Chuckwagon Man

3002 FM 89 Buffalo Gap

True Texas
Written By True Texas

The Texas Highways staff searched the state to find the elements that most consistently resonate as representative of the quintessential Texas town. We’ve named that collective community “True, Texas.”

First and foremost, Buffalo Gap restaurateur Tom Perini is a beef man. He comes from a long line of ranchers, and his Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap has been serving tradition​al cowboy cuisine since 1983.

But he and his wife, Lisa, enjoy serving other favorite meats (along with traditional West Texas tamales) as appetizers to the main event at holiday time.

Tom often cuts a rack of lamb into chops, flavors them with Perini Ranch Steak Rub, and then cooks them over a mesquite fire. To grill 1 1/2-inch chops, he advises heating the grill enough that you can hold your hand close to the grate just about two seconds, then grill for three minutes per side for medium-rare to medium.

“You need some color inside or they’ll be too dry,” he promises, adding that jalapeño jelly is the preferred condiment. Alternatively, Tom prepares St. Louis-style pork ribs as the holiday dinner starter. That same steak rub goes onto the ribs, along with extra freshly ground black pepper.

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Prepping the pit or smoker to about 250 to 275 degrees, he puts the rack on the grill bone-side down for two-and-a-half hours, then flips it for another 15 minutes, “just for good color.” The best way to see if they’re done? “Use tongs to pick up the rack in the middle; the rack should bend. If not, they’re not done yet.”

“We’ll have turkey and ham, too, and share the big feast with lots of friends from around here who join us. This way there are lots of leftovers to share with everyone.” —Tom Perini

Gatherings with the Perinis often include a wide network of friends, family, and colleagues, so Tom and Lisa prepare for a crowd. It doesn't get much more Texas than Perini Ranch.

“And we always have tamales, made by a local family. It’s a great Christmas tradition that we enjoy with Champagne, always on Christmas morning.” —Tom Perini
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