For the backyard barbecuer ready to light up the grill for the Fourth of July, there’s no need to stress about which method or recipe is best.
“You can have a guy driving a Corvette, and another guy out here driving a Mustang, but if you can’t drive, it doesn’t make no difference,” Otis Walker said making an analogy for various barbecuing methods on Monday’s St. Louis on the Air.
The co-owner of north city barbecue joint Smoki O’s joined host Don Marsh for this month’s Sound Bites segment along with David Sandusky, co-owner of Beast Craft BBQ Co. in Belleville, and Matt Sorrell, staff writer for Sauce Magazine, who recently wrote an article about barbecue restaurants in the area.
For Sandusky, who will open Beast Butcher & Block in the Grove later this year, great barbecue only requires a quality cut of meat … and perhaps a six-pack.
“Grill on your Weber, baste with a little bit of sauce, if you wanna thin it out with some beer and drink a little too, you know, all power to you – and have a good time with it,” Sandusky said.
However, like many food niches, barbecue varies from backyard to backyard and from region to region.
“[In] Texas, for instance, there’s a lot more ranches for cattle than, you know, pig farms. In the Midwest, you’re gonna find more pig farms. A lot of barbecue is very localized in that sense,” Sandusky explained. “It’s all very subcultural, and that’s really one of the things that drew me to barbecue … this desire to be in touch with the land in the immediate surroundings.”
While beef is not what defines barbecue in our region, St. Louis barbecue fans might be more familiar with various pork cuts.
“There [are] a few cuts that St. Louis is known for, pork steaks being one of them, or blade steaks. Snoot is another one that you’ll have a hard time finding anywhere else in the country,” Sandusky said. “And by the way, Otis does it better than anyone.”
Walker attributed his knowledge of the craft to his lifelong exposure to barbecue and recognized there are multiple ways to go about it, but he pointed out two factors that really define good barbecue: taste and quality.
“We had two restaurants in our family; we had the first one in 1935 downtown. When my mother’s uncle got out of World War I, he came to St. Louis from Mississippi and he opened a barbecue place … so I’ve been around barbecue a long time. So I’ve really seen one way to do it, and I’ve seen other ways to do it, but it kinda depends on the taste and the quality of the food.”
Producer's note: Caitlin Lally is a regular contributor to Sauce Magazine.
St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary Edwards, Alex Heuer, Evie Hemphill and Caitlin Lally give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region.