Barbecue Digest: A fraternal bond in Texas barbecue
July 5th, 2012
02:00 PM ET
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Editor's note: All summer long, the Southern Foodways Alliance will be delving deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. Dig in.

Low-and-slow smoked beef likely became a central-Texas tradition after a massive influx of German and Czech immigrants in the mid-19th century. Many were butchers, and once in Texas, these European meat purveyors smoked the cuts that didn't sell so well. But believe it or not, smoked beef is not the last word in Texas barbecue.

You may have heard of Snow's in Lexington, Texas, which shot to statewide fame in 2008 after being named the Best Barbecue in Texas by Texas Monthly magazine. Twenty minutes away, in tiny Deanville, there's another spot that flies under the radar but deserves a visit.

On Saturday mornings, you can find Mr. Charanza tending the pits at the local Sons of Hermann Hall. Though Mr. Charanza is of Czech heritage and the Sons of Hermann is a German organization, there's no hint of irony at this melding of cultures. Both German and Czech traditions remain prominent in this part of the state. Fraternal organizations like the Sons of Hermann were founded by immigrants seeking a sense of community in their new home. They offered a place for fellowship, pooled their funds into life insurance policies for members, and became home to some of Texas' historic dancehalls. Outside many of these buildings you can find a barbecue pit of considerable heft and wear, but few contain the remote firebox required for smoking meat. Most of these pits, including the ones at the Sons of Hermann Hall No. 301 in Deanville, were designed with direct-heat cooking in mind.

Mr. Charanza burns oak wood on a concrete slab, transferring the coals to the pit when they are white-hot. He cooks pork spare ribs, half-chickens, thick-cut pork steaks, and Czech sausage (all from a local meat market) at high heat directly above the coals. You won't find beef on this pit, and there isn't much smoke, but you'll hear plenty of sizzle. Most folks take their foil-wrapped barbecue to go, but you can also eat in the side room of the functioning dancehall, where old men spend the afternoon playing dominoes. After one bite of the heavily seasoned meat, you won't miss the smoke. If you're lucky enough to find yourself in Deanville, I suggest you boogie off the barbecue on the dance floor.

This Lone Star Dispatch comes from Daniel Vaughn, the brain (and mouth, and tummy) behind Full Custom Gospel BBQ. Follow Daniel on Twitter at @BBQSnob.



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soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. plenty

    A key for good BBQ is a good smoker pit

    July 8, 2012 at 12:03 am |
  2. Tom

    lena--sorry, but you are NOT the arbiter of all things good. I respect your opinion & will not try to change you. Please reciprocate. Smoked, grilled, beef, pork or chicken, when I die I want to have just finished a meal of Texas BBQ. The BBQ joints in the Hill Country are legendary. But I'll modestly state that NONE are BETTER than mine. Pecan smoked pork ribs are a thing of beauty. As is brisket with a 3/8 inch smoke ring & the tenderness of a new hill country day. Leave the sauces, give me the taste of the MEAT. AND, I'll take my chile without beans. ALWAYS.

    July 6, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Taxed

      Lordy – let's call Al Sharpton! We's got usselves a fight!

      July 7, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
      • Taxed too

        I'll show up for any rally if I can get some great ribs.

        July 7, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Keith

      Tom is right about everything except that my Bar-B-Que is best.

      July 7, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  3. Ryan in Texas

    People often forget that the best BBQ in the world has roots in Czech and German immigrants who came to Texas in the period between 1830-1930. When they got here, they found beef to be plentiful. Wild game was also a staple of the diet. They made true delicacies with what they found here. Add to that the influence of Mexican, Acadian (Cajun), Southern US, and African American/Caribean – and you wind up with the BBQ that is worldwide known as the best.
    Let's be honest, there was not much to do for fun in Texas before cars, radios, tv, and airconditioning. So they built community dance halls where you could have beer , dancing, games, and of course wonderful food. Many were on hills, taking advantage of the better breeze there. The old timers knew how to live, even though they had none of the toys we now take for granted. They took what they had and made the best of it. We could all learn alot from that. Have a great weekend, grill or BBQ something with the family. Even if you do it KC style, the ability to use fire like man has for hundreds of thousands of years to make something delicious is timeless.

    July 6, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Tom

      Could not be more succinctly said.

