Restaurants - BBQ - Barbecue
When looking for great Barbecue food in Westchester County, select from The Westchester Restaurant Guide's list of Barbecue restaurants.
Origins of Barbecue
Barbecue has been around since the discovery of fire. While not everyone agrees that barbecue originated with the Taíno, researchers do generally agree that barbecue originated in the Caribbean. There is ample evidence that the word and technique migrated out of the Caribbean and into and through other cultures and languages. "Barbacoa" itself moved from Caribbean dialects into Spanish, then French, then English in America. "Barbacoa" slowly evolved from barbacoa to barbecue, barbeque, bar-b-que, bar-b-q and bbq. Over time the word came to mean the method of preparation, and even the event where a barbecue is served.
In the 1500, the Spanish first introduced pork to Native Americans in "South Carolina". The Native Americans introduced the method of "slow cooking with smoke" to the Spanish. When barbecuing, the meat should be placed high and away from the hottest source of the heat. If you live or visit South Carolina, you can experience all four styles of barbecue (listed below). South Carolina is considered, by some people, to be the home of "true barbecue". Barbecue is so popular in the South that it's considered a cultural icon.
Today, barbecue, barbeque, bar-b-q, and BBQ all refer to a cooking method, an outdoor gathering with food cooked in this method, and often to any food cooked outdoors. In its purist form, barbecue uses indirect heat and a long, slow process breaking down tough cuts of meat into mouth-watering tender morsels. Different types of barbecue use different meats, spiced sauces and flavorings (added at various times during cooking), smokes, equipment and fuel, and total cooking time. These all affect the final flavor and tenderness of whatever meat is barbecued.
To most Southerners, Barbecue is a cherished example of the cultural heritage of the South. Although barbecue-loving Southerners agree that the "Northern" definition of barbecue "grilling in the back yard" is NOT barbecue, they disagree about what constitutes a true Southern barbecue. State by state, and even town by town, no method is exactly alike. Southerners do generally agree on one point about barbecue - barbecue and pork is "traditionally" synonymous. Barbecue in the South almost always means pork.
Some of the states most well-known for their barbecue are North and South Carolina, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama along with Texas and Missouri, a little farther to the west. The "Pit Cook" is essential in creating good BBQ. In addition to the Pit Cook, the difference between one barbecue and another is the sauce, often a "guarded secret recipe".
Basic Types of Barbecue (Barbeque) Sauce
Vinegar & Pepper Sauce is the "original" barbecue sauce. It is the simplest to prepare and the most basic. Scottish families that settled in South Carolina used a basic "Vinegar & Pepper" basting sauce.
Mustard Sauce is often used in South Carolina and can be traced to the early immigration of German settlers in this part of the United States.
Tomato Sauce Light
Tomato Sauce Heavy
Today, the average American uses "barbecue" sauces, purchased in various varieties. Most people "grill" their meats (smothered in barbecue sauce) over high heat. Unfortunately, they are missing out on genuine barbecue. "Real" barbecue is not grilled, but cooked slowly in a barbecue. Although any meat or poultry may be barbecued, Southern barbecue traditionally refers to pork.
"Traditional" Barbecue in the United States
The choice and combination of woods burned result in different flavors imparted to the meat. Different types of wood burn at different rates. The heat also varies by the amount of wood and controlling the rate of burn through careful venting. Wood and charcoal are sometimes combined to optimize smoke flavor and consistent burning.
Once all coals are ashed-over (generally 15-25 minutes, depending on starting technique), they can be spread around the perimeter of the grill with the meat placed in the center for indirect cooking, or piled together for direct cooking. Water-soaked wood chips (such as mesquite, hickory, or fruit trees) can be added to the coals for flavor. As with wood barbecuing, the temperature of the grill is controlled by the amount and distribution of coal within the grill and through careful venting.
For long cooks (up to 18 hours), many cooks find success with the "Minion Method", usually performed in a smoker. The idea involves putting a small number of hot coals on top of a full chamber of unlit briquettes. The burning coals will gradually light the unlit coals. By leaving the top air vent all the way open and adjusting the lower vents, a constant temperature of 225 can easily be achieved for up to 18 hours.
Natural Gas and Propane "Grilling"
Added wood smoke flavor can be imparted on gas grills using soaked wood chips placed in an inexpensive "smoker box" (a perforated metal box), or simply a perforated foil pouch, under the grilling grate and over the heat. Using such smokers on quick-grilled foods (steaks, chops, burgers) nearly duplicates the effects of wood and charcoal grills, and can actually make grilling some longer-cooked food, such as ribs, easier, since the "wet" heat makes it easier to prevent the meat from drying out.