True barbecue involves prolonged slow cooking by indirect dry heat. This method is used almost exclusively for meats and poultry and frequently includes the use of seasoning rubs, marinades and exposure to hardwood smoke for flavor. Meats are generally placed over a grate or grill so fats can drip away, and gentle, indirect heat is applied for several hours until the foods are deeply caramelized, flavorful and very tender. Turning and basting of meats is also key to helping them endure the prolonged cooking time without becoming too dry. Serious barbecue cooks will use large covered grills or even enclosed racks with off set hot boxes to provide slow heat and measured doses of smoke. Pretty good results can be achieved from a residential outdoor grill or oven.

Barbecue is so established in many parts of the South that it reaches the status of subculture and several regions have their own highly developed variation on the technique. The major regions are Texas, Kansas City, Memphis and the Carolinas although it is possible to find good examples anywhere in the US. For many carnivores, barbecue is the ultimate expression of pork and beef.

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