      July 6, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Taxed

      And they learned their great skills from the Poles.

      July 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
      • Herb Sewell

        Are you talking about the "pole smokers"?

        July 8, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  4. Solo

    What? No racist remarks for this barbecue story? C'mon, someone call Jesse!

    July 6, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  5. cowstastegood

    Man, this article is making my mouth water. To smoke or grill this weekend? Tough one.

    July 6, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  6. lena

    1. 'This is dreadful! Not the suffering and death of the animals, but that people suppress in themselves, unnecessarily, the highest spiritual capacity – that of sympathy and pity towards living creatures... " Leo Tolstoy (Tolstoy was introduced and became a vegetarian, all on the same day.) http://veg.ca/content/view/525/113/

    July 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Burp

      If we are not supposed to eat animals, why are they made of meat? And why did you bother to comment at all on an article about barbecue? By the way, Texas BBQ means cow, but here in Georgia, BBQ means pig; slow smoked til it falls off the bone. Add some Cole slaw & Brunswick Stew & beer. MMMMMMMMM!

      July 6, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Quag

      Lena, humans must eat to exist. We have a responsibility to the environment (to include animals). But, other kinds of animals don't have equal standing for reasons that are clear to most people. I'm sure we can all agree not to maltreat other animals for no good reason, but killing them so we can exist is not immoral nor is it unethical. It's no different than a plant who uses the elements within the soil to grow. I get to exist and if it means the death of animals that mankind and nature created, then so be it.

      July 7, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • Keith

      Lena go away, we don't like you and you are not welcome here.

      July 7, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
  7. lena

    1. Socrates: Would this habit of eating animals not require that we slaughter animals that we knew as individuals, and in whose eyes we could gaze and see ourselves reflected, only a few hours before our meal?
    Glaucon: This habit would require that of us.
    Socrates: Wouldn't this [knowledge of our role in turning a being into a thing] hinder us in achieving happiness?
    Glaucon: It could so hinder us in our quest for happiness.
    Socrates: And, if we pursue this way of living, will we not have need to visit the doctor more often?
    Glaucon: We would have such need.
    Socrates: If we pursue our habit of eating animals, and if our neighbor follows a similar path, will we not have need to go to war against our neighbor to secure greater pasturage, because ours will not be enough to sustain us, and our neighbor will have a similar need to wage war on us for the same reason?
    Glaucon: We would be so compelled.
    Socrates: Would not these facts prevent us from achieving happiness, and therefore the conditions necessary to the building of a just society, if we pursue a desire to eat animals?
    Glaucon: Yes, they would so prevent us.

    July 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Burp

      You are probably one of those "progressive" women who doesn't shave her legs or pits, wears Birkenstocks, & voted for Obama, too. Bet your Mom was named Rainbow & met your Dad at a socialist peace rally. I'm right, ain't I?

      July 7, 2012 at 12:19 pm |
  8. MarileeBob

    Oh Lena Lena Lena, you again..

    I can tell you everyone reading this article lovesto eat meat and we're not going to turn vegan, so stop trying to convert people to your lifestyle. It's your choice to be vegan, it's our choice to be omnivores.

    In your honor, im giong to grill up some steaks and sausages this weekend! Yay!

    July 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • lena

      ohh Marilee, I wish you can stay for one week on a vegan diet to see how much more beutifull you will look. I wish i can invite you over to give you some tips....

      July 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
      • Taxed

        Vegans need spelling classes and a cheeseburger.

        July 6, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
      • Guest

        And here too? I bet you just need a hug.

        Here's a free tip for you: Stop judging people and they'll stop fleeing from interaction with you. You could try stepping down from your high horse for just a few minutes at first. With practice, you might not need to ride up there at all.

        July 7, 2012 at 1:18 am |
      • Burp

        Vegetarian is an old Cherokee word that means "can't hunt or fish worth a damn"

        July 7, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
      • Keith

        Lena, I do not like the way a vegetarian women looks. If they aren't sexy I won't bother.

        July 7, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • lena

      i posted them not for you, usually people like you have power but use it for their benefit. i posted what you have to post.... i really feel sorry for you but I hope one day you will get what i'm trying to say. make sure don't listen to your ego too much and eat too much meat, you might get too much bad karma... very painfull to clean... the same pain as the animals go through, maybe even more.

