A crackling fire in the dark, the smell of spices in the air. Since the earliest days of humanity, the primal act of cooking on fire has brought people together.  

Our dark-ages days might be long past but these days we still love the smell of a barbecue.

Julia Stephenson, the force behind Jackalope Food Co. is bringing traditional Texas-style barbecue to Australia in a unique way.

Read on to hear about her love for sharing her heritage and to make her special recipe for delicious chipotle and Coca-Cola pulled pork. Smoker optional :)

Coca-Cola chipotle BBQ sauce ingredients

Makes (litres)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1.5 tablespoon coriander
  • 2 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 700 gm tomato purée (passata)
  • 125 gm chipotles in adobo
  • 150 gm apple cider vinegar
  • 2 can Classic Coca-Cola
  • Salt and pepper

Pulled pork ingredients

  • 2 kilogram pork shoulder
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • Salt and pepper

How to make the Coca-Cola chipotle BBQ sauce

  • Total Time: 40 min
  • Prep Time: 10 min
  • Cook Time: 30 min
  1. Sauté the chopped onion and garlic in your preferred vegetable oil over medium heat until soft.
  2. Add the coriander, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and fry off until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the tomato puree, chipotles, vinegar and Coca-Cola and stir to incorporate thoroughly, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pot.
  4. Let simmer, uncovered, until thickened – it should coat the back of a wooden spoon – for 20 to 30 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and cracked pepper to taste.
  6. Makes about 1.5 litres. The sauce will keep in the fridge up to two weeks.

How to make the pulled pork

  • Total Time: 8 hr 20 min
  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 8 hr
  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper and brown off in medium hot oil on all sides.
  2. In a slow cooker, lay a bed of onion slices then place browned pork on top.
  3. Pour the BBQ sauce over the pork until it reaches about halfway up the sides of roast.
  4. Cover with lid and cook on low setting for 8 hours.
  5. Alternatively, cook in a standard oven 135°C for 8 hours, wrapped in aluminium foil.

Bringing Southern Hospitality Down Under

Julia Stephenson, Owner of Jackalope Food Co. with one of her BBQ Smokers

In Texas barbecue is a way of life. It’s as etched into the landscape as prairies, cowboys and rodeo.

The knowledge, methods and secrets have been passed down for generations. Texas-style barbecue is the subject of fierce competitions and cook-offs globally and even reality TV shows.

Great food and authentic barbecue has always been in fashion. For Julia Stephenson a Corpus Christi Texas native and proponent of Texas-style barbecue here in Australia, the most important part for her is the creativity of it all.

“It’s meant to be immediately shared,” Julia said. “Feeding people is a big deal. There’s immediate satisfaction in that.”

What’s the history of the Texas BBQ?

The history of barbecue in Texas folds in many elements from the history of greater USA. From pork barbecue that arrived with pre-Civil War East Texas African slaves, to barbecue sausage from the great influx of German immigrants in the 1800s and beef barbacoa from Mexico.

“Texas barbecue is varied and constantly evolving,” Julia said. “Whereas Southern US barbecue is a purebred with clear roots, Texas barbecue is a relative mutt with many bloodlines.”

What happens when you cross Aussie with Texas BBQ? Mouthwatering deliciousness.

The main difference between Texan barbecue and Australian is our love of the gas barbecue. The fast outdoor gas fryer emerged in Australia in the 1950s and we haven’t looked back. Affordable home barbecues and the many free outdoor barbecues in parks define the Australian summer and how we got the ‘slip an extra shrimp on the barbie’ reputation.

For Julia access to a huge variety to fresh produce here in Australia was exciting but she missed the culture around Texas barbecue. “I missed Texan barbecue here in Australia, so I started doing it myself at home.” She did a couple of barbecues for her husband’s rugby club and the business took off from there.

The Aussie openness to try new things excited her most. “I get to be a lot more creative here in Australia. Australians especially are really happy to try new things and they like the idea of something being made by someone from another country but they’re also happy to have their own food influences in there as well,” Julia said.

Julia has experimented with a large range of flavour fusions and takes on her barbecue  from Vietnamese to Lebanese interpretations. “I would have never gotten to that point back home. I would have just stuck with barbecue and Tex-Mex flavours.”

Her advice to Aussies wanting to up their barbecue game at home: “Use coals or wood, take your time, do it with love.”