Smoked Out

In some places in America, barbecue is not only a way to cook your food, but also a dish. Depending on the region, barbecue can provoke some strong loyalties and rivalries. Join us as we take a culinary journey through the US, tasting barbecue.

Barbecuing and grilling are typically used interchangeably by most Americans. There is officially a difference however. Grilling uses dry heat from burning wood, charcoal or gas flame and can be cooked quickly. Barbecuing takes longer, uses lower heat and is often cooked by the heat of the smoke itself.

First, what do we mean by ‘barbecue?’ That is the question that will get some strongly opinionated answers. For most Americas, a barbecue is to cook outside on a grill. But for barbecue fanatics, the type of meat, whether sauce should be used or not and how it is cooked are all nuances to be discussed.

The tradition of barbecue is most common in the southeastern parts of the US. If you eat barbecue elsewhere in the US, the recipe will have its roots there. Pork is the most typical meat used, often ribs or pork shoulder which is turned into pulled pork (which is pork so tender it can be pulled off the bone). Barbecue is either prepared by hot smoking, in which the meat is cooked over a wood fire with indirect heat, or smoke cooking, which is the same but the meat is cooked at higher temperatures. Both processes can take a a long time. At the end the meat should be tender and juicy.

The type of wood is also important. Some people use hickory or mesquite wood to get a smoky taste. Maple and fruit woods give a milder, almost sweeter, flavor to the meat.

And finally, there’s the sauce. Some people marinade the meat before cooking; some pour it on after. Sauces can be thin, vinegary types or thick, sweet tomato and molasses sauces. Some people also use a dry rub, which is a mix of spices rubbed onto the meat before cooking.

The four major barbecue areas are Memphis, the Carolinas, Texas and Kansas City. In Texas, you are going to find some regional differences – not surprisingly because it is such a big state. In the east, the barbecue is usually hickory smoked meat covered in a thick, sweet sauce. In the center, residents prefer the dry rub and cooking it over a lighter, sweeter wood. West Texas barbecue is sometimes referred to as ‘cowboy style’. More direct heat is used, mesquite is the preferred wood, and it’s not only pork, but sometimes beef, mutton or goat.

North in Kansas City, Missouri you’ll find some enthusiastic barbecue fans. The tomato and molasses sauce is what makes Kansas City barbecue so identifiable. However, they use many different types of meat: pork, beef, chicken and even fish.

In Memphis, Tennessee your ribs will come one of two ways – wet or dry. Wet ribs are brushed with a sauce before and after cooking, while dry ribs are seasoned with the aforementioned dry rub.

Pun explained: Whole-hog: The author is making a little joke. The people literally barbecue a whole hog, but to do something ‘whole-hog’ means to do it with great enthusiasm.

In the Carolinas you have two distinct styles: Lexington and Eastern. Lexington style uses a ketchup and vinegar based sauce and only pork shoulder meat is used. Eastern style is whole-hog style – and their sauce is only vinegar and spices, no ketchup.

To run through your veins: We use the verb ‘run’ for the blood moving through the veins. Often we use this expression when we’re not talking about blood.

Trying the different types of barbecue will be a memorable part of your trip. But remember, for some people, barbecue sauce seems to run through their veins and getting into a debate with a true barbecue enthusiast may be pointless. Just enjoy your meal, and don’t forget the napkins.

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Original article by Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team 

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Barbecuing and grilling are typically used interchangeably by most Americans. There is officially a difference however. Grilling uses dry heat from burning wood, charcoal or gas flame and can be cooked quickly. Barbecuing takes longer, uses lower heat and is often cooked by the heat of the smoke itself.

The tradition of barbecue is most common in the southeastern parts of the US. If you eat barbecue elsewhere in the US, the recipe will have its roots there. Pork is the most typical meat used, often ribs or pork shoulder which is turned into pulled pork (which is pork so tender it can be pulled off the bone.)

The type of wood is also important. Some people use hickory or mesquite wood to get a smoky taste. Maple and fruit woods give a milder, almost sweet, flavor to the meat.

The sauce is important too. Some people marinade the meat before cooking; some use sauce after cooking. Sauces can be thin or thick. Some people also use a dry rub, which is a mix of spices rubbed onto the meat before cooking.

The four major barbecue regions are Memphis, the Carolinas, Texas and Kansas City. In Texas, you are going to find some different styles. In the east, they often use hickory and cover the meat in a thick, sweet sauce. West Texas barbecue uses direct heat.

North in Kansas City the tomato and molasses sauce makes Kansas City barbecue identifiable. However, they use many different types of meat: pork, beef, chicken and even fish.

