Especially where our Texas roots are planted, there’s nothing more indicative of warmer temps than pulling out the barbecue pit or smoker so family and friends can gather to a great meal (and maybe a couple of cold brews).
Coincidentally, there’s no other cuisine in the US of A that inspires as much passion or devotion as barbecue. Still, with passion comes debate, so the Apron team is here to tell you what you need to know about BBQ.
When talking about barbecue (called BBQ by some) let’s get a couple of facts straight. We’re specifically referring to the process when meat is hot-smoked, low and slow, between 200 and 250 degrees. This is often done in a barbecue pit or a grill. However, grilling refers to high, direct heat and faster cooking. And the general barbecue process is even different than smoking; smoked meats are cooked low and slow, but with indirect heat at less than 200 degrees.
With that out of the way, these are the top six things to know:
- HISTORY: Barbecue predates George Washington, who twice made mention in his diaries about attending a “barbicue” (he was a horrible speller). Recent presidents have also hosted barbecues – the late Lyndon B. Johnson threw the first White House barbecue, while Jimmy Carter opted for a “pig-pickin” for 500 people, and George H. W. Bush gave foreign guests at taste of Texas-style barbecue at his Kennebunkport getaway.
- METHOD: There’s much debate on whether to use wood (and what type), charcoal, or gas. It can also be cooked wet, using a sauce or marinade, or via dry rub. It takes trial, error and [lots of] time to find the perfect combination.
- MEAT: You can barbecue everything from sausage, brisket, beef ribs, pork ribs, chicken and ham to turkey, pork shoulder (or the whole hog), turkey, goat and lamb – although we’re partial to beef here at Apron. There are even four different types of pork ribs – spare ribs come from the underbelly; St. Louis-style are spare ribs without the breastbone; country-style are made from the pork shoulder; and baby-back are from the top of the ribcage.
- REGIONS: You may know there are regional differences (think Kansas City, known for its meat variety, Memphis with its tomato-vinegar-based sauces, Chicago’s known-for of dry rubbed meats, and even the hotly-debated Brooklyn). Interestingly, the Carolinas have three regions of their own – Eastern North Carolina, Piedmont, and South Carolina – and Texas has two – Central and East Texas.
- SAUCES:With regions come sauces that have developed a cult-like following. To name a few, folks can choose from Alabama white sauce, Texas-style mop sauce, sweet and tangy Kansas City sauce, South Carolina mustard sauce, Eastern North Carolina vinegar sauce and Lexington dip.
- STATS: Oklahoma has the most BBQ restaurants per capita (one for every 5,000 residents), while Alabama has the highest percentage of BBQ restaurants (8% of all restaurants in Alabama are barbecue). On the other end of the scale, Connecticut has the least number of BBQ restaurants in the nation while New York has the lowest percentage. Our barbecue-loving hearts can’t imagine!
That’s it for your dose of BBQ trivia. We’d love to hear from you – what are your favorite BBQ styles and restaurants?