Know Your Barbecue Sauces
The most famous sauce styles.user rating
Barbecue and barbecue sauces are truly American foods. They are foods of celebration, dating back to colonial times when community gatherings centered around the barbecue.
In the U.S., barbecue sauce is very personal and regional. Traditionally, those who grew up in one of the perceived "Barbecue Capitals of the World"-Kansas City, Memphis, the Carolinas and Texas-will have preferences (i.e. biases) toward that taste.
Many regional barbecue sauces are derived from generations-old family recipes-with some dating as far back as 1918. Although these traditional varieties remain the backbone of packaged barbecue sauces, newer styles are emerging. A Florida-style with a lemon/lime base, Hawaiian sweet-and-sour sauces; and California/Southwest sauces, which have a salsa base, are becoming fast favorites.
Here are the differences among the most famous sauce styles.
Carolinas: There are differences between the sauces of North and South Carolina and between the eastern and western parts of the states. The commonality is that the sauces are generally thin and contain plenty of vinegar. Flavors range from tasty (not sweet or hot, but plain to complement the barbecue meat), to sweet, sweet and sour, to hot.
In eastern North Carolina, the sauce is made with vinegar, salt, black pepper, crushed or ground cayenne and other spices. The western part of the state uses the same basic recipe, but adds small amounts of ketchup or molasses, which makes the sauce work well as a marinade for poultry and seafood as well as meat. South Carolina's Columbia region is known for its yellow-mustard style of barbecue sauce. Farther south into Georgia, the same spicy vinegar-based sauce is sweetened considerably with both ketchup and brown sugar.
Kansas City: Kansas City-style barbecue sauce is tomato-based, sweet to sweet/hot, with a medium to thick consistency. This style set the standard for defining barbecue sauce and its taste was the basis for the first commercial barbecue sauce made by Kraft.
Memphis: Memphis-style barbecue sauce is more of a ketchup/mustard blend. It is thicker than Carolina varieties and the flavor ranges from tasty, to sweet and hot. Sometimes, dry barbecue is served. Meat-often pork ribs-is coated in a dry rub of herbs and spices, cooked until crispy and served without sauce.
Texas: Texas barbecue sauces are tomato-based, and tend to be on the thicker side with molasses, Worcestershire sauce and ingredients like coffee in them. Chili peppers and chili powder are also used. They range from tasty to hot.
Two other regional barbecue sauces are more elusive but worth mentioning:
Alabama: Alabama's contribution is a signature white sauce with a vinegar base that is thickened with raw eggs or mayonnaise.
Kentucky: Western Kentucky boasts a barbecue unlike any other. Here, mutton is the meat of choice with its bold flavor accented by a black mix of vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.