Tuesday, October 16, 2007

A Barbecue Primer

It’s hard to imagine a more hotly debated culinary subject than Barbecue. Countless barbecue joints across the country have developed a rabid fan base, all staking claim to having the best, the truest, the meatiest or the ultimate in barbecue standards. Essentially, there are 4 major barbecue regions in the country. These regions have established their own particular style of barbecue and for their constituents that style has become more than cuisine, it’s a philosophy and almost a religion.

Kansas City
The Meat: Beef Brisket, Pulled Pork, Ribs and Chicken.
Kansas City is all about the sauce, which is rich, spicy and not too sweet. (KC Masterpiece is NOT a representation of true KC barbecue. It’s a shame they opened a restaurant on the Country Club Plaza under the KC Masterpiece moniker, because unsuspecting tourists go there thinking they have had the best KC has to offer, when they most definitely have not… but I digress)

Signature dish: Crispy Burnt Ends. The outer layer of the brisket or pork shoulder is cut away and doused in sauce. It’s all the smoke, meat, sauce and fat one person can stand. It’s just about two bites from heaven.

The Meat: Beef Brisket, Pork, Ribs, Chicken, Sausage and Turkey.
Beef is king here, but in Texas anything goes. They are the “smoke if you got em” region of the BBQ world. Texas is all about the meat and not the sauce. Texas sauces do exist and are typically sweeter than KC style sauce, but true Texans swear that putting sauce on a good barbecue destroys the flavor.

Signature Dish: Beef Brisket. Piled high, moist, fork tender slices of brisket that need nothing else.

The Meat: Pork, Ribs, Beef, Chicken and Sausage
Memphis goes both ways. They believe in dry rubs and sauce. Memphis prides itself on its extra smoke flavored Pork products. Oink! Oink! Oink! There sauce is spicy and sweet.

Signature dish: Pork ribs. Mouth watering, fall off the bone, succulent pork ribs.

North Carolina
The Meat: Pork
There are two schools of thought in North Carolina. The first is Eastern NC Barbecue. A whole pig is roasted and the meat is pulled and chopped and served with a spicy vinegar sauce, with no tomato product. The Lexington NC Barbecuers cook shoulder meat and apply a vinegar based sauce that is also laced with copious amounts of ketchup and sugar. Some say this the actual cause of the Civil war and not that whole slavery thing. I don’t know if that’s true, but don’t try to serve Eastern NC Barbecue to a Lexington native, that’s all I’m saying.

Signature dish: Chopped Pork with hush puppies.

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