Barbecue (also barbeque or BBQ) has its roots in rural America, but continues to grow as a casual dining concept in restaurants, bars and taverns in both the cities and suburbs. While previous PN Hospitality articles have reviewed essential subjects like liquor liability and assault & battery coverage, we’re guessing no discussion will generate as much “heat” as this one about barbecue. True aficionados are passionate about their meats, their sauces, and their distinct styles, and they have strong opinions about the merits of one over the other.
The concept is simple. Cook meats for a long period of time at low temperatures utilizing smoke from a wood fire. This is not to be confused with grilling, which is generally done quickly over moderate to high direct heat with little smoke. The variations are endless, but most barbecue fits one of four styles; Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City and Texas.
- Carolina barbecue is usually pork – pulled, shredded, sliced, or chopped. The meat is rubbed with a mixture of spices before smoking and can be glazed with a spiced vinegar brushed on during smoking.
- Memphis barbecue emphasizes wet and dry pork ribs, and the occasional barbecue sandwich. Wet ribs are brushed with sauce before, during, and after cooking. Dry ribs are seasoned with a dry rub before cooking.
- Kansas City barbecue includes a variety of meats including beef, pork and lamb. The signature to this style is the sauce, usually served as table sauce for dipping or smothering the meat.
- Texas barbecue actually has regional differences. East Texas slow cooks the meat over hickory wood until it falls off the bone, and a tomato-based marinade is used. Central Texas uses a spice rub over pecan or oak wood. West Texas usually cooks beef over direct heat using mesquite wood and a thick molasses-type sauce that keeps the meat tender.
Whatever your choice, barbecue means good times with good friends. From an outdoor community 4th of July celebration to a high-level team competition to an enjoyable meal at your neighborhood family restaurant, barbecue is as American as apple pie. Patriotism never tasted so good.
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