"There is no real need for decorations when throwing a barbecue party - let the summer garden, in all its vibrant and luscious splendour, speak for itself."— Pippa Middleton
Asunny summer's day means only one thing to any self-respecting Brit – barbecue. Even when the weather isn't as good, the more intrepid of us can be found erecting the gazebo over the barbie as the rain lashes down, simply because we love to cook on them. But for those of you tired of the often bland offerings churned out at parties across the UK, there is only one place to look for the most lip-tingling of barbecue inspirations – The United States of America's deep south.
Comprised of southern US states like Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas, the deep south is a land of heat, passion, soulful music, good times and better flavours. In the land where the blues was born, there is nothing blue or dull about the cooking. The people who call it home have made barbecuing not just an art and a science – but a way of life. They have brought together the best meat with other local products like bourbon, and the flavour of the land itself with the various woods used in beautiful smoking techniques.
Like the land from which it comes, deep southern cooking is a melting pot of some amazing peoples and influences. For instance, the pig – the cornerstone of deep south barbecue cooking – was introduced by the Spanish, but the art of cooking with smoky fires was taught by the native Americans. The spices and herbs that then made up the lip-smacking flavours came from a range of influences, including African, French, British and Spanish.
Within the deep south there are regional specialities. Each state or region has its own preferred and perfected sauces and smoking methods, and is as passionate about theirs as the next. In Memphis and the wider Tennessee area, you have sweet, tomato-based sauces – often to be found as a marinade for slow-cooked pulled pork. This can be turned into the pulled pork sandwich, which is simply putting the coleslaw-topped meat in a bun. In Texas, the focus is generally on beef – which they prepare uniquely well because of their history of cattle breeding. Check out the Memphis BBQ road trip video in the resources section at the end!
Know your meat
With the myriad of flavours involved in deep south cooking, it can seem a little overwhelming to attempt it from scratch yourself. Sometimes it's just better to leave it to the professionals. Luckily, there are some mighty fine chefs preparing deep southern barbecue meats that are truly typical and delicious but simple and satisfying to enjoy.
Asda have created a range of barbecue foods this summer, tailored by chefs who took a road trip through the deep south purely to create the range. Inspired by the age-old art of American meat smoking, they have created their Tennessee Cherrywood Smoked Ribs with Bourbon Sauce – bringing together two regional specialities in one barbecue essential.
The barbecue stalwarts of sausages and burgers have also had a serious deep south overhaul in Asda. For instance, the Hickory Texan Smoked Brisket Burger is made completely differently to normal burgers because the meat has been pulled to give it a meatier and more satisfying texture. This is before the hickory smoking infuses it with a subtle peppery flavour. The humble banger is humble no more in the form of the Louisiana Cajun Premium Spiced Sausage. Hand-trimmed whole cuts of meat are used with the delicately-balanced but intoxicating blend of renowned Cajun spices.
The king of Memphis
Undoubtedly the show-stopper this summer is the award-winning Sweet BBQ Pulled Pork at Asda. It is a traditional Memphis recipe, with the sweetness provided by honey and molasses, while tomato and vodka add to create its unique edge. These flavours, plus the long, slow cooking that leaves the meat meltingly tender, saw this pulled pork become the first own-brand product to win the 2014 Food Product of the Year award in an independent consumer survey of product innovation.
If you're serious about your barbecue and serious about your meat, look no further than the deep south. However, you don't have to decide which of the deep south states to visit – you can visit them all in one mouth-watering barbecue feast. Head to Asda and bring home the taste of the south this summer.
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