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Cheddar cheese with Texas BBQ: what's the deal? [moved from Austin board]

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gilintx Sep 13, 2011 12:13 PM

I've eaten a lot of barbecue around the area, and most places I go, they offer a big hunk of cheddar as a side/condiment. I've never been tempted by this, but I'm wondering if anyone has tried this combo. Does it actually work? Is there any clue as to why this is traditional?

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  1. dinaofdoom RE: gilintx Sep 13, 2011 12:29 PM

    i have never seen this before (but don't consider myself an expert by any means).
    where do they serve this?

    6 Replies
    1. re: dinaofdoom
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      heyzeus212 RE: dinaofdoom Sep 13, 2011 12:57 PM

      At most of the major central Texas BBQ places (Kreuz, Louie Miller's, etc) you can buy a small hunk of cheddar. It's great to put on your wonderbread to go along with brisket or sausage to make a little sandwich.

      1. re: heyzeus212
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        boudinsdad RE: heyzeus212 Sep 13, 2011 07:13 PM

        On our way to Corpus Christi, my Wife and I stopped in Luling for some bbq. The next day, she went to lunch with a girlfriend and I stayed at the hotel, but first I went to the nearest gas station for some cheese crackers and beer. Using our room's microwave, I warmed up some leftover sausage we kept in the fridge and ate it with the cheese crackers. Thus, I invented what I now call the "Redneck Nacho," which has evolved into: (bottom-to-top) saltine cracker, sharp cheddar cheese, smoked sausage, dollop of sauce.

        1. re: heyzeus212
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          Shoeless Joe RE: heyzeus212 Sep 19, 2011 07:14 AM

          In this order..
          1. cracker
          2. cheese
          3. sausage or brisket
          4. jalapeno

          1. re: Shoeless Joe
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            boudinsdad RE: Shoeless Joe Sep 19, 2011 08:16 AM

            What you have described is what I believe is known as the "Redneck Nacho Deluxe."

            1. re: boudinsdad
              citizen Able RE: boudinsdad Sep 19, 2011 09:52 AM

              I believe the proper term for that is a "horse doover."

        2. re: dinaofdoom
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          gilintx RE: dinaofdoom Sep 14, 2011 01:02 PM

          In town, you can find cheese at Rudy's. In the hill-country, I've seen it at Kreutz, Louis Mueller, Luling City Market, Gonzales Food Market. Maybe more, but those are the ones I remember.

        3. Lambowner RE: gilintx Sep 13, 2011 01:51 PM

          I played along and got some cheese when I visited Lockhart this summer (Smitty's). And yes, yes it did work! I'd do it again. They actually had several kinds of cheeses and we opted for the cheddar.

          1. MattC02 RE: gilintx Sep 13, 2011 03:08 PM

            I've seen the hunks of cheddar at Rudy's too and thought it odd (yeah...I sometimes hit up Rudy's...they can't all be visits to Franklin's)...so glad someone asked the question!

            5 Replies
            1. re: MattC02
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              heyzeus212 RE: MattC02 Sep 14, 2011 08:00 AM

              I agree, there's nothing wrong with Rudy's BBQ. It's perfectly decent, esp. when you don't have time for Franklin's or a drive to Lockhart/Taylor. There are a lot of places in the country that would be lucky to have 'cue as good as Rudy's.

              1. re: heyzeus212
                amysuehere RE: heyzeus212 Sep 14, 2011 01:13 PM

                If only their sides were halfway decent. I really hate their sides. Agreed on the meat, though.

                1. re: heyzeus212
                  malarkey RE: heyzeus212 Sep 14, 2011 05:10 PM

                  I finally ate at Rudy's last week. I'll agree, the meats were all very agreeable.

                  IMHO, the best thing with brisket is avocado and a squeeze of lime. Awesome.

                  1. re: heyzeus212
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                    danny_w RE: heyzeus212 Sep 16, 2011 05:37 AM

                    I've always wanted to go to Franklin's but have never been. But if you and others here like Franklin's and think the meat at Rudy's is decent, then I no longer care to go. I eat at Rudy's sometimes simply because it is close by, but IMHO the meat is extremely bland and tasteless. And yes I do usually get the "moist" brisket, which should have some flavor. I also have had the sausage and it was boring too.

                    1. re: danny_w
                      amysuehere RE: danny_w Sep 16, 2011 08:05 AM

                      Rudys is to bbq as Taco Cabana is to Mexican.

                2. TroyTempest RE: gilintx Sep 13, 2011 05:57 PM

                  here is the deal. Cheese is good. BBQ is good. I don't get it. Just eat it. It's not like fried chicken and waffles. Man you're really over thinking this one.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: TroyTempest
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                    gilintx RE: TroyTempest Sep 14, 2011 10:45 PM

                    Sure, cheese is good. But you don't get it offered to you with fried chicken. You can't have a chunk of cheese with your catfish. It doesn't come on the side of your steak. I guess my question more along the lines of 'what exactly is the affinity between TX barbecue and cheddar cheese?'
                    I think ampeg66 probably has the closest thing to an answer here, though I'd be happy to hear more theories.

