The English word “barbecue” comes from the Spanish word barbacoa. After Columbus landed in the Americas in 1492, the Spaniards apparently found indigenous Haitians roasting meat over a grill consisting of a wooden framework resting on sticks above a fire. The flames and smoke rose and enveloped the meat, giving it a certain flavor.
Traditional barbacoa involves digging a hole in the ground and placing some meat, usually a whole lamb, above a pot so the juices can be used to make a broth. It is then covered with de-thorned maguey leaves (a member of the agave family of plants) and coal and set on fire. This technique migrated from the Caribbean to other cultures; Spain Portugal, France and Britain.
A few hundred years later in the U.S. we think of barbecue as classic Americana. In the United States, grilling refers to a fast process over high heat while barbecuing refers to a slow process using indirect heat or hot smoke, similar to some forms of roasting. Typically grilled food is cooked on a grate directly over hot charcoal, while during barbecuing, the coals are raked to the sides or at a significant distance from the grate.
Each state features its own variety of barbecue, including type of meat and special sauces. North Carolina sauces vary by locale: eastern North Carolina uses a vinegar-based sauce, the center of the state uses Lexington-style barbecue, with a combination of ketchup and vinegar as their base, and western North Carolina uses a heavier ketchup base. Lexington calls itself “The Barbecue Capital of the World” claiming it has more than one BBQ restaurant per 1,000 residents.
South Carolina is the only state that traditionally includes mustard-based, vinegar-based, and light and heavy tomato-based sauces.
Memphis barbecue is best known for tomato- and vinegar-based sauces. In some Tennessee establishments and in Kentucky, meat is rubbed with dry seasoning (dry rubs) and smoked over hickory wood without sauce. The finished barbecue is then served with a barbecue sauce on the side.
The barbecue of Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee is almost always pork, often served with a sweet tomato-based sauce. Several regional variations exist. Alabama is known for its distinctive white sauce, a mayonnaise- and vinegar-based sauce originating in northern Alabama, used predominantly on chicken and pork. A popular item in North Carolina and Memphis is the pulled pork sandwich served on a bun and often topped with coleslaw. Pulled pork is prepared by shredding the pork after it has been barbecued as opposed to chopping.
Kansas City-style barbecue is characterized by its use of different types of meat, including pulled pork, pork ribs, burnt ends, smoked sausage, beef brisket, beef ribs, smoked/grilled chicken, smoked turkey, and fish. Hickory is the primary wood used for smoking in Kansas City, while the sauces are typically tomato based with sweet, spicy and tangy flavors. Texas, of course, is known for its beef.
12 whole hand-sized crappie
Vegetable cooking spray
Salt to taste
Generously spray grill grate with cooking spray. Dip fish in vegetable oil. Sprinkle cavities with salt and place crappie on grill. Cook over medium coals (300°F to 325°F on a gas grill) until flaky and golden brown. Baste often with Basting Sauce.
1 pound butter
3 ounces Durkee Famous Sandwich & Salad Sauce
- cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- teaspoons horseradish
Hot sauce to taste
Mix ingredients together in saucepan and simmer until butter is melted. Baste fish while grilling.
Spicy Crappie Chunks and Peanut Dipping Sauce
- crappie fillets cut into 1-inch strips
3 tablespoons chili sauce, such as Sriracha sauce
1/2 cup breading such as seasoned or Panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon Chinese 5 Spice
2 cups vegetable oil
In a small bowl, mix breading and Chinese 5 Spice. Add fish strips a few at a time, tossing gently to coat with breading; shake off any excess. In a large skillet, heat oil to 350-360° F. Add fish chunks strips slowly and cook until golden brown, turning once (about 4 minutes). Remove strips from oil and drain on paper towels. Place on a serving dish with Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce.
Thai Peanut Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup reduced-fat coconut milk
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
In a small saucepan, whisk together all ingredients over medium heat; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before serving with crappie chunks.