May Is Barbeque Month On Eastern Shore Virginia – Make Way For Savory & Delicious

by: Marlene email

Actually, May is BBQ Month nationally but I like to think we really do it up brown ( pun intended )  here on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.   For  such a slender little  peninsula as ours, I think we’re lucky to have several luscious BBQ  places here on the Shore, ( a  special shout-out here to StingRays ), plus  easy  access to several more in nearby Virginia Beach, Whitner’s BBQ being my personal favorite in Tidewater.  And  a really well-known place, Pierce’s BBQ near Williamsburg, try to stop there to bring some carryout whenever we visit  the historic area, at least 2 or 3 times a year. But some of the most delicious BBQ might be the homemade stuff, slathered with the family ” secret sauce”, ( the South being legendary for its love of BBQ and just about everyone has their special sauces and methods of cooking ), and served with time-honored  favorite side dishes.

The flavor of the  very first BBQ  sandwich I ever had in Virginia surprised me completely, being used to what I now  think of as typical Kansas City type tomato based sauces.  Anyway, shortly after we moved to Virginia  I was at  a business meeting in Richmond where many of  the other attendees were  locals.  When lunch break rolled around, they suggested what was described as  a ” great BBQ place” nearby,  which sounded good to me. At first bite  I was surprised, not  because it  was so  tasty,  because I’d had many tasty  BBQ  sandwiches,  but because it  appeared to have no sauce, a “special sauce”  being the holy grail  of  good BBQ.  But , as promised by the group, it was really delicious,  chopped pork,  tender, moist, very flavorful. I told  our server that I really liked it but wondered why it didn’t have any sauce.  Honey, you aren’t  from Richmond are you, said she, well, not only was I not from Richmond,  I was brand-new  to Virginia.  Which is no doubt why  I failed to recognize the premier BBQ  sauce of Richmond, VA, boiled vinegar Sooey Sauce.  Consisting  of just vinegar, salt, a smidgen of sugar, black pepper and red pepper flakes gently simmered together for about 15 minutes and left  to rest for at least  5-6  hours before tossing into fork tender pork which has been slow cooked in a smoker or covered grill and then coarsely chopped.  As one can likely guess,  this is now one of  my very favorite BBQ sauces for chopped pork. Ribs, of course,  are a different matter entirely and we’ll deal with ribs shortly.

So to make sure we are observing BBQ Month properly, very important indeed,  we are going to turn a combo Mother’s Day/Dad’s  B-Day party into a  little cook off/pot luck,  complete with whipping up several new and different sauces to  evaluate.  I am planning to try two great sounding sauces from, the Chris Lilly Spiced Apricot Sauce and the  Tennessee Holler Whiskey Sauce, both rib sauces.  The plan is to grill the ribs, mopping them with the vinegar sauce to keep them moist on the grill, then  glazing each rack of ribs  with a different finishing sauce. Of course, a great BBQ isn’t just about the ribs, it’s about the accompanying side dishes. In fact, as  I’m writing this little post,  I have one ear tuned to NPR’s  Sunday afternoon show,  America ‘s Test Kitchen, and Chris Kimball is discussing the history of cornbread and the differences between Southern and Northern styles of cornbread.  No question in my mind which is better,  Southern style wins hands down. Made with almost no sugar and very little flour,  just good ole yellow stone-ground cornmeal, eggs and buttermilk, it’s something you can sink your teeth into.  Topped  with a smear of butter and an ample drizzle of honey,  now that’s a cornbread so delicious I don’t even feel guilty about abandoning my Northern roots to declare it the winner. And you must have cornbread at a  BBQ, wouldn’t seem right without it, plus crunchy coleslaw, baked beans, potato salad with plenty of celery seed, fried apples and, of course, creamy, gooey mac and cheese.  And at our house, either green beans or collards to help  balance out all that starch !  So, we’re  planning to do our part to  celebrate BBQ Month 2013,  hope everyone else is ready to enjoy this savory and delicious outdoor food.  (Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed agent with Blue  Heron Realty Co, 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA )

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