Search This Blog

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

BBQ BASICS: Barbecue Lingo

Some of you folks browsing through barbecue blogs might have questions like "what the hell do they mean by bark and Boston butt?" Like all hobbies, there is a lot of lingo in the barbecue world. Here's a convenient run-down:

Babyback ribs / Back ribs:
The smaller ribs taken from "high on the hog" - a.k.a. between the chest and spine, rather than around the belly.

Barbecue sauce:
A type of sauce, often tomato-based, applied to barbecue which varies greatly by region. Ranges from thin, vinegary, and spicy to thick, dark, and sweet. Some regions prefer mustard-based barbecue sauces.

Cooking over flames, indirectly and at a low temperature, with the addition of smoke from hard woods.

Bark: A crust, often heavily spiced, that forms on the outside of barbecued meat.

Baste: A liquid, often made with acids such as vinegar and sometimes made with fats such as olive oil, applied to meat during the cooking process in order to prevent drying and infuse extra flavor.

Boston butt / Pork shoulder / Pork butt: A type of large cut of pork which is well-marbled and high in fat, used often for barbecued pulled pork or chopped pork. Often contains shoulder blade bone.

A type of marinade with a high acid level and often a fairly high sugar content. Helps break down meat before cooking, and may be used for curing outside of the barbecue realm.

A beef cut with a high fat and collagen content, from right below the neck of a cow (below the chuck cut). Requires long cooking time in order to prevent from being too tough. Never, ever, ever served rare, but still delicious.

Carolina barbecue:
A type of barbecue generally hailing from South Carolina, often showcasing whole hog barbecue, pork shoulder, and spare ribs. Sauces are often thin, vinegary, spicy, and/or mustard-based, rather than thick and sweet.

Made from charred hard wood. Either sold as square shaped briquettes or as natural lump coals, this serves as the heat source for most barbecue.

Dry rub:
A mixture of salt, pepper, spices, and/or herbs applied to the surface of food.

Cooking over flames, with food close to the heat source and at a relatively high temperature, over either coals or with propane.

Hard wood: Wood from trees such as hickory, mesquite, oak, birch, or fruit trees, which may be used in barbecuing for a savory smoke flavor.

Kansas City barbecue: A style of barbecue popular in Missouri and Kansas, showcasing a wide spectrum of meats, particularly pork ribs. Generously applied, thick, sweet sauces made with tomato ketchup and molasses are most common.

Lump charcoal:
A type of charcoal which is not processed and formed into briquettes, but rather sold as raw charred wood chunks. Generally cleaner burning than briquettes and with a lower ash level.

Marinade: A mixture of liquid and/or dry spices applied to food for a specific period of time, often hours or longer, in order to promote flavor penetration.

Memphis barbecue:
Another pork-centric barbecue hailing from Tennessee, often featuring generously coated dry spices adhered by vinegary mop sauce in place of thick barbecue sauce.

Mop sauce: A baste or thin sauce applied during cooking, traditionally with a small mop.

Pulled pork (or chopped pork):
Shredded or finely cut up barbecued pork, either from pork shoulder or whole hog barbecue, often served in sandwich form.

A type of wood and/or charcoal grill promoting high levels of smoke which are infused into barbecued food.

Spare ribs:
The very large, higher-fat ribs from around the belly or chest of a pig. Generally perceived as a tougher cut of meat, though may be tender and delicious if cooked properly.

Texas barbecue:
Often beef-based, particularly focusing on brisket, and generally simply spiced with salt and pepper. May be served with hot sauce as per the consumer's prerogative, though rarely served with any type of sweet barbecue sauce.

As always, we'd love to hear from you if you see something that you think ought to be on this list. Submit to

No comments: