Today I am inspired by BBQ…

Today I am inspired by BBQ.  Have you ever really craved bbq?  I do and have driven lengths to get it!  But, when I walk in the joint, what is my favorite smoked food to order.  Is it the Texas brisket that is traditionally slow cooked with nothing more than a salt and pepper-paprika rub?  Or is it the fall apart ribs with a dry rub and a side of bbq sauce?  The links?  The pork shoulder, the chicken!?  Don’t get me wrong, I put myself in the caloric danger zone with the sides.  I CAN NOT pass up the potato salad, fried okra, macaroni OR the beans!  Don’t even factor in the rolls with a honey-butter mix brushed on top.  I guess the warmer weather makes me think of bbq, so I want to talk about it.  I am ready to sink my teeth into the smokey hue of ‘que.

First and foremost, let’s think about how many variations of the word barbeque there actually are. BBQ, barbeque, bar-b-q, ‘que, and there is actually a place in Napa called Q! So many stories, so many locations that would want to claim the word or spelling as their own. I would love to think that some cattle rancher in Texas had a brand “BBQ” for his ranch and they used to cook large cuts of meat over indirect heat and that is how it was all started! Texans can dream big, can’t they?

Someone decided once upon a time that cooking all of the juices out of meat was a bad idea, and that a cooking method that could keep the meat moist and tender was a no-brainer. It was probably a Texan. ;) Once it was decided upon that juicy meat was good, you can factor in all of the extras that followed. These “decorations” come with the territory. What choice of meat? To sauce or not to sauce? Should you use a rub? And, what kinds of wood come from your location? Oak burns hot, Apple is delicious for pork, pecan provides a sweetness, mesquite is your choice if you like smoky flavors- and, last but not least, green, hot burning hickory. What is bbq without it?

I know that Texas bbq is different and it is mostly about BEEF! We love our brisket. This might be my favorite. Brisket on soft Texas Toast with bbq sauce, jalapenos, pickles with pungent white onion-chopped to order..! DELICIOUS! My mouth is watering something fierce! The meat has got to have a crusty exterior and a pink ring underneath the dark crust. This sandwich is usually served on paper and the napkins have to be tiny. You just eat and then go wash your hands when you are done. There is no classy way to do this. The only class-less thing to do would be to complain that it is messy. There is absolutely no pretty way to eat ribs. To much of diner’s surprise, our ribs come with a little grip. Meaning, the meat sticks to the bone more than you might find in other bbq joints. You will actually lose a competition in Texas if your ribs pull too easily away from the bone!

I think the next best place for bbq is North Carolina. What exactly is “Carolina style”? I took this from “Eastern North Carolina style barbeque is, by most accounts, the oldest style of barbeque in the United States. Originating during Colonial times in the coastal regions of Virginia and the Carolinas, it endures and thrives today in the eastern third of the state of North Carolina. According to Vince Staten and Greg Johnson, this style of barbeque “originated in those days when people thought tomatoes were poisonous and refused to eat them. When the early settlers wanted a seasoning for their barbequed pig, they chose English ketchup, a vinegar seasoned with oysters and peppers and other spices, but containing no tomato.”” I love the line about “by most accounts, it is believed…it is the oldest bbq,  and that they were afraid of poisonous tomatoes”. Hilarious. So, what does this actually mean? It refers only to the sauce? A molasses and ketchup free sauce? So, what is left is vinegar and mustard? We have all had it, a thinner more vinegar based sauce. Prefer it?

What other places are putting out delicious bbq? Kentucky? California? Alabama?? I am sure there is something to be said for the Smoky Mountain Sauce of Arkansas and Tenessee. That is the great thing about America, there are many variations of great things. One thing I know, is that I love the flavors of bbq. I love beef. I love pig. I love smoke. I love how long it takes to eat that glorious meal- it is worth every hour. After all is said and done…after the brisket, ribs, okra and beans, I still love the site of a HUGE pan of peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream. Come on summer! We are waiting on you!

Get out there an eat some ‘Q!!!! I want to hear about it !