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Regional Barbeque Styles.
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I'M NOT MARTHA - Tuesday, June 26, 2007
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Hi! I'm Lizzy!! and I'm not Martha!!!
Any which way you look at it....it's BBQ season. One friend
at the get-together last weekend started asking me all kinds
of "Q" questions....like "What is a St. Louis style rib?"
"What's the secret for a drop-off-the-bone tender rib?" "How
many kinds of BBQ are there?" Wouldn't you like to know as
much as my neighbors? Here goes....
P.S. If you're interested we now have a forum. You can post
comments on this and recent issues at... Not Martha forum
*There are two basic cuts of ribs from different parts of
the pig. Baby Back aka Loin Back ribs and Spare ribs. The
only thing that separates back ribs from spare ribs is a
cut made by a band saw.
Loin Back aka Baby Back ribs are leaner, tender and have a
milder flavor comparable to beef filet mignon. Spare Ribs
have a more robust flavor comparable to a beef ribeye.
Spare ribs can be just as lean and tender as Baby Backs when
cooked right. The vast majority of our cooking school
students prefer Spare ribs in side by side taste offs. The
Back ribs are more curved and are cut from the area closer
to the spine. The Spare ribs are flatter and come from the
St. Louis style ribs are a spare rib cut and larger than loin
Butchers will run a pork shoulder also known as a Boston Butt
through a band saw and call them country style ribs.
* Baby back ribs are the filet mignon of pork ribs. The
trick is find baby back ribs that have not had the meat on
top of the ribs trimmed off by a butcher.
Just as beef filet mignon does not have a lot of flavor,
pork back ribs do not a lot of flavor. To get the most out
of them a marinade is a really good idea and mopping also
* BBQ...It's about the rub. Apply a BBQ spice "Rub" not more
than 2 hours before cooking.
* Great BBQ tastes great without sauce. The sauce is the
finishing touch. Don't sauce until the ribs are cooked, apply
one or two coats of sauce in the last 15 to 30 minutes on the
cooker. For a sweeter glaze add some honey to you BBQ sauce.
* Buy pure meat nothing added. Certain percentage of anything
added such as brine or salt water is not desirable.
* Use wood smoke. Be very careful with oak and mesquite they
can easily. overpower pork ribs. You only want thin blue
smoke coming from your smoker, not thick white smoke. Cherry
is a favorite choice for ribs.
* The secret of how to barbecue ribs until they are falling
of the bone tender is foil. Cook the ribs until they have a
nice crust. Wrap in foil with a little apple juice and cook
to 200º internal temp. They will be cooked and falling apart
tender. If you want to sauce your ribs roll back the foil
but leave it under the rack for support, sauce and put back
with indirect heat for 15 minutes.
REGIONAL RIB STYLES
In Alabama, there are currently more barbecue restaurants,
per capita, than any other US state. Alabama barbecue most
often consists of pork ribs or pork shoulder, slow cooked
over hickory smoke. Pork shoulder may be served either
chopped or sliced; some diners also specify a preference
for either "inside" or "outside" meat. Alabama barbecue is
typically served with a spicy, tomato-based sauce.
Arkansas is in some ways the crossroads of American barbecue.
This is largely due to its location -- firmly rooted in the
Deep South but close enough to the Midwest and Texas to in-
corporate Kansas City and Texas-style barbecue traits.
Like all true southern barbecue, meat is never exposed to
high or direct heat. Instead it is smoked at low temper-
atures for long periods of time (over 24 hours for many
cuts of pork).
Pork and beef appear on almost all menus, although pork is
more popular in the Delta than in the Ozarks. Arkansas-
style ribs are a key attraction and similar to those had in
Memphis, which lies across the Mississippi River from
A unique feature of barbecue in Arkansas is prevalence of
chicken. Barbecue chicken, Arkansas-style, is always
marinated with a "dry rub", smoked, and divided into edible
portions only after it is completely cooked. Barbecue sauce
is only applied by the eater.
Another characteristic of Arkansas barbecue is that a bar-
becued pork or beef sandwich is always served with a thin
layer of cole slaw atop and/or underneath the meat. Arkansas
cole slaw, which is not as sweet or creamy as found in other
states, provides a toothsome crunch and prevents the sauce
from soaking into the bread.
In general, it can be said that Georgia barbecue is based on
pork, which is slow-cooked over an open pit stoked with oak
and/or hickory and served with a sauce based on ketchup,
molasses, bourbon, garlic, cayenne pepper, and other in-
gredients. However, the reality is that barbecue culture in
Georgia represents an enormous range of styles, traditions,
and influences. As such, Georgia can be accurately assessed
as a melting pot of regional variations where almost any
sauce or cooking style can be found.
