If you want to start a fight among foodies – have them debate the merits of their favorite regional barbecue sauce! Whether you like your meat with a dry rub, mopped with a sweet sauce or smoked over mesquite – there’s a method and taste to suit every palate. There are four generally recognized styles of barbecue in the U.S. – Memphis, Carolinas, Kansas City and Texas. Here’s the rundown on each.
It’s all about ribs in Memphis. In both ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ styles, the ribs may be brushed with sauce both before and after grilling. Dry ribs are rubbed with seasoning before hitting the grill.
Carolinas BBQ features pork which may be served pulled, shredded, chopped or sometimes sliced. This style may be treated to a spice rub before grilling and then mopped with a spice and vinegar sauce during the smoking process. But, this small description doesn’t do Carolina barbecue justice. There are several different styles just within this small region. An analysis of East versus West Carolina BBQ reveals that each uses different parts of the pig. In Eastern Carolina BBQ, folks tend to use the ‘whole hog.’ The West tends to focus on dark meat, which is found in the pork shoulder.
The secret to Kansas City barbeque is in the ‘east meets west’ sauce. A variety of meats are smoked and the sauce is served alongside. You can easily recognize a KC barbecue sauce. It’s thick, sweet and relies on tomatoes and molasses for its distinctive flavor. Perhaps the most popular of sauces, K.C. Masterpiece, is a top-selling grocery brand.
Everything’s bigger in Texas – and that includes the BBQ! There are four types of Texas-style barbecue: East Style, Central Texas, South Texas barbacoa and West Texas “Cowboy” style. The East Texas barbecue most reflects a southern barbecue. The Central Texas method has roots in German and Czech cooking. Cowboy style BBQ involves direct cooking over mesquite. Finally, the South Texas barbacoa features a BBQ of the whole animal including the head of the cow