And, here in the United States, it’s a three-day weekend as we observe Memorial Day, when we remember those who gave their lives while serving in the country’s armed forces.
Many also call this weekend the official start of summer and there are many grills being used to cook hamburgers, hot dogs, fish, vegetables, and one of my favorites – barbeque pork ribs!!!
Now, I currently live in Texas but I grew up in Florida, and have lived in South Carolina and North Carolina. This means that I have a had a variety of barbeque sauces! Let me tell you, the sauce defines a region’s ribs and people get mighty feisty about which region has the best sauce.
The U.S. has a wide variety of differing barbecue sauce tastes. Some are based in regional tradition.
- East Carolina Sauce – Most American barbecue sauces can trace their roots to the two sauces common in North Carolina. The simplest and the earliest were supposedly popularized by African slaves who also advanced the development of American barbecue. They were made with vinegar, ground black pepper, and hot chili pepper flakes. It is used as a “mopping” sauce to baste the meat while it was cooking and as a dipping sauce when it is served. Thin and sharp, it penetrates the meat and cuts the fats in the mouth. There is little or no sugar in this sauce.
- Lexington Dip (a.k.a. Western Carolina Dip or Piedmont Dip) – In Lexington and in the “Piedmont” hilly areas of western North Carolina, the sauce is often called a dip. It is a lot like the East Carolina Sauce (above) with tomato paste, tomato sauce, or ketchup added. The vinegar softens the tomato.
- Kansas City – Thick, reddish-brown, tomato or ketchup-based with sugars, vinegar, and spices. Evolved from the Lexington Dip (above), it is significantly different in that it is thick and sweet and does not penetrate the meat as much as sit on the surface. This is the most common and popular sauce in the US and all other tomato based sauces are variations on the theme using more or less of the main ingredients.
- Memphis – Similar to the Kansas City style, typically having the same ingredients, but tending to have a larger percentage of vinegar and use molasses as a sweetener.
- Florida – Similar to the Memphis style because it has a higher percentage of vinegar than Kansas City style. Florida style is characterized by the tropical fruit flavors such as orange, mango, guava, papaya, pineapple, and tamarind as well as peppers with some heat such as chipotle and habanero. Because of its fruity flavor it is commonly served with pork, chicken and seafood.
- South Carolina Mustard Sauce – Part of South Carolina is known for its yellow barbecue sauces made primarily of yellow mustard, vinegar, sugar and spices. This sauce is most common in a belt from Columbia to Charleston, an area settled by many Germans. Vinegar-based sauces with black pepper are common in the coastal plains region as in North Carolina, and thin tomato- and vinegar-based sauces are common in the hilly regions as in North Carolina.
- Texas – In some of the older, more traditional restaurants the sauces are heavily seasoned with cumin, chili peppers, bell peppers, chili powder or ancho powder, lots of black pepper, fresh onion, only a touch of tomato, little or no sugar, and they often contain meat drippings and smoke flavor because meats are dipped into them. They are medium thick and often resemble a thin tomato soup. They penetrate the meat easily rather than sit on top.
- Alabama White Sauce – North Alabama is known for its distinctive white sauce, a mayonnaise-based sauce, which is used predominantly on chicken and pork. It is composed of mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper.
Now we have some fun! Which sauce style is your favorite?
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Sauce descriptions courtesy of Wikipedia.