Robb Walsh’s latest cookbook, “Texas Eats: The New Lone Star Heritage Cookbook” (Ten Speed Press, $25) is a delicious collection of recipes from across the state and includes many of the ethnic heritages that have added their unique spice to our cuisine.
Germans, Czechs, Cajuns, the Vietnamese and even Indian cowboys are included along with the vintage Tex-Mex, oysters, shrimp, chicken-fried steak and burgers. There’s even a chapter on the treats from the Menger, including recipes for its turtle soup and a version of its mango ice cream.
As is the case with many of Walsh’s best books, including “The Tex-Mex Cookbook,” the stories behind the collected culinary creations are as savory as the recipes themselves.
The recipe below comes from Walsh’s chapter on barbecue. It’s a great way to smoke chicken, bringing together the tang of Italian salad dressing, a slight burn from hot sauce, and the bittersweet punch of that Texas favorite, Shiner Bock. Plus, the rub called for is one you can change to suit your tastes or heritage.
This past week, “Texas Eats” was nominated for best American cookbook from the International Association of Culinary Professionals.
Bock-Brined BBQ Chicken
To keep barbecued chicken moist, you need to brine it or marinate it before you put it in the smoker. Here’s an easy marinade that starts with a bottle of Shiner Bock
8 cups hots water
1 (12-ounce) bottle Shiner Bock or beer of your choice
1/2 cup sea salt
2 tablespoons hot-pepper sauce
1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground dried thyme
1 (3- to 4-pound) whole chicken
1/2 cup Basic BBQ Rub (recipe below)
1 (16-ounce) bottle Italian salad dressing
Barbecue sauce of your choice
Select a container that will fit in your refrigerator and is large enough to hold the chicken and the brine. Pour the hot water and beer into the container, add the salt, hot-pepper sauce, pepper and thyme, and stir until all of the salt has dissolved. Refrigerate the brine to cool completely.
If the giblets have been included with the chicken, remove them and reserve them for another use. Place the chicken on a cutting board, back side up. Using a sharp knife or poultry shears, and starting at the cavity end, cut along backbone. Pull the chicken open and cut along the other side of the backbone and remove the back. Put the chicken in the cooled brine, and place a weight on top of the chicken to keep it submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Prepare a fire for indirect-heat cooking (the coals on one side only) in your smoker with a water pan. Use wood chips, chunks or logs and keep up a good level of smoke. The smoker is ready when the temperature is between 225 degrees and 275 degrees.
Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry, then rub the chicken all over with the rub. Put the butterflied chicken, bone side down in the smoker on the cool side of the grate and cook for 3 hours, mopping it with the Italian salad dressing every 30 minutes. Add wood as needed to keep the fire burning evenly. To test for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of a thigh away from the bone; it should register 155 degrees. Alternatively, insert a knife tip into the thickest part of the thigh; the chicken is ready if the juices run clear.
To serve, cut the chicken into 6 to 8 pieces (for 6 pieces you’ll want 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs and 2 breasts with wings, or for 8 pieces, cut the breasts in half) and serve hot with your favorite barbecue sauce on the side.
Makes 4 servings.
Basic BBQ Rub
The German Texan barbecue rub is the most basic: just salt and pepper with a pinch of cayenne. Czech Texans like a lot of garlic, Polish Texans add garlic and marjoram, Alsatian Texans love coriander, Lebanese Texans put cinnamon in their rubs, and the Tejanos have to have both chile powder and cumin. Have fun!
3 tablespoons sea salt
2 tablespoons granulated garlic
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground dried herb of your choice (optional)
In a small bowl, stir together all of the ingredients, mixing well. Be sure to break up any lumps. Store the rub in a tightly capped jar. It will keep in a cool cupboard for a couple of months. Shake or stir well again before use.
Makes about 1/2 cup.
From “Texas Eats” by Robb Walsh