with Deke

What is Barbeque?

Barbeque refers to the ancient process of cooking food over warm temperatures, as opposed to sizzling temperatures. It’s always cooked for extended periods of time, sometimes up to an entire day. The prime temperature for cooking meat is generally around 225 degrees. In “Bar-B-Que speak,” this process is called “low and slow.” Barbeque can also refer to the regional preferences regarding the various meats, cuts and sauces used. Wherever you go, it’s different.

Why lower and slower?

The cuts used tend to be tougher “joint” cuts like shoulders and hips.  The longer cooking time helps break down the fats and collagens in the meat, which tenderizes and moisturizes as it gradually cooks.  The lower temperatures allow for the longer cooking time required. The smoke adds flavor and helps preserve the meat, which is why our ancestors liked it so much.

Where did the word “barbeque” come from?

Various folklore stories differ, but most experts believe the word comes from the word “barabicu,” which was found in the language of the Native American tribes of Northern Florida. The first Spanish explorers probably took the word from these tribes. It loosely translates as “sacred fire pit.” That it is!

What about the sauces?

For every barbeque region, there’s a signature sauce and a way to apply the sauce that defines the region.  In western Carolina, sauce is vinegar and ketchup with a little cayenne.  In eastern Carolina, they use mustard and vinegar – no ketchup.  In Alabama, barbeque chicken is served with a white sauce of mayonnaise and vinegar. As you move west, sauces become more tomato based and heavier, made famous by Kansas City’s sweet and tangy blends.  Go further west and the sauces are spicier, thanks to the hot chilis grown in the region.

What sauce do you use?

I have three sauces: Deke’s “Straight-Up Q Sauce,” which resembles a tangy Kansas City style sauce; the “Carolina Red,” described above; and my “Triple X” sauce, which is spicier.  All are made from scratch and all start with ripe tomatoes, local when possible.

What kind of wood do you use?

Barbeque is best cooked over hard wood coals, not directly over a flame. Charcoal is good, but wood is better.  I use what grows here in PA: oak, ash, and maple, as well as some fruitwoods like peach, cherry, apple and one more fruit wood, which I keep secret.

Why do you use the spelling “Bar-B-Que?”

I lived in rural Georgia for three years during my early twenties when I became serious about food and cooking. The barbeque pits I loved spelled it “bar-b-que,” and I liked it.

Where’s the beef?

Georgia sits in the middle of all of the classic barbeque regions, so you see all the cuts and all the sauces there: the pulled pork and vinegar sauces from the Carolinas; Alabama’s barbeque chicken with white sauce; ribs with the sweet and tangy tomato based sauces of Kansas City and St. Louis; and the famous dry rib rubs of Memphis.  Georgia has it all, but they prefer pork over beef.

Where can you get beef barbeque?

Texas. In the Lone Star State, barbeque means one thing and one thing only – slow cooked brisket and beef sausage. I love it.

Who is Sheffdal?

Sheffdal is a man who likes his pork, and the reason I serve it at Deke’s.  He shared a platter with me at his home in Sandersville, Georgia. I’ll never forget it.