Barbeque Around the United States

Next up in Chef Howard’s summer blog series: regional BBQ.

To Barbeque, to Barbecue or to BBQ that is the question…

Anthropologist Richard Wrangham believes that the discovery of cooking food over fire roughly 1.8 million years ago lead to the growth of the human brain and the evolution of man.  While that may be true, over the past 10 years the concept of global cuisine has led to a full-fledged renaissance of global BBQ and the techniques that go with it.

Let’s look at what the Texan in me calls Que and what barbeque looks like by region….

In the U.S. we have different regional BBQs which focus on the meat used, the method, whether it’s a sauce or a rub… for this purpose, we will break it down to its 3 simplest forms.

  1. Texas Brisket – Slow cooked, low heat and a simple rub of coarse salt, ground black pepper and granulated garlic. This combined with a heavy, tough cut of meat like a brisket will give you what I consider to be the king of all things BBQ.  No sauce, No dips, nothing but smoke and meat.  Generally cooked over Post Oak for hours and hours you get a tender, juicy, beefy delicious cut of meat that is at the top of the heap.  Many wish they could be like Texas Brisket but there can be only one….
  2. Carolina Whole Hog – Whole Hog is part of the Carolinas and Eastern Tennessee region of BBQ that hasn’t really gotten too far from that part of the country. It is rooted in tradition, considered the oldest continuous type of Que in America, it’s an art form in the way its cooked and its been handed down for generations.  There are generally two different forms of whole hog. The Tennessee version uses bigger animals, often separating the cuts of meat (shoulder, belly and neck) and chopping it with a vinegar-based sauce or mop.  The finished product can find itself in a sandwich topped with slaw or on a plate with some traditional sides.  The Carolina version is a smaller hog, over higher heat that gets basted while it cooks.  The finished product produces a juicy, smoky and crispy-skinned meat with a nice sweet tang.  The skin is usually added back to the meat to give it some texture and crunch before serving.
  3. Memphis style Ribs – The pork rib may be one of the most perfect bites of meat to come off any animal. It’s generally well-marbled, it keeps moist during a long cook and the bones give it a good meaty flavor while giving you a built-in utensil. While you can get ribs cooked in many ways around the country, “Memphis Style” rules over them all.  Dry rubbed with a mix of savory and spicy spices with just a hint of sweetness from brown sugar to balance it all out. The seasoning is applied the night before allowing the mix to help and brine the meat before it finds its way into a pit for several hours while being kissed by some sweet smoky goodness and mopped with a vinegar-based liquid.  Just before finishing, they are seasoned a second time to help form a nice crust and really set the flavor in place.  This is a unique process that is commonly only found with Memphis style ribs, its not dry or wet but its soooo full of flavor and packed with a punch.

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