In our inaugural episode, we use the humble and ubiquitous bean to explore historical and current topics in Texas food. Beans here tell stories of belonging, from a 19th-century border dispute to a recent trip to Terlingua.
Welcome to The Range, where you’ll find unexpected stories about Texas foods and cultures. The Range explores the rich variety of Texas foods: from old traditions to new innovations, you’ll hear from a diverse set of Texans who are in the thick of growing, cooking, distributing, and eating food.
Brisket is a pitmaster’s mainstay. But let’s face it, even at the best places, it’s often the least interesting option on the menu—dry, bland, blah. Tired of the ho-hum stuff (and never willing to shy away from a challenge), our kitchen crew set out to make a better brisket, with juicy, smoky meat and a sticky, satisfying bark. Just to up the ante, they decided to develop it without the aid of a smoker, instead testing recipes indoors and using liquid smoke and nitrites to evoke a smoky flavor and signature pink ring at the edge of the meat—both hallmarks of first-rate ’cue.
This recipe calls for one of our favorite secret ingredients, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, a gluten-free, non-GMO certified soy sauce alternative..
The upshot for you, hungry meat fiends: the best dang barbecue brisket you’ll ever make. What’s more, you can make it in the climate-controlled comfort of your own kitchen. You don’t need a smoker, and you don’t need a lot of space. Heck, you don’t even have to have any prior barbecuing experience to make this thing happen. What you do need: a few easy-to-find ingredients and a big ol’ hunk of meat. Grab some carnivorous buddies—you’re gonna want to show this one off.
Robert Lustig is a paediatric endocrinologist at the University of California who specialises in the treatment of childhood obesity. A 90-minute talk he gave in 2009, titled Sugar: The Bitter Truth, has now been viewed more than six million times on YouTube. In it, Lustig argues forcefully that fructose, a form of sugar ubiquitous in modern diets, is a “poison” culpable for America’s obesity epidemic.
A year or so before the video was posted, Lustig gave a similar talk to a conference of biochemists in Adelaide, Australia. Afterwards, a scientist in the audience approached him. Surely, the man said, you’ve read Yudkin. Lustig shook his head. John Yudkin, said the scientist, was a British professor of nutrition who had sounded the alarm on sugar back in 1972, in a book called Pure, White, and Deadly.
“If only a small fraction of what we know about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive,” wrote Yudkin, “that material would promptly be banned.” The book did well, but Yudkin paid a high price for it. Prominent nutritionists combined with the food industry to destroy his reputation, and his career never recovered. He died, in 1995, a disappointed, largely forgotten man.
But it was not impossible to foresee that the vilification of fat might be an error. Energy from food comes to us in three forms: fat, carbohydrate, and protein. Since the proportion of energy we get from protein tends to stay stable, whatever our diet, a low-fat diet effectively means a high-carbohydrate diet. The most versatile and palatable carbohydrate is sugar, which John Yudkin had already circled in red. In 1974, the UK medical journal, the Lancet, sounded a warning about the possible consequences of recommending reductions in dietary fat: “The cure should not be worse than the disease.”
In 1980, after long consultation with some of America’s most senior nutrition scientists, the US government issued its first Dietary Guidelines. The guidelines shaped the diets of hundreds of millions of people. Doctors base their advice on them, food companies develop products to comply with them. Their influence extends beyond the US. In 1983, the UK government issued advice that closely followed the American example.
The most prominent recommendation of both governments was to cut back on saturated fats and cholesterol (this was the first time that the public had been advised to eat less of something, rather than enough of everything). Consumers dutifully obeyed. We replaced steak and sausages with pasta and rice, butter with margarine and vegetable oils, eggs with muesli, and milk with low-fat milk or orange juice. But instead of becoming healthier, we grew fatter and sicker.
The Long Read: In 1972, a British scientist sounded the alarm that sugar – and not fat – was the greatest danger to our health. But his findings were ridiculed and his reputation ruined. How did the world’s top nutrition scientists get it so wrong for so long?
An unctuous, flavor-packed demi-glace that’s wheat free, gluten free, and vegetarian. Did we say vegetarian? We should probably mention that it’s in fact vegan—with no dairy at all. And yet, you won’t believe its rich, satisfying taste and texture. Oh, and hey, you can make this stuff in less than two hours!
North Atlantic lobster meat, organic, whole wheat macaroni, aged Vermont white and cloth-bound cheddar, fresh cream, chives and pimente d’Espelette..
Lobster Mac and Cheese
1/2 pound organic, whole wheat macaroni
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup shell stock
blond roux as needed
1-1/2 tablespoons good sherry (not cooking sherry!)
1/2 pound aged white cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 pound extra-sharp Cheddar, grated
1/4 teaspoon freshly-grated nutmeg
1-1/2 tablespoons pimente d’Espelette
3 tablespoons fresh chives or slivered green onion tops
3/4 pound lobster meat, poached
1/2 cup organic panko
sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Prepare macaroni according to package instructions, but reduce cooking time by 2 minutes. Drain pasta (don’t rinse) and set aside.
Lightly poach lobster meat until a little underdone in simmering water with a little fresh lemon juice,a tablespoon of butter and some fresh parsley. Remove from heat, drain and transfer the lobster meat to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Set aside.
Add cream, stock, sherry and nutmeg together in a heavy saucepan. Heat just until tiny bubbles come to the surface, but do not let it boil. Whisk in just enough roux so that the sauce coats and clings to the back of a wood spoon. Remove from heat.
Fold in cheeses, chives, pasta, pimente d’Espelette and lobster. Adjust seasoning with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper.
Turn mixture out into a small skillet or individual gratin dishes. Sprinkle lightly with panko and place into a 375 degree oven until bubbly and cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.
Sprinkle lightly with additional chives/green onions and chopped parsley and serve immediately.