Monday, May 27, 2013

Texas Barbecued Beef Brisket

 




1  10- to 12-pound beef brisket


2 cups Basic All-American Barbecue Sauce on the side


1. Rub the brisket thoroughly on all its sides with the barbecue rub, and allow it to come to room temperature.

2. In the pit of a covered grill, build a very small fire on one side as far up against one wall as possible. Place the brisket on the grill on the side opposite from the fire so that none of the brisket is directly over the flame. Put the top on the cooker, pull up a chair, and grab the cooler.

This is where a person learns about the Zen of Barbecue. You gotta keep the fire going, but very quietly. If you’ve got a thermometer on your covered grill, you want to keep the temperature between 180° and 220°F. Remember, “Slow and low is the way to go.” You have to figure out your own personal refueling policy. The one I like is one handful of coals or wood chunks to every beer.

This goes on for about 8 to 10 hours or however long you can make it, the longer the better. Don’t be scared by the darkening of the exterior, the outside of the brisket will be superdark—my personal favorite part.

3. Upon completion, pull the brisket out, trim off any excess fat, and slice it thin. Serve with barbecue sauce on the side—no pro would ever cover properly cooked brisket with sauce, he’d just dab on a touch.


Obviously the key here is a tremendous amount of patience and a day when you want to do nothing but sit around. But the end product is one of those great culinary events that results from spending a lot of time doing something that is relaxing and enjoyable. Make sure you have plenty of tall boys for eating this.

In my estimation, beef brisket just might be why the barbecue process was invented. My research, sketchy as it is, shows that there was a strong German immigrant community in Texas around the turn of the century. It has some of these Germans working in the booming Texas cattle industry, and others working in butcher shops, what with their strong background in butchering and charcuterie. It being common knowledge that butchers are constantly trying to turn tough or inexpensive cuts of meat into a usable product that brings a higher cost (witness sausages and pâtés), it has these German butchers faced with the brisket. This cut of beef is particularly unwanted because of the huge percentage of fat that runs not only on the surface, but throughout the cut. Traditional technique would braise or pickle this cut to tenderize it, but the brisket also has a lot of beef flavor. In my personal opinion, a very smart German butcher who was looking for a way to market this cut barbecued it. We’re not talking here about the open-pit roasting that was already popular in this area, but rather closed-pit cooking, in which the cooking is done by convection rather than conduction. It is similar to braising in theory, with the smoke replacing the water. It is cooked at very low heat for a long period of time, and the high fat content protects the meat from drying out but also disappears through the 10- to 18- hour cooking process. What you are left with is very tender meat with little or no fat and a tremendous smoky beef flavor. I think the meat and the process were literally invented for each other.

Now, I don’t think that you will get any disagreement from the professional barbecue industry when I say that brisket is the hardest to master—but, hey, learning is half the fun. And, in the words of Remus Powers, famous barbecue aficionado, “The best barbecue I ever had is the one on the plate in front of me.”

These are guidelines for the closed-pit barbecuing of brisket, a basic technique with many variables which is wide open for personal interpretations.


• Serves 8 to 10 beer-swilling cowboys/girls


SERVING SUGGESTIONS: I like this with Hot Pepper Corn Bread, Grandma Wetzler’s Baked Beans, and Tidewater Coleslaw. Your Basic Grilled Corn is good, too, and don’t forget the watermelon.


Try: Barbecue Rub, Barbecue Sauce and Coleslaw Recipe

Barbecue Rub, Barbecue Sauce and Coleslaw Recipe

 



All-South Barbecue Rub

2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
4 tablespoons paprika

All you do is throw them together and mix them well.

About 1 cup



Eastern North Carolina—Style Barbecue Sauce

1 cup white vinegar
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Once again, folks, just mix ’em together. Keeps 2 months, covered.

About 2 cups



Tidewater Coleslaw

1½ cups commercial mayonnaise
½ cup white vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon celery seed

Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

1 head green cabbage, finely shredded
2 carrots, finely grated


1. In a small bowl, blend the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, celery seed, and salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.

