Memphis Barbecue is about pig, either ribs or shoulders. The pork is usually slow grilled in a pit. If ribs are the meat of choice, then the pork is either cooked dry or wet. What that means is that if cooked dry, it will be covered with a dry rub of salt and other spices. There is no sauce added. If it is cooked wet, it will be brushed with sauce before, during, and after grilling.
Memphis barbecue has its origins after the Second World War. Small Memphsis restaurants called Joints began opening with grill pits used for slow cooking meat. These joints were prominent in many low-income neighborhoods. Many regional joint chains featured Memphis barbecue.
Barbecue sauce in Memphis is part of the allure this style of grilling. This thin barbecue sauce is typically sweet and tangy. It is generally made of tomatoes, vinegar, and numerous other spices depending on the recipe. It's used throughout the wet grilling process and, though frowned upon, occasionally ends up as a side dip for dry grilled pork.
How to Eat Memphis Barbecue
The most straightforward method of having your barbecue in Memphis is to order a slab of ribs. If you're looking for something a bit more quick and hands on, you could get a pulled pork bbq sandwich with a simple white bread bun and top with a thick layer of coleslaw.
If you’re looking for something a little more Southwestern. You could have some good old fashioned Memphis barbecue nachos. Is that even a thing? You may say. Well, it is in Memphis. Made with homemade potato chips; topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, shredded cheese, and jalapeños.
Regardless of how you have it, Memphis barbecue is something as special as the music and culture that derives from the city. If you don’t feel like taking some time and spending money on travel, you might want to warm up your Z Grills and make happen wherever you may be.