Regional StylesBarbecue varies around the U.S. in terms of which meats and sauces are favored, but guess what? They are all delicious.
Memphis Ribs rule, and the term Memphis-style almost always means pork ribs, but the city is passionately divided between “wet” (cooked with a tomato-based barbecue sauce) and “dry” (flavored only with a spice rub).
Texas Styles vary widely in the Lone Star State, but the signature of Texas-style barbecue is slow-cooked, dry-rubbed beef brisket, with optional sauce added tableside.
North Carolina As in South Carolina, pork and tomato-based sauce prevail, but here, the true regional specialty, found in the coastal areas, is a thin, vinegar-based sauce, or “mop.”
South Carolina Pork is king — both ribs and pulled pork, a shredded, slow-cooked shoulder. A traditional tomato-based barbecue sauce is most common, but the true local specialty is an unusual, golden-hued, mustard-based sauce.
Kansas City Any meat, from sausage to ham to turkey, is fair game in both Missouri and Kansas, but the common theme is a tomato-and-molasses or brown sugar sauce applied after cooking rather than as a baste. The truly unique signature dish is “burnt ends,” the blackened outside edge of a whole beef brisket removed, rerubbed, resmoked, and cubed.
Ultimate Barbecue Competitions
At competitive barbecue cook-offs, you can taste many styles and rare, expertly made variants, most of which cannot be had at restaurants. The Kansas City Barbeque Society (kcbs.us) sanctions hundreds of such events nationwide, but like golf or tennis, there are four Majors of the barbecue world which are not to be missed. Nearly a quarter of a million carnivores hit Houston, site of the largest event, last winter.
American Royal Barbecue Contests
Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue
Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest
Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest