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Real Southern Barbeque ^ | 13 May 2003 | Brad Edmonds

Posted on 05/13/2003 4:44:31 PM PDT by stainlessbanner

The origins of term "barbeque" and the cooking methods associated with it are lost to history. The term itself may derive from a French term meaning something to the effect of "head to tail." Indeed, much barbeque involves cooking the entire animal. Some stories say the tradition in the US dates to the 1700s in Virginia and North Carolina, among colonists who perhaps learned the technique from American Indians or Caribbean aborigines. Given that the basic requisites are meat and fire, barbequing probably dates back about as far back as human use of fire.

As to the term "barbeque" today, different people take it different ways. There is "grilling" the meat is within several inches of the flames, such as with an hibachi, and you get grill marks; and "smoking" the meat is nowhere near the flames, and the hot smoke itself cooks the meat. According to 19th-century cowboy traditions, the meat should be cooked at around 200 degrees F., so any place near a flame would be too hot. The smoke flavor itself is part of the objective; keeping the meat tender and juicy is the rest (though I don t believe I ve ever eaten a juicy barbequed brisket).

For "barbeque," some people think smoking and some think grilling. It would be helpful if we could come up with some additional terms one for smoking and then slathering with barbeque sauce, one for smoking while basting with barbeque sauce, another for grilling while basting. Perhaps another for grilling and then basting. For now, when somebody sells or otherwise offers you something they claim has been barbequed, look around or ask how it was cooked. You re not being rude; cooking meat is an art, and the more you can learn about the flavors and textures that result from different techniques, the better. Most cooks and chefs are pleased to hear "how did you prepare this?"

At cookoffs, Texans often will smoke a piece of meat for six hours or more, up to six feet away from the flame. A more common technique is to have the meat directly over the flame, but a low flame, with the whole contraption enclosed to keep in the smoke. This is a more practical alternative to fabricating a grill that measures 3' by 5' by 7'.

There s pretty much one real regional difference in the South with regard to the meat. The vast majority of Dixie, upon hearing "barbeque," assumes pork; Texans don t. Rather, they often assume beef brisket. As to the wood used for smoking, there is disagreement, but the differences are found in every town and don t follow regional lines (except that some hardwoods were more available in some places than others in the past; today, you can get anything at a big grocery store). Hickory and mesquite are the most popular; applewood and "hardwood" are still seen here and there. The real disagreement is over whether the variety of wood matters much. There is much less disagreement that wood gives more smoke flavor than charcoal. There can be no disagreement that gas grills don t impart any smoke flavor.

There are more differences with regard to sauces. In Texas, barbequed meat is usually served with sauce on the side if there is any sauce at all. My favorite restaurant in College Station (I can t remember its name) served half a raw onion, a 4-oz. slice of cheddar cheese, a pickle, and 8 ounces of whatever meat you wanted, all on a piece of butcher paper. They gave you a knife (no fork) and a jar of their own barbeque sauce. The meat choices were pork tenderloin; beef that could pass for tenderloin; polish sausage; and I forget what else. Maybe chicken. The sauce I remember: Thick and fresh (hot from the pot, actually), but with very little flavor beyond tomato no pepper heat, no vinegar tang, no sweetness, no real spicy piquancy.

That s probably not typical of Texas barbeque sauces. A list of ingredients from one of the self-proclaimed "best" Texas barbeque sauces begins with "tomato concentrate, distilled vinegar, corn syrup, salt, spices ." That would be typical of barbeque sauces around the country: They ll have a tomato base, vinegar, sweetener, always a little garlic and onion, and some heat. They sometimes have a puckering tang from prepared (powdered) mustard or turmeric; and some have a little citrus flavoring of some sort. Mustard-based sauces show up in some places; they tend to be less sweet than the brownish sauces.

