Here we go; this is a hot topic. Which BBQ sauce is the best? This question alone has probably started more fistfights that trying to figure which city makes the best pizza; Chicago or New York or which place in Philadelphia has the best cheesesteaks. It’s a question that brings out regional patriotism every time. BBQ sauces seem to be rationalized; different ingredients depending on the area of the country. And the population of each region is vehement in defending its BBQ. To understand the different types of sauces in the United States, let’s take a look at some.
There are several areas of the country where beef is its mainstay. The populations of these areas claim to know everything about beef; how to raise it, how to cook it and what to flavor it with. One of these areas is Kansas City. Kansas City BBQ sauce is tomato based and sweet. The sweetness comes from brown sugar, molasses and/or honey. And then there’s Texas. You don’t mess with BBQ lovin’ Texans. They don’t cotton to that. They also don’t like their beef dripping with BBQ sauce. Most Texans prefer their BBQ without sauce, but due to demand will offer sauces. The best places will offer a brown gravy type of sauce as something to mop up with the meat.
When we get into North and South Carolina there’s a bit of a discrepancy. The eastern half of each state has taken a liking to a vinegar based sauce. Give the meat a bit of an acid bite, which suits this region just fine. Just a bit inland, the region has added sugar to this mix, making it a bit sweeter. The western parts of the states cater to their German ancestry and go with a mustard based yellow sauce. The sauce has a standard sweet/tart thing going on but with a mustard taste not a ketchup taste. As long as we are in this area, let’s talk about Tennessee. Oh yeah, they add bourbon and whiskeys to their BBQ sauce. These whiskey and bourbon based sauces have a sweet taste.
There are many other interesting BBQ sauces out there too. Charleston, South Carolina has a chocolate chile BBQ sauce, Alabama has a white mayonnaise, cider, garlic BBQ sauce and New Mexico raves about a brown sugar and mustard glaze. Each region is passionate about its sauces but really it comes down to individual preference. I say, you’ll never know unless you sample them all!