Summer is in full swing and that means barbecues all across the country are being lit to produce some beautiful food. While it can be easy to fall back on the typical hamburgers, hot dogs, and brats, this is a great time of year to explore more interesting ways to put your grill to work and use it as a central entertaining piece. From Argentina to Japan, countries across the globe provide the inspiration needed to host a fantastic BBQ party with delicious eats. Here are a few tips to make your next BBQ a success! (more…)
In small towns across South Louisiana, one of life’s challenges is catching a whiff of a fresh fried batch of pork fat and skin and trying not to stop. Cooked fresh every morning in corner stores, bags of crunchy, golden, greasy nuggets tempt the senses. Once inside, the battle is only half over. There’s no denying yourself a link or two of fresh ground pork meat mixed with rice and seasoning and stuffed into a casing, better known as boudin. These two items make up a true Cajun breakfast. The back roads and highways of the Acadiana region of Louisiana are spotted with signs that read “hot boudin and fresh cracklins.” With names like Babineaux’s, T-Jim’s or Hebert’s, these small-town grocers provide two staples of South Louisiana cuisine while keeping alive long-running Cajun traditions. (more…)
In Australia there’s lamb’s fry, in Asia lamb is served as a kebab, and in the U.K. it’s regularly cooked in a curry. Lamb is popular around the world, and in areas such as Central Asia, it’s often the meat of choice. In the United States, however, it’s often overlooked, especially when it comes to barbecue. When people think of barbecue, they usually think of chicken, pork, and beef as the main ingredients. Even turkeys get thrown in a smoker every now and then. The last thing that usually comes to American’s minds when it comes to barbecue is a sheep.
In the United States, lamb has the reputation of being a delicacy. Similar to veal, lamb is usually slaughtered when it is less than a year old. Any sheep older than a year yields meat called mutton. And there are some areas that specialize in mutton dishes and have made strides in the movement to broaden mutton’s appeal. (more…)
Compared to Louisiana, other states have it easy. Sure, Louisiana is home of the Big Easy and we locals are known for our joie de vivre, but we are also parents to some of the most precious cuisines in the world. While we may, on occasion, have one too many Bloody Marys at Sunday brunch or add some “punch” to our milk, we don’t take this responsibility lightly. Even when away from the motherland, Louisianans still find ourselves bragging about and defending our pride and joy. Perhaps the most difficult task is explaining our food in a few short sentences. Of course, a Louisianan would prefer to sit down, put on a pot of coffee or pour a cold beer, and talk about it at length. However, we’ve come to learn that most people don’t have the time to do that. So if you’re versed on Louisiana history and culture, then all you really need to know is that Creole cuisine uses tomatoes, and proper Cajun food does not. That’s how you tell a Cajun versus Creole gumbo or jambalaya. You can stop reading now. You’re welcome. However, if you’d like to go a bit deeper, please continue reading so that you can learn why the terms Cajun and Creole that have become used so loosely and interchangeably when describing Louisiana food, are not at all the same. (more…)
Like all of the great foodways of the world, modern-day barbecue is riddled in history and culture. While the Spanish introduced the term barbacoa to Europe after discovering the technique during Columbian exploration in the Caribbean, the method of cooking meat over fire or indirect heat is as old as cavemen. Barbacoa, which ended up being synonymous with traditional Mexican barbecue, derived itself from the term barabicu which the Taino people of the Carribean used prior to Spanish conquest of the New World — or so one story says. Many other folktales exist about the history of the term barbecue. According to one tale, French visitors of the Caribbean described the process of cooking a whole pig as barbe à queue, which translates to “from beard to tail.” I might start using that terminology instead of the trendy “nose-to-tail” method of cooking! Regardless of stories passed down through generations, barbecue is undoubtedly one of the most popular cooking methods in the United States, varying from region to region with the people who cook it. (more…)
The whole concept of cooking at the table is a little exotic to most Westerners. Swiss fondue and raclette might be the closest they ever get. In Japan, however, we have a rich tradition of cooking at the table, and none has been as big a hit in the West as yakiniku, which is fast taking root far from its place of origin. Yakiniku is barbecue, but not as you know it.
The key difference between yakiniku and Western-style barbecue is the way the meat is presented. In the West, it’s common to barbecue large cuts of meat: a whole steak, say, or a marinated chicken breast. In Japanese barbecue, on the other hand, the beef is sliced into small, very thin slices and seasoned with a particular kind of sauce. You place each morsel on the grill, cook it, dip it in sauce, and eat it right away. That way, no single morsel spends more than a few seconds in transit between the grill and your mouth! (more…)
I have never lived above the Mason Dixon line. I was born in Durham, North Carolina (regrettably at Duke and not UNC). Just before kindergarten, my family moved to Palm City, Florida. And while one can certainly argue that Florida is not part of the South, it was the time I spent there that I developed a strong love for the ocean, where my imagination flourished, and where I learned the simple truth that if you’re at the beach, you’re eating fried chicken. (more…)
More than 400 years ago cattle ranching was introduced to the Rio Grande do Sul region of Brazil. Cowboys, called Gauchos herded these cattle, and like the cowboys of Texas created a new style of cooking. It is their way of cooking, churrasco (shoo-rhas’co), that has inspired traditions carried on worldwide today. Since they had no way of preserving food, the gauchos would gather together after butchering a cow, and skewer and cook the large portions of meat immediately over a wood burning fire. Originally the standard formula for Brazilian style barbecue was to coat meats in coarse salt.
The meat would then sit for about 30 minutes to absorb the salt before being cooked. Later a salt-water baste was used to keep meats moist during the open fire cooking process. Beef was typically never seasoned. The slow-cooked meat basted in its own juices and resulted in tender, flavorful steaks. Poultry and lamb, however are spiced with a rich marinade the night before cooking.