      July 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • lena

      can you please try the vegan diet and look into it.... ?

      July 6, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • lena

      can you actually post something on a vegan diet? it would be so nice to see it.

      July 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
      • RockDoc

        As a physician, I can tell you plainly and with expertise that a vegan diet does not guarantee that better health is afforded versus a carnivore. Sorry, it's part of a lifestyle choice and like all other choices, can be helpful or harmful and depend on moderation, genetics, environment and other factors – please take your own advice on the research before preaching. Or, attend medical school.

        July 6, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
        • Wastrel

          As a physician, I think you should make the point that human dentition, the human digestive tract, and the need for fats (for our brains) and concentrated sources of protein (also for our brains) show that humans evolved as omnivores. A vegan diet, as you say, can be harmful. I would go even farther: To make the choice to be vegan as a 'lifestyle choice' is little more than an eating disorder. If you have no meat to eat, you are forced to be a vegan, but to choose veganism is to deny your own body.

          July 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  9. banjothedog

    As a Texan that dabbles in BBQ enough to have people request my briskets for family functions, I have one thing I cannot stand and it was said in this article.... It is called a Grill or a Smoker, not a barbecue.... UGH!!! That just gets under my skin....

    I'm Ok, I'm Alright, Carry On.....

    July 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  10. SZapata

    It's obvious Professor Trollworth has not been to Lockhart, Texas, we know lots about barbecue. We are the Barbecue Capital of Texas!

    July 6, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • JCK

      He has never been to City Market in Luling either. It has been years for me but I remember Kreutz BBQ in Lockhart and maybe Blacks ?

      July 6, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
      • Kip

        I'm pretty partial to the Salt Lick in Driftwood. Sadly I live a long, long way from it (Melbourne Australia) and real BBQ. And I don't have beans in my chile either!!

        July 8, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  11. Wastrel

    This article is about grilling, not BBQ. Grilling is done ON a barbeque, but that doesn't mean it's BBQ as people use the word here in Texas. Mr. Charanza obviously has his cooking repertoire down pat and it sounds really tasty, but BBQ is slow cooked - whole chickens, beef brisket, pork roast, and things like porchetta, which is coming around as a favorite. These things take hours of slow-cooking to do right.

    July 6, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  12. BBQ expert

    Professor that is a stupid statement...Texas BBQ is the best in the world.

    July 6, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Burp

      You have obviously never been to Georgia or North Carolina.

      July 7, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
  13. Professor Trollworth

    I've been to Texas, and nobody there knows a thing about Barbecue.

    July 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Max Power

      Obvious troll is obvious.

      July 6, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • marion williamson

      trollworthless, you have not been to Texas, that is as obvious as your ignorant effort at trolling.

      July 6, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Tom

      26,000,000 Texans can't be wrong. YOU however can't be right. You are a sad little person troll.

      July 6, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  14. lena

    or like Mimi Kirk http://youngonrawfood.com/about-me/

    July 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • MarileeBob

      Oh Lena Lena Lena, you again..

      I can tell you everyone reading this article loves to eat meat and we're not going to turn vegan, so stop trying to convert people to your lifestyle. It's your choice to be vegan, it's our choice to be omnivores.

      In your honor, im giong to grill up some steaks and sausages this weekend! Yay!

      July 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
      • lena

        Thanks God not everyone is like you... ;)

        July 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
        • Burp

          Even better that there are fewer people like you. If depriving yourself of meat makes you act that way, I think we"ve found your problem.

          July 7, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
        • Keith

          I was just thinking that very thing about you.

          July 7, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  15. lena

    People should look like Annette Larkins or Gym Morris at 70 years old (both vegans) and not like Mr. Charanza or Annette's husband

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2108935/Annette-Larkins-vegan-diet-Woman-70-defies-ageing-process-vegetables-rainwater.html

    http://www.gymmorris.com/documents.asp?m=a&d=118

    July 5, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Fred Evil

      Who cares if you look good at 70, if your life has been one long miserable slog without a single cheeseburger?
      PASS

      July 7, 2012 at 3:28 am |
    • Burp

      I have relatives in their 90's that can still whip you and will surely thrash you silly if you tried to take away their meat. Go find a tree-hugger vegan blog and leave us normal folks alone.

      July 7, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
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