MediLodge of Monroe Celebrates National Barbecue Month This May

By Chris Burchell, Executive Chef at MediLodge of Monroe

Well, I believe that I can say officially Spring is here (insert sound of knocking on wood), and I couldn’t be happier!  With Spring many exciting things begin to come about, not only warmer weather but also gardens and farm fields being MediLodge BBQplanted.  I can’t wait to begin harvesting fresh produce from the garden. And let’s not forget about outdoor cooking.  May is National Barbecue Month, and boy oh boy I do love a good barbecue!  Let us not however confuse anything…grilling meat is NOT barbecue.  While novices may believe that anything covered in KC Masterpiece counts as barbecue, the real thing is cooked over indirect heat — usually a wood fire — for a really long time (sometimes for as many as 18 hours).  The resulting flavor is a combination of smoke, meat juices, fat and whatever spices or rub have been added.  (Oh man, I am getting hungry just writing about this!) U.S. barbecue traditions have its roots in the south.  The roads of the Southern United States are lined with a succession of grinning pigs, advertising the availability of barbecue in countless restaurants.  The origins of barbecue in the South, however, are traceable to a period long before the smiling pig became a fixture on Southern roadsides.  The etymology of the term is vague, but the most plausible theory states that the word “barbecue” is a derivative of the West Indian term “barbacoa,” which denotes a method of slow-cooking meat over hot coals.

Barbecue varies by region, with the four main styles named after their place of origin: Memphis, Tenn.; North Carolina;
Kansas City; and Texas.  Memphis is renowned for pulled pork-shoulder doused in sweet tomato-based sauce (eaten on its own or as a sandwich).  North Carolina smokes the whole hog in a vinegar-based sauce.  Kansas City natives prefer ribs cooked in a dry rub, and Texans love beef.  Although local specialties and the time-intensive nature of barbecue preparation have insured that real barbecue (as opposed to defrosted and micro waved meat) will never be a staple at chain restaurants, barbecue has endured.  Aside from its succulent taste, delicious sauces and the inimitable, smoky atmosphere of an authentic barbecue joint, barbecue has become a Southern icon, a symbol that is cherished by Southerners.

Pulled Pork BBQ
5 pound pork butt
1. Bring a 5 pound pork butt to room temperature and rub it with salt, black pepper, and a half-and-half mixture of vinegar and hot-pepper sauce.
2. Build a charcoal fire in a kettle grill and let it burn down to low heat.  Have a separate bed of warm coals nearby to replenish the main fire.  Add some water smoked hickory chips to the main fire to create heavy smoke.
3. Put the shoulder meat on to cook, turning every 30 minutes to assure uniform cooking.
4. Damp the fire and meat with a water-vinegar solution (7 to 1) if it gets too hot.  Strive for a slow, steady fire.
5. After about 3 hours, the meat should be getting tender.  Cook it between 3 and 4 hours, basting once in the last hour with your choice of sauce.  Have more warm sauce available for individual application at the table.  This much meat should make 8 to 12 sandwiches.

Basic Memphis BBQ SauceMediLodge BBQ

1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup vinegar
5 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 small onion, chopped
Dash black pepper
(more if you want it hotter)
Dash cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup water
Mix all ingredients together in large sauce pan, bring to a quick boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Figure out your own secret ingredient and dump it into the mix.


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