Tennessee is known for a lot of things - country music, church communities, whiskey, The Grand Ole Opry, Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, the Tennessee Titans, Nashville Predators and so much more! But what most know about us here other than the music, sports, celebrities and many tourist attractions, is we have some darn good bbq in this state! Don’t believe me? Here are the top 6 bucket list barbeque spots according to TripAdvisor that are a must try:
RENDEZVOUS - MEMPHIS
HELEN’S BAR-B-Q - BROWNSVILLE
MARTIN’S BAR-B-Q JOINT - NOLENSVILLE
PEG LEG PORKER - NASHVILLE
CALHOUN’S BARBECUE - KNOXVILLE
The term as we know it, barbecue or barbeque, differs depending on where you are at. In the U.S. and U.K., it’s the norm to just say ‘BBQ’. But if you’re in Australia it’s ‘barbie’ or in South Africa it’s called ‘braai’. Different names but the cooking style is basically the same with some variations, but how did this delicious concept come about?
‘Barbecue’ is actually a derivative of Caribbean dialect. It comes from Taino, a pre-Columbian Caribbean language. The word is described as the native method of cooking sliced meats over an open flame; other sources say barbacoa specifically referred to the wooden frame on which the meat was smoked. Over time each country has perfected their ways of the perfect BBQ style. It seems as if every state in the US has their own variation even. However, according to experts, there are four main styles that are not just in the method but also in the sauce:
- The Carolina’s (Mainly pork BBQ)
- North Carolina - The Eastern parts use a whole hog and a vinegar-based sauce with spices. And in the Western parts they traditionally slow roast only pork shoulder and add some tomato to the vinegar mixture.
- South Carolina - This is where the “Carolina Gold” technique comes - mostly from the center of the state. They insist on a mustard-based sauce with their pork. And on the coast is the “Pee-Dee” region, which features a spicy watery, vinegar-based sauce while on the west side they prefer a peppery tomato sauce.
- Texas (Mainly beef BBQ - after all, they say everything’s bigger in Texas!)
- East Texas style - cooked over hickory wood but first drenched in a sweet, tomato-based sauce. It is cooked until it falls off the bone.
- Central Texas style - cooked over pecan or oak wood and is rubbed with dry spices.
- West Texas style - cooked over mesquite wood and direct heat.
- South Texas style - no specific wood flavor; uses molasses-based sauces.
- Memphis (Mainly pork ribs and shoulders, but beef is a hit as well!)
- Their sauce is a bit on the sweeter side and can really go with any cut of meat. It is a tomato-based sauce with generous amounts of molasses. Heinz brand ketchup is recommended by experts - none of that off brand stuff! The secret to this style is to spritz the meat with water as it is cooking to keep it moist.
- Kansas City (Multiple meats cooked together - beef, pork, lamb and turkey. Even fish!)
- They are really known for their ribs cooked in a dry rub and the burnt ends that happen during the slow cooking process. Typically a rub is used made with brown sugar and savory spices. However, if they are going a sauce based route, it’s not added until late in the cooking process and not before.
These all sound mouth watering to me and I can almost smell the grills and smokers cooking outside in the beautiful summer weather! I definitely couldn’t pick just one as a favorite! And you may not know this, but May is actually National Barbecue Month! It used to be just a day like other random holidays - May 16th. But with a dedicated day this delicious, it had to be spread out over the whole month. So why not try every style this month to see if there is one you like best?!
Now what about those that are vegetarian, plant based, or vegan? Don’t worry, you don’t have to skip out on this day just because you don’t eat meat! The styles of not only barbecuing but cooking can be altered so that every dietary option can partake! Barbecuing is so versatile that these methods and sauces can be used with vegetables, alternative meat products, and the like. Times and temps may need to be adjusted, but this way no one has to miss out at the BBQ’s! Delish always comes through with recipe ideas for different seasons, dietary needs, and lifestyles. Here are their 35 Vegetarian BBQ Recipes that are perfect for those barbecue days.
Whether you are a carnivore or an herbivore, there are delicious options for everyone - even the pickiest of eaters. However you choose to celebrate this month, here are some tips and fun facts that you may not already know:
- Grilling and barbecuing are NOT the same - grilling cooks foods directly over the heat and barbecue uses the heat through convection of hot air.
- You can actually measure barbecue heat with your hand - hold your palm five inches above the grill and count the number of seconds (but be careful):
- 2-4 sec: 450-550*F
- 5-7 sec: up to 450*F
- 8-10 sec: up to 350*F
- Independence Day is the most popular holiday for barbecuing - Labor Day and Memorial Day are tied for second place.
- The most popular grilled main dish is a hamburger - second is steak and if you ask a kids’ opinion, they’d say hot dogs. But of course veggies are up there too!
- Skip the aluminum foil if you can - Aluminum foil isn’t considered dangerous, but little particles of aluminum can transfer from the foil to your food, especially at higher temps. If you want a slightly safer option without losing flavor, try Grillmat! The Grillmat is a BPA-free, heat-resistant fabric made of PTFE fiber. It creates a non-stick surface and still gives you those grill marks!
- The world’s largest grilling lesson was in Kansas - According the the Guinness Book of World Records, the largest barbecue/grilling lesson took place in 2017 when 336 people got together at Arrowhead Stadium. They learned how to fire up the grill, how to grill a prime rib, roasted garlic, marinated pork chops, etc.
- The barbecue of Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee is almost always pork - often served with a sweet tomato-based sauce.
- Grilled tofu is your new favorite food - grilled tofu smells wonderful, and tastes even more beautiful. It’s also high in protein and has various benefits. Meat eaters, give it a try!
- There are healthier grilling methods - cooking meat or fish over intense heat can potentially produce carcinogens. A healthier alternative is to pre-cook the meat first to avoid the amount of time it’s exposed to the flame.
- Men grill more than women - this may be a given fact for some, but according to a study at Michigan State University, only 18% of the women surveyed said that they are grilling food in their household, while 67% of men stated they were the primary griller of the family.
So many great facts, tips and tricks out there to add to your current barbecue routine or as an idea if you want to switch things up. For many, barbecue is a way of life and a huge hobby especially for those of us in the south. If you haven’t already this month, fire up that BBQ or smoker and get to it! Invite some of your friends and family over and have a friendly competition of your own to see who’s techniques are the best. Even though in all reality you know you’re all winners as any type of barbecue is going to be delicious!