Meet the man behind NYC's The Hog Days of Summer, a financial research manager-turned-pitmaster who's committed to importing some of the best in barbecue culture from the American south.
Dan Delaney started running a barbecue supper club from his living room in 2011. The 26-year-old entrepreneur taught himself how to cook brisket in an 18-foot smoker he drove from Austin to Jersey and is now opening a brick-and-mortar barbecue restaurant in Brooklyn called BrisketTown.
Santa Maria is best known for tri-tip, which became the signature of Central California 'cue during the 1960s. Taken from the bottom of the sirloin, tri-tip is a versatile cut of beef, and the folks at Rancho Nipomo sure make a tasty sandwich of it.
Santa Maria's claim to culinary fame is a type of open-flame grilling that dates back to the 19th century. Despite its association with colonial Spain's vaquero culture, this approach was not too different from most American barbecue of the time—a process with three general steps: "Dig hole. Light coals. Apply carcass."
If you're in the Windy City and in the barbecue mood, this is something to order by the bucket (and isn't that always fun?). Rib tips. They're one of the top sellers at Lem's Bar-B-Q and it's not difficult to understand why. Each tip points to a deep blend of flavors, merging the powerful tastes of charcoal and hickory smoke with the simple sweetness of pork. Lem's tangy, spicy barbecue sauce adds a molasses-colored kick before the tips find their way into a freshly popped paper bag.
The state of Maryland practices barbecue in a rare form. I discovered this for myself on a grassy road outside of Baltimore, in front of a truck that had been built around a barrel-shaped smoker and decorated on all sides with the words: "PIT BEEF." After taking my order, the ladies of Bull on the Run picked up a rested round roast and nestled it into their deli slicer, carving away thin, pink ribbons and piling them unceremoniously onto a roll.
What good is a guide to American barbecue sauce styles if you can't actually try any of those sauces? Thankfully, most regional styles of barbecue sauce are available via mail order. if you've never tried northern Alabama white sauce or want to see what the most infamous mustard sauce in South Carolina is all about, mail-order is the easiest way to get sauced.
While sauce on its own is never enough to save bad barbecue, it can perfectly complement the flavors of good barbecue, giving it an identity and elevating it to greatness. So, what are the "mother sauces" of barbecue? Mustard sauce from South Carolina, mayo-based white sauce from Alabama, and more.
Ribs are central to barbecue, but they're also part of cuisine traditions all over the globe. The SE team wanted to stop and appreciate all the ribs out there, from Pinnekjøtt in Norway to Cantonese char siu spare ribs to baby-backs (I want my...). Here are the international highlights. As it turns out, the world is boned.
We love Kansas City burnt ends as much as we love a perfect chopped whole hog from Eastern Carolina. That said, we decided it'd be useful to define the distinct regional styles across America.
There are all kinds of barbecue varieties in America. Before we get into the regional breakdown, let's talk about the metrics of meat: you can buy it as sandwiches (both handheld and freestyle), plates and trays, rib racks, brisket by the pound, and how can we forget the Flinstonesian prehistoric barbecue (which unfortunately you need a time machine for).
If you've ever wanted to know why American barbecue matters, Robert Moss' new book on the subject is nothing short of essential. Documenting its subject from pre-Republic times to the present day, Barbecue: The History of an American Institution is an accessible foray into culinary evolution. In the process, Moss shatters several myths of barbecue—myths so dominant that they've come to define the food in American culture.
"Would those of you who can tell the difference between a McRib sandwich and real barbecue please stand up and raise your right hand?" At the behest of the Kansas City Barbecue Society and by invitation from the Jack Daniel Distillery, I pushed back my seat and joined a sizable crowd of barbecue lovers in Lynchburg, Tennessee, to become a newly minted KCBS judge. With hands in the air, we took the oath.
Every time I mentioned to someone at the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tennessee, that I'd been offered a seat at the judges' table, I received the same response: "This is the best barbecue you'll ever have." "The Jack"—a two-day contest with 22 years of history, grand champion cooks from 10 different time zones, and the backing of major corporate sponsors—exists in a world distanced enough from destination dining to be its own culinary tradition.
Scott's only serves whole hog barbecue on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. During those three days the stores sells 15 to 20 hogs' worth (between 2,000 and 2,800 pounds) of smoked pork, attracting visitors from miles around. The rest of the week, Scott's is not much more than a half-stocked, rustic convenience mart with doors that seldom open for regular business.
When South Carolina Barbeque Association president Lake E. High, Jr. curated a whole hog lunch for Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, he proclaimed that South Carolina is "absolutely the barbecue capital of the world." This isn't the wildest claim a barbecue evangelist can make. I can count at least four barbecue capitals of the world in the American South, and to be perfectly honest I'd like to see at least 500 more vying for the title. The environmental toll of all that burning wood may be an overriding concern. Then again, I may be a hungry man.
Meat may be the undeniable core of American barbecue, but as long as American barbecue is part of the pantheon of southern cooking, it will not stand alone. From the saltine crackers and pickles of Lockhart, to the lard-fried potatoes (you heard me) of Kansas City, to the barbecue slaw of Lexington, the side dishes served with barbecue are often as exciting as the main course. I indulged in this fact on my recent trip through the Carolinas, looking forward to the $2 servings of local flavor that flanked each serving of smoked pork.
Is North Carolina barbecue as great as everyone says it is? Or, once you remove the nostalgia, is it (gulp) dry, overcooked, and disappointing? I cruised down I-81, eager to revisit one of my favorite barbecue regions to figure out the deal with Lexington style 'cue.
Last week, we shared a national guide to barbecue events in the United States. Though my knowledge of barbecue events is pretty limited, I included as many local events as I could find. But I thought it'd be interesting to open things up to anyone out there. Here's a simple Google map for plotting barbecue events across America. We've made it an open collaboration, so any of you can add to it! And we hope you will.