5@5 - Regional barbecues decoded
December 6th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Want to increase your I'Cue? (That's barbecue IQ to you)

Chris Lilly, the executive chef of the legendary 86-year-old Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama, is here to school you on all manners of low-and-slow.

Five Different Barbecue Regions: Chris Lilly

1. Memphis
"Memphis is all about the dry rubs. Whether it is pulled pork, shoulder or ribs, great Memphis barbecue starts with an intense mixture of herbs and spices. Some of the most popular additions by the well-seasoned Memphis pitmasters are paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, garlic, onion, cumin, oregano, sage and parsley.

In Memphis the sauce is optional, the dry rub is not.

Check out my award-winning recipe for pulled pork which has won me first place at the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Contest seven times and is always prepared low and slow over Kingsford charcoal."

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q All Purpose Dry Rub
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup paprika
1/3 cup garlic salt
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon oregano leaves
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper

Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q Pork Injection
1/3 cup apple juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 pork butt (approximately 8 pounds)

Inject pork butt evenly with injection solution. Apply dry rub liberally over the entire pork butt and pat gently so the rub will adhere. Place pork butt in a smoker and cook with indirect heat for 12 hours on 225 degrees Fahrenheit (internal temperature of the pork butt should reach 190 degrees Fahrenheit when done.)

Hand-pull pork off the bone and serve with sauce on the side or paint pork butt with sauce during last 20 minutes of cooking.

2. Carolina
"In the Carolinas, barbecue is about simple subtleties of seasoning and regional sauces. There are no arguments about the meat other than which part of the pig to cook. From the whole hog to the pork butt, attention is paid to the favorite seasonings of salt and black pepper, the hickory wood and grandfather’s old-fashioned brick pit.

Eastern Carolinians enjoy a simple sauce made from vinegar, cayenne pepper and salt, while in the West an addition of black pepper, ketchu, and Worcestershire sauce makes their mouths water. Add in the very regional mustard sauce of the South and these simple flavors make up the most distinct barbecue in the country."

3. Kansas City
"In 1878, the Kansas City Stockyards were established along the Kansas Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads. The endless supply of cattle and hogs enabled Kansas City to become one of the barbecue Meccas of the United States.

Whether cooking pork or beef, these old-school pitmasters have had generations of practice perfecting all types of barbecue but the city's specialty has to be beef burnt ends.

After slicing beef brisket all day, the charred end pieces that accumulate on the cutting board have unmatched flavor intensity. Usually cut into cubes, burnt ends can either be served as a sandwich or served alone - they’re always a popular snack at the American Royal Barbecue Competition held every October in Kansas City."

4. Texas
"Texas means beef and beef means slow-smoked beef brisket. There is no single cut of meat that defines a barbecue region like Texas beef brisket. In many barbecue joints slices of brisket are served by the pound on butcher paper, side dishes are served separate and sauces are always optional. A perfect brisket is sliced across the meat grain for optimum tenderness and judged by astute barbecue connoisseurs for moisture and deep beef flavor."

5. Pacific Northwest
"Many would argue that the Pacific Northwest has no business on any list of regional barbecue favorites; that is until the richness and subtle smoky flavor of their fresh whole salmon is tasted. For centuries, Native Americans have cooked split salmon on a wood frame before an open alderwood fire.

The salmon is trussed at an angle over the coals and twisted until it reaches juicy perfection. The tradition and mystique define this cooking technique as a 'must-have' regional barbecue original."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Barbecue • Bite • Cuisines • Think

soundoff (174 Responses)
  1. Jack P

    Dinosaur BarBQ! Syracuse or Rochester. Good stuff!!

    December 7, 2011 at 10:30 pm |

    The best BBQ by FAR is located in Utah. You havent had real BBQ until youve had it in Utah. We have this place called Famous Daves that serves up the best BBQ you cant get anywhere else. Most BBQ is just BBQ chicken, wait until you try ribs served up BBQ style, now that is real BBQ. Not sure how the whole southern popularity thing happened because Utah easily has the best BBQ.