2. In a large bowl, combine the cabbage and carrots. Pour the dressing over the mixture and blend well. Refrigerate until serving time.

About 2½ cups



Saturday, May 25, 2013

The Only Real Barbecue Sandwich, or North Carolina Pulled Pork Barbecue Sandwich

 




2  4- to 5-pound boneless pork butts

1 cup All-South Barbecue Rub

2 cups Eastern North Carolina-style Barbecue Sauce

Cheap white fluffy buns Tidewater Coleslaw

Bottle of hot sauce for garnish


1. Rub the pork butts on all sides with the dry rub and allow them to come to room temperature (about 2 hours).

2. Using hardwood charcoal, build a small fire in one side of a covered cooker. Allow about 40 minutes for the charcoal to become completely caught.

3. Place the butts on the grill, making sure that they are not above any part of the fire. Cover and vent slightly.

4. Pull a comfortable chair and a cooler full of beer out of the house and sit next to the grill, adding small amounts of charcoal when needed to keep the fire just smoldering (about every 30 or 40 minutes or after each beer, whichever comes first).

5. Cook for 5 to 7 hours, or until the internal temperature is 165° to 170°F and the meat is super tender.

6. Remove the pork butts from the grill and chop or shred them, whichever you prefer. Mix the pork with the sauce to taste, and pile it onto the buns, topped with coleslaw. Garnish with a bottle of hot sauce.


The real stuff. When I think of barbecue, this is what it is. The way to eat this incomparable sandwich is sitting at a picnic table south of the Mason-Dixon Line, with a bottle of Texas Pete close at hand, a tall, frosty beer open, and George Jones on the radio. What more need be said? This amount should serve about 15 people and will keep covered in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days.


Serves about 15


Try: Barbecue Recipe- Barbecued Ribs, Missouri Style: Home Version

Barbecued Ribs, Missouri Style: Home Version

 




2 full racks of 3/down pork spareribs For 1 cup basic Barbecue Rib Rub

2 tablespoons salt

4 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chili powder

4 tablespoons paprika For 2 cups basting sauce

1¾ cups white vinegar

2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper


1. Let’s say dinner is at 6 P.M. Bright and early, so you can say that you’ve been cooking all day, preheat the oven to 180°F and rub the ribs thoroughly with the barbecue rub.

2. Place the ribs on baking sheets and put them in the oven for 3 hours. Don’t bother to turn them, because all you are doing is slow cooking and infusing spices.

3. Remove the ribs from the oven. They can stand out for a while, be refrigerated, covered, at this point for up to 2 days, or go right onto the grill.

4. You want a very low charcoal fire with the rack set as high as possible. Put the ribs on and let them stay there as long as your patience allows. A light crust on the outside and heat throughout is the goal, and depending on your fire, it can be achieved in 5 minutes per side or it can take up to ½ hour per side if you’re into prolonging your guests’ agony. Of course, the longer the ribs cook the better.

5. If you like your ribs “wet,” coat them with sauce just before removing them from the grill. (The other option is to serve the ribs “dry” with sauce on the side.)

6. Remove the ribs from the grill and cut in between the bones.


This method comes pretty close to true barbecuing, missing only the intense smoky flavor that can be achieved only by 3 hours of slow barbecuing. The ribs are coated with a mixture of spices, then cooked slowly in the oven and finished on the grill. The most important part of barbecuing is the slow cooking of the meat, which allows it to become tender without drying out. The term “3/down” refers to the weight of the ribs. In this case, it is 3 pounds or under for each slab of 10 to 12 ribs. This recipe is easily halved or doubled. Just keep the proportion of the rub to the sauce 2:1.


Serves 5 hungry folks


SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Serve them with the traditional accompaniments: Tidewater Coleslaw, Grandma Wetzler’s Baked Beans, East Coast Grill Corn Bread or a couple of slices of cheap white bread, and watermelon, as is the prevailing tradition in sparerib country.


