Eats Beat: As beef prices rise, barbecue restaurants turning to pork

04/08/2014 11:10 AM

04/08/2014 11:11 AM

Texas isn’t giving up on beef.

But with the drought driving prices sky-high, Texans’ future barbecue of choice might be pork.

Spring Creek Barbeque is the latest barbecue chain to promote pulled pork, and several restaurants have switched sandwich specials to pork.

Twenty years ago, when the North Carolina-based Red Hot & Blue chain first opened here, pulled pork was considered a Southern import and a foreign novelty.

Last month, Dallas-based Baker’s Ribs marked its anniversary by giving away 70 pulled-pork sandwiches at the Weatherford restaurant and fried-pie shop.

Baker’s still serves a prime brisket, but it’s in short supply, the restaurant’s DeeAnna Krier said.

Texans and tourists are talking barbecue more than ever, but beef is also in shorter supply because so many ranchers gave up thirsty herds.

This is not a temporary shortage, Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn told KUT in Austin.

“They had to sell off their cattle because they couldn’t feed them, there wasn’t any grass to feed them,” Vaughn said.

“We’re just at the beginning of seeing that kind of price raising and how a lack of supply is going to affect the prices.”

The Arlington-based Spring Creek chain has added a first-rate, juicy pulled pork, available alone or on its combination platters or coupon deals.

“We worked six months developing it, and we really like the sauce with it,” owner Chris Carroll said.

Also new at some Spring Creek locations: an experimental “Hill Country-style” brisket.

Spring Creek’s regular brisket gets extra seasoning for a thicker “bark” crust. Then, it’s cut and trimmed differently for today’s Texas barbecue tastes.

“There’s so much interest in barbecue now — we decided to improve our product,” Carroll said.

Along with the fresh rolls and cobbler, it’ll keep the chain a suburban favorite.

The “Hill Country” brisket is being tested in locations including Bedford, 1509 Airport Freeway, and Mansfield, 1724 U.S. 287 N.; springcreekbarbeque.com.

(The aforementioned Baker’s Ribs & Original Fried Pie Shop is open daily at 1921 S. Main St., Weatherford; 817-599-4229, bakersribs.com.)

• Sunday brunch customers at La Choza Fine Food near Silver Creek Road had a surprise Sunday: Brunch turned into owner Anthony Aguillon’s wedding reception.

Some of the buffet items were from La Choza’s regular Sunday menu, including a tortellini with shrimp and crab.

The Sunday menu also offers smoked prime rib, grilled salmon, “breakfast chiles rellenos” stuffed with eggs and sausage, seafood tortilla soup and La Choza’s familiar Santa Fe-style red or green chile huevos and enchiladas.

La Choza is open for lunch and dinner weekdays and lunch Sundays at 7001 Confederate Park Road (Farm Road 1886) west of Lakeside; 817-751-9060.

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