                    1. re: gilintx
                      TroyTempest RE: gilintx Sep 15, 2011 06:26 AM

                      True.
                      I was in a somewhat surly mood when i penned that response.
                      I'd like to pose this question, or really i guess it is more of a statement. Why must we be subjected so often to bad potato salad and essentially cabbage with some vinegar on it? Is there some BBQ law that says you must serve potato salad and cole slaw as sides. More often than not, these feel like they are merely obligatory, and often times bring down what would be an otherwise good BBQ plate.
                      I won't even get started on the beans, though most places seem to put a little effort into making them.

                      One of my favorite things about RuBy's is that the sides are good. In fact, my vegetarian daughter likes the place.

                  2. v
                    verily RE: gilintx Sep 13, 2011 06:12 PM

                    The cheese is a palate cleanser to soak up the flavor from the meat you just sampled before you try a different type of meat. Just like the pickled ginger that accompanies your sushi.

                    Not really. I think they just put it out there as a small side to munch on just like pickles and onions.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: verily
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                      chrisdds98 RE: verily Sep 13, 2011 06:22 PM

                      cheese and brisket go great together. I can understand pickles for acid, but the raw onions confound me. what is the purpose?!

                      1. re: chrisdds98
                        Mattkn RE: chrisdds98 Sep 14, 2011 11:45 PM

                        My Great Aunts, Grandparents, etc. would always serve sliced onion along with tomatoes (in season) with most of their meals. No matter what was served. I think it is an older generation thing.

                        BTW, I always eat the onions with BBQ whether it be on a sandwich or just pieces with the meat. I think the purpose is just an edible garnish. Or like a relish tray, minus the tray.

                    2. a
                      ampeg66 RE: gilintx Sep 13, 2011 10:49 PM

                      Here's my understanding: Many of the old-school barbecue joints started out as small-town grocery markets; even today, several are still called "City Market." They began offering cooked meats in addition to staple items. So things like pickles, onions, tomatoes, avocados and cheese - produce and snack-able items that they already had on hand - stuck around as side items, as their businesses evolved from grocery stores into barbecue restaurants.

                      1. a
                        achtungpv RE: gilintx Sep 14, 2011 10:44 AM

                        A hunk of cheese and an avocado as the sides are my favorites.

                        The one thing I miss from South Texas BBQ growing up are pickled onions. Raw onions were never served in my hometown. If I could get them here, they'd be my 3rd side.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: achtungpv
                          TheBadWolf RE: achtungpv Sep 14, 2011 03:44 PM

                          Bill Miller has excellent pickled onions.

                          1. re: TheBadWolf
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                            achtungpv RE: TheBadWolf Sep 16, 2011 09:21 AM

                            Those are really actually pretty bad compared to what is served towards the coast with BBQ.

                        2. popvulture RE: gilintx Sep 14, 2011 07:55 PM

                          My ex gf had family friends who owned the Cele store. I remember seeing cheese as a side and then someone I was with asked what kind of cheese it was... the response from the waiter was "oh, you know... mouse cheese."

                          As said before, I don't think there's any rhyme or reason to it. It's just cheese. And it's good :)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: popvulture
                            Alan Sudo RE: popvulture Sep 15, 2011 10:07 AM

                            haha "Mouse cheese" - I haven't heard that in a long time. That's exactly what my dad used to call the half rounds of longhorn cheddar.

                            My guess at an answer for the OP (based solely on my misspent youth in Texas) is that Texas was a huge cattle producer, and dairy products enjoyed strong government price supports making them both plentiful and cheap in these parts. It was an era of "government cheese" and cheddar was cheaper than chicken. Ads featuring Elsie the cow ensured that every mom knew that kids needed 3 glasses of whole milk each day (for strong bones). Southern recipes called for LOTS and LOTS of butter, and every fridge had those big bricks of longhorn cheese.

                            Often you bought bbq on a road trip, and a car full of kids heading to grandma's doesn't lend itself to barbeque plates. It was usually a lot of sliced meat wrapped in butcher paper. The white bread, cheese, pickles and onions were available and cheap and made a delicious sandwich - much neater for kids to eat and could be enjoyed while driving.

                            1. re: Alan Sudo
                              amysuehere RE: Alan Sudo Sep 15, 2011 01:33 PM

                              Some of my earliest memories were that whenever we went to the butcher (which is how we got all our meat) he would always give the kids a slice of cheese. It's just what was done. Off topic, he marinated the most wonderful beef teryaki. I wonder if I'd still think that now if I could get it...

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