Jan 30, 2006

Guest Blogger #7 - White Trash BBQ

I'd like to introduce Robert from White Trash BBQ as today's Guest Blogger. When I first found Robert's blog I drooled... a blog all about BBQ? Yes! And the pics are mouthwatering. Stop by and pay him a visit, you'll be glad you did!

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I’d like to thank Michele for inviting me to guest blog. I hope she’ll return the favor with an appearance on my blog WhiteTrash BBQ. This is my first guest Blogging experience so be gentle.

“High on the hog.” “Living the high life.” “Eating like Kings.” “Bringing home the bacon.” We’ve all heard them. There are a lot of food idioms out there that associate food with prosperity and wealth. How did this happen? Which foods were reserved for the well to do? And which were reviled and given to the, shall we say, “less fortunate?”’

For every food idiom that associates food with wealth, there’s a food stuff. You know what I mean, truffles, chocolates, lobster, etc. but those are for someone else to write about. I’m only going to focus on meat and not other food stuffs because I’m a barbecue guy and let’s face it, barbeque is about meat.

So how does “high on the hog” and “living the high life relate to meat? It’s actually amazingly simple. The better cuts of meat, the choice cuts, the most tender cuts, either from a cow or a pig, all come from the muscle groups of the animals that do the least amount of work. And where on the body do you think that is? Well, on both the cow and pig, it’s “high” on the animal; it’s the back, the part furthest from the ground. “High” on the back of the cow where you’ll find the T-bones, the Filet Mignon, the Prime Rib, the Porterhouse and finally the less desirable sirloin. If you look at the meat around the back legs, you’ll find the rounds. On the front shoulder you find the chuck and underneath that you find the brisket; tough and stringy and worn out from its constant use. The “upper cuts”, are tender only because they don’t do much work and they cook quickly.

In the barbecue belt, back in the mists of time when traditions began, a traditional “Southern Barbecue” was actually the cooking of whole pig over an open fire. Servants or slaves would roast the animal and serve the meat as it cooked to the boss. What did the boss eat while the folks were cooking and cleaning? You guessed it - the fast cooking meat from “high” on the hog. On a pig, those cuts are the Pork Loin, the Rack of Pork, the Tenderloin, the Pork Steaks, and Center Cut Chops. Once the best cuts were served to the master and honored guests. The sirloin, the rounds and the chuck would be served to less important people. What was left was given to the servants, the slaves or the poor White Trash.

But the slaves, the servants and the White Trash got the last laugh. They learned that by slow cooking the tough cuts of meat such as the spare ribs, or the pork shoulder and butt, the lowly cuts of meat were transformed into a dish “fit for a King.” There was magic in the smoke and the art of “low and slow.”

The poor, the slaves and the WhiteTrash all learned how to control a fire so that a full beef brisket or rack of pork spare ribs would cook slowly and tenderize the meat in the process. Good barbeque literally will “melt in your mouth.” Please don’t confuse barbeque with grilling. Grilling is cooking meat quickly directly over high heat. Barbecue is low and slow with fire temperatures rarely exceeding 250 degrees.

In the barbeque belt, most cooks cooked outdoors over wood or charcoal fires. This method became barbeque. In the north, most people lived in cities or in areas where the weather required indoor cooking for many months of the year, but the rules of divvying up the meat remained. The poor, immigrants, the working class and the WhiteTrash were all given the tough cuts of meat. In the north, braising became the method of choice in transforming tough meat to edible goodness.

So the next time you’re looking for a way to stretch your food budget, take a look at beef brisket, pork butt, spare ribs or any of the traditional barbeque foods. Last I looked, pork butt was going for $1.09 a pound and brisket was $2.19 a pound in my local supermarket while the better cuts of pork and beef were all $4.00 a pound or better. A little “low and slow” cooking either over a wood and smoke fire – barbecue, or in a pot and braised will work magic.

3 comments:

Cate said...

That's actually why I made Pork Butt for the first time. I was going past the meat counter and saw a huge hunk of meat for $4. I figured for the amount of meat I was getting and the price, I'd buy it and then figure out what to do with it. Brought it home, did an internet search to find a recipe and we've been hooked ever since. Definitely a great bang for your buck!

The Cookbook Junkie said...

I can get pork loin for $1.99/lb and sometimes even lower (actually I picked some up just last week for $1.57/lb) but pork loin isn't very flavorful. I'd rather slow cook a fattier piece of pork.

I bought an electric smoker last fall that I haven't used yet. I know that it isn't the optimal piece of bbq'ing equipment but I'm hoping to get some good results with it.

sssferragens said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.
(BBQ)Brick Barbecue,Grill