There’s always room for more barbecue
By June Naylor
Based today in Santa Fe, Cheryl Alters Jamison became an expert on Texas food and cooking while living in Austin in the late 1970s. With her late husband, Bill Jamison, she co-wrote 20-plus cookbooks — many of them about beloved dishes from the Panhandle to the Gulf Coast and from the Red River to the Rio Grande.
Smoke & Spice, published in 1994, garnered the couple their first of four James Beard Awards and encapsulated what there was to know about making great Texas barbecue at home. But because much has changed in the world of barbecue in the past 25 years, Jamison picked up where that book left off with her recently released Texas Q: 100 Recipes for the Very Best Barbecue From the Lone Star State, All Smoke-Cooked to Perfection (Harvard Common Press, $26.99).
She simultaneously co-authored the cookbook Perini Ranch Steakhouse: Stories and Recipes for Real Texas Food with her close friends Lisa and Tom Perini, owners of the famous Buffalo Gap steakhouse.
“That made life crazy busy, but both were important projects to me. I tore my ACL in that period, too. Then Texas Q came out in late April this year, just after every brick-and-mortar bookstore in America had closed because of the pandemic. What timing.”
The barbecue world’s evolution — the genre has morphed into a juggernaut — gave Jamison lots of new material: “Way back when, there wasn’t nearly as much great barbecue being cooked up in the major cities. That’s changed totally. And it’s exciting to see the diversity among the practitioners of barbecue today — young families, women — and more emphasis on often overlooked Mexican-American, African-American and Asian-immigrant barbecue styles. It’s a many-splendored thing.”
For a Sunday family cookout, Jamison recommends starting the party with her Port Aransas Tuna Dip, made with a quickly smoked tuna steak. Her Pork Belly Burnt Ends with Jalapeno Jelly Glaze — inspired by those at Heim Barbecue in Fort Worth (and soon to open in Dallas) — should be on the menu, too. With Backyard BBQ’d Chicken Breasts, serve a trio of Summer Peach Salad; Jicama and Honeydew Salad; and Red, White and Blue Potato Salad.
And for dessert? “Evie Mae’s Cornbread Pudding and Bourbon Sauce is always a hit,” Jamison says of the gluten-free dish from the popular Evie Mae’s Pit Barbeque just outside of Lubbock in the town of Wolfforth.
Evie Mae’s Cornbread Pudding and Bourbon Sauce
- 3 generous cups cubed cornbread (recipe follows)
- 2 cups sugar
- 2½ cups whole milk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 cup unsalted pecan pieces
- 8 tablespoons salted butter
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 tablespoons bourbon
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch square baking dish.
Place the cubes of cornbread (recipe follows or use your favorite) in baking pan. Combine sugar, milk, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and pecans in bowl; pour mixture evenly over cornbread. Press down on cornbread so every bit is moistened. Cover pan with foil and bake for about
Uncover and continue baking for about 5 more minutes until top begins to brown.
While pudding bakes, prepare sauce by combining butter, sugar, cream and bourbon in saucepan, warming over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes until butter melts. Keep warm until pudding is ready. Spoon pudding into bowls, give sauce a good whisk and pour equal amounts over pudding portions.
Evie Mae’s gluten-free cornbread Heat oven to 425 degrees and preheat oiled 9-inch cast-iron skillet in oven. Whisk together 2 cups buttermilk, 2 large eggs and 1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. In another bowl, combine 2 cups polenta cornmeal, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1 teaspoon each of salt and baking soda. Add buttermilk mixture and 4 tablespoons melted salted butter to dry ingredients. Scrape batter into hot skillet; bake 15 to 18 minutes until lightly browned and just set. Cool and cut into cubes.