BBQ, like pizza, has great regional variations. While these locales often compete to see who has the “best” BBQ style and flavors, we feel each brings its own unique and wonderful elements to the pit. The competitive spirit and regional pride of BBQ masters truly elevates this cooking method to a level far beyond simply throwing some burgers on the grill. Here we explore recipes from 3 of the big BBQ regions: Kansas City, North Carolina and Memphis. Some of these methods take quite a few hours so be sure to plan in advance (we recommend a comfortable lawn chair and a well stocked cooler).
Kansas City Style Burnt Ends
1/2 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup chili powder
1/4 cup paprika
6 tablespoons black pepper
3 tablespoons onion powder
3 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoons cayenne
1 (10 to 12 pound whole, packer trim beef brisket
Sift all of the rub ingredients into a medium bowl and mix well. Set aside.
Trim all the hard fat from the brisket. Trim all the soft fat to 1/4-inch.
Prepare a smoker or a grill, following manufacturer’s directions. Stabilize the temperature at 220 degrees F. Use a mild wood such as hickory or cherry for the smoke flavor.
Generously cover all sides of the brisket with the rub and gently massage it in. Reserve the leftover rub.
Smoke the meat for about 1 hour per pound. For example, a 10 pound brisket may need to smoke for about 10 or more hours. Monitor the internal temperature. When the brisket reaches 170 to 185 degrees F, on an instant-read thermometer, in the flat part of the brisket, remove the brisket from the smoker.
Separate the point of the meat from the flat. At this time you can slice the flat part of the brisket and eat.
Trim the visible fat from the brisket point and coat it with the reserved rub. Return the meat to the smoker and continue cooking until the internal temperature of the brisket point reaches 200 degrees F.
Remove the brisket from the smoker to a cutting board and let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes. Cut into chunks and transfer them to a serving platter. Serve it hot with your favorite sauce on the side. Serves: 10-12
North Carolina Pulled Pork
1 tablespoon mild paprika
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons hot paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Boston butt (bone-in pork shoulder roast; 5 to 6 pounds), covered with a thick (1/2 inch) layer of fat
10-12 Hamburger Buns
Vinegar Sauce ingredients and directions here.
Combine the mild paprika, brown sugar, hot paprika, celery salt, garlic salt, dry mustard, pepper, onion powder, and salt in a bowl and toss with your fingers to mix. Rub the spice mixture onto the pork shoulder on all sides, then cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 3 hours, preferably 8.
Set up the grill for indirect grilling and place a drip pan in the center. If using a gas grill, place all of the wood chips in the smoker box and preheat the grill to high; when smoke appears, reduce the heat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, preheat the grill to medium-low and adjust the vents to obtain a temperature of 300°F.
When ready to cook, if using charcoal, toss 1 cup of the wood chips on the coals. Place the pork shoulder, fat side up, on the hot grate over the drip pan. Cover the grill and smoke cook the pork shoulder until fall-off-the-bone tender and the internal temperature on an instant-read meat thermometer reaches 195°F, 4 to 6 hours (the cooking time will depend on the size of the pork roast and the heat of the grill). If using charcoal, you'll need to add 10 to 12 fresh coals to each side every hour and toss more wood chips on the fresh coals; add about 1/2 cup per side every time you replenish the coals. With gas, all you need to do is be sure that you start with a full tank of gas. If the pork begins to brown too much, drape a piece of aluminum foil loosely over it or lower the heat.
Transfer the pork roast to a cutting board, loosely tent it with aluminum foil, and let rest for 15 minutes.
Pull off and discard any skin from the meat, then pull the pork into pieces, discarding any bones or fat. Using your fingertips or a fork, pull each piece of pork into shreds 1 to 2 inches long and 1/8 to 1/4 inch wide. This requires time and patience, but a human touch is needed to achieve the perfect texture.
Transfer the shredded pork to a nonreactive roasting pan. Stir in 1 to 1 1/2 cups of the vinegar sauce, enough to keep the pork moist, then cover the pan with aluminum foil and place it on the grill for up to 30 minutes to keep warm.
To serve, mound the pulled pork on the hamburger buns and top with coleslaw. Let each person add more vinegar sauce to taste. 10-12 servings
Memphis Style Hickory Smoked Beef and Pork Ribs
2 (about 4 pounds each) slabs beef spareribs
2 (about 3 pounds each) slabs pork spareribs
Neely's Dry Rub:
1 1/2 cups paprika
3/4 cup sugar
3 3/4 tablespoons onion powder
Neely's BBQ Sauce:
2 cups ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 tablespoons light brown sugar
5 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 tablespoon ground mustard
For the rub:
Add all ingredients to a bowl and stir until combined. Keep in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
For the ribs:
Rinse and dry ribs. Place on a clean cutting board and pull off the membrane, the thin fatty skin that lines the underside of the ribs. Trim the ribs of excess fat and meat. Liberally season both sides of the ribs with 1/4 to 1/2 cup Neely's BBQ Rub. Wrap ribs and refrigerate for at least 8 hours so flavors can permeate.
Preheat grill to 250 degrees F using hickory and charcoal.
Use indirect heat and cook with the cover down.
Place ribs, meatier side down, on the grill away from the coals. Cook beef 2 hours, adding more coals as needed. Turn and cook for 45 minutes more, or until the ribs "bend" and the meat easily separates from the bone using a fork. Cook the pork ribs 3 hours. Turn and cook another hour, or until ribs bend. Remove from grill.
For dry ribs: Sprinkle extra Neely's BBQ seasoning over ribs, cut bones and serve.
For wet ribs: Coat ribs with Neely's BBQ sauce, cut and serve.
For the BBQ Sauce: In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to simmer. Cooked uncovered, stirring frequently, for 1 hour 15 minutes.