Here’s the scoop on barbecue


When you think “barbecue” you think of the South, right? It’s a staple meal for road trips and vacations when you’re traveling through the southern states.

There are all types of barbecue: Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City, Texas and even cultural varieties from other parts of the world. No barbecue method is exactly like another; each one involves a specific cooking method, certain types of meat, preparation and dry rubs or sauces.

Barbecuing is a science of sorts. It takes patience and practice to get it right. In the barbecue world, “low and slow” is the motto many stick to.

We’re going to break down the basics of barbecuing, starting with the types of cooking methods, heat and popular kinds of barbecue that can be found in the south and around the United States.

Charcoal or gas

Barbecue is prepared using either charcoal or gas heat. There are pros and cons to each method, so it’s up to the cook to decide which is best for the meat being prepared.

Charcoal — If you want your meat to have flavor, choose charcoal grilling. Though charcoal grilling is more time consuming, it’s less expensive than gas grilling.

Gas — Gas grills are fueled by liquid propane. Gas grilling is considered to be efficient and cleaner than charcoal grilling. It’s also easier to use.

Direct vs. indirect heat

Direct — Cook smaller, quick-cooking pieces of meat directly over the source of heat, turning as needed to brown.

Indirect — Indirect heat allows for slower cooking, which can be controlled by heat settings on gas and electric grills. Cook larger pieces of meat over indirect heat. Ribs and other bony pieces of meat should also be cooked this way.

Here are 6 types of barbecue:

Carolina — Carolina barbecue is characterized by two regions: east and west.

  • Eastern Carolina — Eastern Carolina barbecue is known for its vinegar-based sauce. This style of barbecue normally consists of the whole pig.
  • Western/Lexington — Western or Lexington barbecue is identified by sauce that contains vinegar, ketchup, pepper and other spices. This style of barbecue uses the pork shoulder.

Memphis — Memphis barbecue is usually made with pork (shoulder) or ribs. It’s slow-cooked in a pit. It can be prepared one of two ways: with a dry rub before cooking or with sauce before, during and after cooking.

Kansas City — Kansas City barbecue is slow-smoked over wood. It has a thick sauce made with molasses or tomato. Normally, pork, beef, mutton, chicken and fish are used for Kansas City barbecue.

Texas — Texas barbecue varies depending on which region of the state you’re in.

  • East Texas — East Texas barbecue is slow cooked over hickory wood and covered in a sweet tomato sauce. Beef and pork are usually used.
  • Central Texas — Central Texas barbecue is cooked over indirect heat. Pecan or oak wood is used to smoke it, and it’s dry-rubbed with spices. No sauce for this one!
  • South Texas — South Texas barbecue is heavily influenced by the region’s Mexican history. The meat used for South Texas barbecue is barbacoa, which can mean more than one thing, depending where you are. Usually it means meat from a cow’s head.
  • West Texas — West Texas barbecue is cooked “cowboy style,” meaning it’s grilled over direct heat. Mesquite wood is used to cook the meat.

Korean — The Korean word for barbecue is Gogigui. Beef, pork or chicken are roasted using gas or charcoal grills.

Brazilian — In Portuguese, Churrascaria is a type of grill used for barbecuing. Pork, chicken and sausage are some of the meats barbecued. A churrascaria grill has built-in skewers to hold the meat while it cooks.

Sources: Texas A&M University Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Illinois Extension, Urban Spoon, The Paupered Chef, Fox News

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