A Barbecue Glossary

Talk like a pitmaster.

Barbeque: Horrific though common misspelling of the word “barbecue.”

Bark: Thick crust filled with intense smoky flavor on a properly prepared piece of meat. You will find coarse pebbles of black pepper and various other spices in this outer layer, depending on what kind of rub was used.

bbq_glossary_1Bryan’s Barbecue. First Dallas barbecue joint, opened in 1910 by Elias Bryan. Elias’ grandson, William Jennings Bryan, known as “Sonny,” later founded Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse.

Burnt Ends: If the bark is often the best part of a good brisket, burnt (not burned) ends are sort of like if the entire cut of meat was made out of bark. The result of cutting the end off a smoked brisket, chopping it up, and returning it to the smoker, these are crispy depositories of delicious melted-down fat.

Carolina Style: Regional variant almost exclusively made up of pork dishes, most notably pulled pork. But when someone is talking about Carolina-style barbecue, they are generally referring to the thin, vinegary sauce that comes with it.

Chopped Beef Sandwich: What New Yorkers order when they eat barbecue in Dallas.

Cobbler: Ubiquitous barbecue postlude. This glorified vehicle for our love of fruit, golden grains, and sugar falls loosely into four categories: biscuit-dough-topped with a cobbled appearance; specifically American Southern cobbler, like a deep-dish pie with a top crust; streusel-topped (technically a crumble or crisp); lattice-topped (give it up and just make a pie).

’Cue: Please don’t ever say or write this.

Fig 2.: Hands
Fig. 2: Hands

Hands: What you eat ribs with.

Hot Link: Nasty sausage found in East Texas.

Kansas City Style: Created by Henry Perry in the early 1900s; Dallas’ 18th & Vine takes its name from the neighborhood where he sold his wares. This type of barbecue is characterized by a wide variety of slow-smoked meats occasionally ruined by diners who slather them in sauce that is built around tomato and/or molasses.

Low and Slow: Preferred method for cooking brisket. Smoking at a low temperature (somewhere between 225 to 250 degrees) for up to 20 hours causes the intramuscular fat to melt into the meat, giving it a velvety consistency. This is done using an offset smoker.

Maillard Reaction: The chemical reaction between sugars and amino acids that browns a meat’s surface, creating bark.

Fig. 3: Man Boobs
Fig. 3: Man Boobs

Man Boobs: Condition developed by some of the gentlemen who have prayed a bit too fervently at the altar of smoked meats.

Memphis Style: Often means one dish: ribs, usually pork, served “wet” (with sauce brushed on before, during, and after cooking) or “dry” (in which a rub is used in lieu of sauce). Red Hot & Blue serves Memphis-style barbecue in Dallas.

Moist vs. Lean Brisket: The two cuts of a brisket: the “flat,” thin and lean with a generous layer of fat on one side; and the “point,” thick, well-marbled, and moist. After trying both, you’ll likely have a preference. Most barbecue joints should be able to accommodate you.

Offset Smoker: Also known as barrel smokers or pipe smokers. They cook meat using indirect heat. Heat and smoke travel into the cooking chamber from a firebox, which is either located next to or behind the chamber, and exit through a chimney. The meat can remain on the grill longer because it is not directly over the fire.

Fig. 4: Offset Smoker
Fig. 4: Offset Smoker

Oyler Pit: Wood-fired rotisserie-style smoker patented by Herbert Oyler in the late 1960s. Produced by J&R Manufacturing in Mesquite and used by restaurants such as Cousin’s Bar-B-Q in Fort Worth and Randy’s Bar-B-Que in Red Oak.

Rub: Mix of spices (and sometimes sugar) that pitmasters use to coat their meat before cooking it.

Sauce: A thick liquid you put on dry, overcooked meat—but never on tender, properly
cooked brisket.

Smoke Ring: Colored pink to red, this appears under the crust of a brisket that has been cooked low and slow and signals that just the right amount of smoke was used.

St. Louis Style: According to St. Louis Magazine dining editor George Mahe, “most often it simply means ‘grilled, then sauced’ (as opposed to dry-rubbed and slow-smoked).” Can also refer to a particular cut of rib: a spare rib rack with the cartilage and ends chopped off to uniform length.

Sugar Cookie: When cooked fat combines with a sweet caramelized rub and smoke, producing a sweet and crunchy bit of crust with a flavor not unlike [mouth waters] a buttery sugar cookie. Coined by Texas Monthly barbecue editor Daniel “BBQ Snob” Vaughn.


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