Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Great Debate

In the aftermath of the 4th of July the great debate of what barbecue is best has been on my mind. My simple answer is all of it. I love pulled pork, beef brisket, chicken, sausage and all the rest of the meaty morsels that time, patience and smoke turn into magical gems. But I also like to look around and see what folks eat when barbecue is in the spotlight of a major pork holiday or when the occasion may call for something more than the humble sandwich. The obvious cut that comes to my mind is the spare rib. Taken from the same part of the animal that the king of cured Southern meats comes from you get a case study in rich, tender, full flavored pork. By the way, I'm referencing bacon there although some folks would make an argument for country ham. The first bite of a spare rib that is perfectly caramelized by fire and smoke on the surface is like meeting the love of your life again for the very first time. The perfect mahogany crust that yields to the rich, tender meat between the bones is to me the pitmasters culinary opus that calls me back time and again despite the conventional wisdom of my doctor telling me to trade porcine pleasure for a salad and a membership at the YMCA.
The debate will rage on and opinions are as numerous as the barbecue pits painted across the landscape of the South. As a good pilgrim on the barbecue trail I'll keep my prejudices at bay as I eat my way forward but I'll make sure to request a side of spare ribs where ever the noble bones are offered. Next time you stop by one of our little spaces in the world feel free to weigh in.

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