

What Is Texas Bar-B-Que and Where Did It Come From?

One easy way to understand this famous Texas food is to look back at its history. Ten thousand years ago, the Caddo Indians used wood fires to cook their venison and other wild game. In the 1600’s, Spanish shepherds roasted lamb and kid goats on spits on the south Texas plains.

The term for this pit roasting was “al pastor,” which means “shepherd style.” For a couple of hundred years, “barbacoa,” the Mexican Spanish style of cooking meat wrapped in maguey leaves and cooked under hot coals, was seen along the Rio Grande valley. All of these historic methods of cooking meat influenced how bar-b-que is made today.

Southern Influence on Texas Bar-B-Que

Beginning in the 1800’s, the southern cooking style of pit bar-b-que moved into Texas in several stages. Before the Civil War, slaves cooked bar-b-que for many reasons. Since 1865, Juneteenth, a holiday which celebrates the freeing of slaves in the United States, has been celebrated every June 19th and typically includes cooking bar-b-que.

In the early 1800’s, the first big civic bar-b-ques were held. These events fed hundreds to thousands of people. Steers, sheep, pigs, and goats were cut into pieces and cooked over hickory or oak coals for 24 hours. Some of these events are still held today, such as the Dalhart, Texas XIT Annual Reunion. People gather year after year in the tens of thousands to attend this event which is called the “world’s largest free bar-b-que.”

Types of Meat and Cooking Styles

Beef became the most common meat in Texas after the civil war, rather than hog. Southern bar-b-que is marked by cooking a whole hog. Here in Texas, cooking a whole steer is the ultimate in bar-b-que. Beef cuts do remain the most common meat for this food, but mutton, pork, and other meats are still popular as well.

From 1830 to the 1890s, Czech and German butchers brought European meat smoking to Texas. These butchers sold fresh meat and smoked leftovers in their enclosed smokers. It was probably surprising to them when people mistook their sausages and smoked pork loin as bar-b-que in the late 1800s.

In the early 1900s, public consumption sanitation regulations changed the way food could be cooked. Southern bar-b-que earth pits were left behind for the enclosed smokers that were constructed like those used by German butchers. Eventually, meat markets that sold many types of bar-b-que became known as the place to go for this style of food.

Delicious Texas Bar-B-Que in Amarillo, Texas!

If you are looking for a casual family friendly place with mouthwatering Texas bar-b-que, visit Dyer’s Bar-B-Que today. Check out our Menu options and learn more about our Big Bear Saloon, the Store, and our Catering. Call Us at (806) 358-7104 if you’re in Amarillo, and (806) 665-4401 if you are in Pampa. You can also Contact Us by email for more information. We are located at 1619 S. Kentucky E #526 I-40 and Georgia in the Wellington Square Shopping Center in Amarillo, Texas. If you are in Pampa, you can visit our location at 11816 U.S. Highway 60.