3 Regional BBQ Styles Every Pitmaster Should Know
Whether you like your baby back ribs with a tangy mustard sauce or are more of the slow-cooked bare bones brisket type, there’s a barbecue style for you. And unless you actually went out and tried them, you might not even know they exist. But once you start exploring the differences between regions, you can actually start incorporating them in your cuisine and come up with your own unique creations. Here are some of the main regional barbecue styles every pitmaster should know.
North Carolina Style Barbecue
North Carolina style barbecue is probably one of the most complex and unique styles of barbecue you’ll ever find. We’re talking about whole hogs only, smoked for hours over hickory or applewood, and mashed to an almost baby food like texture.
While you can get all of your classics, like baby back ribs and rib tips, pulled pork is really their thing. Not only that, but they’re probably the only state where your barbecue could taste completely different based on your zip code.
See, people on the northwest like their sauce on the tomatoey side, while they add ketchup once you move further down south. Southeast folks, however, have their own thing and use a mustard based sauce (yes mustard) while people in the northeast like theirs with more of a vinegar/pepper base. Carolina barbecue is definitely up there with the best of them and a must try for any self-respecting barbecue lover.
Kansas City Style Barbecue
Kansas City style barbecue is the usually the type people up north think about when thinking about barbecue. This is also the most common style of barbecue you’ll find north of the border.
If you go to a typical ribs restaurant in Montreal, this is probably the type of barbecue you will get, with a slight twist. Kansas City barbecue is recognizable for its full rack of ribs and sweet and tangy tomato-based sauce. And while ribs are what they’re known for, you can find all types of meat at an authentic Kansas City barbecue, from turkey, lamb, mutton and even fish.
Texas Style Barbecue
Texas style barbecue is also a very respected style of barbecue but could throw you off if you automatically think of sauce when you think about barbecue. People down here actually kind of look down on sauce and prefer to enjoy the full flavor of the meat.
Texas is all about the beef, and this is probably one of the reasons Texas barbecue is not that reliant on sauce. They’re well known for their slow-cooked brisket and beef ribs. They say you never had barbecue before you had BBQ in Texas, and I kind of agree. It’s truly a life-changing experience for anyone who’s had nothing but Northern style ‘cue.
The continental US is a patchwork of different barbecue styles with influences as diverse as the Caribbean and eastern Europe. You should at least do a pilgrimage to these cities if you want to experience the many faces of barbecue and integrate some of these techniques and recipes into your own.