What is Barbecue?

Traditional American barbecue is not what your Dad did to hamburgers and hot dogs in the backyard on the 4th of July. That was grilling (cooking directly over flames) a great tradition but it ain't real barbecue. Barbecue and grilling are often confused because they both involve flames and cooking meat.

Real old school barbecue happens when you place a large cut of meat or ribs in closed pit and let it cook indirectly (away from the fire) with the low heat and smoke of a charcoal and or wood fire. The ideal temperature in one of these pits usually runs between 225-250 degrees, and this very slow magical process breaks down the connective tissues of the meat and turns tough cuts into the most delicious tender food on earth. This alchemy requires a slow and low heat for a real long time. Barbecue was created for just this purpose, to turn large tough inexpensive cuts of meat like beef brisket and pork shoulder into tender, amazing BBQ goodness worth fighting and dying for.

Barbecue is a true American original with it's roots in the south, but it's popularity has grown over the years and now it has branches reaching all over the place. Each region of the country has it's own unique style and definition of what good "Q" is. Me? I like 'em all.

Eastern North Carolina
This style involves pork shoulder or a whole pig cooked with hickory smoke, then it's chopped or pulled and mixed up with some of a spicy vinegar based BBQ sauce (no tomato) . This bit o' heaven is served on a bun with some slaw.

Western North Carolina
This style of barbecue is all about the pork "butt" it's seasoned with a tomato based vinegar sauce. This is a real big difference to the locals, so mind your P's and Q's.

Texas
Lone star 'Que is all about beef brisket smoked with mesquite or oak. This style arose out of the old German butcher shops where they would cook the unwanted tough pieces of meat until it was melt in your mouth good. Some of Texas's best BBQ joints were once butcher shops and you can still get some great sausage with your barbecue. Some Texans say if you're using sauce there must be something wrong. But if you're gonna, please make it tomato ketchup based with some cumin, chili and meat drippings.

Kansas City
K.C. style barbecue is what most people think of when you say BBQ. Once upon a time, it was all about spare ribs with a thick sweet sauce but nowadays the chopped crispy "burnt ends" of beef brisket are giving them ribs some stiff competition. Either way one thing is for sure sauce is king in K.C.

Memphis
Home of the blues, great ribs and shredded pork. When you order Memphis ribs they'll ask you "wet or dry?". Dry means just with the tasty dry rub and wet means with sauce on them bones. I like my ribs dry with a bit of some sweet tangy tomato based sauce on the side. The pork is mixed with the local sauce and it's not to be missed.