The popularity of Brazilian Barbecue has lead to the founding of dozens of restaurants, popping up all over the world. Churrasco, which is also referred to as Brazilian barbeque, is usually served “Rodizio” ou “espeto corrido” (all-you-can-eat). Waiters carry huge cuts of meat on steel spits from table to table, and carve off slices onto your plate (use the tongs to grab the meat slice and don’t touch the knife edge with your silverware to avoid dulling the edge).
Traditionally, you are given a small wooden block colored green on one side and red on the other. When you’re ready to eat, put the green side up. When you’re too stuffed to even tell the waiter you’ve had enough, put the red side up. Most churrasco restaurants (churrascarias) also serve other types of food, so it is safe to go there with a friend that is not really fond of meat. Churrascarias are definitely not vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants and make sure that when you dine at a Brazilian BBQ steakhouse that you plan on eating lightly, if at all, before or after your meal. This is a protein fest that’s definitely going to knock you for a loop if you’re not prepared.
Ready to get your meat on? Take a look at a listing below of some Churrascarias to check out for yourself.
Churrascaria Riodizio Tribeca
221 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013
1686 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102
Fogo de Chao
133 N. La Cienega Blvd.
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Picanha Brazilian Grill
501 Castor Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19149
Tucanos Brazilian Grill
110 Central Ave SW
Albuquerque, NM 87102
When it comes to the word “barbecue”, confusion arises as to the exact use of the term. For some, the definition of barbecuing means to grill food directly over high heat (400 degrees and more) and over a relatively short amount of time. Grilling at such high temperatures means that the meat itself will be charred on the surface which could lead to it having a tough shoe leather texture, if you aren’t already cooking with more tender cuts of meats. That’s why the direct grilling method is more appropriate for burgers, hot dogs, steaks and chicken because they won’t toughen that much when exposed to high heat.
Barbecue afficinados have a differing opinion as to what it means to barbecue. To them, traditional barbecue is the process of cooking meat in indirect heat at very low temperatures. This process accomplishes four things. First, the long exposure to low heat renders the fat out of the meat. Second, the collagens and connective tissues dissolve making the meat more tender. Third, the surface of the meat caramelizes and becomes a flavorful crust. Finally, the juices aren’t cooked out, which makes for meat that’s both tender and juicy. As you can see, there really is quite a distinction between “grilling” and “barbecuing.”
Now that you’ve learned the difference between “grilling” and “barbecuing”, let’s talk a little about 4 popular regional styles of barbecue in the US.
The emphasis for Carolina-style BBQ is on shredded or pulled pork. In this instance, the pork comes from the shoulder cuts or even from a pit-roasted whole hog and is slow-roasted for hours for a meat that has a deep smoky flavor. Once cooked and tender, the pork is pulled into shreds, sauced and served in a sandwich topped with coleslaw. While both North and South Carolina focus on pulled pork, there are major differences in regards to the bbq sauce. Eastern North Carolina BBQ uses a vinegar-based sauce. In Western Northern Carolina, their bbq sauce is tomato or ketchup-based while South Carolina bbq sauce is mustard-based.
When it comes to quintessential Memphis barbecue, it’s all about pork ribs, whether it’s the spare ribs come from the pig’s belly or from underneath the its loins. Generally, Memphis-style BBQ ribs are slow-cooked in the smoke of a wood fire, but these days many rib recipes also call for braising the ribs until tender, then giving them a quick heating on the grill. Memphis style BBQ ribs are served “dry” (just as they come out of the smoker or off the grill) or “wet” (slathered with some sort of BBQ sauce before serving)
Kansas City BBQ
Kansas City, Missouri claims to have more barbecue restaurants per capita than any city in the country. No one meat predominates; the style is typified by a rather sweet sauce, but even here differences prevail from neighborhood to neighborhood and restaurant to restaurant. These sauces are rarely used on beef dishes but are common in pork and poultry dishes; therefore, Kansas City is ften associated with dishes like BBQ chicken or sticky smoked ribs.
There’s a distinct German influence on Texas style barbecue reflects a distinct German influence which includes food items like smoked sausages along with beef brisket and pork ribs. When it comes to brisket which tends to be on the tough side, Texans have made the cooking of it an art form. Texas-style barbecue brisket involves just the right rub (a mixture of sugar, salt, and spices that is rubbed into the meat before smoking), a good smoker and up to 20 hours of cooking time. The beef brisket is never sauced during the smoking/cooking process. If at all, the sliced brisket will be served with sauce on the side, to be applied in whatever manner and quantity the diner desires. In other parts of Texas, you’ll find lots of BBQ joints that don’t serve sauce at all. When it is served, Texas bbq sauce is tomato based and leans towards being spicy and tangy; yet, with a moderate level of sweetness.
Even with this information, there’s still lots of confusion to be had about the word “barbecue” which can be used in many contexts like “Let’s have a BBQ” or “Let’s BBQ some steaks on the grill” or “Throw some more BBQ on my chicken.” But you know what? In the end, it doesn’t really matter. Sit down and enjoy your ‘cue because whether grilled or slow-cooked, bbq is a true carnivore’s delight. If you’re not in the mood for cooking your own barbecue, look below for some bbq joints you can check out for yourself.
811 S Long Beach Blvd
Compton, CA 90221
3921 Fayetteville St
Durham, NC 27713
1762 Lamar Ave
Memphis, TN 38114
Kansas City BBQ
5800 Blue Pkwy
Kansas City, MO 64121
1383 Utah Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
30 W 26th St
New York, NY 10010
Honky Tonk BBQ
1213 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60608
Ribbins Bar B Que
Kansas City-Style BBQ
4435 A St SE, Ste C
Auburn, WA 98002