Try: Barbecue Recipe- Outdoor Pork Baby Back Ribs

Outdoor Pork Baby Back Ribs

 





2 slabs of baby back ribs (about 3 pounds)

1 cup basic Barbecue Rib Rub


1. In a covered cooker, build a small fire in one half of the grill. Let the fuel become completely engulfed in flames, then wait a few minutes for the fire to burn down somewhat.

2. Rub the ribs thoroughly with the barbecue rub, put them on the half of the grill without fire under it, put the cover on the cooker, and vent slightly. Cook for 45 minutes, feeding the fire every 30 minutes or so to keep it going. Flip the ribs and cook them an additional 45 minutes, still feeding the fire regularly.

3. Remove the ribs from the fire and serve them dry (this is how the pros do it) with Basic All-American Barbecue Sauce on the side.


Barbecuing pork spareribs outdoors on a covered grill is not an easy task, since the large surface area of the ribs makes it hard to have more than one rib on the grill without having the meat directly over the flames. For this reason use baby back ribs in this recipe. Baby backs do not have the size or thickness of spareribs and come from the back of the pig where the meat is tenderer. While I think of that as cheating a little bit, since barbecuing is designed to break down tough meat, baby backs can carry the smoke flavor well and take less time and patience to cook. When you feel cocky with the baby backs, you can increase the level of difficulty by moving up a weight class.


Serves 6 as an appetizer


SERVING SUGGESTIONS: I would serve this in front of Grill-Seared Sushi-Quality Tuna with Soy, Wasabi, and Pickled Ginger or Grilled West Indies Spice-Rubbed Chicken Breast with Grilled Banana.


Try: Barbecue Recipe- Duck Barbecue

Duck Barbecue

 


6 duck legs from 3 5-pound ducks, trimmed of excess fat
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

4 tablespoons white vinegar

3 dashes of Tabasco sauce


1. Rub the legs with lots of salt and pepper. Build a small fire as far to one side of a covered cooker as possible. Place the legs skin-side down on the side of the grill opposite the fire.

2. Cover and cook for 1½ to 2 hours, or until a fork stuck into a leg twists easily. You will need to feed the fire slightly while they’re cooking, just enough to keep it smoldering. You are barbecuing now, so grab a beer and remember the pitmaster’s creed, “Slow and low is the way to go.”

3. When the legs are tender, remove them from the grill, allow them to cool slightly, then remove the meat and skin from the bone and place them in a bowl. The meat should be crispy, not fatty, and you want to shred it into fairly small pieces. Add the vinegar, Tabasco sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. This is best served immediately, but can be refrigerated, covered, for 4 to 5 days or frozen. To bring it back, place it in a pan in a 250°F oven for 20 to 30 minutes.


This is an excellent use for the extra leg meat you may have left from a grilled duck breast dish. While the exposure to smoke for long periods usually dominates its prey, the taste of duck is strong enough to stand up against the smoky tenderness of barbecuing. This freezes well and can be served in sandwiches for extra fancy barbecue or with fresh tortillas. Or reserve the breasts to make Grilled Duck Breast with Kumquat-Sugarcane-Basil Glaze and serve the barbecue alongside.


1 pound


SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Serve this with fresh tortillas, Black Bean Salad, and Corn Bread Salad with Lime Juice and Cilantro, or with Pita Bread and Cold Orzo Salad.


Some Facts

Nouvelle cuisine reintroduced America to the practice of cooking duck breast medium-rare. This presented chefs with the problem of how to handle the legs of the duck, since it is not appropriate to undercook them and even by nouvelle standards a single duck breast does not a portion make. So we went scurrying to create interesting treatments for the legs. Some simply served the legs separately and cooked them longer. Others made duck sausage or confit. Still others made forcemeat and stuffed Chinese dumplings or ravioli. The common factor in all of these preparations is a cooking method that breaks down tough meat. One day while racking my brain for one more creative and unusual way to use the duck legs that went with a Southern-inspired duck breast preparation, I decided to fall back on the basics—why not barbecue them? Now, as you should all know, this does not mean grilling, but rather exposing the meat to wood smoke at low temperatures for a long time, allowing for the sinews to break down completely. It worked really well, proving as usual that old ways and new products are often an excellent match.


Try: Barbecue Recipe- Barbecued Whole Chicken

Barbecued Whole Chicken

 


2 3½- to 4-pound whole chickens



1. Rub the chickens well with the barbecue rub. Cover, put in the refrigerator, and let them sit for 1 hour.

2. In a covered cooker, build a small fire on one side and allow all of the fuel to become completely engulfed in flame. After it has burned down somewhat, put the chickens on the grill over the side with no fire. Cover the cooker and vent slightly.

3. Cook for 3 hours, maintaining the fire with intermittent feedings, maybe twice an hour.

4. Check the chickens by poking your fork into the thighs. If the juices run clear, dinner is ready.


The more you learn about barbecue, the more you understand that it is the method that makes it barbecue. In this case, I don’t even use a “barbecue sauce.” Instead, I rub the chicken with a dry rub, and its reaction during the cooking process results in a mellow, tender, smoky flavor and a crisp, crusty skin. The rub seems to concentrate the flavor on the surface in the same way a sauce would. I encourage you to experiment with the rub—it’s a way to make your own personal barbecue statement. Some people like a lot of sugar, while others go heavy on the paprika. As is normally true with any aspect of barbecue, the quality of the barbecue is directly proportional to the quality of the patter you spin while serving it.


Serves 4

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Serve this with Grilled Andouille Sausage and Yam Salad and José’s Jicama Slaw.

About Barbecuing: Origins of the Word Barbecue

 






Barbecue Definition and Origin

In 1492 when Columbus discovered the New World he found the Arawak Indians cooking meat over pits of fire – they called this process barbacoa which is, presumably, the origin of what is today known as barbecue.

Barbecue (also barbeque, BBQ and barbie) is a method and apparatus for char grilling food in the hot smoke of a wood fire, usually charcoal fueled. In the United States, to grill is to cook in this manner quickly, while barbecue is typically a much slower method utilizing less heat than grilling, attended to over an extended period of several hours.

The term as a noun can refer to the meat or to the cooking apparatus itself (the "barbecue grill" or simply "barbecue"). The term as an adjective can refer to foods cooked by this method. The term is also used as a verb for the act of cooking food in this manner.

Barbecue is usually done in an outdoor environment by cooking and smoking the meat over wood or charcoal. Restaurant barbecue may be cooked in large brick or metal ovens specially designed for that purpose.

Barbecue has numerous regional variations in many parts of the world.

Welcome to the new world of barbecuing. Sure, this is still the perfect way to entertain a group of friends on a hot, sunny day. But today’s barbecue is also an integral part of our kitchen equipment which can be used for everything from family meals to that special dinner party. And you know what? There is something about the smoky aromas of food being cooked over glowing coals that still, to this day, excites my palate and invariably starts my mouth watering.


Barbecue Etymology

Most etymologists believe that barbecue derives from the word barabicu found in the language of the Taíno people of the Caribbean and the Timucua of Florida, and entered European languages in the form barbacoa. The word translates as "sacred fire pit." The word describes a grill for cooking meat, consisting of a wooden platform resting on sticks.

Traditional barbacoa involves digging a hole in the ground and placing some meat (usually a whole goat) with a pot underneath it, so that the juices can make a hearty broth. It is then covered with maguey leaves and coal and set alight. The cooking process takes a few hours.

It has been suggested that both the word and cooking technique migrated out of the Caribbean and into other languages and cultures, with the word (barbacoa) moving from Caribbean dialects into Spanish, then Portuguese, French, and English. The Oxford English Dictionary cites the first recorded use of the word in the English language as a verb in 1661, in Edmund Hickeringill's Jamaca Viewed: "Some are slain, and their flesh forthwith Barbacu'd and eat." It also appears as a verb in the published writings of John Lederer, following his travels in the American southeast in 1672. The first known use of the word as a noun was in 1697 by the British buccaneer William Dampier. In his New Voyage Round the World, Dampier writes: And lay there all night, upon our Borbecu's, or frames of Sticks, raised about 3-foot (0.91 m) from the Ground.

