Dispatches from the Creation Wars

BBQ Competitions

This past weekend was the Memphis in May BBQ Competition, one of the largest such competitions in the world. As some of you may know, I am a BBQ fanatic (and I finally just perfected my babyback ribs, by the way) and I love competitions like this, though I’ve never participated in one. And being a fan of both BBQ and bad puns, I love some of the team names people came up with in this competition:

4 Pork Harmony; Any Pork in a Storm: Barefoot in the Pork; Best Little Boarhouse in Memphis; Big Al and the Butt Rubbers; Bobbi D’s Church of Swinetology; Gettin Piggy With It; Pork Me Tender; Tangled Up in Que; and my personal favorite, for obvious reasons: World Series of Porker.

BBQ is truly nature’s most perfect food. If you’ve never been to a BBQ competition, you should find one and go. You can go from place to place sampling the ribs from dozens of companies and take home slabs of your favorite ones, or bottles of their sauces and rubs. And if you want to know the secret to perfect BBQ in your own backyard, just remember those three beautiful words: low and slow.

Comments

  1. #1 Dave S.
    May 17, 2005

    Days of Swine and Roses
    They Call Me Mr. Ribs!
    Pjork

    Seriously though, is it true that BBQ purists generally hold nothing but disdain for most people’s back-yard barbeques, referring to that process as the inferior “grilling”?

  2. #2 Ed Brayton
    May 17, 2005

    Dave S wrote:

    Seriously though, is it true that BBQ purists generally hold nothing but disdain for most people’s back-yard barbeques, referring to that process as the inferior “grilling”?

    No, but there is a distinction between grilling and smoking that most backyard grillers probably don’t understand. Smoking uses indirect heat, while grilling uses direct heat. Both are forms of BBQ, and you often have to use both depending on what you are cooking. Ribs, to be done right, should be smoked for 2-5 hours and then grilled, with the sauce not going on until they hit the grill. The last stage is primarily to caramelize the sauce, the ribs are done cooking before they actually go on the grill.

    It’s not a question of one being superior or inferior. Grilling is ideal for burgers and steaks, for instance, but would make a lousy brisket. Sometimes the same cut of meat might be done two different ways as well. You would grill a ribeye steak, for instance, but if you had a full standing rib roast, which is the same cut, you would have to smoke that at a low temperature to cook it correctly.

  3. #3 Phillip J. Birmingham
    May 17, 2005

    Seriously though, is it true that BBQ purists generally hold nothing but disdain for most people’s back-yard barbeques, referring to that process as the inferior “grilling”?

    As something of a BBQ fascist myself (with one dirty secret) I sort of do that, but I wouldn’t refer to grilling as “inferior.” In fact, I do quite a lot of it. I do, however, get a little persnickety about people who refer to grilling as barbecueing.

    My question is this: Ed, what’s your view of the Mesquite Heresy?

    (My dirty little secret: propane. Now my shame is visible to all.)

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    May 17, 2005

    Phillip Birmingham wrote:

    (My dirty little secret: propane. Now my shame is visible to all.)

    Oh, it’s okay. I use a gas grill myself most of the time. In fact, I convert my gas grill into a makeshift smoker to do my ribs and it works just fine.

  5. #5 Dave S.
    May 17, 2005

    Ah, different, but not necessarily inferior. Thanks gentlemen.

    I know now what I want for supper tonight. *L*

  6. #6 Reed A. Cartwright
    May 17, 2005

    Ed, you should consider comming to the Big Pig Jig in Vienna (pronounced Vai-enna), Ga. My uncle has a team and my mom tries to go every year.

  7. #7 Murray Bowles
    May 18, 2005

    Could someone recommend a link to reviews of Memphis BBQ places? My band is visiting there in September, and I’ve heard great things.

  8. #8 Phillip J. Birmingham
    May 18, 2005

    Could someone recommend a link to reviews of Memphis BBQ places?

    I could make my evil suggestion that you instead make the hours’ drive to Jonesboro, AR and feast on Couch’s BBQ instead. :)

  9. #9 Ericca
    April 27, 2007

    I must second the rec for Couch’s barbecue. I grew up in Jonesboro but have traveled the world and have yet to find a better barbecue sauce or better ribs/pulled pork, etc. Not even Texas, any portion, can come close to the beloved Couch’s. It is actually in Nettleton rather than Jonesboro but the point is Couch’s rules!!!!!!!!!!

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