The word Barbecue (BBQ for short) comes from the West Indies word, “barbacoa”, which means to slow cook meat over hot coals. Barbecue has been around since before the Civil War, but BBQ is different than grilling burgers and hot dogs on a gas grill.
Cooking With Wood
Real, true barbecue is an all-day event where a scrumptious piece of meat is very slowly cooked over coals that have been rendered down from hearty, flavorful smoking woods.
By slowly cooking the meat over the wood, it becomes infused with a smokiness that cannot be cloned by any other type of cooking. Barbeque has long been associated with saucy, sticky meat such as BBQ ribs but it really has more to do with the cooking process than sauce.
It is amazing how many barbecue restaurants are popping up these days. What used to be more typical of the South has become far more mainstream over the past couple of decades. Americans seem to have fallen in love with the slow cooked meat that is so tender it literally falls off the bone. Meat that is cooked in its own delectable juices has its very own unique flavor, unlike any other style of cooking.
Bring On The Pig
Many years before the Civil War, a staple in modern homes was pork. Back then people cooked every part of the meat. The meat was generally tough, so cooks had to come up with a way to make the meat tender. They figured out that tying the pig to a spit and slowly roasting it over coals made from native woods seemed to be the best way to make the pig succulent, juicy and tender. This way of cooking the meat quickly became a very popular way of cooking a pork roast or an entire pig. As a matter of fact, entire festivals were created around the roasting of the pig.
Over time, southerners began to really take pride in their slow-cooking technique and began raising pigs that had more fat on them to give them more flavor. Since they did not export their fattened pigs or the meats, including the ever popular BBQ ribs they made, this type of cooked pork became an exclusive Southern delicacy.
Modern Day Twists
Fast forward many years and BBQ has become a staple in American cuisine. But pig isn’t the only thing on the menu these days, even though BBQ ribs, pulled pork and smoked hams are some of the most popular meats. Beef, chicken and even seafood are cooked in the way of traditional barbecue these days and are just as delicious.
Spits are still used, but modern chefs have added many different cooking methods to their arsenal of BBQ magic tricks. Smoking, indirect cooking and grilling are all popular forms of barbecue cooking. Each method brings a unique flavor to the meat, but one thing is for sure, they are all delicious!