I often hear folks from Oklahoma crying that their state's version of barbecue is superior to Texas BBQ or any other regional offerings. With equal weight given to Texas style brisket, KC style sliced beef sandwiches and Memphis style ribs, I'd never been able to get a straight answer about what defines OK BBQ...until now. Rick Bayless grew up in Oklahoma City, and his parents ran Hickory House Barbecue on 25th and S. Western in OKC from 1949-1986. In Saveur Magazine he wrote about his experiences at his parents' joint, and attempted to define Oklahoma 'cue in his article “Hickory House Memories”. Here is an excerpt:
"What I do believe is that most people don’t think of Oklahoma barbecue as unique – in contrast to the kind found in Texas or Kansas City or Memphis or North Carolina. In fact, this barbecue is usually described in terms of what it’s not: it’s not as saucy as barbecue from Kansas City, though both places commonly use hickory wood, and what sauce it has can be similar to K.C.’s with ketchup as a main ingredient. It’s not as tangy as Memphis barbecue and not as vinegary as what they serve in North Carolina. It’s not as dry as most classic Texas barbecue, and it’s not inclusive of just one kind of meat: both pork ribs and large cuts of beef (like brisket) play a major role. What it has in common with the other well-known barbecue styles of this country is that its tradition has existed for almost as long as theirs and was likely created by the same combination of European immigrants and black workers who came to the area and looked for good, cheap food when they arrived."
Maybe it's just that those who sing the praises of Oklahoma barbecue simply appreciate that the style welcomes the use of sauce, and embraces the inclusion of myriad pork items onto the menu. I guess you could say Oklahoma is sort of BBQ Switzerland.
- BBQ Snob