The Foodie

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The Foodie: Barbecue Season

June 22, 2010
by Isabel Cowles
Barbecue is a summer staple for virtually every American, but for some dedicated enthusiasts, life is a full-time cook-off. Take a look at American barbecue and the devotees who keep the grill flame lit from July to June.

Getting Started on the Grill

Before you begin working on your secret sauce this year, check out the Barbecue and Grilling Web Guide to find the history of barbecue in various regions, plus extensive information on how to get your grill set up, how to prep and cook, and tasty recipes. And before you fire up that grill, check out the Tips for BBQ and Grill Safety to learn a bit about choosing the freshest meat and how to grill it to perfection.

Stickin’ to Your Ribs Southern Barbecue

Barbecue enthusiasts are all over the country, though none so proud as those in the South. Although arguments abound about where exactly barbeque originated and what variations of vinegar marinades or spicy rubs are best to dress a cut of meat, one thing is certain: every region of the American South has its own barbecue style.

The North Carolina Barbecue Society calls its state “The Cradle of Cue.” The site’s Historic Trail features barbecue pits across North Carolina, which can be visited via a virtual map or in person if you find yourself in the Tar Heel State.

The Southern BBQ Trail profiles Alabama barbecue. Alabama barbecue is drawn from the traditions of surrounding states, so there are many popular cooking and marinating techniques. The Oral Histories section of the site documents some of the foremost Alabama pit masters at work today.

When people think of Texas barbecue, brisket generally comes to mind. But Texans are equally skilled at making smoked sausage, Gourmet Magazine reports. This photo exhibit is as artistic as it is appetite-inducing.

By taking “the best of both worlds”—Carolina rubs and Texas marinades—Kansas barbecue enthusiasts have created a special combination of spices and flavors unique to their state. Experience Kansas City explores some of the state’s best-known grill masters.

Finger Lickin’ Northern Barbecue

The North has its fair share of finger lickin’ food, too. But as BBQ wasn’t originally a Yankee staple, some effort is required to seek out the best of the barbecue best. Fortunately, a number of enthusiasts have made Northern barbecue a life’s pursuit.

Pig Trip reviews barbecue joints from Boston to New York, “and everywhere in between.” And one Northern barbecue enthusiast has started a resource for barbecue fans across the map, with tips, recipes and reviews. You’ll find many Brooklyn-specific posts on White Trash BBQ, as the author hails from the area.

Barbecuin’ Across the USA

Many barbecue enthusiasts love to talk about their passion. Fortunately, the Internet has given them limitless space to muse about the merits of their favorite forms of grilling, marinating and food presentation. For a truly anthropological look at American barbecue today, check out what some of these enthusiasts have to say about cooking and eating BBQ.

The BBQ blog is run by a serious barbecue man. The creator of an award-winning spice rub and frequent barbecue contest competitor, he also has more than 600 published articles to his credit. You’ll find a mess of interesting discussions on this site, with topics ranging from “Starting a BBQ rub business,” to “BBQ food cost calculation.”

BBQbyDan is a California-based griller, “Devoted to America’s #1 favorite pastime: BBQ!” Dan’s Web site is full of flyers to California BBQ competitions, plus pictures of the events. If you live in the area, he caters; if not, he posts some of his favorite recipes so you can cook up a rack of ribs anytime, anywhere.

The Homesick Texan is a Lone Star lady with a longing for rice, beans and other barbecue accompaniments. Although currently living in New York, this chef cooks up Southern staples like brisket and strawberry shortcake and provides detailed pictures of her creations.

Celebrity Grill Masters

Some barbecue lovers channel their enthusiasm into popular books, recipes and television shows. Here are a couple of grill masters who’ve won fame and fortune over the flame.

Stephen Raichlen is one of the barbecue world’s best-known personalities. Author of “The Barbecue! Bible,” Raichlen has traveled across the country learning the nuances and secrets of every region of American barbecue.

Bobby Flay
tells you everything you need to know about grilling: Mainly, that to grill good food you don’t have to know a whole lot. This celebrity chef offers basic advice on what to have on hand when you start barbecuing and how to keep your cool as the meat heats up. If you’re lacking confidence in your grill skills, Flay’s laid-back guidance could help put your fears to rest. One of his main pieces of advice? Don’t feel beholden to recipes. Do what feels right.

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