Those are the basic two, with the tomato-based sauce being the most popular. However, eastern North Carolina and Virginia have a tradition of their own: A watery, vinegar-based sauce with no tomato, sugar, or mustard flavor. I ordered a bottle and tasted it, and can report that it is similar to any "Louisiana" hot sauce (the ingredients of which should always be only vinegar, peppers, and salt). The North Carolina sauce added some other spices that gave it an extremely dry, almost bitter flavor, similar to a Thai pepper sauce. The particular one I sampled has won awards in North Carolina, but to me it seemed to be lacking something. The spices made the sauce seem to want for some sweetness, which impression does not accompany the taste of a Louisiana hot sauce.

If you haven t had the chance to sample any local Southern barbeque sauces, despair not: The flavor that best captures the typical sauce can be had for 99 cents just buy a bottle of Kraft barbeque sauce. That isn t shameful Kraft hires food experts to develop sauces for a living, and they measure proportions in parts per million. Kraft, by the way, sells about 50 varieties, and they re all inexpensive and good. Don t spend $4 on a bottle of sauce heck, Kraft makes the more expensive "gourmet" Bullseye sauces. They re not any better than the 99-cent stuff.

Most local Southern sauces taste similar to one Kraft variety or another. At one of the more famous barbeque joints in the Southeast, Dreamland (based in Tuscaloosa, Alabama), the sauce tastes exactly like the regular Kraft with a little sugar and heat added. That the good local sauces and Kraft sauces are similar means only that Southerners and food giants are arriving at a good flavor. And some of Kraft s 50 relatively new varieties probably are themselves imitations of, or inspired by, various local twists on the basic theme.

Indeed, just as government interventions lag behind the market s identification of needs and their solutions (e.g., in the early 20th century, the government decided to write child-labor laws after the economy began to generate enough wealth that children weren t any longer being sent to factories by their parents, and after special-interest groups decided they were outraged by a practice that was already going away), big corporations get "new" food-product ideas from foods people already have. The Oreo probably wasn t even an exception. They won t tell, though; I tried to get information out of Kraft, to no avail.

So, "barbeque," whatever the term means, isn t a Southern invention; surely it s as old as the hills. All we did was perfect it. The reasons why would be pure speculation, but they probably begin with our better climate, our love of hunting and fishing, our greater sociability, our slower-paced life, and our tasty pigs; and end with the only possible result of millions of people enjoying a craft that requires them to do all the work every time: Innovations happen randomly, frequently, sometimes serendipitously, but inexorably.

A note about perfection: Theoretically, there s no such thing. Practically, however, every time you barbeque something well and everybody loves it, it s perfect; and as tastes change over time, recipes and techniques will evolve to accommodate them, and it ll still be perfect.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; US: North Carolina; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: bbq; dixie; dixielist; mustardsaucesucks; northcarolina; oldnorthstate; south
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To: 1L
No way Jose...I'll stick to the pork which is where it's at and when I eat beef it's gotta be fillet on the grill medium rare...four mins each sauce thank you...too nice a meat to mess with keep those cow ribs and I'll stick to the short ribs...pork butt for sandwiches and no pickles...real barbecue doesn't have pickles...sorry Carolina
141 posted on 05/13/2003 7:54:35 PM PDT by kellynla ("C" 1/5 1st Mar Div Viet Nam '69 & '70 Semper Fi)
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To: Poser
I use Jack Daniels in my sauce. Being that it's the best whiskey made! That ought to be good for another twenty or thirty posts! LOL
142 posted on 05/13/2003 8:01:29 PM PDT by kellynla ("C" 1/5 1st Mar Div Viet Nam '69 & '70 Semper Fi)
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To: Poser
BTW Poser I agree with just about everything you said on #139...glad you straightened out those who don't know better about BBQ & sauce...
143 posted on 05/13/2003 8:03:41 PM PDT by kellynla ("C" 1/5 1st Mar Div Viet Nam '69 & '70 Semper Fi)
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To: Sungirl
144 posted on 05/13/2003 8:08:42 PM PDT by RedBloodedAmerican
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To: kellynla
Yea, one of my many trips to Vegas I met the Memphis restaurant in Vegas owners...they wanted some tips...I was polite and told them it was good BBQ...eventhough I was not impressed...I mean the owners are YANKEES for pete's sake ROFLMAO

Yep. the "chain" effect.

