By Bryan Hunter
When it comes to Southern barbecue, Pork is King. Since Queology literally means “knowledge of Barbecue,” a good place to start this blog is a brief primer on essential ‘Cue terminology. If etymology is the study of words, think of this as a crash course in eat-omolgy, because as much fun as it is to talk about the best barbecue in Charleston (or is it barbecue?*), it’s even more fun to eat the best barbecue in Charleston. (Heck, why be modest? It’s the best barbecue in South Carolina … perhaps beyond, and we have the record to prove it. We’ll periodically expand your vocabulary, but here are four essential terms related to barbecued pork (later on we’ll venture into other meats, but since Pork is King, we’d best start at the top). So, class, listen up!
*The barbecue/barbecue debate is hotly debated, but we follow the lead of our pit master, Russ Cornette and spell it barbecue.
Bark Barbecue connoisseurs often demand that their meat be “mixed.” In other words, they want some of the moist, light-colored meat from inside the cut interspersed with the dark (almost black), intensely flavorful meat from the exterior of the cut. The bark naturally results from prolonged cooking, especially with smoke over low temperatures (see also Low ‘n Slow)
Low ‘n Slow Proper Southern barbecue, prepared in the time-honored method does not cut corners. Oven-broiled meat “finished off” on a grill is not barbecue. Real South Carolina pit barbecue is cooked on a rack raised quite a distance above the coals (i.e., at low temperature) for the better part of a day (i.e., it’s cooked slowly—Queology cooks its pork butts for 16 hours over hickory wood burned down to hot coals)
Sauce The most intensely debated barbecue topic, typically along regional lines. Disagreement over sauce has spurred duels. The Deep South is divided into four broad regional sauce varieties (with many subcategories) determined by the base ingredient of each variety: peppery-vinegar (Eastern North Carolina), sweet-tomato (i.e., catsup) (Memphis and the Lower Middle South), vinegar-tomato (Western Carolinas), and mustard (Coastal South Carolina). Being a peaceable establishment, Queology serves their ‘cue undressed and offers a range of different styles for diners to dress the meat themselves (why can’t we all just get along?)—or they can just eat it “naked” (i.e., sans sauce) for pure smoky pork goodness.
Smoke Ring The bright pink, ¼-inch-thick ring that separates the bark from the moist, white inside meat. It naturally occurs from cooking low ‘n slow over smoke