Samuel Johnson's 1756 dictionary gave the following definitions:

"To Barbecue – a term for dressing a whole hog" (attestation to Pope) "Barbecue – a hog dressed whole"

While the standard modern English spelling of the word is barbecue, local variations like barbeque and truncations such as bar-b-q or bbq may also be found. The spelling barbeque is given in Merriam-Webster OnLine as a variant spelling, while the Oxford English Dictionary states that barbecue is "often misspelled as barbeque".

In the southeastern United States, the word barbecue is used predominantly as a noun referring to roast pork, while in the southwestern states cuts of beef are often cooked.


Barbecuing Techniques

Barbecuing encompasses four or five distinct types of cooking techniques. The original technique is cooking using smoke at lower temperatures (usually around 240–270 °F or 115–125 °C) and significantly longer cooking times (several hours), known as smoking.

Another technique is baking, utilizing a masonry oven or any other type of baking oven, which uses convection to cook meats and starches with moderate temperatures for an average cooking time (about an hour plus a few extra minutes).

Yet another technique is braising, which combines direct dry heat charbroiling on a ribbed surface with a broth-filled pot for moist heat, cooking at various speeds throughout the duration (starting fast, slowing down, then speeding up again, lasting for a few hours).

Finally, grilling is done over direct dry heat, usually over a hot fire (i.e., over500 °F (260 °C)) for a short time (minutes). Grilling may be done over wood, charcoal, gas (natural gas or propane), or electricity.


1) Smoking

Smoke roasting or smoke baking refers to any process that has the attributes of smoking combined with either roasting or baking. This smoking method is sometimes referred to as "barbecuing", "pit baking", or "pit roasting". It may be done in a smoke roaster, closed wood-fired masonry oven or barbecue pit, any smoker that can reach above 250 °F (121 °C), or in a conventional oven by placing a pan filled with hardwood chips on the floor of the oven so the chips smolder and produce a smoke bath. However, this should only be done in a well-ventilated area to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

Evidence suggests that smoked foods may contain carcinogens. The smoking process contaminates food with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known carcinogens, so, in theory, consuming smoked food increases the risk of gastrointestinal cancer. Some studies have found a positive statistical correlation between intestinal tract cancer and the frequent intake of smoked foods. In one Hungarian longitudinal study, a district in which home-smoked meat was the predominant protein source consumed showed that the incidence of stomach cancer, relative to all other cancers, was nearly twice as high (47%–50%) as that of the general Hungarian population (29.9%).

Other sources, however, while agreeing that PAHs help cause cancer, note the dearth of research studies proving a strong correlation between the intake of smoked foods and increased cancer risk. The National Cancer Institute emphasizes that "population studies have not established a definitive link between ... cooked meats and cancer in humans," but suggests individuals reduce their exposure to PAHs.


2) Baking

The masonry oven is similar to a smoke pit in that it allows for an open flame, but cooks much faster, and uses convection to cook. Barbecue-baking can also be done in traditional stove-ovens. It can be used to cook not only meats, but breads and other starches, and even various casseroles and desserts. It uses both direct and indirect heat to surround the food with hot air to cook, and can be basted much the same as grilled foods.


3) Braising 

It is possible to braise meats and vegetables in a pot on top of a grill. A gas or electric charbroil grill would be the best choices for what is known as barbecue-braising, or combining dry heat charbroil-grilling directly on a ribbed surface and braising in a broth-filled pot for moist heat. To braise, put a pot on top of the grill, cover it, and let it simmer for a few hours. There are two advantages to barbecue-braising: the first is that this method now allows for browning the meat directly on the grill before the braising, and the second is that it also allows for glazing the meat with sauce and finishing it directly over the fire after the braising, effectively cooking the meat three times, which results in a soft textured product that falls right off the bone. This method of barbecue has a varying duration (depending on whether a slow cooker or pressure cooker is used), and is generally slower than regular grilling or baking, but faster than pit-smoking.


