With Memorial Day coming up in a few days, and May being National Barbecue Month, folks all over the country are going to be firing up their grills, smokers and ovens, stirring their spices and mixing their sauces for that first big weekend to kick off summer.
How you do the meat will reflect which region you live in. Barbecue experts have narrowed these regions down to four distinct ‘cue styles.
Dates back to colonial times. Wild pigs were plentiful, and most folks were missing their teeth, so they cooked those hogs over a wood fire to get them good and tender–and easier to chew. Meat was pulled right off the bone; hence, the term ‘pulled pork.’ Popular seasonings include a thin vinegar sauce, salt, pepper and flakes of red dried chili pepper.
Known for its dry rub seasonings. Barbecue sauce is served on the side. Pork ribs are rubbed with a mixture of salt, pepper and paprika, and depending on taste, onion power, garlic powder, sugar, mustard, sage and ginger are added. The sauce–tomato-based and thick, with mustard, brown sugar and vinegar.
Memphis lays claim to the famous Rendezvous restaurant, located in a basement and accessible via a dumpster-filled alley.
Kansas City Style:
Now, this is my kind of ‘cue. Sweet, sour and spicy. Tomato-based, too. Cooks will usually brush the sauce over the meat just before it comes off the grill. The meat is cooked over a slow-burning fire of hickory and oak wood chips for that sweet-smoky flavor. Be sure to have plenty of napkins near-by!
When you think of Texas, do you think of beef brisket? Or maybe pork ribs. Either way, the meat is rubbed with blended salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder, then grilled slowly over a wood fire, often of mesquite. Texas seasonings tend to be hotter, spicier. Not so sweet and sour as the Kansas City style, and with more Worcestershire sauce.
Here’s a couple of easy barbecue sauce recipes:
1 part of Heinz 57 sauce
1 part honey
Blend. Make as much or as little as you like!
My favorite fast food sandwich place is Arby’s, and their barbecue sauce is the best. Here’s a recipe:
1 cup ketchup
2 tsp. water
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. Tabasco pepper sauce
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sauce begins to boil, about 5 – 10 minutes. Let cool. Store in covered container in refrigerator.
Being in a ‘cue frame of mind, and in um, research for this blog, Doug and I went out to eat at an Omaha icon known for its barbecue–The Smoke Pit. I visited with the wife of the owner, who first met her husband when she went to work at the restaurant. Thirty-two years later, she’s still cooking for him and their customers, six days a week. They cook their meat in big smoker ovens and are known for their trademark ribs. I ordered chicken, and the meat literally falls off the bone. She makes their barbecue sauce, which I found thinner and sweeter than most.
So, do tell. What are you doing this Memorial Weekend? Serving barbecue? What’s your favorite? Any stories to share? Any recipes?
Let us know, and I’ll draw one lucky name who will win a bottle of barbecue sauce from Omaha’s own The Smoke Pit!