Easy on the Yankee part, I are one!

You said, "many trips Vegas" - if you are heading this again, I'd love to hook up and talk / do food. Just give me advance notice. I'd love it.


145 posted on 05/13/2003 8:14:21 PM PDT by LasVegasMac
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To: kellynla
you keep those cow ribs and I'll stick to the short ribs

I wish you would actually read what I wrote before going off. I don't like beef ribs, either. But that's the only part of the pork that's really worth BBQing. As far as no sauce, it ain't BBQ without sauce.

Oh, wait. I guess I did what I railed someone else about. But trust me: Texans just laugh when folks from other states mention real BBQ. That's a little like me trying to tell someone in Philly how to make a cheesesteak.

146 posted on 05/13/2003 8:24:23 PM PDT by 1L
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To: Non-Sequitur
The best barbecue in the world is found in Kansas City,....

Concur. Arthur Bryant's. Game Over. Next thread, please.


147 posted on 05/13/2003 8:29:06 PM PDT by Hat-Trick (only criminals, their advocates, and tyrants need fear guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens)
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To: stainlessbanner
The Prehistory of Grilling

I imagine the first cookout occurred one day when, after a thunderstorm, cavemen (and women) from the Bar-B CLAN formed a queue around a wooly mammoth that had been zapped and charred by a bolt of lightning. Once they tasted that fire-roasted flavor, mammoth tartare just didn't satisfy their palates anymore. Finding a way to duplicate that aroma and piquancy became as important as their hunting rituals....

You can read the rest of my theory about the origin of barbeque if you
click here to go to the introduction to Lazy About Grilling.

Disclaimer: My book is about quick and easy grilling techniques. The editor/publisher added the sub-title.

I think it's a fun book.

Forgive the backdoor shameless plug, but it is related to this thread.
148 posted on 05/13/2003 8:32:37 PM PDT by Fawnn (I think therefore I'm halfway there....)
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To: putupon
Da Ya Go !!
149 posted on 05/13/2003 8:34:04 PM PDT by evangmlw
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To: stainlessbanner
RALPH'S BARBEQUE Roanoke Rapids, Weldon N.C. I-95 Exit 173 Good Eat'n
150 posted on 05/13/2003 8:37:36 PM PDT by evangmlw
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To: kellynla
"I use Jack Daniels in my sauce. Being that it's the best whiskey made!"

Jack is my booze of choice in BBQ sauce.

I live in New Hampshire. I use maple syrup instead of molassas or brown sugar. We also have a lot of apple trees to make chips. I like to smoke with about 50% hickory and 50% apple.

Emeril's rustic rub with about half the salt he uses and twice as much garlic powder is a great rub. For my money, dry rubbed, St. Louis ribs, smoked 6 hours, thrown on a grill until they sizzle and served dry with a brown sauce (maple syrup, vinegar, dry mustard powder, garlic powder, onion powder, Tabasco, cayenne, salt, pepper, Lea & Perrins, Jack Daniels and whatever else I have in the spice racks) on the side is the best.

I can't make pulled pork as well as the guys with the big, commercial smokers, but my ribs are the best in New Hampshire.

I like to serve them with cole slaw made with a buttermilk, vinegar, sugar, mustard, pepper, Tabasco and horseradish dressing. Most people don't use the horseradish, but I think it makes a big difference.

151 posted on 05/13/2003 8:42:54 PM PDT by Poser
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To: 1L
There's a company called New Branfuls smokers (I guess they are made in the same Texas city??) that are well built and will smoke anything you want. They aren't very expensive -- a new one can be had for around $135 or so. Check the internet. If you have an Academy store anywhere near you, they might have them there too. The Academy stores I go to sell them.

