Every Kind of Southern Barbecue, Decoded

TSupposing the South takes its barbecue seriously would be an underestimation of the century – Southern societies spend generations refining and perfecting barbecue techniques, and “barbecue” as a concept is a broader umbrella than many assume. Different regions of the South have their own barbecue styles, each with a unique personality. Here, we break down the most popular Southern barbecue styles from six Southern states best known for their smoking and barbecue prowess.

Texas

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Central Texas BBQ

The Lone Star State takes great pride in its famous Southern Barbecue, but it’s important to remember that Texas is a very large state and the specific flavors and processes associated with “Texas BBQ” vary from region to region. But when many people think of “Texas barbecue,” they imagine “low and slow.” smoked breast meat This is a signature of Central Texas.

The Central Texas BBQ area includes the Texas Hill Country area, the Austin metropolitan area, and the San Marcos area between Austin and San Antonio. Central Texas barbecue chefs use wood smoking to give flavor to their dishes, and most barbecue places in this area use post-oak, a type of white oak commonly found in the area. Post oak imparts a subtle and elegant woody flavour, bringing out the natural taste of the meat without overwhelming it.

According to Central Texas chef and restaurateur, Adrian Davila davila grill In Seguin, Texas, a Central Texas barbecue isn’t sauce-based. While most barbecue places offer the sauce upon request (more on Texas-style BBQ sauce later), “you won’t find wet ribs or pre-made broth.” [BBQ]. “Instead, most Central Texas roasts are dry roast in a very simple way,” usually [with] Just rub with salt and pepper. “The flavor comes from the meat itself, combined with the slow smoking process that provides a delicious layer of taste and aroma, and the fat, which imparts a rich, buttery quality to the meat.

Central Texas grill chefs regularly make homemade sausage, pork ribs, and beef ribs. However, the most common barbecue ingredient in Central Texas is undoubtedly beef. Breast meat, which is a cut of the breast and pectoral of a cow, is somewhat stronger than other cuts of beef and includes connective tissue. For this reason, it should be cooked for a long time at a low temperature to tenderize the meat and bring the deep umami flavor to the fore.

East Texas BBQ

East Texas State Fair - Tyler, Texas Cooking Smoked Turkey Legs

East Texas BBQ, like Central Texas BBQ, adheres to a strict “low and slow” cooking method. However, there are a few key differences that distinguish East Texas BBQ from its central cousin. For one thing, East Texans don’t hesitate to use pickles and “wipe sauces” to season the meat throughout the cooking process and when serving said meats. East Texas barbecue sauce is tomato sauce (usually with tomato sauce or ketchup as a base ingredient), sweetened with brown sugar and balanced with vinegar, pepper, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce for umami.

While Central Texas BBQ is typically smoked using oak, East Texas BBQ prefers walnut (due to the large amount of walnut trees planted throughout the area). Hickory smoke is more pungent and stronger in flavor than oak smoke after oak smoke, imparting a savory flavor to the meat.

East Texas BBQ tends to have more in common with barbecues from other southern states than Central Texas BBQ does, and a prime example of this principle is the fact that East Texas makes and consumes a lot more pulled pork. Pulled pork can be found in central Texas, but it’s less common than brisket, ribs, and sausage. But in East Texas, bacon with Texas-style BBQ sauce can be found in BBQ restaurants and trucks throughout the area.

South Texas BBQ

Thanks to southern Texas’ proximity to Mexico, many barbecue traditions from our southern neighbor make their way onto the barbecue roads of this part of the Lone Star State. The signature dish of South Texas BBQ is barbacoa, or lean smoked meat made with whole goat or cow heads. South Texas barbacoa is usually cooked over mesquite charcoal, giving the meat a bolder, more distinct smoky flavor than that of oak or even walnut.

South Texas BBQ sauce is usually made with a base of either tomato or molasses, but the limiting factor is the presence of dried chilies. This sauce has a distinct heat level, which indicates the Mexican influence prominent throughout the region.

West Texas BBQ

Central Texas, East Texas, and South Texas all adhere to the “low and slow” theory of smoking. However, in West Texas, grilling over direct heat is a popular move by professional and amateur roasters alike. West Texas also prefers the strong taste of mesquite wood, and West Texas roasters (like their Central Texas groups) don’t tend to rely on barbecue sauce, instead relying on flame charring to deliver a delicious, smoky flavor. Goat and beef are regularly cooked in this style, but West Texas BBQ chefs also prepare chicken and lamb over an open mesquite flame.

Carolina

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North Carolina BBQ

Like Texas, North Carolina has a barbecue scene clearly divided into regions. Eastern North Carolina barbecue is fundamentally different from Western North Carolina barbecue…but one thing both parts of the state have in common is the emphasis on pork.