    December 7, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • Chuck

      Famous Dave's is a chain. They are all over the place and would not break my top 50 BBQ places in the county.

      December 7, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Brandon

      LOL....dude....it's a chain.

      December 7, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • nawin bone

      good job Knob.

      December 7, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
    • Outdoor Greatroom Co.

      If you want some good cooking on a grill, check out the Cook Number Grill. 1-10 settings that reads the temperature of your meat you are cooking. Searing and Convection capabilities. The most advanced grill on the market. Grills with carts and grills built into outdoor kitchens. http://www.outdoorrooms.com

      December 7, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Ryan

      Really? I am from Texas and we have a lot of chains that no one really eats at. There is one outside of Austin called the Salt Lick (was featured on Man vs. Food so you know it's good.) I've eaten there before and it is some of the best. I am stationed in North Carolina and they have no clue what BBQ is. But my question to you is: what do you think is BBQ? Not all BBQ is chicken. Don't know where you got that assumption from. There is BBQ brisket and sausage, and like you said, ribs. BBQ is slow cooked in a smoker, with a nice smoke ring, that is juicy and moist with good flavor. In TX we don't use rubs and the sauce is on the side so you can put it on there if you want. The original BBQ was done in a pit in the ground (hence pit BBQ.) You know it's good BBQ when you see the smoker going. There is also a BBQ place in Burnet, TX where you get you BBQ right off the smoker before you even go inside to get the sides. That is real BBQ. Never heard of BBQ anywhere west of TX/KS,OK, or north of the Mason/Dixon Line that was worth anything except chains.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
      • mountaindawg

        Texas does beef BBQ the best, but beef ain't BBQ my friend. If it ain't pig, it ain't BBQ. To say that NC has no clue about BBQ is one of the most ignorant comments ever made in the history of man. OK I exxagerate, but really dude. BBQ originated in the Carolinas. There are bad joints everywhere. You need to find you a good one. Look for the dumpiest place, preferably with a black man as pitmaster. That's where you get the goods.

        December 8, 2011 at 1:47 am |
    • mountaindawg

      I feel so very sad for you. Best BBQ in Utah? Good grief man.

      December 8, 2011 at 1:44 am |
  3. driranek

    Regardless of your favorite regional recipe, pretty much any of 'em can be improved with fresh, homegrown spices – they not only have more taste, but many fresh spices have a considerably more complex taste than the old, dried out stuff in the stores. I'm way up north and even here oregano, basil, sage, chives and so on all grow just fine. Another trick that works well is to use a dehydrator to dry your excess tomatoes and then use a mortar and pestle to grind them. This can add a lot of tang to a dry rub, but to each his own.

    December 7, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  4. Norinco

    I support each American's right to believe their style is BBQ is the best, however in my humble opinion the best BBQ I have eaten is at Harry's Grill and Piggy's Ice (one and the same restaurant) in Hendersonville, NC. I have been known to book trips to Hendersonville just to eat there. I have easten BBQ at nationally recognized restaurants elsewhere in NC, and theirs was superior. A close second would have to be Hog Wild BBQ in Granite Falls, NC. The BBQ at both restaurants has a great smoky flavor, and sauce is not necessary but adds great flavor.

    December 7, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • Ryan

      NC BBQ isn't true southern BBQ in my opinion. I am stationed in NC and pulled pork with vinegar sauce is just nasty in my opinion. Being from Texas we smoke the meat without any sauce or rub. Sauce is on the side if you want it but usually it's the brisket or sausage slapped between 2 pieces of bread with some beans, and potatoe salad on the side with a big ol' glass of sweet tea. I have yet to find a descent BBQ place in NC. There was one in Jacksonville that my family ate at once and they said it wasn't any good.

      December 7, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
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