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Bonus Chapter: How Brisket Became King: The History of Central Texas Barbecue

Aaron Franklin

Lesson time 07:42 min

In this bonus chapter, Aaron traces the roots of barbecue culture in Texas from European immigrants to World War II vets, highlighting how brisket—a tough, difficult-to-cook cut of beef—became the region’s signature smoked meat.

Aaron Franklin
Teaches Texas-Style BBQ
Aaron Franklin teaches you how to fire up flavor-packed Central Texas barbecue, including his famous brisket and more mouth-watering smoked meat.
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- There's so many different regions of barbecue. There's so many different styles and if you work through the South and you know it might be whole hogs, it might be pulled pork, it might be chicken. And as you work through you can kind of see where places have been as far as their agriculture. And in Texas it's for the most part always been beef. The barbecue culture is so expansive throughout Texas. We've got down by Mexico where it's more barbacoa, it's cooked on mesquite. We've got East Texas, where it's more of a , and maybe it's thicker, sweeter sauces. They've got up in the panhandle where they've got the mesquite trees also. Then they've got Central Texas, and I think much like where anyone grows up, if you grew up in Texas you've got kind of a real natural inclination to a certain type of barbecue. And in Texas it's almost always beef, and it's almost always brisket. I think there's a sense of pride that being from central Texas, like oh, this is barbecue. And it's kind of-- barbecue has always been kind of a special meal, but I feel like at least for me growing up, that was like-- that was the big night. That was-- if you got to barbecue, you were living like a king. That was a big deal, because it is so labor intensive. And I think that's been passed down through so many generations over the years that, you know, as a Texan, there's definitely something very special about brisket. But one big difference is in specifically Central Texas is that we don't really use a lot of sauce. Around here we jokingly say that if you have to put sauce on it, it must be pretty bad. You must have really messed it up. And that can kind be sort of true and sort of not true. I like sauce, and I think that's kind of where the evolution of barbecue is going. All these styles just kind of get-- they keep getting mixed together. But really traditionally Texas barbecue is just meat, bread, maybe a slice of tomato, maybe a pickle, maybe a slice of onion. Flavor wise it starts off with a post stoke, the trees that we have here. And the beef industry, and the fact that we used to have a lot of cows in Texas. But where that came from-- where Central Texas barbecue really comes from is in the early 1900s, a lot of German and Czech immigrants coming to Central Texas, and they brought butcher shops. And they brought these little grocery stores, and they would butcher cows in the back, and they would break down things. And then of course that's before the days of refrigeration. So at the end of the week in these little markets, they would have to either cook the meat, or it would spoil. So that's where barbecue comes in. And it certainly wasn't brisket at that point. It could be hindquarters, fore quarters. It could be tender loins, it could be rib eyes. It could be anything. It was whatever didn't sell in that market needed to get barbecued, and it needed to get smoked. And smoke is a form of preservation, so that would hence get this...

The art of smoke and fire

Once a backyard hobbyist, Aaron Franklin is now the James Beard Award-winning owner of Franklin Barbecue, where the line for his famous smoked brisket is hours long. Now the Central Texas barbecue specialist teaches you his meticulous low and slow process for mouth-watering ribs, pork butt, and brisket. With perfectly seasoned cuts and optimal temperatures, you'll learn to handle an offset smoker like a true pitmaster.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

Building a fire and maintaining a fire in my offset smoker was really key as well as prepping brisket for cook.

This was great along with the book really good information. I enjoyed the personal connection and the encouragement to be original.

This one is interesting. There are many roads that lead to the same result, but getting Aaron Franklin's perspective was very informative and interesting.

I loved this class. i will probably take it 3 or 4 more times.


Eric M.

I just loved it, Aaron is so knowledgeable . His passion is contagious , I am going to be more brave and try to barbecue more. Aaron got the coolest voice , I can imagine him on a reading book CD playing in my car . Thank you so much Aaron.

Charlie F.

Learned a ton through this class. Hoping to take my BBQ on the Big Green Egg to the next level with all of these pro-tips.

Nico H.

I bought a Traeger Pro Series 22 a little over a month ago. Started this class and so far have done, Pork Butt, Steaks, Hamburgers and a couple other things. Really learned a lot about this thanks to this class. Cant wait to do more.

Dana T.

out of all the four Masterclasses I have taken about various subjects, this was by far hands down the most informative one. It answered the What, Why and How. I would watch it again. And I don't even bbq! But I feel I could make an attempt with the info I learned here. The other classes that I took: Annie Leibovitz - it was biographical and very little technical material - nothing skill related. Jimmy Chin - pretty informative but there was definitely room for improvement. Bobby Brown - same, room for improvement. Man, I think Masterclass has some fine tuning still. But If I were to purchase this classes individually, this would have been worth it. Aaron went into so much detail about everything and paired with visuals and supported it with the 'whys'. Best class yet.

Dawn H.

I have yet to have any Master Class disappoint me. I am an educator with media experience on radio and tv. Congrats on another excellent class. Franklin was precise with his attention to detail and entertaining as he shared narratives about his own experience. I BBQ on a Weber grill, as my family did for years. My speciality is rump, which used to be called London Broil in CA. I developed a lucious marinade recipe of my own. So I have never cooked a brisket, but I learned so much about BBQing from Aaron. Grateful for this well-produced class and great stories about Texas, where I was born, even though I have lived in Australia for 30 years now. Thank you!

Alan R.

I am a vegetarian and haven't had meat in more 35 years, but I was so intrigued by Aaron's persona in the preview that it was the catalyst for purchasing the subscription. I watched his class from start to finish yesterday and was not disappointed. I definitely learned a lot of things that I can use when I cook for others, which I love to do. This class will be the standard for how all the others will be judged.

Lou A.

Aaron's class was very detailed step by step told with a sense of humor. His was was the preview to MasterClass and the reason I signed up in the first place.

Jean-François P.

Absolutely loved this lesson. Detailed, well executed. I wish for a part II in the near future.

David N.

Learned a lot form the class, even though aaron is specific to one particular way of doing BBQ. I've BBQ'd for a while, and it surprising how different cultures have such big differences in the way meat is cut, as well as the available tools. Aaron uses an industrial strength offset cooker, whereas I'm about to acquire one, so I've followed the lessons in my Parrillada. So cooking times differ, and it is trial and error on this a tad, especially cooking with differing cuts. Butchers in my home town are limited by their training, so getting ribs as opposed to whole pork belly, getting "Boston butt" as opposed to pork shoulder, these are things I've tried to adapt to Aaron's method. Still, it;s learning, and I'm glad I've learned these few things form this.

Omar R.

Totally new experience for me to the point that I did not even know Brisket existed, I am very curios to search for a restaurant in Peru that cooks this type a meat, Hope I can find it, cause it looks delicious can't wait to try it