Alright, so here is the deal. What kind of meat, what kind of sauce, what method of cooking, what type of heat or even wood, and how’s it served. A great deal to think about. And one thing is for sure–we’re not talking a backyard Weber grill here, folks.

BBQ Wars

This’s serious business, so let us get to it.

In the South, especially North Carolina, the hottest outdoor version will be the “pig pickin’.” Named after the Cajun phrase cochon de lait, traditional Southern barbecue grew out of these gatherings, which entailed a whole hog roasted for hours, then letting guests pick their very own meat off the completed product (hence the phrase “going whole hog”).

North Carolina

But every region has the own version of its, usually pork, and the sauce is the reason why the difference. In North Carolina, the 3 varieties of sauces include vinegar based in the east, tomato vinegar, sometimes mustard, in the main state and a heavier tomato based sauce in western NC. The city of Lexington, just northeast of Charlotte, proclaims itself to be the “Barbecue Capital of the World,” boasting one BBQ restaurant per thousand folks (talk about going whole hog). And throughout the South, the meat is much more prone to be served on a plate, accompanied by hush puppies, baked beans and coleslaw, not in a bun smothered with ketchup (in a number of places considered a capital crime). When ordered, it is simply called Q and the sides are a given. (In Texas you may get a heavy piece of toast, but that is one more story.)

South Carolina

Based on South Carolinians, just in the state of theirs will you find all 4 “official” sauces: mustard based, vinegar based, heavy or light tomato based. To the west, Memphis barbecue favors vinegar-based and tomato- sauces, and in a number of restaurants (or more likely BBQ shacks) the meat is rubbed with a blend of dry seasonings before smoking over wood. Do not really consider charcoal briquettes, regarded as a misdemeanor at the very least.The dry rub ingredients are a closely guarded secret, setting them besides the guy down the street. There might not be a sauce basted over the meat, but just served on the side.

Alabama

Moving right along, in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee barbecue is usually pork, basted with a sweet red sauce. Some rebels even dare to use a mayo based sauce with vinegar, mostly on chicken (which isn’t considered a real barbecue, anyway.) A favorite item in North Memphis and Carolina is definitely the pulled pork sandwich served on a bun and usually topped with coleslaw. Pulled pork is prepared by shredding the pork after it’s been barbecued, then piled high.

Midwest

In the Midwest, we are talking Kansas City style, characterized by using various kinds of meat, which may be pulled ribs or pork, smoked sausage, ribs or beef brisket, smoked turkey, smoked/grilled chicken, and quite often fish. Whew. They do not leave anything to chance, but remember, KC is a big meat packing city, no vegetarians allowed. Hickory wood delivers the greatest taste and also the sauce of choice is tomato based, mild or spicy. No hush puppies–remember you are in the Midwest.

Chicago

And in Chicago, when they are not wolfing down Italian beef sandwiches, hot dogs or perhaps pizza, they love to season the meat with a dry rub, sear it on a hot grill, then cook it slowly in a special oven. The meat, usually ribs, will be finished with a sweet and tangy white sauce. Not to worry, they will not have you arrested in case you purchase it on a bun (just no ketchup, understand?). Side dishes can be cooked greens, sweet potatoes and cheese and mac. Because so many BBQ places are located on the South Side, they typically comprise the main ticket item at soul food places.

Kentucky

The state of Kentucky just must be changed, making mutton the meat of theirs of choice. In Maryland, beef will be the ticket and it is grilled over an impressive heat, served rare with horseradish. Barely even qualifies as barbecue, so how come we spending some time on this?

Texas

Do not mess with Texas, particularly when looking at BBQ. The larger the better, and the Lone Star state takes no prisoners with regards to the version of theirs (there ain’t no other version, pardner.) This tradition runs deep, and king sized barbecues, thanks in no small part to the number of famous political figures who have hosted them over the years, try to diminish their Northern wannabes by claiming probably the best darn barbecue in the planet. The emphasis is on the meat itself, not a sauce. Usually “Texas style” means “Central Texas style” and that spells b-e-e-f. Brisket is cooked over indirect heat, slow and low. They favor a combo or mesquite wood of oak and hickory, then served up on plates with potato salad, beans, slaw and a big ole slice of Texas toast.

This’s serious eatin’, y’all.
And there you’ve it.

Exhausting, variations and all these details.

Who is hungry?

What’ll you choose and where?

So much barbecue, very little time.

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