BBQ Across the USA: From Dry Rubs to Pig Pickin'

If you've never used meat to orient yourself on a map, you haven't truly lived. Barbecue - the slow-cooking smoked kind, not the backyard-grilled kind - is an American institution. Take a virtual stroll through the barbecue belt to get schooled on who's doing what with their pits. We promise there won't be a test at the end, although we can't guarantee you won't have a serious hankering for some quality 'cue (9 Photos)

Sara Gauchat on Aug 1, 2012 at 3:00PM

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BBQ Across the USA: From Dry Rubs to Pig Pickin'


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They say everything is bigger in Texas—and the state's passion for smoked meats is certainly no exception. Beef is king in this land of many cows, and brisket is the official-unofficial state food. Pits across the Lone Star State offer up a full range of barbecue options (including the famous Texas hot links sausage and cabrito, a.k.a. bbq'ed goat), but any true meat aficionado is going to head straight for the brisket. And Texans are purists when it comes to their 'cue. "Barbecue sauce is optional—it's really just about the meat," explains Steven Raichlen, author of Planet Barbecue! and host of Primal Grill on PBS.

The pitmasters in Texas keep the preparation simple, sticking with the basics like salt, pepper, a little garlic and a little cayenne when prepping their meats for the almighty smoker. The simplicity continues when the meat comes out after up to 18 hours of being infused with oak smoke. More often than not, you'll order your tasty treasures by the pound, and walk from the counter with a glorious pile of meat served up the old-fashioned way—on a big piece of butcher paper. (Plates? Texans don't need no stinkin' plates.) Some pickles and sliced onions on the side and you've got yourself a truly Texas feast. "Texans perpetuated this style of living and a true love of barbecue, and they really keep it going," says chef Paul Kirk, author of America's Best BBQ. And why mess with a good thing?

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