The Salt Lick, a barbecue joint outside of Austin, Texas, is regularly named
one of the best barbecue restaurants in America.The restaurant is known for its ribs, sausage, and beef brisket, all roasted and smoked on one of the most insane barbecue pits we’ve ever seen (check out the image on the book cover below).
Owner Scott Roberts recently came out with a book about his family’s roots and cooking barbecue, called The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love.
He’ll also be serving up his classic Texas fare at the Big Apple Barbecue, a barbecue-tasting event in New York City June 8 and 9.
Roberts answered our questions about making barbecue, running a family business, and the best thing on his menu.
Business Insider: Your family’s roots are in Mississippi, but you say your family barbecue recipes were “Texafied” over time — what does that mean?
Scott Roberts: Being “Texafied” means that our recipes have taken on a taste of the local area. My ancestors are from South Carolina, Georgia, and northern Mississippi. When they left that region in the 1870s, their recipes didn’t contain ingredients such as chilli dulce and cayenne pepper. Those were added after they got to Texas.
BI: What makes Texas-style barbecue better than other styles?
SR: The United States is the best damn country in the world, and Texas is the best damn state in the country – doesn’t that just logically mean that we would have the best damn barbecue?
BI: What about the restaurant has changed since The Salt Lick opened in 1969, and what has not?
SR: We’ve added indoor lighting, air conditioning, running water, and restrooms. We built the building around the original pit.
What hasn’t changed is the desire to make food so good that when you leave, your smile will has never been bigger.
BI: What’s the ideal meal to order at The Salt Lick?
SR: Definitely the Family Style Dinner (all-you-can-eat beef brisket, sausage, pork ribs, potato salad, cole slaw and beans, for $19.95 per person), which gives you a taste of everything, followed up with peach or blackberry cobbler with ice cream, and a slice of pecan pie to go.
BI: The Salt Lick was built by your parents, and you still run it with your family. What’s the biggest challenge of working with family?
SR: Learning how to be wrong all the time!
BI: How did the idea for The Salt Lick Cookbook come about? Can you share any barbecue tips with us?
SR: So many people kept asking about the history of the Salt Lick and how we do it. And that’s the reason I wrote the cookbook!
BI: What’s a good beginner recipe from the cookbook?
SR: A perfect recipe to try is Roxie’s on the Fly Cucumber Salad:
ROXIE’S ON-THE-FLY CUCUMBER SALAD
3 large cucumbers
1⁄2 purple onion, diced
1⁄2 to 1 teaspoon sugar
1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon white pepper
White vinegar to cover salad in a bowl
Slice cucumbers in 1⁄4-inch slices. Add purple onion, sugar, and white pepper. Stir and cover with vinegar. Refrigerate about 30 minutes. drain off vinegar, stir, and serve.
BI: aside from your own, what are your favourite cookbooks?
Betty Crocker Cookbook by Betty Crocker editors; The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker, and Ethan Becker; The Good Housekeeping Cookbook by the editors of Good Housekeeping and Susan Westmoreland, Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Childs, Zarela’s Veracruz by Zarela Martinez, Cajun’s Joy Cookin’ n’ Eatin’ by Alzina Toups, Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way by Francis Mallman, and any cookbooks by Mario Batali and Bobby Flay.
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