Barbecue got its start in the Chicago area back in the early 1930’s. At that time, many barbecue restaurants began opening up on the cities south side. This was due in large part to the migration of many African Americans from the Mississippi area and nearby vicinities. They brought with them traditional southern cooking styles including that of cooking meat over direct heat and covering it in sweet sauces. The type of meat, type of wood and sauces varied quite a bit and it gives Chicago a very diverse BBQ profile .
I myself discovered Chicago style barbecue during my time of working for Itchy Pet Loans. They provide cash advance loans in Chicago and Illinois in general. Rib tips in particular are something that I never had a taste for until I went to Chicago. this is often considered a throw away meat, the byproduct of much more desired cuts of ribs. Chicago BBQ’ers have a way of prepping them that makes them come out perfect. A nice bark on the outside and juicy, tender meat on the inside. If you are eve in Chicago, it is a must try.
In addition to rib tips, you can find just about every other cut of meat in Chicago. St Louis style ribs, baby back ribs, pork butt, brisket and some of the finest sausage to be had anywhere.
True BBQ will use wood, not gas or electric heat. The type of wood used will vary a bit. Most will use oak but you can also find a variety of sweet fruit woods in use. The authentic and dedicated smokers will use an all wood fire while many are going to the much simpler gas setups with smoke boxes. The advantage to the gas is that it is easier to control the exact temperature but all wood smoking will in most cases provide a better product.
As far as sauce goes, tomato based is the norm in Chicago. Much of the BBQ will be smothered in a sweet and sometimes tangy tomato based sauce that is much different than the vinegar based sauces that you often get around the Memphis area. Other meats will be served with the sauce on the side or in moderation.
Overall, Chicago style BBQ is very diverse. This is a great thing because you can sample all different types and styles of barbecue in one city. Don’t like one style? Go around the corner next time you eat and sample a different take. The BBQ culture in this city is as diverse as the people who settled in it.
Featured Chicago BBQ Joint:
Smoque BBQ: A neighborhood smoke joint offering some of the best meat cooked low and slow. Bring your own bottle and save money on beer or wine and let Smoque handle the food. Choose from pulled pork, brisket, chicken or sausage along with all the regular sides. Sides include beans, mac & cheese, fries, cornbread and even chili. Located at 3800 N Pulaski, if you are ever in the area, give them a shot.