Barbecue is definitely an all-American cuisine, but once you start trying and experimenting with barbecue, you'll realize how many different styles there are. Barbecue primarily varies by region. Each region has its own sauces and cooking styles. Here is a look at five of the most popular styles of barbecue that you should try as soon as you get the opportunity.
South Carolina-Style Barbecue
If you like mustard, you will love South Carolina-style barbecue. The key characteristic of this style is the mustard-based sauce, which also contains vinegar and a hint of spice. This is one of the least-sweet styles of barbecue, and many chefs don't even add any sugar to their sauce. Pulled pork is really popular in South Carolina barbecue, as is chicken.
This style of barbecue is made in a few stages. The meat is typically rubbed with spices before it is grilled. Then, while it is on the grill or the smoker, it is mopped with a liquid, vinegar-based sauce. This keeps the meat moist. When the meat is finished cooking, it is only then finished with a thicker, sweeter sauce. Chicken quarters and halves are really popular in Texas mop barbecue.
Kansas City barbecue is as sweet as it comes. The meats are typically marinated and grilled before being topped with a molasses-based, sticky sauce. Other common ingredients in the sauce include brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, garlic, and cayenne pepper. Pulled pork and brisket are really popular in Kansas City-style barbecue.
Alabama barbecue is completely different than what you probably think of as barbecue. The meats are seasoned with a blend of spices and grilled, but then they are served with a unique white dipping sauce. Made with mayonnaise, vinegar, and pepper, this creamy sauce is tangy with a bit of heat. Chicken is most often prepared, but Alabamans will barbecue pork, too.
If you go to a barbecue restaurant in Lexington, North Carolina, you'll probably see a Lexington Dip on the menu. This is the region's version of a pulled pork sandwich. The pork is cooked in a tangy, vinegar-based barbecue sauce, but it's served with a somewhat thicker dipping sauce made with tomato sauce, vinegar, and spices. Some restaurants will make coleslaw using the same sauce as a dressing.
There is a big world of barbecue to explore! Get out there, and order some of these different regional styles. You might be surprised which one becomes your favorite.