BBQ Nation

Our look at the people, places, and foods that fuel our national passion for barbeque.
By Adrian Miller
June 04, 2021
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Like love, barbeque is a many splendored thing. That wasn't always the case, my fellow barbeque fanatics. Before the 20th century, barbeque in the American South was fairly standardized. For most people, barbeque meant cooking whole animals (cows, pigs, and sheep) directly over a trench filled with burning hardwood coals while a vinegar and red pepper sauce was periodically dabbed on the meat. When the cooking was finished, hungry barbeque attendees were given chopped up meat, select side dishes, bread, and a beverage. Today, thanks to a shift in focus to cooking smaller cuts of meat, anyone who wants to barbeque can choose from a dizzying array of options in terms of what meat (or meat substitute), barbeque method, flavoring agents, and equipment to use. Fortunately, we've got some great folks to guide us through a salivating tour of our barbequed land of plenty. 

We start off with James Beard Award-winning writer Jim Auchmutey's Field Guide to American BBQ. I describe how African Americans became the standard bearers for barbeque excellence regardless of its many forms. Memphis native and veteran food journalist Jennifer Biggs showcases notable women in West Tennessee who thumb their nose at the idea that barbeque is an "all-boys club." Noella Williams explores how vegetables and meat substitutes are now the starring attraction at more barbeques rather than remaining pigeonholed as side dishes.

Then we kind of "geek out" on the intersection of technology and barbeque. World champion competition barbequer Doug Scheiding of the World Champion Rogue Cookers barbeque competition team charts the amazing rise, undeniable allure, and game-changing aspects of pellet smokers. Nigerian poet and journalist Ugonna-Ora Owoh gives a rundown of the barbeque gadgets that you must have to take your barbeque game to the next level. M Shelly Connor, an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Central Arkansas, shares her very personal quest to build her own old-school smoker.

In addition to a number of great Allrecipes barbeque recipes scattered throughout, I've also added a vintage recipe for pork belly burnt ends from my recent book, "Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue." 

Yours in smoke and sauce! 

Adrian Miller 

map of different BBQ styles in the United States
A Field Guide to American BBQ

Barbeque is like jazz. Everyone recognizes it, but defining it can be tricky because there are so many styles and variations.

by Jim Achmutey

Illustration by Meredith Digital Design
Honoring Barbeque's Black Heritage 

A look at the roots, rise, and growth of American barbeque.

by Adrian Miller

BBQ history
Old Arthur's Pork Belly Burnt Ends recipe
Old Arthur's Pork Belly Burnt Ends

"Pork belly burnt ends are a riff on the traditional burnt ends made from beef brisket. This recipe calls for a 3-step process that candies the pork belly by smoking, rendering, and then adding barbecue sauce at the end of the smoking process." -Adrian Miller

Credit: Eudell Watts
Women Who Play With Fire

Women don't have a long history in barbeque, but the ones who compete and run restaurants know it's the end result that matters. Meet three women who have shown they know how to handle the fire and claim the flame.

by Jennifer Biggs

composite image of Helen Turner, Desiree Robinson, and Melissa Cookston
composite photo of vegan barbeque foods: jackfruit, vegan BBQ sandwich, fried, and beans
Make Room on the Grill for Vegan BBQ

Your plant-based pals deserve more than a plate of charred vegetables.

by Noella Williams

Illustration by Meredith Digital Design
Pellet Grill Technology Is Changing How We BBQ

It's not rocket science...yet.

by Doug Scheiding

pellet grill article cover image with smoked meats
Illustration by Meredith Digital Design
composite of high tech barbeque gadgets: pellet grill, electric charcoal starter, pizza oven
Next-Level Gear for the Serious Backyard BBQ Master

by Ogonna-Ora Owoh

Meet the next generation of high-tech toys to rule the 'que.

Illustration by Meredith Digital Design
Building a Homemade Smoker: Adventures in DIY

An unparalleled intimacy occurs between the building and the cooking that can't help but be reflected in the food. It tastes like home.

By M Shelly Conner

homemade smoker article cover image Shelly Conner
Illustration by Meredith Digital Design

Adrian Miller is a James Beard Award-winning author who lives in Denver, Colorado. Visit his Website, like his Facebook Fan Page, follow him Instagram, or Twitter.

See You at the BBQ!

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