Pleasures of barbecue

By LISA IRELAND,

Barbecue: I’m in; whole hog!

Barbecue has to be one of life’s greatest gastronomic pleasures. Why else would there be so many barbecue festivals, barbecue restaurants, barbecue cookbooks, and barbecue contests and rivalries. I do not get into regional preferences, I like it all! Several years ago, when traveling overseas with my family, we had one of our best meals at a “Memphis Style” barbecue restaurant in Edinburg, Scotland. The place was packed with happy meat lovers. Barbecue is a way of life and a world-wide obsession.

I love smoked barbecue chicken and you can find some of the finest of the best at several metro area gas stations and restaurants. Plan to go early and hope they have a smoked quarter chicken left for a delicious lunch. Barbecue beef brisket is also a gift to the culinary world, but the barbecue I eat the most is barbecue pork. Something about the low and slow smoking of a pork shoulder or Boston butt brings out its best flavor. I have a smoker and have tried several rubs, smoking techniques, and injections. I have found that they are all good and it is difficult to mess up a pork butt.

The main things to remember: season it and cook it low and slow until the meat is almost falling apart. I season the bone-in pork butt with some dry rub and smoke for about 6 -8 hours. I have found that you may need some additional cooking time in a 325 degree oven. Once you are able to easily pull the bone out and shred the meat, it is done.

The best part of barbecue is the sauce, and we recently hosted a barbecue birthday party. It was so easy, and everyone was able to dress their own meat. I prepared several regional types of barbecue sauce and allowed guests to choose.  The sauces need to be prepared a few days in advance for the flavors to fully develop.

Alabama Style White Barbecue Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbs. creole mustard

1 tsp. prepared horseradish

1 clove garlic, minced

½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup white vinegar

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. paprika

1 tsp. sugar

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate a least one hour before serving.

Kansas City Style Sweet

Barbecue Sauce

2 cups ketchup

2 cups tomato sauce

1 ¼ cups brown sugar

1 ¼ cups red wine vinegar

½ cup molasses

4 tsp. liquid smoke

2 Tbs. butter

½ tsp each: garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, celery seed, paprika, salt and pepper Combine all ingredients and simmer over a low heat for 20 minutes. Store in refrigerator

Carolina Style Mustard

Barbecue Sauce

1 ½ cups yellow mustard

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup ketchup

5 Tbs. apple cider vinegar

1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

½ tsp. each: cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook on low until sugar dissolves. Store in refrigerator.

Memphis Style Smoky Barbecue Sauce

1 - 24 oz. bottle of ketchup

1 cup water

½ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup granulated white sugar

2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

2 tsp. liquid smoke

2 tsp. granulated onion

2 tsp. dry mustard powder

1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients except lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, in a medium saucepan. Cook on low heat for about one and a half hours stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce. Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator.

Midwest Style Vinegar Basting Sauce

2 cups apple cider vinegar

½ cup water

½ ketchup

2 Tbs. brown sugar

1 Tbs. hot pepper sauce

2 tsp. red pepper flakes

2 tsp. kosher salt

2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake. Store in fridge and shake before using.

Barbecue Dry Rub

We keep this on hand to sprinkle on any barbecue or smoked sausage. It makes a generous amount so you can share with a friend.

¼ cup paprika (smoked if you can find it)

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion powder

2 teaspoons peppercorns finally ground

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 teaspoon chili powder

3 tablespoons ground cumin seed

3 tablespoons ground coriander seed

¼ cup kosher salt

½ - 3/4 cup light brown sugar

Mix thoroughly and store in an airtight container. Feel free to adjust any of the seasonings to your taste.

One thing that seems to go great with all the spicy flavors of barbecue is a Hershey Bar pie. I am not sure if it is the cold whipped topping or the chocolate but it is my family’s favorite way to end this meal.

Hershey Bar Pie

1 graham cracker crust

6 regular sized Hershey Bars (with Almonds, if you like)

1 - 28 oz. container of frozen whipped topping, thawed

Carefully melt chocolate bars in the microwave oven or in a double boiler. Once, chocolate is completely melted and smooth, begin folding in the whip topping. Fold in topping about a cup at a time until it is combined but not completely deflated. Put mixture in crust and refrigerate for a least two hours of overnight. Feel free to top pie with additional whipped topping.

The sides for a barbecue party are just as easy. Make some quick coleslaw, baked beans and Texas toast; and the dinner is complete.

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