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The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

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Expand Your Horizons

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If you are a weekend griller and are tired of the same old same old: Add some spice to your weekend cooking and discover the joys of the various barbecue regions. A few years ago when I started to get serious about barbecue, I was amazed to find that barbecue actual has very distinct regional variations with vast differences in flavor. Growing up in the Northeast we had very little exposure to barbecue period. Most of what I tried would probably be considered either Memphis or Kansas City style. I always considered that barbecue was a style of cooking with minor variations. Little did I know there were 5 distinct regions and that within those regions there were hundreds or thousands of variations on a theme.

 
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North Carolina Style Pulled Pork-Note the Vinegar Based Sauce

I discovered the 5 regions during a smoking class I attended 2 summers ago. The teacher described the different regions and as part of the class prepared the same dishes using a recipe from each of the regions. What an eye opening experience this was!!! The differences in taste were amazing. I discovered that Kansas City style ribs, the ribs I grew up with,  were not my favorite ribs. The 5 regions are: North Carolina which favors barbecue & mop sauces based on vinegar, South Carolina which uses mustard based sauces, Memphis uses spicy and sweet tomato based sauces,   Kansas City where the sauces are molasses and tomato based affairs and the Southwest which uses tomato based sauces which are spiced up using some hot south of the border seasonings. Now the trick is how do you get to try these different regional ‘cues?

 
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Memphis Pulled Pork Sauce Ingredients

My solution came from a combination of two books by Steven Raichlen. The first was HOW TO GRILL, the second was BBQ USA. Now I’ll be the first to admit about all I knew about making barbecue was how to spell it. That is where HOW TO GRILL came in. This is truly a for dummies book. It has over 1,000 pictures that illustrate the cooking techniques from trussing poultry to trimming ribs and removing the silverskin. Now these recipes are geared towards a gas grill, but there are usually additional instructions for a smoker. The other way I got up to speed was watching Stephen Raichlen’s BBQU on PBS and visiting the BARBECUE BIBLE web site. HOW TO GRILL typically takes you through the general steps on how to prepare a certain cut of meat. Then there is a recipe applying the technique you just learned,  I make a recipe from How to Grill several times to get comfortable with the basics. Then it is time to graduate to BBQ USA.


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Memphis Style Pulled Pork

When you find something you like, such as pulled pork BBQ USA will have regional variations to try. Plus there may be several recipes from one region. This is where the fun comes in! I love pulled pork. The first pulled pork I made used a North Carolina style vinegar based mop sauce and BBQ sauce. It was about the best pulled pork I had tried-now I give all credits to the recipes and not me for this. Next I tried a Memphis style pulled pork and coleslaw. Everyone though this was even better than the North Carolina style. Recently I made South Carolina mustard based pulled pork. Now I love mustard and I knew I’d love it, but everyone else said this was their new favorite. I still have two regions to go.


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South Carolina Mustard Based Pulled Pork

The point here is you don’t have to do the same old thing all the time. I really get excited when I find something I like in How to Grill, because I know many tasty regional variations await me in BBQ USA. You owe it to yourself to pay a visit to the 5 regions of barbecue. You may not want to come home again.


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