Friday, April 9, 2010

Carolina Barbecues

The lowcountry lays claim to great golf courses, beaches, and very hot weather. It is also considered the birthplace of American barbecue. The term barbecue to those in the southeast means generally one thing, pulled pork. No..not beef brisket, chicken, or sausages. The Carolinas were a predominately pork raising territory in early America as the cattle fared better in the states to the west. Early settlers learned the technique of slow cooking the entire pig courtesy of our native American friends. The meat took on a naturally smoky flavor and was very tender and tasty when shredded or pulled. This is the birth of the term barbecue. Given the right amount of fattiness and tenderness of the meat, I don’t believe any other meat (chicken, beef, and wild game) can taste nearly as good being prepared under this process. The meat is either slow roasted (200-250 degrees) for several hours or smoked.

Different types of Carolina Barbecues
You can find different barbecue sauces being served throughout the Carolinas depending upon the region. The coastal Carolinas first adopted a sauce consisting of vinegar, peppers, and sugars. This sauce often included the addition of Oyster sauce. Those that crave a spicy sauce and do not want a thicker tomato based sauce should definitely opt for this type of sauce.
The second sauce one will find in the Carolinas is the South Carolina Mustard or midland sauce. This sauce can be found in north and south Carolina and is available at such Charleston area establishments as Bessingers, Maurices, and Melvins. These restaurants are owned by the famous Bessinger family known throughout South Carolina. The pulled pork sandwich is known as the big joe and is served on a large bun with a deep fried sweet dough onion ring on top. This is one of my carolina favorite as I complement this with a cup of fresh brewed iced tea. The pulled pork served at Bessingers is half the reason I return to the lowcountry every year.
The third type of sauce is the light tomato based sauce which is an embellishment of the original vinegar and pepper sauce. This sauce is famous in the Piedmont region of Carolina is the popular "go to" barbecue in Lexington, North Carolina which is famous for barbecue. If you are looking for a sampling for some local tomato based sauce, then you would opt for a visit to Sticky Fingers and order the Carolina Sweet sauce. While the ribs are fantastic here, I would say Sticky Fingers finishes a distant second behind Bessingers when it comes to pulled pork. Give me the “big joe” any day.

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