If you’re an American, you know what barbecue is. I personally love slow cooking everything from beef to chicken over a low heat and smoke. I doesn’t mater if I’m using a simple grill or a barrel smoker, nothing beats properly barbecued food. Hell, even veggies on the grill taste amazing.
But what exactly are we talking about when we talk about BBQ?
I mean there are so many types of grills, cookers, smokers, gadgets and doodads. Not to mention all the styles from Texas barbecue to Kansas City style BBQ. Then we have the best part, all the sauces and rubs. There really is a lot more to BBQ than charcoal briquettes. Let’s dive into and define different types of barbecue, including regional differences, traditional styles, and modern twists.
Regional Differences in Barbecue
Barbecue is a highly regional cuisine, with each region having its own unique style, techniques, and ingredients. This can make it difficult to define what barbecue is, as what’s considered barbecue in one region might be completely different in another. Some of the most well-known regional styles of barbecue include:
When I think Texas barbecue, I think brisket. But not also mentioning East Texas hot links and beef ribs would be selling this type of BBQ short.
Pitmasters rely on dry mustard and chili powder-based rubs to season their meats, and brisket is cooked with a Texas style mop sauce which can also be served on top of a thinly cut brisket and consists of meat drippings, cumin, Worcestershire, and hot sauce.
Carolina barbecue is known for the whole hog even though their ribs are what makes Carolina barbecue really stand out. And you can have your ribs, or your whole hog seasoned either wet or dry.
The wet method is used to add sauce to the hog before, during and after it’s been cooked and ready to be served. Whereas the dry method applies a dry rub to the meat before cooking, then the pork is served “dry” without any type of added sauce.
Memphis barbecue is known for its slow-smoked ribs, which are usually seasoned with a dry rub and served with a sweet tomato-based sauce. But you can have your pork either wet or dry. The dry style eliminates any sauces when serving.
Traditional Barbecue Styles
As mentioned, Texas barbecue is known for its emphasis on beef, particularly brisket and beef ribs along with sausages aptly named Texas hot links. The meat is seasoned with a dry rub made from spices such as cumin, chili powder, and paprika, and then cooked over mesquite wood for several hours until it’s tender and flavorful.
Carolina barbecue is all about the pork ribs and everything else pig. Cooked for hours over hickory wood, the pork is usually served with one of three sauces; Carolina Gold and Piedmont Sauce. These sauces help cut through the fatty pork meat and help to further bring out the true rich, smoky flavor of the meat..
Another primarily pulled pork centered style of BBQ, Memphis barbecue relies heavily on hickory wood for smoking and either a dry or wet rub for full flavor.
The dry rub is made from spices such as paprika, cumin, garlic, and brown sugar and is not served with any other sauces after it’s been cooked. The wet sauce consisting of ketchup, white vinegar, brown sugar, yellow mustard, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt is used before as a marinade, during the smoking and after for dipping.
Modern Barbecue Styles
Korean barbecue is a style of barbecue that’s popular in Korea and has gained popularity in the United States in recent years. The biggest reason it’s catching on so fast is that you get to cook your own meat any way you want.
At a restaurant, you get to choose what meat platter you want. Once you get your meat raw, you also get to cook it on a grill that is in the center of your table. So you will always have your meat grilled exactly the way you want!
Jamaican barbecue is all about Jerk, and all things Jerked. Usually it’s the Jerk Chicken that gets people’s mouths watering. This spicy chicken is made with a slow-smoke method from chicken that can be marinated for as long as two days. The spicy flavor comes from the Scotch bonnet chili pepper so it’s really hot!
Barbecue isn’t just a grill and some briquettes, it can be open flame, wood or charcoal and the flavors can range from sweet to super spicy. From the traditional styles of Texas, Carolina, and Memphis to the modern twists of Korean and Jamaican barbecue, there’s something for everyone when it comes to this delicious cooking method. And the best part is you can BBQ yourself anytime right in you own backyard.