4) Grilling

Grilling usually involves a significant amount of direct, radiant heat, and tends to be used for cooking meat quickly. Food to be grilled is cooked on a grill (an open wire grid such as a gridiron with a heat source above or below), a grill pan (similar to a frying pan, but with raised ridges to mimic the wires of an open grill), or griddle (a flat plate heated from below). Heat transfer to the food when using a grill is primarily via thermal radiation. Heat transfer when using a grill pan or griddle is by direct conduction. In the United States and Canada, when the heat source for grilling comes from above, grilling is termed broiling. In this case, the pan that holds the food is called a broiler pan, and heat transfer is by thermal radiation.
Direct heat grilling can expose food to temperatures often in excess of 260 °C (500 °F). Grilled meat acquires a distinctive roast aroma from a chemical process called the Maillard reaction. The Maillard reaction only occurs when foods reach temperatures in excess of 155 °C (310 °F).

Risks of grilling. As is true of any high-temperature frying or baking, when meat is grilled at high temperatures, the cooking process can generate carcinogenic chemicals. Two processes are thought to be responsible. Heterocyclic amines - "HCAs are formed when amino acids, sugars, and creatine react at high temperatures." Additionally, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons - "PAHs are formed when fat and juices from meat grilled directly over an open fire drip onto the fire, causing flames. These flames contain PAHs that then adhere to the surface of the meat. PAHs can also be formed during other food preparation processes, such as smoking of meats."

However it is possible to significantly reduce carcinogens when grilling meat, or mitigate their effect. Garlic, rosemary, basil, mint, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, olive oil, cherries, and vitamin E have been shown to reduce formation of both HCAs and PCAs. Another method is pre-cooking the meat in the microwave, then draining meat juices so they do not fall onto flames, preventing release of PCAs. Side dishes and drinks rich in antioxidants, such as tea, have also been shown to neutralize the toxins by mixing in one's stomach.

Benefits of grilling. Grilled foods can be lower in saturated fat, if fat is allowed to drip out after it liquefies.


How Long Does It Take to Cook?

There are so many variables in barbecuing – the BBQ itself, which part of the grill you are cooking on, the thickness of the meat, poultry or seafood, even the weather. Remember you can cheat a little by making a very small cut in anything with the point of a very small sharp knife and taking a peek. And, at the risk of repeating myself, for larger joints, whole chickens and the like, an instant-read thermometer is invaluable. I also have, on the side of my gas-fired BBQ, a burner which certainly makes cooking sauces, blanching veggies and so on a lot easier. But if this is not the case with your barbie, it’s worth considering buying one of those small individual units complete with gas bottle which are available in most Asian groceries, camping shops and hardware stores.


The Barbecue Itself

I have both a kettle and a gas-fired BBQ. Although they are pretty much interchangeable, I tend to use them for particular jobs. For example, I always use the kettle for large pieces of meat, whole chickens and the like, while I prefer to cook steaks, cutlets, fish fillets and all those small numbers on the gas-fired version where the direct heat tends to be fiercer. And if you don't happen to have a kettle barbecue but instead have a covered oven type gas-fired number, just think of indirect heat as the equivalent of moderate heat, and direct heat as fairly high.


When is it Hot Enough?

To tell how hot your barbie is, hold your hand about 10 cm above the grill, then start counting until you have to remove your hand – one potato, two potatoes and so on until four, is a hot fire. Five to six potatoes is medium high, seven to nine is medium, ten to twelve is medium low and thirteen to fifteen is very low and the coals most probably need replenishing.


