Umami Bomb 05

Umami-Bomb Pork Butt

When you ask people to name the five “tastes,” the average person typically has an easy enough time naming four: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. It’s the fifth–umami–that’s a bit more elusive. The concept of umami has been around for more than a century, but it was largely unheard of until the Wall Street Journal dubbed it a “New Taste Sensation” in late 2007. Since then, ingredients identified as umami-rich–meaty-tasting foods like tomatoes, mushrooms, and parmesan cheese, and seasonings like…

Chuck experiment 02

Chucks and Shanks

As I’ve talked about before, smoked brisket wasn’t always the cornerstone of Texas barbecue. Before the beef purveyor IBP started shipping individual cuts to meat markets, these establishments (if they smoked meats at all) were cooking the entire beef forequarter. This meant they were smoking both the cuts familiar to us now–short ribs, shoulder clod, and brisket–as well as cuts that don’t see the smoker quite as often these days, like the chuck roll and the beef…

photo-42 copy 2

Breaking Down Brisket

Brisket is our favorite cut for barbecue here in Texas, and it’s also pretty popular elsewhere, as evidenced by the sheer number of brisket recipes one can find on a shelf of barbecue cookbooks or can pull up using a Google search (searching “how to smoke a brisket” calls up more than 1.8 million hits). But how much variation is there between these innumerable recipes? I combed through 22 cookbooks* (I didn’t have time to…