Just like a Southern drawl or mid-Western twang can immediately identify someone with a specific U.S. region, so too can someone’s taste in barbecue.
Just like a Southern drawl or mid-Western twang can immediately identify someone with a specific U.S. region, so too can someone’s taste in barbecue. Love the sweet stuff? You’re probably from Kansas. Is pork the only meat worthy of being called “barbecue?” Welcome to the South.
While the flavors we grew up with will always influence us, exploring different regional styles can be fun. So loosen your belt buckle, pull up to the table, tuck in your napkin and try them all.
Kansas City sweetness. Kansas-style barbecue is on a sugar high, and dry rubs for this barbecue are often made mostly of brown sugar. The thick molasses-tomato-based sauce turns chicken, pork or ribs into a sweet and sticky treat. Sugar burns easily, so to avoid ending up with a giant ball of char, turn down the heat and turn up the sweet.
Memphis classics. Some people would freak out if you told them you never tried Memphis barbecue. And for good reason. Classic Memphis-style typically uses a dry rub made from garlic, paprika and other spices as opposed to a sauce, giving the meat a pleasant, spicy kick. The savory dry rub uses much less sugar than Kansas-style and is a staple in Memphis, alongside a thin, tangy, tomato-based sauce used for dipping. This barbecue is fit for a king, or at least the King.
Go to Carolina in your mind. Or you can go in person and try the barbecue. In the Carolinas, there are various sauces and no single way to cook the primarily pork barbecue. From pork shoulder, to pork ribs, or even the entire pig, Carolinians don’t waste a thing. Take your pick of tangy vinegar, spicy mustard, or sweet tomato-based sauce, though some use a vinegar base while cooking and the tomato or mustard base while eating. There’s no wrong way dress your meat, but the choices might confound you.
In Texas, beef is chief. No surprise, considering there are almost 12 million cows in the state of Texas. Though quality cooked beef conquers and sauces come second to the meat itself, Texans aren’t afraid of a little heat. Brisket and beef ribs cooked with a dry mustard and chili-powder dominate the barbecue department while a thin sauce made from cumin, onions and chilies packs heat and flavor into the beef. The meat can also be dunked in a bucket of sauce before eating. Sweat responsibly.
For those of you nowhere near any of these regions, our deepest condolences. But you can make tasty barbecue in your own home with these great recipes!