The first holiday of the summer is fast approaching – May 30th Memorial Day. While we do spend time honoring our fallen heroes, we also think about the barbeque after the parade and ceremonies. Barbeque is a huge part of American culture. The five famous barbeque areas of the United States are Texas, Kansas, Carolinas, and Tennessee – and the backyard. Is it barbeque or barbecue – really doesn’t matter.
First we should define barbeque, and how it differs from grilling. Grilling is high direct heat. If the lid to the grill is closed, and the food cooked slowly, that’s barbequing. Barbequing is hot air and smoke that accumulates inside the grill and roast the food similar to how it would cook in your oven, by heat convection. Smoker cooking is similar to indirect heat cooking in that generally there is lower indirect heat used. However, in addition, smoking woods are used so that the smoke that is cooking the meat slowly is permeated with intense wood flavors. Smoker cooking is similar to indirect heat cooking in that generally there is lower indirect heat used. However, in addition, smoking woods are used so that the smoke that is cooking the meat slowly is permeated with intense wood flavors. Add a rotisserie; the principle is similar to indirect heat cooking. You try to avoid any one part of the food getting too much direct heat for long periods, so that it doesn’t burn. The result in evenly cooked food that is tender and juicy. Grilling is fast cooking. Barbequing is slooooow, hours slow. Hickory and mesquite are two of the more popular woods but others are used as well.
When Europeans arrived in North America, they found indigenous people. The turkey was a native bird, the cranberry a native fruit. The Europeans brought wheat, cattle, sheep, pigs, domesticated fowl, and many fruits and vegetables. In the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, the indigenous technique of plank roasting salmon and other fish is stilled used today. In the traditional method, the tribe would suspend the salmon on cedar planks above (but not touching) an open fire. According to the lifeintheusa.com/food, the flavors of the fish, wood and smoke bond together. It was also widely thought that the word barbecue come from “barbacoa” which is Spanish for a Taino word which means a rack made of wood on which meat is roasted over flames. The most convincing explanation is that the method of roasting meat over powdery coals was picked up from indigenous peoples in the colonial period, and that “barbacoa” became “barbecue” in the lexicon of early settlers. African slaves in America cooked pigs over open pits for hours, slow, smoky cooking. Indeed George Washington ate barbeque according to Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue.
As preparation begins for the backyard barbeque, take a look at the meat. Texas cowboys on the ranch used brisket of beef. On the trail driving cattle north to Kansas, the cowboys probably used rabbit or game using the rotisserie method. Kansas uses chicken, pork butt, and beef. The Carolinas lean toward pork. The most popular and easiest meat to prepare for large groups is barbeque is chicken. Chicken is relatively cheap, making it a great meat. Chicken cooks faster than the other cuts of meat. Of course there are several other types of meat available like venison and bison. There are attachment for individuals more interested in fish and shell fish. If you can’t smoke, there’s liquid smoke in a bottle to add taste.