The Southern History Of Barbecue

Recipe: Three Southern Barbecue Sauces

Is there anything more American than barbecue? We've got all sorts of methods for cooking barbecue in the South, along with different sauces that are unique to each region. Whether you're slathering your pulled pork in Alabama White Sauce or serving up brisket with Memphis' molasses-based sauce, Test Kitchen Director Robby Melvin is walking us through the origins of this oh-so-popular Southern dish. Follow along to learn about barbecue's early beginnings from the Spanish conquistadors to the early settlers' distinct sauces.


What's more American than apple pie? I'd say barbecue. [MUSIC] Spanish conquistadors, who brought barbecue to the American South, after discovering it in the Caribbean. Now what they saw there was a low and slow method of cooking a whole pig using indirect heat, fueled by a fire built with green wood. Traditional southern barbecue is almost always done with pork. Like pork, pigs are much more low maintenance, so it made more sense just to keep more of them around. Now the different regions of southern barbecue were largely defined by the immigrants who settled in that area and the ingredients that they brought to that region. For instance, Virgina and North Carolina barbecue was settled by British, and they brought to their sauce vinegar, so you have a nice Very acidic, vinegary-based sauce they used to baste their hogs. Moving further south, down to South Carolina, was a mustard base, brought in by their French and German immigrants who settled in the area. This sauce has a nice yellow color, perfectly spiced. Now, the Memphis sauce is a little different because they had access to the Mississippi River. Which brought in a lot of different products. The signature ingredient in their sauce is molasses, which gives it this deep rich brownish red color. Perfectly sweet. So what we have here is a pork ****. Which is one of the most popular cuts to a barbecue. It was cooked over a slow fire, very traditional. With wood chips, very dry, hardwood chips that have given it this nice smokey flavor. A little vinegar sauce from our good friends in the Virginia area. Amazing. And the great things about these sauces, and these methods, is that you can really the region. So, what we've seen is our southern barbecue traditions spreading into the midwest. Into Kansas City where they're barbecuing beef, pork, chicken and even turkey. On down to Texas where they've implemented their own style of using 100% beef barbecue, where brisket is king. In Alabama where we're making Alabama White Sauce to go on chicken and pork, and even some forms of beef. No matter the region or part of the country, barbecue is still doing today what it did in its humble beginnings, which is bringing people together over delicious cuisine.
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