It’s Spring and Summer time throughout the Northern Hemisphere and it’s time for getting outside… and that means OUTDOOR BARBECUE COOKING!
The robins and cardinals are back, the snow is gone in most areas and the weather is bringing us outside once again. Did you know that the origins of American barbecue date back to colonial times, with the first recorded mention in 1672. It has been a staple of American culture, especially Southern American culture and has emerged through the years. Many distinct traditions have become prevalent in the United States. George Washington mentions attending a “barbicue” in Alexandria, VA in 1769.
The core region for barbecue is the southeastern region of the United States. Barbecue in its current form grew up in the South, where cooks learned to slow-roast tough cuts of meat over fire pits to make them tender. This slow cooking over smoke leaves a distinctive line of red just under the surface, where the myoglobin in the meat reacts with carbon monoxide from the smoke, and imparts the smoky taste essential to barbecue.
Carolina barbecue is usually pork, served pulled, shredded, or chopped, but sometimes sliced. It may also be rubbed with a spice mixture before smoking and mopped with a spice and vinegar liquid during smoking. It is probably the oldest form of American barbecue. The wood used is usually a hardwood such as oak or hickory.
Two styles predominate in different parts of North Carolina. Eastern North Carolina barbecue is normally made by the use of the “whole hog”, where the entire pig is barbecued and the meat from all parts of the pig are chopped and mixed together. Western North Carolina barbecue is made from only the pork shoulder, which is mainly dark meat, and uses a vinegar-based sauce that includes the addition of varying amounts of tomato. Western North Carolina barbecue is also known as Lexington barbecue, after the town of Lexington, North Carolina in which the style comes from, home to many barbecue restaurants and a large barbecue festival, the Lexington Barbecue Festival
South Carolina has three regional styles. In western parts of the state, along the Savannah River, a peppery tomato or ketchup-based sauce is common. In the central part of the state (the Midlands), barbecue is characterized by the use of a yellow “Carolina Gold” sauce, made from a mixture of yellow mustard, vinegar, brown sugar and other spices. In the coastal “Pee Dee” region, they use the whole hog, and use a spicy, watery, vinegar-and-pepper sauce. In the Piedmont area of the state shoulders, hams, or Boston butts are used.