As you may know, Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer in the United States.
Even more importantly, one of our most important holidays opens barbecue season. Read the list pages to know what to stock for your grill.
If you’re not usually a grill-meister or you’re new to BBQ altogether, here’s a handy primer to bring you up to speed on the different schools of what is a competitive sport for heavy-weights second only to the chili cook-off.
Try to stay natural – hardwoods like oak, softwoods like pine, mesquite and other scrub brush. Well-dried wood, especially hardwoods, light very easily and burn very hot for long period.
Avoid charcoal starter. In addition to be the unhealthiest accelerant you can use, it almost always imparts a petroleum flavor to your food, whether you accidentally squirt some on the meat or not.
For kindling, newspaper and cardboard are and readily available cheap recyclables that will help you help a safe, sustainable fire that’s the right temperature for cooking.
If you can’t find natural woods or charcoal made from wood, and have to use synthetic charcoal, try using cooking oils – vegetable, olive oil – in addition to paper and cardboard to start your fire. Oil burns very hot, and though it smokes, it will burn a long while.
Know your Mother Sauces:
- Florida – Known for its vinegar and spices, Florida barbecue sauce is savory, runny goodness with a smoky mustard kick.
- Georgia – A little sweeter and thicker than Florida sauce, Georgia sauce tastes more of ketchup and clings a little harder.
- Kansas City – If you like sweet, thick and mellow, then try Kansas City sauce. With overtones of ginger, dried chiles, molasses and tomato paste, KC sauce is the thickest and one of the sweetest sauces you’ll find.
- Tennessee – Like its sister Texas sauce, Tennessee barbeque sauce is about vinegar and pepper. A medium weight sauce that clings on meat and puddles on your plate, Tennessee barbecue makes the most of wood smoke and just a touch of molasses.
- Texas – From the hottest to the lightest, you’ll find a flavor to suit you in Texas. Known for its mesquite, Texas sauce is smoke with a difference. A good balance of tomato and chile, Texas sauce clings without overpowering even chicken but will bite you back with cayenne and cracked black pepper.
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In Florida & Georgia, pork, chicken reign
In the South expect to find yourself hip-deep in pork and chicken. Hands-down. In a hurry? If you don’t have time for a sit-down meal, try a pulled pork or chicken sandwich, tender juicy goodness on a plain old hamburger bun just dripping with sauce or with sauce on the side.
In Florida, Georgia and along the Gulf Coast, seafood of all manner and ilks finds its way on the grill as well. Expect to find blue and stone crab, shrimp, rock lobster and big marine fish like redfish, pompano and jack.
Thank Tennessee very kindly for its ribs
Tennessee barbecue, while it is still mostly about pork, introduces you to the beef rib. Huge, fall-off-the one tender just a-dripping in sauce. Acquaint yourself with full- and half-slabs of beef and pork ribs, potato salad, baked beans and macaroni and cheese.
Brisket & sausage
Texas barbecue has more to offer you in terms of game meat like venison and duck, but it is most assuredly all about beef brisket, and the more the merrier. Expect to see barbecue sausages in great abudnance. Another Texas innovation is to serve dill pickler slices and sliced raw white onions on the side.
Holy cow! KC Q all about the beef
For the professional beef-eater, you can’t do better than KC Q. From the heart of the beef industry, Kansas City is all about beef and lots of it. Beef brisket, ribs, roast – even barbecued steaks – all smothered in slow-smoked richness and a trainloads of KC sauce.