In the United States, the barbecue has a tradition that goes back centuries. In fact, it was the first colonisers who brought this cooking technique, which they had picked up from the people of the Caribbean and their typical barbacoa, to the Southern US.
The barbecue culture spread from the southern states, those that today form the Barbecue Belt that stretches from the Gulf of Texas to the Atlantic. To be honest, there is still some debate about this, but officially North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, Missouri and Tennessee are included in this area.
Each small area in this territory has its own local traditions, which can be roughly divided into four types, representing as many areas: Carolina, Kansas City, Memphis and Texas.
This style of bbq takes time. A very, very long time: the pork is slow cooked on oak or hickory wood for 12 to 24 hours. During cooking, the meat is brushed with a vinegar-based sauce, to which apple cider, tomato juice or beer is added.
The result is tender morsels (what we usually call pulled pork), which in the South are served with Carolina Gold sauce, made with mustard, honey, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper.
Kansas City barbecue
There are two essential factors in the traditional grilling of this area: smoking (very slow and with different woods) and the Kansas City Rub, a typical seasoning of sugar, paprika and other spices that is rubbed into the meat before cooking. The flame is kept very low to avoid caramelising the sugar.
The absolute stars of Kansas City-style barbecue are pork belly burnt ends, bacon bits cut into cubes of about 3 cm per side.
Kansas City barbecue sauce, made with ketchup, molasses and vinegar, is one of the most widely used throughout the United States, due to its sweet and spicy flavour.
The stars of this type of barbecue are by far the pork ribs, which are prepared ‘wet’ or ‘dry’, and the pork shoulder cooked at a low temperature, which is used to fill sandwiches together with a typical coleslaw salad (find our recipe here).
The difference between wet ribs and dry ribs comes from their preparation. Wet ribs are brushed with bbq sauce before cooking and after the final smoking; dry ribs, on the other hand, are rubbed with a mix of powders (paprika, salt, dehydrated onion, pepper and chilli) before being placed on the barbecue.
The typical Memphis bbq sauce contains ketchup, vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and spices.
Barbecue alla texana
The Texas barbecue tradition is in turn divided into four regional styles, given the large size of the state (more than twice the size of Italy!).
- In Central Texas, beef brisket is cooked on oak wood, sliced and served without sauce (the meat is rubbed with spices before cooking). The cooking process is quick and similar to that of an Italian barbecue.
- In West Texas, chicken, sausage and ribs are preferred, cooked in a short time over an open flame. Mesquite, a tree widely used in Native American cooking, is the wood of choice.
- In South Texas, culinary culture meets Mexican tradition. The brisket is smoked for 12 hours in a pit or oven, using mesquite wood.
- In East Texas, pork is commonly used, especially for ribs and sausages, a tradition handed down from the immigrant communities in the 1900s from Germany and the former Czechoslovakia. Large amounts of black pepper are added to the meat mix, with the spiciness varying from area to area.
Whichever cooking method you choose, the first step to excellent grilling is a functional and efficient barbecue: discover all Palazzetti products and choose the one best suited to your needs!