Southern barbecue basics with Hang Fire Smokehouse

By
Eve O'Sullivan
Added
01 June, 2016

We're thrilled to welcome Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn's debut cookbook, Hang Fire, to the Cooked library. Packed with lip-smacking recipes from their USA road trip, we asked them to talk us through the basics of barbecue cooking.




A lot of people probably don't realise there are subtle differences in barbecue styles between the Southern states. Can you explain a few of them?

Traditionally, Texas and the Carolinas choose different animals and wood to smoke them with. Texas is all about the beef, from the brisket to the beef ribs and Texas Hot Guts (beef sausage). Post oak, pecan and mesquite tend to be the smoking wood of choice, all robust, strong-flavoured woods that can stand shoulder to shoulder with their grain fed beef. By contrast the humble pig is the what's considered real barbecue in the Carolinas. Whole pigs cooked in cinder block pits, doused with a pepper vinegar mop sauce or boston butt (pork shoulder) mixed with a sweet mustard sauce are all de rigueur further east. Smoking woods favoured tend to be fruit woods like peach, apple, cherry or nutty woods like hickory. However for the record, we've had excellent beef barbecue in Asheville, North Carolina and fantastic pork barbecue in Houston!




What's your favourite cut of meat to cook with?

That's a tricky one, and it depends on which of us you ask. My favourite cut are short ribs, grilled off the bone or slow and low on the bone. I just love the intense beef flavour, so rich and buttery. Shauna absolutely loves smoked lamb, from the ribs to shoulder to leg. Lamb has such a robust flavour that you can get really experimental with the smoking woods, such as orange, mesquite and whisky barrel chunks.




What's the most popular order at Hang Fire?

As we predicted last year, brisket is the new pulled pork. We sell so little pulled pork that we've taken it off as a barbecue plate. Brisket on the other hand, we can't smoke enough. We go through around 30-40kgs a night. Considering it's not the only thing on our menu, that's a ton of prime bovine folks are getting through! If you’re a barbecue novice and want to try it at home, our advice is always to start with chicken. The Mai Thai chicken thighs are satisfyingly simple, as is our Yard Bird recipe.


You spent months travelling around the southern states; what’s been the trickiest recipe to recreate at home?

Brisket, again. It's really hard to find UK farmers that are willing to increase the grain feed finishing cattle, not only does it have major cost implications, but the market for this is narrow at the moment even if it was viable. What a longer grain feed time would offer is a fatter cow, greater marbling throughout and ultimately a tastier cow to barbecue. In the US, most cattle are grain fed which makes a tasty, fatty brisket.




What would be your perfect barbecue menu?

It would be St Louis ribs with blackberry BBQ sauce, Texas-style brisket, Swansea jack and cheese, some red beans and rice, a ton of pickles, a meaty Bloody Mary to wash it down with and a piece of pumpkin pie to finish!


Feeling inspired? Then cook from the book

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