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In Texas, you'll find coffee is a common ingredient in the sauce, and hot spices are the normwhether Tabasco, red pepper, chilies, or whatever else is handy that has heat in it. Traditionally, Texan barbeque uses mesquite wood, the meat is smoked with a dry-spice rub and the sauce is almost an afterthought. Farther west, Polynesian sauces have tropical flavors such as orange and pineapplevery different and exotic.
A & J Chicago-Style Barbecue's pork spare rib platter
In the south, particularly in the Carolinas,
you say "barbecue" and people think "pork." In Texas,
barbecue is beef, often brisket. As a general rule, pork is preferred
east of the Mississippi, beef to the west of it.
For this field report, I have undertaken a quest
to discover the best barbecue to be found in Phoenix, Arizona. My first
stop was A&J Chicago-Style
Barbecue, owned and operated by Abe and Jean Hawthorne. My first
question to Abe was "what exactly is 'Chicago-style' barbecue?"
Abe explained that he distinguishes his cooking method from those that
roast their meats in an oven, add sauce, and call it 'cue. He slow-roasts
his pork spare ribs, chickens, hot links and other meats in a glass-enclosed
smoker, over a mesquite fire. It is closely akin to the traditional, slow
cooking process, although his wood fires are hotter than you might find
in other establishments. For this reason, Abe uses thicker cuts of meat,
and pork spare ribs instead of the baby back ribs that are popular in
other establishments. They are thicker and hold up better in the slightly
hotter temperatures without drying out. They are also meatier than the
Abe serves his victuals lunch-counter style (no linen table cloths here), smothered in saucewhich is vinegar and tomato based and is about a 7 on the Schaller "heat scale" of 1 to 10. The sauce is very southwestern in terms of heat; you can definitely break a sweat while enjoying A&J's foods. Meals come with the choice of several great side dishes, such as pintos, coleslaw (fine-cut & very mild), fries cut on premises with skins on (excellent), green salad and potato salad, etc.