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How to Identify Good BBQ
There are few things as satisfying as sitting down to a plate full of world-class BBQ, but many do not realize just how much goes into each and everyone one of these meals. Often times, even the most basic dishes require hours, if not days, of preparation and devotion in order to enter into the upper echelon of BBQ. Here is a closer glimpse at how to spot good BBQ techniques as well as the components that will make a satisfying and unforgettable meal.
The Basic Meats
While just about any meat, and quite a few vegetables, can be barbequed to perfection, some of the leading cooks tend to stick to a few popular meats and cuts of meat. This begins with chicken; often considered to be the most difficult component of the BBQ due to how dry the meat can get, but this is combated by using thicker, bone-in cuts. Chicken is often followed by ribs, and every BBQ cook has their own idea on the best cut of rib as well as the best animal rib to use. Finally, there is the brisket (the longest cut of meat to cook) and the pork which is shredded, ripped, or cooked whole hog.
Rubs and Sauces
Some of the most renowned cooks in the world guard their blend of sauces and rubs more than anything else. Not only is the type of sauces and rubs an essential component of good BBQ technique, when they are placed on the meat before, during, or after the cooking process is vital as well. In order for BBQ enthusiasts to understand the style of meat they are eating, they must also understand the four primary regions for BBQ cooking, each with their own unique flavors and techniques:
• Texas BBQ focuses on the brisket cut with minimal sauces, often nothing more than a simple tomato and vinegar base.
• Memphis BBQ is known for pork ribs and utilizes basting mops throughout the cooking process with spicy and sweet flavors.
• For Kansas BBQ, one can expect thicker cuts of meat covered in thick and typically sweet sauces covering the meats as well as used as a dip.
• Finally, Carolina favors whole hog BBQs with a blend of vinegar heavy sauces accented by tomato flavors and just a small amount of spice.
The Result of Good Technique
Unlike simply grilling meat, barbequed meat is designed to take on the rich and aromatic flavor of the smoke as it permeates the meat throughout the cooking process. Various woods and wood substitutes are used to blend these flavors together, but the key is to let the taste of the high quality meat stand out. Certain cuts of meat, such as brisket, will develop a thick smoke ring along the outside with intensely-flavored burnt ends. Cuts such as chicken and ribs require much less cooking time and require much more of a focus on sauces and rubs than an inherited smoke flavor.
Don’t Forget the Sides
There is no such thing as a BBQ without the wonderful sides that go along with the delicious slabs of meat. While there is no perfect combination of sides and meats, almost every BBQ cook has developed their own ensemble of sides to match the cut they are offering. The most popular options include corn bread, baked/barbequed beans, slaw, biscuits, okra, and collard greens. For the more adventurous, sweet creamed corn, fried pickles, skillet mac and cheese, and mustard greens are always a hit.
Creating the perfect plate of BBQ is unlike any other style of cooking in the world. In addition to patience and a keen eye, cooks will also need good BBQ techniques and intuition about the perfect smoke, and flavoring. For those that are fans of a great meal, this amount of time and dedication will show with every single bite that is taken.