Barbecuing Styles

In British usage, barbecuing refers to a fast cooking process directly over high heat, while grilling refers to cooking under a source of direct, high heat—known in the United States and Canada as broiling. In American English usage, however, grilling refers to a fast process over high heat, while barbecuing refers to a slow process using indirect heat and/or hot smoke (very similar to some forms of roasting). For example, in a typical U.S. home grill, food is cooked on a grate directly over hot charcoal, while in a U.S. barbecue, the coals are dispersed to the sides or at significant distance from the grate. Its South American versions are the southern Brazilian churrasco and the Argentine asado.

Alternatively, an apparatus called a smoker with a separate fire box may be used. Hot smoke is drawn past the meat by convection for very slow cooking. This is essentially how barbecue is cooked in most U.S. "barbecue" restaurants, but nevertheless, many consider this to be a distinct cooking process called hot smoking.


American South and Midwest 

In the southern United States, barbecue initially revolved around the cooking of pork. During the 19th century, pigs were a low-maintenance food source that could be released to forage for themselves in forests and woodlands. When food or meat supplies were low, these semi-wild pigs could then be caught and eaten.

It was the Spanish who first introduced the pig into the Americas and to the American Indians. The Indians, in turn, introduced the Spanish to the concept of true slow cooking with smoke. The Spanish colonists came to South Carolina in the early 16th century and settled at Santa Elena. It was in that early American colony that Europeans first learned to prepare and to eat "real" barbecue.

According to estimates, prior to the American Civil War, Southerners ate around five pounds of pork for every one pound of beef they consumed. Because of the poverty of the southern United States at this time, every part of the pig was eaten immediately or saved for later (including the ears, feet, and other organs). Because of the effort to capture and cook these wild hogs, pig slaughtering became a time for celebration, and the neighborhood would be invited to share in the largesse. In Cajun culture, these are called boucheries. These feasts are sometimes called 'pig pickin's.' The traditional Southern barbecue grew out of these gatherings.

Each Southern locale has its own particular variety of barbecue, particularly concerning the sauce. North Carolina sauces vary by region; eastern North Carolina uses a vinegar-based sauce, the center of the state enjoys Lexington-style barbecue, which uses a combination of ketchup and vinegar as their base, and western North Carolina uses a heavier ketchup base. Lexington boasts of being "The Barbecue Capital of the World" and it has more than one BBQ restaurant per 1,000 residents. South

Carolina is the only state that includes all four recognized barbecue sauces, including mustard-based, vinegar-based, and light and heavy tomato-based. Memphis barbecue is best known for tomato- and vinegar-based sauces. In some Memphis establishments and in Kentucky, meat is rubbed with dry seasoning (dry rubs) and smoked over hickory wood without sauce; the finished barbecue is then served with barbecue sauce on the side.

The barbecue of Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee is almost always pork served with a sweet tomato-based sauce. However, several regional variations exist as well. Alabama is particularly known for its distinctive white sauce, a mayonnaise- and vinegar-based sauce, originating in northern Alabama, used predominantly on chicken and pork. A popular item in North Carolina and Memphis is the pulled pork sandwich served on a bun and often topped with coleslaw. Pulled pork is prepared by shredding the pork after it has been barbecued.

Kansas City-style barbecue is characterized by its use of different types of meat (including pulled pork, pork ribs, burnt ends, smoked sausage, beef brisket, beef ribs, smoked/grilled chicken, smoked turkey, and sometimes fish), a variety attributable to Kansas City's history as a center for meat packing in the U.S. Hickory is the primary wood used for smoking in KC, while the sauces are typically tomato based with sweet, spicy and tangy flavor profiles. Burnt ends, the flavorful pieces of meat cut from the ends of a smoked beef or pork brisket, are popular in many Kansas City-area barbecue restaurants.

Pit-beef prevails in Maryland and is often enjoyed at large outdoor "bull roasts", which are common for club or association fundraising events. Maryland-style pit-beef is not the product of barbecue cookery in the strictest sense, as there is no smoking of the meat involved; rather, it involves grilling the meat over a high heat. The meat is typically served rare, with a strong horseradish sauce as the preferred condiment.

