Memphis Style BBQ


Memphis BBQAs we mentioned in our last post, when barbecue developed in the United States, it developed into four unique and distinctive regional styles: Memphis, North Carolina, Kansas City, and Texas. Each type of barbecue has different sauce preparation and focuses on different styles of meat to create truly individual culinary experiences. In this article we’ll take a look at the Memphis style of barbecuing.

Memphis takes great pride in its barbecue style and taste – even claiming to have the best barbecue in the world. Traditional Memphis barbecue focuses on pork, and usually uses either ribs or pulled pork. This pork is cooked in a smoker and can be prepared either in a “dry” or “wet” style.

Most Memphis barbecue masters claim the smoking process is an integral part of the flavor and quality of a true Memphis barbecue. The slow smoking process creates meat that is tender and juicy on its own, which is then heightened by the rub or sauce.

The dry style barbecue is the most popular way for Memphis style meat. This means the meat is seasoned with a dry rub – a mixture of herbs and spices such as paprika, onion, cumin, and garlic. The raw meat is coated with the rub before being placed in the smoker. After smoking the meat to the point that it almost falls of the bone, the meat is served, usually with a sauce on the side. The dry rub is most often used on ribs, and is usually much less messy to eat.

The wet style barbecue is when the meat is prepared with a sauce. Memphis style barbecue features a sauce that is tomato and vinegar based, resulting in a tangy and slightly sweet taste. In the case of ribs, the sauce is put on the meat before it goes in the smoker, and is added several times throughout the smoking process. For pulled pork, the meat is cooked within the sauce. This is also the sauce that is served on the side of a dry style ribs.

There is no one accepted recipe for Memphis style sauce. Each restaurant, barbecue master, and home cook has his or her own variation. However, each one stays true to the tomato, vinegar, and spice base that distinguishes Memphis style barbecue from the other four regions.

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