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The Kentucky Barbecue Book


The Kentucky Barbecue Book
by Wes Berry
The University Press of Kentucky, 2013

Here's a guide to barbecuing Kentucky-style, describing the history and culture of barbecue in the state and profiling more than 100 of the state's restaurants, shacks, joints, festivals and even church picnics that are known for barbecue.
The Kentucky Barbecue Book

An English professor at Western Kentucky University as well as a small scale farmer, Wes Berry gave himself a sweet assignment: travel throughout the state of Kentucky, eat at every barbecue, talk to all the pitmasters, and write a book about what you see, learn and taste.




"I'm here to tell you that Kentucky has some really fine barbecue, and that my home state's rich traditions of barbecue have been pretty much overlooked by food writers and the Travel Channel," Berry writes.

"When hitting the roads of Kentucky in search of fabulous barbecue, I've discovered that many establishments, especially in the western part of the state, still cook old style, shoveling hot hardwood coals under meats elevated on grates inside cinderblock pits."


Berry's guide not only puts Kentucky barbecue on the map for foodies, but it also recognizes and describes a folk culture unique to the state's borders.

Bluegrass Barbecue Lingo

Bark. The darkened exterior of smoked meats, favored by lovers of smoke and big flavors. Because of greater exposure to heat, bark is drier than the interior meat.

Burgoo. An "everything by the kitchen sink" rich stew made with several meats and vegetables... found at barbecue joints in Kentucky.

Rick. A measurement of firewood stacked four feet tall by eight feet long. Kentuckians use the term loosely to name a goodly sized stack of wood.




Sassafras. A North American hardwood tree with aromatic leaves, bark, and branches. Used as a smoking wood, sassafras imparts a bold smoke flavor and dark coloration to meats.

Smoke ring. The pinkish hue imparted to smoked meats (a very good thing).

St. Louis-style ribs. The whole rib with the bony end piece (the sternum bone, cartilage, and rib tips) removed. Removing the tips can aid in uniformity of cooking, since the tips can dry out and get tough quicker than the rest of the rib.

Texas crutch. A derogatory term to describe the wrapping of beef briskets in foil to steam and tenderize them.



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