I’m from Georgia, and I have opinions about barbecue.
First, when I was growing up, barbecue was pork shoulder that was either chopped or sliced. Pulled pork was a small regional thing that everyone, including Southerners, has been brainwashed by Food Network into thinking is and always has been a general Southern thing, like shrimp and grits (which was just Charleston) and Duke’s mayonnaise.
Second, I used to be a pork shoulder purist, but I now ask what they do best and order that. I’ve had some damned fine brisket and both pork and beef ribs at places that make mediocre pork. I’ve had mutton that would have been very good if not for my third and fourth points.
Third, I don’t like putting syrup on meat. Keep those thick sweet sauces away. If corn syrup or molasses is one of the first three ingredients, I don’t want it. Good sauce should be acidic to add complexity, not sweet to turn it into dessert.
Third B, smoke flavoring in sauce is an abomination. The smoke should be in the meat.
Fourth, I am suspicious of places that put sauce on barbecue before giving it to me. I’m not against sauce in general, but with good barbecue the meat should stand on its own. When I’m served meat with sauce already on it I think they are hiding something (usually dry meat).
But fifth, I’ve rarely had bad barbecue. I’ve had great barbecue more often than inedible. I’ve had a lot I wouldn’t go out of my way for again, but it wasn’t horrible.
(Sixth, chicken doesn’t stand up to hours of cooking. I’m not saying chicken isn’t good food, but cooking it on a grill and coating it with sauce syrup doesn’t make it barbecue.)
@Oldelvis there’s a place not far from me with nice people and great atmosphere, but in two tries each the brisket was dry and the pork was OK, so now I get their smoked wings instead of barbecue.
I cooked pork shoulder in my Weber kettle until it was stolen. It took a good bit of attention to keep the fire lit and the temperature down. The shoulders typically passed the stall after about nine hours. Even though I’m from Georgia, I used old Bourbon barrel staves. It’s hard to imagine wood cured more than that.I didn’t notice any Bourbon in the meat, but it smelled good cooking.
I need to get a smoker, and I’ve moved, but I’m not sure how often I’d use it.
Nothing, because I don’t eat meat. Okay, maybe some cornbread, or salmon from Jack Stack in Kansas City. When I did eat meat, though, I liked Memphis style and North Carolina style. I have strong opinions about barbecue even though I haven’t eaten it in 30 years.
Aside from that, the feature of greatest relevance, of most foods, to me, is how much effort is it going to require to consume them. A kind of total cost of ownership. Can I unceremoniously shove the whole thing in my mouth or do I have to pay attention to it? What about cleanup? If there are bones and stuff, is that somebody else’s problem?
I pretty much stick to brisket & ribs for the primary reason being to compare it to my homemade BBQ. I’m not half bad when it comes to slinging a little meat around the grill, especially since I bought my Traeger pellet grill 6 years ago!
@mike808 Interesting, but it probably won’t be nearly as good a result. Low and slow cooking is designed to break down the connective tissue in tougher cuts of meat and render the fat, transforming sometimes meager cuts into delicious goodness. Brisket used to be the one of the cheap cuts of beef, and you had to cook it that way to make it good. The plant based products don’t start out with the same challenges and won’t require that treatment (and may even suffer from it).
But maybe a beyond burger or whatever will take a good smoke. There was a place around here that did smoked burgers and they were outstanding and usually gone by 12:15-12:30.
My absolute favorite is Jack Stack crown prime beef rib. It’s expensive as hell, but it almost brings a tear to my eye, it’s so good. I like my pulled pork about as well as a restaurant, so I don’t tend to order it. Burnt ends/brisket tend to be my go to’s. Agree that I don’t usually want a sauce that’s too sweet, I prefer a more tangy, vinegar (not mustard!) based sauce. However, if KC masterpiece is all that the host has, I’m not going to turn up my nose.
@dlutz a good bbq joint’s beans will include a little bit of everything: burnt ends, sausage, rib tips, chopped brisket, pork, whatever they’ve got. There’s so much going on that it’s almost impossible to duplicate at home if you’re just doing ribs or a brisket or a pork shoulder because you probably don’t have all that meat at once. So the beans are one of my favorite things at a bbq place for sure.
There used to be three places we enjoyed going for BBQ. Barry’s Ribs in Buffalo Grove, an actual KC Masterpiece restaurant in either Wheeling or Buffalo Grove (can’t recall), and Famous Daves in Palatine. All gone now. At Famous Daves we’d order their big multiperson lunch that had their pulled pork, brisket, chicken, baked beans, ribs, cornbread, and home-made creamy chicken and wild rice soup so everyone got tastes of everything.
I miss them all. We haven’t found a great place nearby since Famous Dave’s shut down (their sauce is still available at the local stores).