Here's How Brisket Became Associated With Texas

Would you believe the first-known restaurant sale of brisket in Texas was not the smoked, fiery, and peppery-goodness BBQ staple we associate this cut of meat with today? Alternatively, per Texas Monthly, it was advertised in newspaper ads during the 1910s at Jewish delis in Greenville and El Paso.

Before becoming a staple at every barbecue restaurant in Texas, brisket was primarily eaten by Eastern Europeans and known as the more affordable meat option for a large portion of the population. In particular, brisket became a staple in Jewish culture, according to Kitchn. Learning how to take this inexpensive cut of meat and make it incredibly flavorful and tender by braising made it a traditional food option. In fact, during the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, brisket is one of the holiday foods the Jewish culture comes to expect on the table year after year.

So how did this Eastern European dish showcase its popularity in Texas? The answer is through immigration. As Food & Wine explains, Texas became a popular spot for Eastern European immigrants during the 1800s. As they moved homes over the Atlantic, they brought their traditional food and culture with them.

From deli-meat to smoked brisket BBQ

After Eastern Europeans made their way to the state of Texas, the immigrants and the local ranchers had something in common — they needed a cost-effective way to put food on the table. Thankfully, Texas had the most significant production of meat/cattle in the country (per Food & Wine). According to Texas Monthly, this is where they brought their two ideas together and harmonized over the brisket cut and the traditional cooking method of smoking meat.

It wasn't until the 1950s, though, that smoked beef brisket made its way onto the menus of traditional Texas barbecue joints. Black's Barbecue in Lockhart claims to be the first establishment to exclusively serve brisket to the public. Said pitmaster Edgar Black Jr., "When I first started selling brisket, there weren't half a dozen barbecue joints that sold it. Now, I bet you couldn't find half a dozen that don't sell it."

Now, brisket is synonymous with Texas barbecue, and it's incredible to think how this tender cut of meat has such a rich history and is today's beloved staple BBQ dish.