Oral History of Barbecue

bbqToday I stumbled across a link to fascinating histories of a rural Tennessee BBQ joints, and soon discovered it was just a small part of an oral history initiative by the Southern Foodways Alliance (SFA). The SFA is an institute affiliated with the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi.

From the site:

The mission of the SFA is to celebrate, preserve, promote, and nurture the traditional and developing diverse food cultures of the American South.

I spent a good deal of time enjoying the fruits of the SFA’s oral history initiative, particularly “The Southern BBQ Trail“, which consists of interviews with proprietors of many classic barbecue establishments. Many interviews are available in written or audio format, and also include photos.

I also found the method of the initiative to be very interesting. The site provides basic tools and instructions for users to record oral histories on their own and to submit them to the Alliance in the form of audio recordings, transcripts and photos.

What an interesting collection of stories; I’m sure anyone interested in the roots of barbecue and other Southern food cultures will find these oral histories of interest.

January 21, 2007 | Comments (0)

Porketta

PorkettaPorketta (a.k.a. porchetta) is pretty popular around these parts (Northern Minnesota). For those of you who aren’t familiar with this festive creation, a porketta is a highly-seasoned style of pork roast developed by Italian and Portuguese immigrants in the upper Great Lakes Region of North America in the 20th century. It seems to be most popular in Northern Minnesota, Southern Ontario, and the Upper Penninsula of Michigan, among other places nearby. It is widely available in this region and is often enjoyed during the holiday season.

This roast tends to be heavily crusted with herbs and spices including salt, black pepper, sugar, garlic, fennel and rosemary. The fat content of the roast (often butt or shoulder) results in a very juicy and tender piece of meat, which is commonly served on bread or buns as a sandwich. It tastes good hot or cold, and they’re great because you can keep the leftover roast in the fridge and make quick-and-easy sandwiches for several days.

I’ve made many porkettas in the past, but hadn’t tried on my new Egg… until last night. I dare say it was one of the finest I’ve tasted: so moist and tender. I’m sure it won’t be long before I indulge in this regional delicacy again.

January 20, 2007 | Comments (2)

Jucy Lucy

Jucy LucyMove over cheeseburger, there’s a better burger in town. The “Jucy Lucy” [sic] is a South Minneapolis institution. Almost everyone loves a good cheeseburger, but in 1954 something magical happened. As the story goes, a regular customer at Matt’s Bar on Cedar Ave. suggested sealing the cheese inside of the meat, of his usual cheeseburger, and the cook obliged. Upon biting into this hot new experiment, the patron exclaimed “Ohh, that’s one juicy lucy!– The name stuck, Matt’s adopted the creative spelling of “Jucy”and the rest, as they say, is history.

This is not a gimimick. There is something about containing the molten cheese which results in a juicer burger, with a separation of textures that can’t be beat. You get all of the crispyness of the charred exterior, while allowing both the top and bottom bun to soak up a bit of the meat juices. As for inside the burger — they don’t call it a Jucy Lucy for nuthin’!

Next time you fire up your grill for burgers, crimp two thin patties around a slice of cheese (a traditional Lucy uses processed American cheese) and prepare to be converted. Countless variations are available around the Twin Cities, and the possibilities for different adaptations are endless. My favorite is to add some diced, fresh jalapenos to the center. Give it a shot; you won’t be dissapointed!

January 18, 2007 | Comments (2)

BBQ Breakfast

BBQ BreakfastThere’s no doubt I’m not the first to do this, but holey moley it’s tasty! Last night I cooked a bird for my parents; I made some Atomic Buffalo Turds on the side since I’ve seen the recipe everywhere. Anyhow, I had a bit of leftover filling, so I put it on a bagel today — the results were fantastic. Next time you have a little leftover pulled pork, ribs, or other BBQ pork, shred some and mix it with just enough cream cheese to bind it together (warming the cream chese makes this very easy). Add a smalll dollop of your favorite barbecue sauce to bolden the flavor. Used as a spread on a bagel; it’s a delicious breakfast or snack anytime.

January 15, 2007 | Comments (1)

Eggheads – Cult of The Big Green Egg

“Music has Deadheads. Football has Cheeseheads. And barbecue has Eggheads. You’ll know this last group by the egg-shaped green grills they’ll be standing next to, tongs in hand,looking to extol the virtues of the Big Green Egg. Their mantra goes something like this– It’s foolproof, fuel-efficient, and can cook anything from fish and steak to pizza and pie. You have to get one. Now.”

- Bon Appetit Magazine

I had only owned my Big Green Egg for less than two weeks — after enjoying cooking on it almost daily, and being amazed by the flavor of the food it produced, I decided to create this website. I was plugging the Egg to my friends and family, taking photos of my meals, and even began to develop my own recipes. I had always enjoyed barbecuing and loved my two kettle-style grills, but I suddenly I was obsessed with this new acquisition and was preparing as much food as I could eat — some of the best food I had prepared in my life.

I received my Egg as a Christmas gift, and had never heard of this odd product. A quick web search made clear that there was an amazingly strong community of fanatics, affectionately known as eggheads. They had online forums, personal websites, recipies, tips, photos, and even regional Egg-themed events. I was not the only fanatic snapping photos of my creations and preaching the gospel of the Egg to my friends and family.

I encourage you to go check out The Big Green Egg. You too may soon be an Egghead.

January 13, 2007 | Comments (0)

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