The state of Kentucky, particularly Western Kentucky, is unusual in its barbecue cooking, in that the preferred meat is mutton. This kind of mutton barbecue is often used in communal events in Kentucky, such as political rallies, county fairs and church fund-raising events.

In much of the world outside of the American South, barbecue has a close association with Texas. Many barbecue restaurants outside the United States claim to serve "Texas barbecue", regardless of the style they actually serve. Texas barbecue is often assumed to be primarily beef. This assumption, along with the inclusive term "Texas barbecue", is an oversimplification. Texas has four main styles, all with different flavors, different cooking methods, different ingredients, and different cultural origins.

In the Midwest, Chicago-style is popular and involves seasoning the meat with a dry rub, searing over a hot grill and a long slow cook in an oven. The meat, typically ribs, is then finished with a sweet-tangy sauce.


Starting the Feast

Let’s be fair, for an everyday meal nothing much apart from good bread is really needed to start proceedings (plus, of course, the best butter or olive oil). But a quick flash over the coals for that bread plus a vigorous rubbing of a cut garlic clove will make bread even better (as will, in the Spanish style, a similar vigorous rubbing with the fleshy side of a cut tomato). And let us not forget bruschetta, which can be as simple as charred bread topped with diced tomato, onion and basil with a splash of good oil, or as complicated as a ragout of exotic mushrooms or braised artichokes on top.

There will be occasions when you need to pull out all the stops and wow the mob. In this instance I often just buy a selection of fresh seafood – prawns in the shell, freshly shucked oysters, crabs, yabbies, bugs etc – and serve the lot on ice with plenty of napkins, finger bowls and a selection of sauces. An antipasto platter is always a hit too. I have to admit I cheat a little, dash into my favorite deli and pile my platter with goodies such as pâtés, terrines, sliced prosciutto and salami, Persian feta, various dips, marinated olives and whatever else takes my fancy. I then add some homemade stuff such as asparagus wrapped in prosciutto (or smoked salmon) with horseradish sour cream, barbecued veggies in the Spanish style, roasted capsicums  or, in fact, almost any of the vegetable dishes. I even, when I’m feeling generous, throw on some of the aforementioned fresh seafood, once again breaking out the napkins, fingerbowls and sauces. And may I suggest, after all this amazing effort, if the guests aren’t suitably impressed I recommend that you:

(a) Never invite them again.
(b) Eat the lot yourself.


Barbecuing Events and Gatherings 

The word barbecue is also used to refer to a social gathering where food is served, usually outdoors in the late afternoon or evening. In the southern United States, outdoor gatherings are not typically called "barbecues" unless barbecue itself will actually be on the menu, instead generally favoring the word "cookouts". The device used for cooking at a barbecue is commonly referred to as a "barbecue", "barbecue grill", or "grill". In North Carolina, however, "barbecue" is a noun primarily referring to the food and never used by native North Carolinians to describe the act of cooking or the device on which the meat is cooked.

Often referred to as "The World Series of Barbecue", The American Royal Barbecue Contest is held each October in Kansas City, Missouri. This event comprises two distinct competitions held over the course of four days. The first contest is the Invitational Contest, with competing teams being required to obtain an invitation by winning other qualifying contests throughout the year. The second competition is an open contest that any team can compete in. This open contest is the largest championship barbecue competition in the world, with the 2007 event attracting 496 teams.

The World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest is held annually in Memphis, Tennessee, during the Memphis in May festival. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the world's largest pork barbecue contest.

Other barbecue competitions are held in virtually every state in the United States during the warmer months, usually beginning in April and going through September. These events feature keen competitions between teams of cooks and are divided into separate competitions for the best pork, beef and poultry barbecue and for the best barbecue sauces.


Other Uses

The term barbecue is also used to designate a flavor added to foodstuffs, the most prominent of which are potato chips. This term usually implies a strong smoky flavor and often denotes a flavor reminiscent of barbecue sauce.

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