In eastern North Carolina, “BBQ is slow-cooked whole pork, chopped, and served with a vinaigrette topped with crushed red pepper flakes. It’s topped with a mayonnaise-based coleslaw,” explains North Carolina barbecue writer and recipe developer Jeremy Pike. angry bbq. Eastern North Carolina barbecue distinguishes it from all other common grilling styles in the United States, even other regions that use vinaigrettes that don’t increase acidity (and the combination of acid and seasoning) quite as effectively as North Carolina does.

Western North Carolina, on the other hand, is all about “pork shoulders with red tomato sauce,” says co-owner and operator Michael Letchworth. Sam Jones BBQ in North Carolina. However, Pike points out that North Carolina tomato barbecue sauce isn’t the sweet version made in some other barbecue areas: “The sauce also acts as one of the ingredients in red slaw, or barbecue slaw. This sauce isn’t like store-bought thicker sauces made with Tomatoes are sweet, and still have vinegar and pepper to give them some acidity and heat.”

North Carolina BBQ (Eastern and Western) is traditionally smoked over wood or charcoal. There is no one specific type of wood associated with North Carolina barbecue, but oak, walnut, and pecan wood tend to be popular choices.

South Carolina BBQ

South Carolina also focuses on all-swine barbecue, but while some South Carolina barbecue professionals use a tomato-based barbecue sauce similar to Western North Carolina sauce while others opt for the Eastern North Carolina vinegar braid, palmetto is known as “Carolina Gold,” the sauce Made with yellow mustard, cider vinegar, brown sugar, a pinch of black pepper and cayenne. The result is a tangy, slightly sweet seasoning that pairs beautifully with the richness of pork from South Carolina smoked ham (which, like North Carolina ham, is smoked over coals, whether wood or charcoal).

Tennessee

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Memphis BBQ

When we talk about “Tennessee barbecue,” we as a nation are generally referring to “Memphis barbecue.” The westernmost city of Tennessee claims a rich and long-running history of barbecue, as does Tennessee private chef Chance Smith Peace love and caterpillar He describes: “For starters, Memphis conjures up visions of pink Cadillacs, neon lights, and blues icons. For locals and barbecue enthusiasts, it’s all about the hogs. Dazzlingly simple establishments called ‘knuckles’ specialize in slow-smoked, either ‘wet’ ribs”— Meant to be drizzled with sauce during the cooking process and finished with sauce afterwards to create a sweet, smoky, slightly spicy and sticky mess of American or “dry” ribs–[which are rubbed with salt, pepper, and spices before cooking]- , My favorite. Warm, salty, spicy, good to fall off the bone. And, of course, the sweet and tangy sauce on the side filled with tomatoes and molasses brings the whole experience together. And then there’s the first standby and working-class hero friend, the pulled pork. A dry rub, plenty of time in the smoke, and some Voodoo Memphis result in an incredible, luscious companion to a smoothie and pickle—and of course, the sauce is a must.”

Memphis BBQ uses walnut wood for smoking, and while lean pork that comes from this city is excellent on a sandwich, Smith mentions that “barbecue spaghetti” is a must-try dish for any Memphis BBQ enthusiast. “Does the joint serve barbecue spaghetti?” Smith says of this regional specialty, in which pulled pork is mixed with Memphis BBQ sauce, then tossed with cooked spaghetti.

Missouri

Sandwich with sauce and beans
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Kansas City Barbecue (Clint Cantwell)

The style of barbecue acclaimed in Kansas City does not focus on one type of meat (Texas BBQ focuses on beef and Carolina BBQ focuses on pork). Instead, “sauce is the bedrock of all Kansas City barbecues,” says barbecue expert (and former Kansas City resident) Clint Cantwell of AmazingRibs.com. Kansas City BBQ Sauce is the sweetest of the popular regional sauces of the South, made with a combination of tomato sauce or ketchup, molasses, dark brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and a little chili or chili powder. This style of barbecue sauce may be the most popular mass-market version sold across the United States, but the best (of course) will be found in Kansas City.

Another KC signature is “burnt ends,” which Cantrell describes as “the burnt ends of cooked brisket, which instead of being tossed by the roast joint, are cut into cubes, sliced, and served.”

Alabama

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Alabama white sauce

Alabama’s biggest contribution to the barbecue dictionary comes in the form of an exotic sauce traditionally served with grilled chicken thighs. Alabama White Sauce consists of Duke’s mayonnaise (if it’s not Duke, you’ll get some angry Southerners when cooking outside), white vinegar (to add flavor and reduce texture), lemon juice (for added acidity and appealing freshness), a pinch of sugar to balance, Salt, pepper seasoning, and a few drops of Worcestershire sauce for a delicious undercurrent. Some chefs will also include horseradish and cayenne pepper for a spicy kick. This bold sauce pairs well with the darker, richer, and smoky chicken thighs that have simmered since its time on the grill.

Read: Barbecue roots are messier than a plaid tablecloth

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