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Then There Was
However, the knowledge of curing meat had preceded them.
Native Americans were already drying and smoking meat and fish,
usually without salt, because it was a scarce commodity. Their
method entailed long periods of smoking at temperatures well
below 90 degrees. Cold smoking deposits bactericides and further
dries the meat preventing bacteria and enzymes the opportunity to
survive and multiply.
To The Americas
Because there was a scarcity of salt and plenty of pigs,
the pioneers of the Carolinas were forced to cook the whole hog,
rather than smoke and preserve it. Their method, adapted from the
indigenous Indians, was to build a frame of wood with wooden
cross members to support the hog and cook it at a low temperature
180-220 for two major reasons. First, and foremost, if the heat
got too high, the frame would burn and break, and the whole hog
would drop, unceremoniously, into the ashes. Secondly, if the
temperature of the coals was too hot, the outside of the hog
would burn before the inside could get done. Now, this just
suited the lifestyle of the North Carolinians at that time. It
didn't matter that it took 24 hours to cook a hog. They were
richer in time than any thing except hogs.
Barbecue flourished in the backwoods, where time clocks ran
a century slow. And eventually, it crept into towns and cities,
but by the back door. Still, it was a flavor and texture, that
once tasted, forever altered the taste buds and those exposed
never forgot the experience. In the Southeast, you could always
find barbecue and barbecuers. If you lacked the time and had the
resources, a local Ol' baster would come out, construct a
primitive pit and perform the chore for a pittance and grazing
Coming Of Age Or
We Be Barbecue’n
When barbecue crossed the Mississippi River, it ceased to
mean predominately pork. But meat was still cooked as it should
be, around 200 degrees, over glowing embers in an open pit. In
the 1950's, welders blossomed and welding shops sprung up like
daisies on a new lawn. The ubiquitous 55 gal. drum was cut and
welded into thousands of grill designs, the most common being
sliced in half lengthwise and mounted on legs. This was fine for
broiling ‘burgers and steaks and weiners, but required some
knowledge and skill to barbecue with.
First of all, the coals were too close to the meat.
Secondly, you couldn't easily replenish the coals without
disturbing the meat. The experienced, put their coals on one end,
near a small door and put the meat on the rest of the meat grate
to barbecue. Many who know how to barbecue, built their own or
had built for them, grills that kept the meat over the coals and
allowed easy replenishment of the coals. The design usually
allowed for bringing closer or separating further the coals and
the meat, so that the fire grate could be brought up close for
broiling and removed for barbecuing.
Then, somewhere out west, a dastardly deed was done.
Somebody mounted a firebox on the end of a grill shaped like a
sliced 55 gal. drum and gave birth to the notorious "sidewinder"
cooker. Like its namesake the desert rattler, the design spread
poison about the land. Because of this devious design, the smoke
of wood burned in the firebox usually went right up to the top of
the cooking chamber and harmlessly out the exhaust, misplaced at
the top of the cooking chamber.
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Smoky's 5th basic position for really great barbecue'n.
'According to Smoky' is © by C. Clark Hale
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