Friday, May 16, 2008

Regional BBQ Styles

Barbecue is a word with a range of meanings, interpretations and spellings (barbeque, bar-b-q, BBQ, bar-b-que), depending on where you are in the US (and quite possibly in the world - but this article is limited to the US). In fact, depending on where you are, the word barbecue (regardless of spelling) might be a noun, verb or adjective. Barbecue might mean pork and only pork, or it may include beef and chicken, or it might mean anything cooked outdoors on a grill. And don't even get me started on barbeque sauce..... Actually, why not?? Because May is National BBQ Month and Memorial Day weekend is coming up (considered by many to be the official start of the BBQ season), here's a handy primer of some of the better-known styles of American Barbecue, beginning with my home state of North Carolina:

*Eastern NC style BBQ Sauce: Authentic eastern NC style Barbeque sauce is deceptively simple in its short list of ingredients, but when blended in the correct proportions this tart, tangy and spicy thin sauce is the perfect complement for smoky pulled pork BBQ. Genuine eastern NC barbecue sauce is vinegar-based with no (or barely any) tomato and a healthy dose of pepper, usually ground black and/or red pepper flakes. The sauce may be savory, or might include some sugar, and either white or cider vinegar is used. Representative eastern NC barbecue sauces include Scotts Barbecue Sauce and Wells Hog Heaven Barbecue Sauce.

*Piedmont NC Style BBQ Sauce: Named after the Piedmont area of NC and found primarily in the central section of the state (especially in Lexington, NC), Piedmont style BBQ Sauce is also vinegar based but includes a bit of tomato - not enough to create a thick sauce, but sufficient to soften the edge of the vinegar and provide a little more body to the thin sauce, and more richness in flavor while preserving the tang. A typical Piedmont NC style BBQ sauce is Jim's Own Homestyle Barbeque Sauce.

*Western NC style BBQ Sauce: Found in the mountains and west of the Piedmont, western NC style sauce can range from slightly more tomato-ey than Piedmont sauces to very thick and rich, but you can still taste the vinegar tang and the sauce won't be as sweet as the thick sauces found elsewhere outside of NC. Representative western NC style barbecue sauces include Bone Suckin' Sauce and Bog Bottom BBQ Sauce.

*Low Country Carolina and Florida: This region encompasses southeastern NC, South Carolina and Florida, where you will find mustard-based barbecue sauce, some of which also include tomatoes and smoke flavor. Representative mustard BBQ sauces include Joe Bud's Everything Sauce and Rumboggies Southern Style BBQ Sauces.

*Alabama: This state has a unique style of barbecue, in that it features a mayonnaise based barbeque sauce. Creamy, a bit tangy and sometimes slightly spicy, a good example of Alabama mayonnaise BBQ sauce is Red's White Sauce, made in NC by an Alabama native who brought her traditional recipe with her.

*Texas BBQ: Texas has regional styles, just like NC, but is commonly associated with Beef Brisket and beef ribs seasoned with a dry rub and served with a thick, not-too-sweet savory sauce on the side. Representative dry rubs and Texas BBQ sauces include Texas Rib Rangers Seasonings, and Texas Rib Rangers BBQ Sauces.

*Kansas City: Known for slathered ribs, Kansas City BBQ sauces are usually very thick, tomato based sweet sauces (molasses and/or brown sugar are common), often with smokiness. Typical of the flavor of this style is Rumboggies Sweet Hickory BBQ Sauce, which, admittedly, is made in Florida, but represents the style well in taste.

*Memphis: Also known for ribs, but usually served dry with sauce on the side (although you can also get "wet" ribs with the sauce slathered on). Memphis sauces tend to be tomato based, with some mustard and vinegar and spice. The Memphis dry rubs are also savory and spicy. Great examples of both are Corky's Dry Rub and Corky's Memphis BBQ Sauce

Do you live -- or did you use to live -- someplace with its own regional style of barbecue? If so, please tell us about it!

Zestfully yours,

No comments:

Post a Comment