Barbecue. Depending on where you are in the South, the word might conjure up a different image. You might see dry-rubbed pork ribs, tender beef brisket or even sausage and stew. But, what’s the actual difference and what’s the best? Read and decide for yourself.
Arguably, Memphis is the real capital of BBQ. After all, it is home to the World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest. However, Memphis BBQ means something specific – it means pork (ribs or shoulder) dry-rubbed. Dry rubbing the BBQ means that spices are applied before it’s cooked, and the barbecue is served with the sauce on the side. The eater gets to choose how much sauce they get. Memphis has a tangy, thin vinegar and tomato-based sauce, and BBQ is always served with a mayonnaise-based slaw. Ask any Memphian, and they’ll tell you that anyone who serves any other kind of “BBQ” isn’t serving BBQ at all.
Kansas City BBQ
Kansas City has their very own special type of BBQ, and it’s arguably the most popular commercially. Kansas City BBQ includes any type of meat – beef, pork, chicken and even mutton — but what really makes Kansas City BBQ stand out is the sauce. You know that bottled KC Masterpiece sauce you can get at the store? That’s what Kansas City BBQ is all about – a thick, sweet tomato and molasses-based sauce — and lots of it. Slaw is always served alongside Kansas City BBQ, too. Expect to find a very sweet and very creamy slaw alongside your meat.
Texas doesn’t mess around with their meat. That’s why their BBQ is all about what meat they’re serving, not what sauce covers it. Of course, it’s no surprise that Texas is all about beef. Texas BBQ includes tons of beef options, from beef brisket and ribs to BBQ beef sandwiches. Many Texans are so into their beef that they like it served “market-style,” which means with no sauce at all. Slaw is also an afterthought here, so don’t expect any additional big flavors except that of the fresh, hot Texas beef.
North Carolina has been making BBQ for ages, and their sauce is what makes them unique. Carolina BBQ is served with a very thin vinegar-based sauce, which lacks the tangy sweetness of any other tomato-based BBQ sauce. In much of North Carolina, pork is king. Expect to find pork shoulder, pork ribs and puled pork. Can you get a side of slaw with your Carolina BBQ? Absolutely! Carolinians are proud of their BBQ slaw, which is made using their tangy, famous BBQ sauce.
Kentucky BBQ isn’t known for its particular flavor, but instead, its particular penchant for using unique ingredients. Kentucky BBQ spots hickory-smoke their meat, and they serve a huge range of meats – from mutton and pork to sausage. The most famous Kentucky BBQ dish of all is actually a stew called Burgoo; it’s a hearty, tangy BBQ stew, and it often features pieces of hickory smoked squirrel, pheasant and venison. Slaw doesn’t come into play here, but other veggies are incorporated, like okra.
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