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All About BBQ: Top easy recipes + barbecue joints

Perhaps nothing arouses more desire (and debate) than barbecue, whether you spell it barbeque, BBQ or Bar-B-Q. Competitions and festivals draw hundreds of thousands of us each year, and it seems like every other minute, one region is claiming bragging rights over another for the best pulled pork, brisket and lip-smacking ribs. All we know is, we love the stuff, so we're giving away a cookout's worth of classic (and easy) barbecue recipes, plus listing our Top 10 barbecue joints and must-eats.
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roast beef sandwich

NORTH CAROLINA-STYLE PULLED PORK SANDWICHES

In the Carolinas, "barbecue" means pork, and locals might say it only refers to this great American sandwich. In this area, most barbecue sauce is based on a simple vinegar concoction. But the middle region of North Carolina favors a tomato-based vinegar sauce known as Lexington-Style.

 
ribs

MEMPHIS-STYLE BABY BACK RIBS

It all started 60 years ago in a Memphis basement restaurant called Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous, where the owner turned out dry-seasoned pork ribs cooked over a charcoal fire. Charlie's son John says: "If you're going to take the effort to cook great ribs, then you want the smoky flavor and the taste of the meat to come through. Many times, sauce just smothers it all."

 
sardines

TEXAS-STYLE BRISKET

Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-b-Que, smack in the middle of Texas hill country, is world famous for its tender, mesquite-smoked brisket and tart barbecue sauce. Legend has it that German immigrant butchers took the unfavorable cut normally used in chili and slow-smoked it over low heat, resulting in an instant classic. For this version, use a reliable grill thermometer and keep a close watch.

 
chicken

KANSAS CITY-STYLE STICKY SPARERIBS

In this town, "barbecue" means sticky pork spareribs -- the real star is the sauce. While they're cooking, ribs are mopped repeatedly until they're coated in a sticky-sweet glaze. Here's our easy-to-make version, inspired by Kansas City's own Arthur Bryant's BBQ and Gates Bar-B-Q. Serve these ribs with moist towelettes on the side -- your guests will thank you.

 
baked beans

BAKED BEANS WITH BURNT ENDS

Burnt ends are the chopped bits of the pointed, overcooked brisket end, which are then sauced and eaten or tossed into a pot of baked beans, along with bacon, onion, brown sugar, ketchup, dry mustard and pickle juice.

 
fried pickles

FRIED PICKLES

Coating the pickle chips might be tricky, but these tangy, addictive munchies are well worth the effort.

 
coleslaw

NORTH CAROLINA-STYLE COLESLAW

This simple, spicy slaw is traditionally served in North Carolina as a barbecue side dish, as well as a crunchy topping on pulled-pork sandwiches like ours.

 
Hush Puppies

HUSH PUPPIES

These cornmeal-flour bites take only minutes to toss together and minutes to fry up -- but they'll be gone in no time.

 
sauteed greens

SOUTHERN-STYLE GREENS

The liquid in the bottom of a pot of cooked greens is called the "pot likker" -- don't let it go to waste! Soak it up with a hunk of cornbread, as it's done in the South.

 
cornbread

PEAS

BUTTERMILK CORNBREAD WITH BLACK-EYED

Black-eyed peas, no strangers to Southern cooking, add texture and flavor to this traditional buttermilk cornbread. Use it to sop up the pot likker from our Southern-Style Greens.

 
iced tea with lemon and mint

SWEET TEA

When eating barbecue, sweet tea is the drink of choice around the country, although in the South, it's just "tea."

 

THE TOP 10 BARBECUE MUST-EATS

1. Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur, AL

Their pulled pork sandwich gets lots of attention, but it's the Barbecue Chicken with White Sauce that causes extreme drooling.

2. Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue, Kansas City, KS

Okay, so this place is tucked away inside a...gas station. But their dry-rub ribs were perfected during a streak of wins on the competition circuit. Team name: Slaughterhouse Five.

3. Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, Llano, TX

Size up the pit, point out what you want and it gets sliced to order. The cabrito, or goat kid, is a local specialty.

4. Cozy Corner, Memphis

This spot never gets mentioned without a shout-out to its BBQ Cornish Hen, made in a pit resembling an old popcorn machine.

5. Arthur Bryant's BBQ, Kansas City, KS

The beef brisket is the surprise draw here in the city best known for its sticky-style ribs. Another must-eat? The lard-fried fries.

6. Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous, Memphis

The family behind this spot won't even call its famous dry-rub ribs "barbecue." They go by "charcoal-grilled pork ribs," but that doesn't stop the lines from forming.

7. Daisy May's BBQ USA, New York City

Order the Flintstones-style smoky beef rib. It's what all the pit masters do when venturing into Yankee territory while craving barbecue.

8. Gates Bar-B-Q, Kansas City, MO

The secret here is in the sauce. It's made with lots of celery seed, and though different from most KC-style sauces, it's still perfect slathered on the city's famous sticky ribs.

9. Kreuz Market, Lockhart, TX

The tender brisket and jalapeño-cheddar sausage -- served on butcher paper -- more than make up for the lack of forks and plates.

10. The Pit, Raleigh, NC

Using a 150-year-old recipe, they barbecue hogs whole before chopping them up for their Whole Hog Plate.

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