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Ramdude's RAMblins: Carolina Barbeque

Well fellow Rams fans, if you're reading this, you didn't get yerself too blowed up last Wednesday. But cheer up, there's always next year.
Ah, yes. There's few bonds stronger than a man and his meat. er, uh, well y'all know what I mean, right? Stop yer potty minds, and think - brisket, ribs, or maybe even a ribeye..

Whether you rub it, sauce it or just fire it up, gettin there can be as fun as the final destination. We're at that time of year where you either get a little more adventurous with your outdoor cooking. There's more time and it's too hot to cook indoors, or you pile the horde in the Family Truckster to see the USA - papapegasus-style.

So I figgered you might like to learn a little more about the different styles of BBQing around the country to either try yourself, or sample during your travels. More after the jump. Bring some extra napkins. This could get messy!

While I have my personal preference (Eastern Carolina pork BBQ - ECB), I've never met a smoked meat I didn't like. We'll get more detail on ECB in a minute, but here's a quick overview I found at if you're in a hurry to expand yer mind.

And I quote (because I'm lazy):
"Most people think of BBQ'ing as little more than throwing a few chicken breasts and the occasional rack of ribs on a grill and flipping them every so often. For the backyard pool-party that may pass muster, but a real BBQ fanatic knows how complicated and varied the process really is. There are several ways to BBQ and several styles to choose from.

"American BBQ aficionados generally prefer a slow and indirect method of BBQ'ing, normally smoke is used and the process sometimes takes up to 12 hours for a brisket of beef. With this method, the food is cooked in a covered chamber. The heatis kept at a low to moderate level and the whole process takes a minimum of 1 to 1.5 hours. Keeping the meat well basted with good marinade helps to retain flavor and juiciness.

"An even slower version of BBQ'ing uses only the heated smoke to cook the meat. The flavored wood, chips or herb branches placed in the tray over the heat adds flavor to the smoke that is channeled into the separate cooking area by way of a smoke pipe.
"Different styles of BBQ emerged in the US according the country's various regions. In the southwest, beef BBQ is the most common, usually mixed with a bit of a Mexican spice, and rubs are also more common in Southwest BBQ. Eastern BBQ is all about the pork, which is usually sliced or chopped up and topped with a sauce that is relatively thin, vinegary and peppery. In the southeastern region, the pork is served the same way, but with a thicker mustard sauce.

"The Appalachian Region also uses pork with a sauce that is generally sweeter, and is made with molasses, tomatoes, and peppers; pork ribs are also a staple in Appalachia, and cornbread and/or coleslaw are served with this type of BBQ. The Midwest BBQ's are like the Appalachian styles, but perhaps even sweeter and more tomato-based."
BBQ Tour of the US
Now, if you're into lern'in, here's a BBQ tour of the country complete with pitures. I warn you, I had a tough time keepin my tongue from lickin' the screen. I'm tellin ya. Strap in y'all.

Eastern NC BBQ - ECB

Now some of you may be traveling to, or through, North Carolina on vacation or to one of the state's many military bases. (Proud salute to those of you in uniform!) If you get a chance, you've gotta try some ECB! This would be East Carolina Mop-Sauce from the above link. This photo shows it the way God, hisself, determined it should be served - on a throw-away plate with coleslaw, tater salad and HUSHPUPPIES.

There are plenty of good mom and pop restaurants for BBQ, but you need easy in and easy out when you're traveling. One place I highly recommend is Smithfield's Chicken 'N Bar-B-Q They are located all over eastern NC and on all the major highways. I have absolutely no relation to these guys except that I always give them as much money as I can when I'm in the area. The locations I've visited have all been clean, friendly and GOOD!

I asked the neighborhood children up here in New England what they wanted to know about BBQ. Well, the mamas began pullin their young-uns in off the street and then the poh-leese (police) arrived. (Note to self: Do NOT query the children when your only clean clothes are a thong.) So, sadly, I had to make up my own questions.
But I got my ol' friend, J. Seinfeld, to help me with the presentation. Thanks J.

JS: What's the deal with "Sweet Tea"?

R.dude: OK, first of all, that's not about BBQ, but closely related, so I'll allow it. Sweet Tea is... well imagine if you put enough pure cane sugar in some regular iced tea, so that if you put in one more granule, it would cause an exothermic reaction so strong the earth would become a second sun - sort of like at DC's house recently.
Done properly, that's what sweet tea is. But fear not, for if you value your teeth and your islets of Langerhans, BBQ joints offer unsweetened tea as well despite what Gary Valentine says. (If you're in a hurry, go to 1:40 for the tea part(y).)

JS: What's the deal with Brunswick Stew?

R.dude: OK, still not about BBQ, but you're gettin closer. And would you please stop with the "What's the deal" crap?

JS: Ssssssooooooorrrr---rrrryyyyyyy.

Rdude: Brunswick Stew originally was a collection of all sorts of meats, plus vegetables like lima/butter beans, corn, okra, potatos and other vegetables, and tomatoes. My first experience was made by an old man who lived near the highway. He made it in a big ol' kettle over a wood fire in his front yard. Don't know how much the proximity to the highway had to do with the ingredients, but it was GGGGGOOOOODDDD. The kind you get in restaurants is created in a more controlled environment using the vegetables with pork and chicken as the meats. Good stuff.

JS: What's the d... What are hushpuppies? Do I wear them or eat them?

R.dude: Now you're talkin. Could be either, but in this case, you eat 'em. Eat 'em up!!! They are mother's love rolled in corn meal and cooked to a golden brown for a couple of minutes in a hot vat of boiling lard (or vegetable oil, if ya healthy). If you want to make them yourself, use what the restaurants use - House-Autry Hushpuppy mix You can get it at any grocery store while you're in the area.

JS: How do I know if I'm in the right joint for ECB?

R.dude: That's a very good question. If it is not obvious any other way, look at the bottle(s) of sauce on the table. If there is a clear plastic squeeze bottle (or glass bottle with metal top) with what looks like yellow vinegar and pepper seeds at the bottom, you're in the right place.
BTW, Carolina Pit BBQ in the Charlotte-Douglas Airport does not serve ECB - more like the Appalachian style.

5) JS: What if I want to take some home?

R.dude: How practical of you. This is easy since BBQ and Brunswick Stew travel well. First of all, Smithfield's sells bulk BBQ already frozen if you want to stash and dash. (Just ask for it.) However, I usually buy it and it stew fresh and then freeze overnight if I can. You CAN take frozen BBQ and stew in your carry-on luggage on a plane. Just put it in one of those thermal lunch bags. I usually put each container in a zip-lok too for safety. The TSA guys may need to smear it, but I've never had a problem getting frozen stuff thru security. It will keep for hours - if you need longer, add one of those small frozen ice paks to the bag.

So there you have it. Enjoy! If we can't have football, at least we can have great food!