America may not be France or Italy when it comes to gourmet cooking, but there is one thing that Americans are proud of - and they are really good at it - and it is no doubt, BBQ. A culture and an institution, you seldom find an American guy who don't do BBQ. With traditions like 4th of July BBQ parties or Sunday lunches, BBQ is one of the reasons some say they love Americans.
For a country so vast with different local sources for ingredients and wood, regional styles of BBQ arise with each one proud of their own identities. There are many styles of American BBQ with some of them even have further tastes and styles but the top American BBQ Styles are Carolina, Memphis, Kansas, Kentucky, and Texas.
Styles differ per state ( thus the name) as well as the cuts and meats used, cooking style, and most of all the sauce. So now let's begin to differentiate the regional American BBQ.
Carolina-style American BBQ
Both North and South Carolina are not just proud of their history but their gastronomic heritage especially when it comes to food. The Carolina-style is further differentiated into the Eastern Carolina American BBQ and the Western Carolina American BBQ.
Eastern Carolina BBQ is distinct for roasting the whole hog which its meat are pulled, chopped, or shredded. For sauce, it uses the famous Carolina Gold Sauce which is made from mustard, brown sugar, and vinegar.
Western Carolina BBQ only uses pork shoulders that are slowly cooked in a pit. For its sauce, this BBQ style uses a combination of pepper, spices, ketchup and vinegar.
Memphis-style American BBQ
The state of Tennessee is not just known for country music and whiskey but for its culinary jewel - BBQ. Though they uses pork shoulder, Memphis BBQ style has always been popular for their ribs.
Memphis-style BBQ has both the dry and wet style. Dry style is covering the meat with a dry rub of spices and salt before cooking and eaten without a sauce. The wet style on the other hand is using sauce ( made from tomato and vinegar) before, during, and after cooking.
Kansas-style American BBQ
You're definitely not in Kansas anymore if you can't find the nearest BBQ restaurant serving their own local BBQ. A must when visiting the state, Kansas-style of BBQ also extends to other meat like lamb and fish.
In terms of cooking method, the meat is cooked dry rub and slow smoked using a variety of wood like oak and hickory. Its distinct tangy, spicy, and sweet taste is from their signature sauce of which tomato sauce and molasses.
Kentucky-style American BBQ
Kentucky is absolutely not just known for their fried chicken but takes pride to their own take of the classic American BBQ. It is not hard to see the Kentucky BBQ with their distinct pork brisket that are slight charred in the outside and has pinkish layer underneath.
Its history dates back to Henry Perry in 1920s smoking slabs wrapped in newspaper. Today, the state has been known as the BBQ Capital with meat smoked up to 18 hours using hickory and oak.
Texas-style American BBQ
Undoubtedly a powerhouse in the institution of American BBQ, Texas-style BBQ differs from other regional American BBQ with the inclusion of sausages and slow cooking meat until they achieve fall-off-the-bone tenderness after smoking for 6-24 hours. This is largely influenced by German and Czech immigrants ( and their way of roasting) in the state of Texas.
Beef brisket, pork ribs and sausages make up to their legendary Texan BBQ with their smoky flavor from hickory, pecan, mesquite, and oak wood. Texan BBQ sauce is also sweet to balance the flavor from the fat and dry rubs.
Are you drooling yet? American BBQ is a heritage that every pit master takes pride in their style that is often handed down from their ancestors. Much more, BBQ is not just for palate satisfaction but a tradition that is reflected in the different American BBQ styles.