How Long Do You Cook Country Style Pork Shoulder Ribs What Exactly is "Real" Barbeque?

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What Exactly is "Real" Barbeque?

Many people think that Barbeque is any food that is cooked outside over fire. That is a misconception. What most people are doing outside when they think they are barbequing is actually “grilling”, which is cooking over an open flame. If you’re standing in front of your gas grill with an apron around your waste, a 3 foot spatula in your hand and burgers on the grill, you’re grilling. Not to say that isn’t a good thing. But, that ain’t barbeque. To compare grilling to “real” Barbeque is like comparing a man painting a ceiling to Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. They are both painting, but with totally different results.

Real barbeque (and I’m not going to fool around with the semantics here, BarBeQue/Bar-B-Que/BBQ, they all mean the same thing) is meat cooked slowly, over low heat, with smoke. The meats which traditionally are considered to be barbeque are, and in no particular order, pork ribs, pork shoulder (or butt), beef brisket and chicken. These meats are cooked slowly in what is known as a smoker until they are fall-off-the-bone tender, have a deep smoky flavor, and are delicious.

What is needed to do Real BBQ? First, you need a smoker. There are basically five general types of smokers.

1. Offset Smoker– An offset smoker is the most popular type of cooker that is used at most BBQ competitions. An offset smoker has the firebox on the side of the unit and not directly under the meat. A small beginner offset smoker can be purchased for around $100 at any of the large box home improvement stores, outdoor equipment stores, or even Wal-Mart.

2. Kettle Grill– Nearly everyone has one of these on their deck or patio, the style of cooker made famous by Weber. You can set it up to be used as an offset smoker by simply putting the coals on the side and not directly under the meat.

3. Vertical Smoker– A vertical smoker is easy to use, and has the heat source at the bottom of the unit, a water pan directly over the heat source and then racks to support the meat over the water pan, all lined up in a vertical fashion. Variations of the vertical smoker are insulated smokers, the “Big Green Egg” and the Fast Eddy.

4. Gas Grill– A gas grill can be used for smoking if it has more than one heating element. One element can be set to low, with smoke producing wood chips, and the meat is placed on the cooler side of the unit, with the lid closed.

5. Good Ole Fire-Pit– A three sided box structure can be built with fire bricks and a fire built inside the box. The meat is smoked on racks over the fire, like has been done for centuries.

Second, you need meat. Depending on what you intend on serving as BBQ, you need either Pork Shoulder (Boston Butt is the best choice), Pork Ribs (spare ribs, trimmed St. Louis Style is best), Chicken or Beef Brisket. Get these where you normally buy good quality meats.

Third, you need a smoke source. There are many choices of what wood to use for smoking the BBQ. There are many regional preferences, based on what is available in that region. The south uses mainly Hickory and Pecan, the Texas folk use mostly Mesquite, and the Northerners use Oak, Maple and fruit woods. There are also choices as to use whole logs, wood chunks, charcoal, wood pellets, etc.

Fourth, you need marinades and rubs. Most competition BBQ chefs treat their meat to a nice rub-down with a marinade and spice rub. There are thousands of recipes for marinades and rubs. Pick whichever one suits you best.

Fifth, you need a finishing sauce. There are a few different sauces which are regional preferences which you should use to finish your BBQ. These sauces are very much like a glaze and are brushed on to the meat as the cooking process is finishing up. You should use the appropriate type of sauce based on the region of the country you are competing in. For example, if competing in Memphis, you would use a red tomato based sauce. If cooking in Kansas City, you would use a sweet red tomato based sauce. If cooking in Eastern North Carolina, you would use a sauce made of vinegar, spice and red pepper. There are many different recipes for these regional sauces. Choose some from the many and tailor your own sauce the way you prefer.

Using these few simple items, almost anyone can put out some killer smoked BBQ. Fire up the smoker, rub the meat, smoke it, sauce it and eat it, the process is pretty simple. Of course, there are many tricks and tips of the trade.

One helpful tip is that many competitive BBQ cooking teams use off the shelf items as a base for their marinades, rubs and sauces and “doctor” these products up by adding their own ingredients which gives their BBQ its unique and they hope, prize winning flavor. You too can become a BBQ expert and either start cooking in Barbeque events or just amaze and wow your family in your backyard. All that is required is a smoker, some wood, some meat and some spices. Of course, you also need the knowledge of how to combine them to make that award winning Q.

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