Alamo City Moms TASTE: Barbecue Tips from Three Generations of Davila’s BBQ

Davila’s BBQ in Seguin. Photo by Julia Keim.

Not all barbecue is created equal, especially not in Texas, where barbecue is almost a religion. So when a barbecue spot in Seguin draws national attention and its talented pitmaster appears on The Food Network on the regular, you take notice. And you take your taste buds on a road trip to Seguin’s Davila’s BBQ, delivering fantastic flavors for 60 years. What started as a family business in an old abandoned schoolhouse in Seguin has been nationally recognized as one of the top barbecue places in Texas. Third generation pitmaster Adrian Davila now leads the restaurant, following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps and continuing the flavor tradition with passed-down family recipes.

Adrian researched, documented, and shared the family story and some treasured family recipes in his cookbook Cowboy Barbecue, a great read which has been featured on The Today Show and in The Washington Post. Adrian’s also been featured on the Food Network and just appeared on “Barbeque Beatdown”. Digging into a tray of Davila’s BBQ leaves no doubt as to why.

Thankfully, Adrian is happy to share his barbecue and a few of his secrets, so we can all enjoy a TASTE. Some barbecue tips straight from his pit:

Third generation pitmaster Adrian Davila. Photo by Julia Keim.
  • Beef fajitas tip: When preparing the beef for grilling, be sure to score the meat diagonally with 1/2-inch-deep cuts before marinating. This will allow for your marinade to fully penetrate the meat.
  • Ribs: Indirect heat on the grill is the best way to cook ribs. It allows for a longer cooking process, by providing just enough heat for the fat to render to the surface of the meat and breaking down the connective tissue with smoke and heat to make it tender. You know you are doing your job right when the meat is glistening with fat (if you get it right, your ribs will turn the correct deep maroon instead of orange).
  • Grill heat: Make sure you heat up your grill correctly. Heating up a big pit or grill when it’s cold outside will take longer than a small pit on a hot day. Generally it can take about 30 minutes after lighting to burn down the wood and heat it up, then you put a second layer of thicker wood to create the smoke for the meat.

Using those tips, try your hand at one of Davila’s BBQ standards, Beef Fajitas, printed with his permission straight from Cowboy Barbecue. Or if you want to let Adrian do the cooking, make the short trip out to Seguin and enjoy!

Beef Fajitas

(Makes 15–20 servings or 30 tacos)

Prep time: 2.5 to 3 hours
Cook time: 40 to 45 minutes

What we know as beef fajitas today is a cousin of beef arrachera, a dish that some believe originated with the vaqueros driving their herds to South Texas in the 1930s. The American counterpart frequently has a plethora of ingredients used to break down this typically tough cut of meat. This version contains few ingredients and is meant to be fully cooked, but not well done. It is ideal at medium (with a little pink). Using beer as part of the marinade indicates up front what this dish is tailored and made for: parties, weddings, graduations, and beyond.

Ingredients:

  • 10 lbs. skirt steak
  • 2 12-ounce bottles of Modelo Light
  • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (from 4–5 lemons)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 2 yellow bell peppers
  • 4 tomatoes
  • 8 green onions
  • 1 large white onion, cut into 1-inch disks
  • 6 jalapeños
  • 30 flour tortillas*
  • sliced avocado and pico de gallo* for serving
  • fire-roasted tomato, onion, and serrano salsa*
Davila’s unforgettable brisket. Photo by Julia Keim.

*Adrian makes the tortillas, pico de gallo, and salsa himself and includes the recipes in Cowboy Barbecue if you want to check them out.

Instructions:

  1. Trim the skirt steak of any excess fat and remove the tough membrane. Score the meat diagonally with ½-inch deep cuts. This allows the marinade to fully penetrate.
  2. Combine the beer, lemon juice, olive oil, black pepper, salt, and garlic powder in a non-reactive pan (or for best results, in a Cryovac vacuum bag or resealable plastic bag). Reserve 1 cup of marinade for basting later on. Put the steak in the bag with the marinade. Refrigerate and allow it to marinate for two hours.
  3. Two hours before you’d like to start cooking, prepare the fire asado style (another tip from Cowboy Barbecue). The cooking should be over medium-heat coals.
  4. Char the bell peppers over the open flame, turning until blackened on all sides.
  5. Put the peppers in a resealable plastic bag to steam for 10 minutes, then peel off the skin and remove the seeds. Cut into thick strips (rajas). Set aside.
  6. Take the meat out of the refrigerator and remove it from the marinade. Allow the meat to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  7. Put the meat on the grill. Turn every 3–5 minutes and baste it with the reserved marinade each time you turn. Continue this process until cooked to medium, 40–45 minutes (turning about 8 times). Be careful to control flare-ups.
  8. Remove the meat from the fire and allow it to rest for 10–12 minutes before slicing into thin strips across the grain.
  9. Meanwhile, grill the tomatoes, green onions, onion, and jalapeños.
  10. Serve the steak with the grilled onions, roasted peppers, sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced jalapeños, and freshly made tortillas. Top with avocado, pico de gallo, and salsa.

 

 

Dawn
An Army brat who came to Texas for college and ultimately managed to make the Lone Star State her permanent home, Dawn became a mom “AMA” (advanced maternal age), giving her the opportunity to use a stroller vs. a walker as she navigates the world of motherhood. Her six-year-old native Texan loves all things Star Wars, Legos, Cars, dinosaurs and keeping his parents on their toes. When she’s not busy parenting the original strong-willed child, Dawn works in public relations and dreams of listening to something other than the “pew, pew, pew” of Star Wars/dino/Lego battles coming from her backseat. She’s also a contributing writer for San Antonio Woman and Rio Magazine. Dawn and her happy little family enjoy exploring all that San Antonio has to offer, going on adventures and playing tourist together as much as possible.