Saturday, November 22, 2008

A Tour of BBQ Sauces

Over the years I have tried a lot of different types of BBQ sauce. I thought I would run through a little exercise for myself to decide which one is my favorite. If anyone would like to throw their two cents in, please feel free. I have broken down the competitors as follows:

1.) Memphis Style

A moderately thick, sweeter sauce made up tomato, vinegar and brown sugar base with additional spices ranging from mild to hot.

2.) Kansas City Style

A very thick and sweet sauce with a tomato and molasses base.

3.) St. Louis

A tomato and vinegar based sauce that is essentially a thinner, less sweet version of Kansas City style BBQ sauce.

4.) South Carolina

A mustard based based sauce that is generally paired with pulled pork.

Now I fully recognize that this list is far from complete. I have not yet had the privilege to travel to some of U.S BBQ hotbeds, something I'm hoping to do next summer. I am going off what I have the most experience with for this comparison.

Now I do like Memphis and Kansas City Style sauces a lot. The thicker texture and sweet flavor make both of them a nice complement to any meat. My only issue would be, and this does depend on the sauce, that these types of sauces can sometimes overwhelm the flavor of the rub and the meat and should be used sparingly so that they provide good flavor without masking the taste of the meat you have been cooking for 14 hours.

South Carolina is also a great sauce, especially with Pork, but is generally a little thinner and depending on the sauce can be a little too tangy for my tastes.

What I have found is that I like a good balance of texture, sweetness and just the right amount of tanginess (not sure if this is a word or not, but you see where I am going). In the end my conclusion is that I am a St. Louis BBQ sauce guy. It's not too thick, not too sweet and works well with pork, brisket, ribs and just about any other barbequed meat out there.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bone in vs. Bone out Pork Shoulder

I have read a lot of articles praising the value of cooking meat with the bone in. In addition to adding a lot of flavor, these sources indicate that cooking meat with the bone in can also help keep your meat moist during the cooking process. It is also pretty cool when the meat has finished cooking to be able to simply pull the bone right out without any type of resistance from the meat itself. Additionally, it is generally cheaper to buy meat with the bone in because it requires less labor by the butcher.

There are some caveats however to buying meat, especially pork shoulders, with the bone in. For one thing, depending on the size of your crockpot, it can be difficult to squeeze in as much meat because you have to contend with an immovable object that is the shoulder bone. I would also argue that while the bone in shoulders tend to be cheaper, you always have to consider that you are paying for the bone itself, which can account for a lot of weight. Buying pork shoulder with the bone in will also require more work on your part to trim away a lot of excess fat which has been left on.

I have made pork shoulder using deboned pork butts and bone in shoulders and couldn't say that I have noticed much of a difference in taste or moisture between the two. This could have a lot to do with nature of the crockpot itself, which keeps the meat moist throughout the entire cooking process. I am also a big fan of dry rubs and barbecue sauces, which could block out whatever subtle flavor that the bone provides to the meat. I'm hoping that someone can shed a little light on this debate for me as I am pretty well stumped.