Texans hold a few things sacred—the Alamo, the Dallas Cowboys, the aforementioned brisket, and their sausage. Outside of the Lone Star State, sausage is often a bit of an afterthought on the menu at barbecue joints—and it's usually a semi-generic smoked variety. But in Texas, they don't mess with it. The beloved Texas hotlinks are made up of about 85% beef, with porkfat included to keep them moist. They also offer up things like jalapeno sausage and jalapeno cheese sausage (just in case the regular jalapeno doesn't do it for you).
Of course, there's no rub going onto sausages as they head in for their long hang in the cooker. All the seasoning is in the pit and the magical smoke that envelops the links. The consistency of sausage can vary incredibly widely from restaurant to restaurant—depending mainly on the curing and how much meat is actually ground up. The key thing is to beware the leather. If the casing looks like it's gotten leathery in the smoker, then that is not the sausage for you, because odds are pretty good that it's probably all dried out. "In an ideal world, you'll be treated to a sausage with a nice moisture content, crispy casing and a perfectly balanced flavor," says Gelin.