In Memphis, Tennessee your ribs will come one of two ways – wet or dry. Wet ribs are brushed with a sauce before and after cooking, while dry ribs are seasoned with the aforementioned dry rub.

In the Carolinas you have two distinct styles: Lexington and Eastern. Lexington style uses a ketchup and vinegar based sauce and only pork shoulder meat is used. Eastern style uses the whole pig – and their sauce is only vinegar and spices, no ketchup.

Trying the different types of barbecue will be a memorable part of your trip. But remember, for some people barbecue is a serious topic.

Original article by Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team 

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Barbecuing and grilling are typically used interchangeably by most Americans. There is officially a difference however. Grilling uses dry heat from burning wood, charcoal or gas flame and can be cooked quickly. Barbecuing takes longer, uses lower heat and is often cooked by the heat of the smoke itself.

What’s for dinner? Barbecue. Yes, in some places in America, barbecue is not only a way to cook your food, but also a dish. Depending on the region, barbecue can provoke some fierce loyalties and rivalries. Join us as we take a culinary journey through the US, tasting barbecue.

First, what do we mean by ‘barbecue?’ That is the question that will get opinions flaring. For most Americas, we say we are ‘going to barbecue’ meaning we are going to cook something outside on the grill or ‘we are going to a barbecue’ meaning we are going to a party outside where food will be cooked on the grill. But for barbecue fanatics, the type of meat, whether sauce should be used or not and how it is cooked are all nuances to be debated.

The tradition of barbecue is most common in the southeastern parts of the US. If you eat barbecue elsewhere in the US, the recipe will have its roots there. Pork is the most typical meat used, often ribs or pork shoulder which is turned into pulled pork (which is pork so tender it can be pulled off the bone). Barbecue is either prepared by hot smoking, in which the meat is cooked over a wood fire with indirect heat, or smoke cooking, which is the same but the meat is cooked at higher temperatures. Both processes can take a number of hours – which is why barbecue meat is (or should be) tender and juicy.

Now let’s talk about the wood. Yes, this is huge! The type of wood used affects the final taste of the meat. For those who like a strong smoky flavor, hickory or mesquite wood is often chosen, while maple and fruit woods give a milder, almost sweet, flavor to the meat.

And finally, there’s the sauce. Some people marinade the meat before cooking; some slather it on after. Sauces can range from thin, vinegary types to thick, sweet tomato and molasses sauces. Some also go for a dry rub, which is a mix of spices rubbed onto the meat before cooking.

We are going to explore the four major barbecue regions: Memphis, the Carolinas, Texas and Kansas City. Starting farthest west in Texas, you are going to find some regional differences – not surprisingly because it is such a big state. In the east, closer to their barbecue loving neighbors, the barbecue is similar, hickory smoked meat covered in a thick, sweet sauce. In the center, residents prefer the dry rub and cooking it over a lighter, sweeter wood. West Texas barbecue is sometimes referred to as ‘cowboy style’. More direct heat is used, mesquite is the preferred wood, and it’s not only pork, but sometimes beef, mutton or goat.

Fierce loyalties and fierce fans: In both these situations the word fierce is used with a similar meaning to strong and dedicated, respectively. While it can describe aggressive behavior, the word fierce has more to do with the level of loyalty.

Let’s head slightly north to Kansas City, Missouri. Here you’ll find some fierce barbecue fans. The tomatoes and molasses sauce is what makes Kansas City barbecue so identifiable. The meat though they aren’t so picky about – pork, beef, chicken, even fish can all be subjected to a drowning in their best sauce. Don’t think you can avoid barbecue here – the city has more than 100 barbecue restaurants, plus the most renowned barbecue cooking contests are held in the area.

In Memphis, Tennessee you are going to indulge in ribs and barbecue sandwiches. Careful though, your ribs will come one of two ways – wet or dry. Wet ribs are brushed with a sauce before and after cooking, while dry ribs are seasoned with the aforementioned dry rub. A barbecue sandwich is easy – chopped pork topped with coleslaw and served on a bun. The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is held in Memphis.

Pun explained: Whole-hog: The author is making a little joke. The people literally barbecue a whole hog, but to do something ‘whole-hog’ means to do it with great enthusiasm.

And finally, let’s hit the Carolinas. Like in Texas, you have two distinct styles: Lexington and Eastern. Lexington style uses a ketchup and vinegar based sauce and only pork shoulder meat is used. Eastern style is whole-hog style – and their sauce is only vinegar and spices, no ketchup.

Trying the different types of barbecue will be a memorable part of your trip. But remember, for some people, barbecue sauce seems to run through their veins and getting into a debate with a true barbecue enthusiast may be an exercise in futility. Instead, just enjoy your meal, and don’t forget the napkins.

Jacy Meyer – Phoenix, Arizona

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