Image via Flickr/John Marshall (Public Domain)

From Texas Standard:

Texas barbecue, like Texas itself, has many origins. There's the Mexican influence, which you can taste when you bite into a juicy barbacoa taco, and then there's the influence of Germans and Czechs who brought the idea of meat shops and cooking meat over hot coals to the Lone Star State.

What really helped shape our idea of barbecue isn't nearly as well documented or celebrated: the influence of slave populations and their style of cooking.

Where there's smoke, there's Daniel Vaughn. The Texas Monthly barbecue editor stepped in to the Standard's studio to tell us more.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Neighbors filed a lawsuit against Terry Black’s barbecue last week, saying the smoke from its pits was disruptive. But in a Health and Human Services Committee meeting Monday, city staff argued that complaints like these are mostly isolated incidents.

Vince Delisi with the city’s Health and Human Services Department talked to the Texas Commission on Environmental Equality, which tracks air pollution complaints such as barbecue smoke.

“That report was a little bit disappointing," Delisi says.

From the Austin Monitor: After hearing from several opponents of the proposed ordinance to require scrubbers on the smokestacks of restaurants that smoke meat, the City Council Committee on Economic Development voted unanimously Monday against supporting the ordinance.

Council Member Ora Houston made the motion not to pursue an ordinance initially proposed by Council Member Pio Renteria. Houston moved that individual complaints be referred to Code Compliance or the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT News

Update Thursday April 2, 2015, 4:20 p.m. At today’s meeting, the Austin City Council voted to start a stakeholder input process on possibly regulating barbecue smoke from restaurants.

Recommendations will be made by the city manager to the Health and Human Services Committee and the Economic Opportunity Committee. After July 31, there will be another chance for public comment.

ORIGINAL STORY from the Austin Monitor: In response to owners of barbecue restaurants worried about their future in Austin, City Council Member Pio Renteria is making some changes to his resolution directing city staff to create rules to regulate smoke from commercial barbecue smokestacks.

Originally, the resolution was written to require restaurants and mobile food vendors who use a wood or charcoal burning stove or grill within 150 feet of properties zoned residential to install exhaust systems called smoke scrubbers or similar devices.

Joshua Bousel

Austin has experienced a barbecue renaissance over the last five years with national accolades pouring on the likes of Franklin Barbecue, La Barbecue and John Mueller Meat Co. Now some people living near the smoke pits are complaining about the smell.

District Three City Council Member Sabino “Pio” Renteria wants the city manager to come up with rules to clamp down on barbecue trailers and restaurants located near residential areas.

For Texans, barbeque is nestled somewhere between football and firearms as things closest to a state-mandated religion. We take our barbecue seriously, so it’s no surprise that Texas Monthly magazine would hold an invitation-only barbecue festival every year.

This year's fifth, and largest, annual festival brings 25 of the best pit bosses in the state. The Texas Standard’s David Brown spoke with Texas Monthly BBQ Editor Daniel Vaughn to see which of the competitors have the chops to make the cut.

Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

People stand in line for up to five hours to eat at Franklin Barbecue. The Austin restaurant, run by Aaron Franklin and his wife Stacey, has earned national praise for serving slow-smoked Central Texas barbecue within the Austin city limits. 

Franklin Barbecue has been closed for the past couple of weeks for an expansion that includes a new smokehouse. It is scheduled to reopen Tuesday, July 8. Aaron Franklin swung by the KUT studios to talk about it. You can read the interview below or listen to it here.

Barbecue is sacrosanct in the Lone Star State, with brisket being arguably the most Texan of dishes. But since 2006, Texas' extended drought has proved a problem for ranchers. In 2011 – the driest year on record – many cattle ranchers gave up, choosing to sell off as they watched their land dry up.

That wave of sell-offs not only affected Texas ranchers, but also affected the bounty of beef ribs, chopped beef and beautifully marbled brisket throughout the state. Texas Monthly BBQ editor Daniel Vaughn tells Texas Standard's David Brown it's not only caused beef prices to rise, but could affect the taste and quality of Texas barbecue for years to come.

It's not even noon yet but every table out front of the Pecan Lodge in downtown Dallas is filled with veterans with barbecue heaped on their plates, smirking at the gobsmacked newbies. First timers are easily discernible by the stunned looks on their faces when they walk in and see the line.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News.

If you’re ever looking to take a barbecue road trip through Texas, you’d have trouble finding a better book to guide you than The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue by Daniel Vaughn. It’s the first book published on Anthony Bourdain’s new HarperCollins imprint, Ecco. KUT’s Nathan Bernier talked with Vaughn about what goes into good brisket and how to find the good out-of-the-way spots.