Patricia Sharpe

Vera’s: The Last Bastion of South Texas Barbacoa

Since the closing of Mancha’s Meat Market in Eagle Pass, there is only one place in all of Texas—maybe the entire country—that still serves traditional barbacoa: whole beef heads cooked in an underground pit over wood coals. The sign out front of Vera’s in Brownsville says it all: “Barbacoa en Pozo con Leña de Mezquite,” which roughly translates to”barbacoa in a hole with mesquite wood.” The owner, Mando Vera, cooks the cabezas de vaca overnight….

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The Mount Everest of Barbecue

IN OTHER PARTS OF the country, the goal of barbecue is to make something delicious in a reasonable amount of time with the greatest chance of success. In those places the pig is the chosen animal. We Texans cook pig ourselves, having found that spareribs make an excellent hors d’oeuvre, but let’s be candid: anybody with half a brain can cook pork. The meat is juicy and soft, and in many Southern barbecue joints, the…

Photograph by Jody Horton

Smoked Brisket

THE DISH Why do we love brisket above all other barbecued meats? Is it because of its resonant beefy flavor, its exterior as shiny as black patent leather, its rivulets of fat moistening every mouthful and staining the eater’s shirt? Yes. The very nature of brisket is to be delicious. Yet there’s more to it than that. We love brisket because cooking it is a spiritual path, a quest that, as a wise man once…