In Kentucky, barbecue also has a long and rich tradition and
history. Mutton, pork, beef, chicken, and ribs have been
smoked for years in the state. Mutton is one of the most
notable specialties in most of Western Kentucky, where there
were once large populations of sheep that were slaughtered
for the mutton. However, mutton is virtually unknown in the
extreme west, where "barbecue" without any other qualifier
refers specifically to smoked pork shoulder. A vinegar and
tomato based sauce with a mixture of spice and sweet is the
traditionally served with the meat, though not always used
Like its neighbor Alabama, Mississippians prefer pork to
other meats, usually pork shoulder, or whole hog. Most
restaurants serve only pulled pork, though some also serve
chicken halves. Unlike the surrounding states, a purely
vinegar-based sauce is preferred; in fact, many sauciers
take a great deal of pride in using absolutely no tomato
in their creations.
Though most barbecue in Mississippi is pork shoulder slow-
cooked in a smoker (either a drum, or a converted shed),
special events call for open-pit barbecue, which is still
common practice in some parts of Mississippi.
In Missouri, beef is the dominant meat for barbecue,
especially in St. Louis and the Ozarks. Often the beef
is sliced and a tomato-based sauce is added after cooking.
About half of the supply of charcoal briquets in the USA
is produced from Ozark forests (e.g., Kingsford brand),
with hickory "flavor" being very popular.
St. Louis-style barbecue features a sauce that is typically
tangier and thinner than its Kansas City cousin, with less
vinegar taste. It somewhat resembles the Memphis style
sauce. The most famous barbecue competition in St. Louis is
held annually during the July 4th holiday at Fair St. Louis.
A quick and easy Missouri-style barbecue sauce can be made
from mostly ketchup, some brown sugar, a little mustard,
and a dash of Worcestershire sauce.
* KANSAS CITY
Kansas City calls itself the "world capital of barbecue."
There are more than 100 barbecue restaurants in the city
and the American Royal each fall claims to host the world's
biggest barbecue contest.
Molasses is the key flavor enhancer of the sauce.
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* NORTH CAROLINA
Within North Carolina, there are multiple regional
traditions, all based on the slow-cooking of pulled or
It is commonly acceptable to refer to grilled chicken as
"barbecued" if the sauce is the same as that used on pork.
Likewise, a common preparation, "chicken barbecue," is
simply oven-braised chicken pieces in a sauce, usually thin
and slightly spicy. Occasionally, chicken barbecue is
chopped, but usually it is served on the bone.
Accompaniments include cole slaw and deep-fried dill pickle
slices. Some North Carolinians deny that real barbecue
exists outside the State.
Hushpuppies, barbecue slaw, boiled potatoes, corn sticks,
Brunswick stew, and collard greens are commonly served as
side dishes at North Carolina barbecue restaurants. Also
popular is the "barbecue sandwich," consisting of barbecue,
vinegar/pepper sauce, and sweet cole slaw served on a ham-
A gathering centered on the cooking and consuming of barbe-
cue is frequently called a "Pig pickin'" by North Carolina
residents, and is popular for church gatherings, family
celebrations, reunions, weddings, funerals and often as an
event which occurs before the start of a collegiate football
* SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina is the only state to have four types of bar-
becue sauces: mustard, vinegar, heavy tomato, and light
tomato. The meat used in South Carolina is consistent
throughout the state, slow-cooked pulled pork.
In addition to pork, other popular BBQ dishes include hash
Memphis-style barbecue is known for:
wet ribs, made with a mild, sweet barbecue sauce that's
basted on the ribs before and after smoking; dry-rub ribs,
made with a spice rub applied during or right after they've
been cooked; and pulled or chopped pork sandwich topped
with sweet, finely chopped coleslaw and served on inexpen-
sive hamburger buns, which some locals insist is Memphis
barbecue's highest form.
For people who simply can't get enough barbecue, there's
also barbecue spaghetti, barbecue pizza, and barbecue
nachos. Memphis is also home to the "Memphis in May"
World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest (WCBCC), an
annual event which regularly draws over 90,000 pork lovers
from around the globe. The title of "the largest pork bar-
becue cooking contest in the world" was bestowed on the
WCBCC in the 1990 Guinness Book of World Records.
It is also home to over 100 barbecue restaurants.
Sliced brisket, sausage, and pork ribs are the most popular
meats in Texas barbecue. Central Texans often refer to these
three meats as The Holy Trinity.
If used, traditional sauce consists of tomatoes with a
vinegar base. It can be sweet or spicy and thick or thin,
depending on the chef. At barbecue cookoffs in Texas, how-
ever, meat is generally judged without sauce, as sauce can
cover up for poor-quality meats and cooking.
Slight regional variations in Texas barbecue exist. In
Central Texas barbecue is more likely to consist of leaner
meats, while East Texans prefer more fatty cuts. It is
possible, however, to find both kinds of meats all over the
state. In South Texas, beef fajitas, beef briskets, beef
ribs and chicken are probably the most popular, along with
small cuts of pork called 'carnitas', of course all cooked
over a mesquite fire. Side dishes include flour tortillas,
pinto beans, Mexican rice, potato salad, and of course pico
de gallo (a garnish made with cilantro, jalapenos, onions
Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy! There's not a bad BBQ out there....
just one you like the most. If you've got any recipes or
tips you wan to share, send them on in. We'd all love the
info. Friends share with friends.
Questions...Comments...? email Lizzy
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