The location of the nearest Texas barbecue joint and what to order when you get there seem to be the first questions on the minds of many visitors to SXSW in Austin. So this year, veteran barbecue writer Joe Nick Patoski put together a Texas barbecue panel for conference-goers. Panelists included Rick Schmidt, the owner of Kruez Market in Lockhart; John Morthland, who writes about barbecue for Texas Monthly; Wyatt McSpadden, who has a new photo book out called Texas BBQ; NPR's Kitchen Sisters, who just published a book called Hidden Kitchens Texas; and myself.
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Mostly the panel dealt with definitions and debated the "Sauce or No Sauce" thing. The most significant piece of information I gleaned from the gathering was that a study by Texas A&M has identified brisket as a significant source of healthy monounsaturated fats such as those found in olive oil. The "depots" of healthy fat are found in brisket from corn-fed beef.
Shoulder clod used to be the best-selling beef cut at Kruez Market with prime rib and brisket trailing well behind. But since the healthy fat study came out last year, brisket has gone from around 15% to around 40% of total sales, Schmidt told me. Better yet, it's the fatty end of the brisket that everyone wants. According to the study, the healthy fat deposits are concentrated in the point or deckle rather than the leaner flat end of the brisket.
Next time you go eat barbecue, remember to say: "Slice mine from the fatty end of that brisket, I'm trying to lower my cholesterol."