Barbecue is a traditional style of preparing beef in the cuisine of Texas (United States) and is one of the many different varieties ofbarbecue found around the world. Texas barbecue traditions can be divided into four general styles: East Texas, Central Texas, South Texas, and West Texas. The Central and East Texas varieties are generally the most well-known. Author Griffin Smith, Jr. in a 1973Texas Monthly article described the dividing line between the two styles as “a line running from Columbus and Hearne northward betweenDallas and Fort Worth“. Additionally, in deep South Texas and along the Rio Grande valley a Mexican style of meat preparation known as barbacoa can be found. The word barbacoa in Spanish means barbecue though in English it is often used specifically to refer to Mexican varieties of preparation.
Generally speaking the different Texas barbecue styles are distinguished as follows. In the East Texas style the beef is slowly cooked to the point that it is “falling off the bone”, typically over hickory wood, and marinated in a sweet, tomato-based sauce. In the Central Texas style the meat is rubbed with spices and cooked over indirect heat from pecan or oak wood. In the West Texas style the meat is cooked over direct heat from mesquite wood giving it a somewhat bitter taste. The South Texas style features thick, molasses-like sauces that keep the meat very moist. The barbacoa tradition is somewhat different than all of these. Though beef may be used, goat or sheep meat are common as well (sometimes even the whole animal may be used). In its most traditional form barbacoa is prepared in a hole dug in the ground and covered with maguey leaves.