The company is New Braunfels Smoker Co.
152 posted on 05/13/2003 8:50:54 PM PDT by Fawnn (I think therefore I'm halfway there....)
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To: Poser
Poser, check out the instructions I gave Vegas for a smoker...if you can get your hands on a 55 gal drum you can make a real nice smoker...If you ever get the chance to go to Memphis for the Championship be sure and relatives have won 3's always in May the weather is still nice and not too hot yet...comes up this weekend...all the best pork barbequers in the world compete...
153 posted on 05/13/2003 9:00:57 PM PDT by kellynla ("C" 1/5 1st Mar Div Viet Nam '69 & '70 Semper Fi)
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To: kellynla
I like a vertical smoker with a water pan between the heat and the meat. I put beer, onions and garlic in the pan. Hmm... I'll bet a 55 gallon drum might be a good start for a *big* vertical smoker.

Around here, the 275 gallon oil tank is a good starting point for a horizontal smoker. It's damned cold in the winter and big oil tanks are more plentiful than 55 gallon drums.

So much BBQ, so little time!
154 posted on 05/13/2003 9:10:04 PM PDT by Poser
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To: Poser; All
Well try the 55...much smaller than the 275 so it won't take so much "fuel" to fire up or space...Well I gotta sign off for the night...Good night all and Happy Barbecuing!
155 posted on 05/13/2003 9:15:55 PM PDT by kellynla ("C" 1/5 1st Mar Div Viet Nam '69 & '70 Semper Fi)
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To: LasVegasMac
Wow. Made great sammiches and went well with cold MGD's

And you were doing so well. It sounded wonderful, but next time, try it with beer. ;)

156 posted on 05/13/2003 9:31:35 PM PDT by Melas
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To: putupon
Eastern North Carolina (minced) with vinegar based sauce is the best by far, mustard base and other blends are tolerable to varying degrees

You have to be kidding. Vinegar? Forgive me, but that's quite disgusting (yes, I've been unfortunate enough to sample it). However, I'm sure it tastes fine depending on how much hooch has been consumed. To each his own, but the vinegar thing is quite disturbing to me and I know I am not alone on that thought.

157 posted on 05/13/2003 9:49:20 PM PDT by babaloo999
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To: babaloo999
Carolina Gold is the best sauce in the south,good on the pork and good on the yardbird.
158 posted on 05/13/2003 10:01:16 PM PDT by noutopia
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To: stainlessbanner

159 posted on 05/13/2003 10:34:45 PM PDT by concentric circles
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To: snopercod
My plain old barbecue sauce recipe:

One cup catsup

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup blackstrap molasses

place in a saucepan over low heat and add:

One clove garlic crushed

1/4 c white onion minced small (I wear gloves and grate it, that way it doesn't burn the eyes)

one teaspoon black pepper

Juice of one lemon

1/2 to one bottle of Tabasco, to taste

tablespoon prepared horseradish (not the sauce, just the plain horseradish)

Stir and heat slowly just to the point of boiling.

Remove from heat, baste meat with this sauce. Makes a little over two cups.

It looks like it would be flaming hot, from the recipe, but it isn't. I make Southern Fried crispy chicken wings, then after they're done, dip them fully cooked into this sauce and broil them till the sauce has a very light char.

Very good with pork, excellent on barbecued hamburger, keeps well refrigerated.

Serve with a side of pickled green beans:

Get fresh green beans or pick your own, about two pounds. Clean and wash them. Make your favorite pickling mix, I like kosher dill, get it to boiling, fill a clean half gallon jar with the clean green beans--jam it full--and pour boiling pickling mix over them. Refrigerate for three days, then eat up to two weeks. They are crispy and absolutely delicious. You can also pickle fresh zucchini this way, they taste best with bread and butter pickle mix, in my opinion; and whole small okra with the dill recipe are really good.

I like cold pickled veggies in the summer. Like corn relish, dilled bell peppers (cut big chunks, clean and layer them red, yellow, and green, very pretty). Supposedly they keep more of their vitamin content that way, but who cares, I'd eat them if they were bad for me. ;-D

160 posted on 05/13/2003 10:49:30 PM PDT by Judith Anne
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