June 10th, 2014
11:45 AM ET
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Editor's note: Nothing inflames passions quite like barbecue and we'll be breaking down the nuances of regional styles all summer long. Next week - CNN readers and staff weigh in on their favorite joints and pitmasters from all over the country.

(Travel + Leisure) – Like a lot of people, Jay Metzger draws a line when it comes to his barbecue loyalties - and for him, that line falls along the Mississippi River.

“While it’s nice to enjoy a little Memphis and Carolina barbecue, the real stuff comes from the center of the U.S.,” says the Los Angeles-based advertising executive, who favors Kansas City and Texas barbecue.

Plenty of Travel + Leisure readers agree, ranking KC and more than one Texas city in the top 10. But where there’s smoke, there’s fiery debate. As part of the America’s Favorite Cities survey, readers ranked 35 metro areas for such qualities as good-looking locals, great sports teams, and regionally distinct pizza and barbecue. To be fair, since the survey covered only 35 cities, some barbecue hot spots like Lexington, North Carolina, Lockhart, Texas, and St. Louis, Missouri were not even on the table for this particular vote.

But plenty of other hot-button BBQ cities were - and one dark horse (or perhaps pig) even took the top prize. Certainly, the prevailing styles and some gourmet-friendly trends vary from city to city, from the burnt ends in Kansas City, Missouri, to the mustard-sauced pork in Charleston, South Carolina, or the piles of brisket on butcher paper in Austin, Texas - so the definition of best may depend on what you’re used to.
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June 2nd, 2014
01:30 PM ET
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America's Test Kitchen  is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full¬time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most foolproof recipe. America’s Test Kitchen's online cooking school is based on nearly 20 years of test kitchen work in our own facility, on the recipes created for Cook's Illustrated magazine, and on our two public television cooking shows.

The secret to great barbecue in your own backyard isn’t necessarily going out and buying all sorts of special equipment. You don’t require a smoker, and you don’t need the huge barbecue pits the pitmasters use in the South. All you need is a grill, some wood chips, and a disposable roasting pan filled with water to convert a charcoal kettle into a makeshift smoker.
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May 14th, 2014
01:45 PM ET
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Texas claims it’s the home of barbecue. But according to a recent list on TripAdvisor.com, the Lone Star state comes in third behind Georgia and North Carolina. CNN affiliate WFAA went to a few well known barbecue joints in Dallas to get reaction from residents.
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In South Africa, bring on the braai
April 17th, 2014
12:00 PM ET
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Barbecued zebra anyone? How about warthog with peri-peri sauce?

Along with more traditional fare, these are the kinds of things you might find on a "braai," a specialized barbecue born of South Africa and over the last couple years seen around the world, thanks to a TV series.

South Africa's braai (barbecue) culture is one of the few things that truly cuts across racial and economic lines - just about every circle of friends here has its own "braai master."

In much the way cupcakes went from being a humble, if beloved, food item to the focus of TV shows, blogs and books, so too the braai has escalated in prominence and caught the imagination of the country in a new way.
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October 28th, 2013
06:00 PM ET
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This is the fifteenth installment of "Eat This List" - a semi-regularly recurring list of things chefs, farmers, writers and other food experts think you ought to know about.

Getting tapped as a judge for a barbecue competition sounds like a carnivore's dream come true, especially when it's at the level of The Jack. For 25 years, cooking teams from around the world have converged upon Lynchburg, Tennessee to battle for smoke-soaked supremacy at the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue.

This past Saturday, 25,000 barbecue devotees showed up to cheer on the 76 United States and 23 international teams that had qualified to participate by winning at the state level or various prestigious competitions. Chicken, ribs, pork and brisket were mandatory categories, and sauce, cook's choice and dessert were optional.

I got to taste them all.

I've been Kansas City Barbeque Society certified since 2008 and judged other food events, so this wasn't my first rodeo, but nothing compares to a competition where a $10,000 prize and such high-test bragging rights are on the line. Richmond, Virginia's Cool Smoke team took home the Grand Champion title, as well as Rockwell, Iowa's Pig Skin BBQ for a separately-judged Winner's Circle of previous Jack champs.

Judges like me left with full stomachs, sauce-stained clothes and some insight into what it takes to judge - and win - at competitive barbecue.
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5@5 - Barbecue sides get a boost
September 30th, 2013
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Whether you go with pulled pork, brisket or ribs, every fall barbecue is going to need some complementary side dishes.

Christopher Kostow from the acclaimed The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, California, offers all the fixins' - with a little extra flair.

How to Elevate Barbecue Side Dishes: Christopher Kostow
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August 27th, 2013
07:00 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of Southern food. Today's contributor, Virginia Willis, is the author of cookbooks "Bon Appétit, Y’all" and "Basic to Brilliant, Y’all." She is a contributing editor to Southern Living and a frequent contributor to Taste of the South. She also wrote Eatocracy's most-commented post of all time.

In this series for the Southern Foodways Alliance, I'm examining iconic Southern foods that so completely belong to summer that if you haven’t relished them before Labor Day, you should consider yourself deprived of the entire season. My plan is to share a little history and a few recipes that I hope you will enjoy.

This week, I’m finishing up with a recipe for a barbecued pork butt, sharing a bit of history and a practical recipe for those who want to go low and slow, but don’t have the time or patience for a professional Memphis-in-May competition pace.
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Tim Love's top rib joints across the U.S. (and Canada, too)
August 9th, 2013
11:00 AM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

It’s easier than ever to fake your way through a summertime cookout. You’ve heard about the test tube burger; you had to, it cost $33,000. Meanwhile, sales of alternative meat products, like faux hot dogs, continue to rise (to more than $550 million last year). The one cookout staple that doesn’t easily lend itself to veganism is ribs. So, before someone comes up with a test tube version, let’s shout out epic pork and beef ribs around the country.
 
Texas star chef Tim Love, whose restaurants include the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro and Love Shack, happens to be a ribs expert. He kindly provided a list of his favorite ribs spots - both pork and beef. Believe it or not, he’s got his eyes wide open enough to find a go-to place in Toronto.
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July 8th, 2013
05:00 PM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. SFA oral historian Amy Cameron Evans wrote this remembrance of pitmaster Ralph Parker.

It saddens us to share news that the barbecue community has lost another legend. Ralph Parker, the last surviving original founder of Parker’s Barbecue, passed away on July 4 at the age of 89.
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