If there’s anything that’s debated as fiercely as politics, then it’s definitely how to make BBQ the “right” way. But is there a “right” way? In America, we’ve got six styles for preparing BBQ — five of which come from Southern states — and each one has its own distinct style and specialty.
- West Coast BBQ
The BBQ culture of the West Coast is finding its place amongst the big five. The influences of the region include mesquite, grape vines, apple and red oak wood, which are available in abundance. Flavor profiles are pilfered from Mexico, with a variety of fresh and dried chili’s ground into rubs.
Our heavily influential island culture brings surprises from Hawaii, Philippines, Guam and other countries. Sauces are inspired by traditional styles, but add more fruit, sweetness and heat. Desert Dates from inland California bring a sweetness that is unexpected when puréed into a light tomato-based sauce. West Coast, also called the Left Coast, is very liberal but deliberate in its approach to well-executed BBQ. Here on the West Coast we have fewer rules and a bit more freedom to interpret flavors spun from the revered American BBQ scene.
Texas BBQ specialties include beef brisket, sausage and beef ribs. The rub style includes some salt and pepper. Though beef is the staple because it’s readily available and relatively cheap, other meats on the menu include pork spare ribs and turkey breast.
Beef brisket is usually cooked in an offset smoker for at least 12 hours using post oak for fuel and smoke flavor. If you’d like to insult a Texan BBQ pitmaster, ask for sweet BBQ sauce. It’s definitely not popular in Texas.
Memphis specialties include whole hog, pork ribs and pulled pork. The rub style consists of paprika and other savory spices. Some recipes call for 40 spices, so don’t expect simple.
Memphis is the total opposite of Texas when it comes to BBQ sauce — tomato, spices and hints of vinegar.
- Kansas City
Kansas City was once a meat packing town so it’s home to many different meats, including beef, pork and chicken. But it’s specialty is burnt ends. The rub style is sweet and spicy, and so is the thick tomato-based sauce.
Curious about how burnt ends came to be? At Arthur Bryant’s Barbecue, the servers would cut off the dried up edges of the brisket point and lay them on the counter for customers waiting in line to snack on. These burnt ends gained popularity and customers began asking to order them. But the restaurant was unable to produce enough burnt ends this way, so they started reproducing them by cooking the points separately, cubing them and adding more rub and sauce before finishing them off in the smoker. And so, the modern day burnt end was born.
- North Carolina
North Carolina is all about the hog; whole hog, pork shoulder and pork ribs are the state’s specialties. Whole hogs are cooked using oak wood, after which the meat is pulled from the bones and chopped using large cleavers.
The rub style is sweet and spicy, while the sauce consists of thin vinegar, cayenne, crushed black pepper, salt and pepper.
- South Carolina
In South Carolina, BBQ specialties include whole hog, pork shoulder and sausage. Unlike the other four regional BBQ styles, South Carolina’s rub style consists of dry mustard and savory spices. The sauce style is sweet yellow, gold mustard-based sauce.
So Which is Our Favorite?
Each one has such a distinctive flavor, that it’s truly impossible to pit one against the other. If this blog has got your mouth watering for some authentic BBQ catering in Orange County, no one else can bring out the “American” in American BBQ like CowgirlQ — so give us a call!