Thom's Recipe File
WHETHER you spell it BBQ, Bar-B-Que, Barbeque or Barbecue, it all means
the same thing: Good times in the backyard. Sizzling, juicy meat cooking on
the grill. Cooking meat over an open fire made it's way into all cultures.
However, when you dig a pit to concentrate the heat and capture the
smokiness of the flame to coat the meat...you are now roasting the meat in a
Throughout the Southeast, pork is the favored meat. This preference
likely goes back to the colonial period, when pigs were let loose to grow
fat on apples, nuts, and then captured and eaten later, saving the farmer
effort and expense in sheltering and feeding the livestock. Virginia and
North Carolina favor thin, vinegary sauces that provide a sharp contrast to
the rich pork. The rest of the region goes for thick sweet tomato-based
sauces that makes the most of local produce. The meat itself is sauced
during cooking over the flame and is served mixed or topped by the sauce.
To barbecue means to slow-cook meat at a low temperature for a long time
over wood or charcoal.
Barbecue is a Southern cultural icon. Bound to the long tradition of
Southern history, barbecue has become more than just pit-smoked pork. Its
ties to history, and culture to make it one of the few aspects of life in
the South that has not been significantly homogenized by the
"Americanization of Dixie." Most Northerners do not understand the concept
of barbecue, and are perfectly content to continue grilling hot dogs in the
back yard, thank you very much. Barbecue remains a Southern phenomenon, one
that can be embraced by Southerners of every race, class and political
orientation. What constitutes true barbecue is another question, but arguing
over barbecue beats arguing about other, more incendiary (no pun intended)
topics. A rousing discussion over a plate of pulled pork makes for a healthy
airing of opinions.
The true art of barbecuing requires time and patience
to do it right. The cooking is done at 225° in a smoke-enclosed barbecue for
twelve to fourteen hours. Most people don't have the time to cook like this
but still crave the taste.