The lineup for New York’s 12th annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party on June 7 and 8 came out this morning, and it includes a lot of heavy hitters from America’s champion BBQ pits. Expect to see icons such as Chris Lilly from Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, in North Carolina and Alabama, and Mike Mills from 17th St. Bar and Grill in Illinois, to name just a couple.
Whenever you get this many barbecue chefs from this many different parts of the country together in one place, you can be certain that they they’ll rehash some of the age-old arguments over ’cue. Where do you stand on these key epic battles?
1. Brisket or Ribs?
At any BBQ joint worth its salt rub you should be able to get both, but ask a Texas pit master what meat he wants to be buried with and he’ll almost certainly tell you to fill his coffin with brisket. Find meat lovers from Memphis and they’ll take ribs with them to the great beyond. And once you get the folks from Carolina talking about pulled pork, chaos will ensue.
2. Wet or Dry?
Should you sauce that meat or just rub it before cooking? For home cooks, this often comes down to a question of how messy they want to get, but for barbecue chefs this is the most basic question, considered hours before they even fire up the grill. Meat has been cooked on fires for millions of years and we are still no closer to an answer.
3. Vinegar or Tomato?
What you use for your sauce base is also strictly regional. A thin, tangy vinegar sauce from the Carolinas or that thick, sweet, maroon stuff from Kansas City?
4. Use the Whole Hog or No?
Are you hardcore enough to eat a crispy pig snoot from St. Louis? If not, you’re really missing out. But there are those who stand by the classic cuts.
5. Charcoal or (shudder) Gas?
Even asking this question will probably get most serious pit masters chasing you with a hot set of tongs, but for anyone cooking at home who can’t monitor a grill for eight consecutive hours, it’s relevant. So, everyone, just remain calm.
The only point that most Americans can agree on might be that the above activities should be done responsibly, which is to say, with a beer in hand.