Get Sauced: The Nation’s Top BBQ Regions
There are different regional barbecue styles all across the country. Although they all cook their meat low and slow, that’s where the similarities stop. Some cook pig, some smoke different cuts of beef, some lamb, and some chicken. Sauces are also varied: some are vinegar and pepper-based; others utilize brown sugar and molasses; in some, mustard is the predominant flavor; and tomato is the primary flavor in others. While there are plenty of nuances and micro-regional styles, there are four styles that anyone who claims to be a barbecue lover should know about.
In North Carolina, barbecue revolves around the pig: the “whole hog” in the east and the shoulder in the west. The pork is chopped up and usually mixed with a vinegar-based sauce that’s heavy on the spices and contains only a small amount of tomato sauce, if any.
In Memphis, it’s all about the ribs. Wet ribs are slathered with barbecue sauce before and after cooking, and dry ribs are seasoned with a dry rub. You’ll also find lots of barbecue sandwiches in Memphis: chopped pork on a bun topped with barbecue sauce, pickles, and coleslaw.
Kansas City barbecue uses a wide variety of meat (but especially beef) and here it’s all about the sauce, which is thick and sweet. Kansas City is a barbecue melting pot, so expect to find plenty of ribs, brisket, chicken, and pulled pork there, all served with plenty of sauce. Brisket burnt ends are also a specialty here.
And there are a few different styles native to Texas, but the most famous variety is the Central Texas Hill Country “meat market” style: heavy on the beef brisket, which has been given a black pepper-heavy rub. Sauce and side dishes usually play second fiddle, because in Texas it’s all about the meat, be it ginormous beef ribs, pork ribs, chicken, brisket, or sausage.
There are 100’s of barbecue sauces, rubs, and marinades to choose from today. But nothing tastes better on barbeque than your own home-made marinade, rub, mopping, and dipping sauce. Try this recipe from Mueller’s General Store and Kitchen for some finger-licking good food.
Dry Rubbed Smoked Ribs
- 2 full racks baby back ribs, each cut in half
For the rub:
- 1 T cumin
- 1 T paprika
- 1 T garlic powder
- 1 T onion powder
- 1 T chili powder
- 1 T brown sugar
- 2 T kosher salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
Combine all rub ingredients in a small bowl. Using your hands to apply, coat ribs with the rub. Make sure both sides are covered evenly and thoroughly. To cook, place the ribs in a 250°F smoker for 8 hours. (This is how they are prepared at the restaurant.) If using a regular oven, place ribs in a large pan, cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours at 450°F. Remove foil and continue cooking for another 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce on the side.