There is something that is considered the Florida BBQ style, but it’s an odd duck when it comes to defining what style it falls into a category. Since Florida has so many cultures and types of people who have either moved to the Sunshine State or happened to bring in outside barbecue influences, Florida remains flexible in this category. This short report on barbecue styles can possibly shed light on what defines Florida BBQ.
Grill Pirates of the Caribbean
Amazingly, the Caribbean Indians known as the Taíno were among the very first to introduce the Spanish shipping traders to the word barbecue. In their native language, the word Barabicu literally means meat that is raised onto an elevated grate made of wood. This is typically a frame made of sticks that have meat attached to it. This frame is placed next to a small fire that allows the smoke to reach the meat.
This is where smoking and BBQ often go hand in hand but was discovered as far back as 1490. The Spanish then used the word Barbacoa. After this, the Spanish began to share this information with Spain and for the most part, the rest of the world. Had it not been for the piracy of barbecue by the Spanish, this cooking style may not have otherwise been discovered until much later.
Florida and barbecuing styles
Before the topic of bringing up the various styles of BBQ in Florida, there is actually a very-defined influence that is based on flavor. It seems that much of the Florida BBQ flavor is based on southern barbecue styles mixed with a direct Caribbean style. This brings together the typical combination of vinegar and citrus. If anything, this is unintentionally the official Florida preference for BBQ sauce flavor that is more common throughout the state.
With that in mind, the true definition of Florida BBQ does have great influences from Cuba with Cuban-style sandwiches that include savory barbecued meat. There is also the Portugal-style which is known as Churrasco. This is a style of barbecue that was imported from Portugal and Brazil. This method of BBQ was introduced by the French and likely adapted from the Spanish in the 1500s.
The Churrasco method uses marinades but more importantly sauces that are applied to the meat and allowed to soak overnight. The meat is cooked over even heat and is laid as flat as possible so the meat will remain juicier after being cooked.
See some of our favorite Florida BBQ joints here.
Southern BBQ influence
It’s not uncommon that southern styles are very common for Floridians that including Louisiana and Texas-style BBQ. It’s a tradition that is very popular and included beef, pork, and plenty of seafood. It’s no secret that southern barbecue is often borrowed from neighboring states that like to keep their grilling practices close to home. Southern barbecue is always known for grilling over indirect heat.
When it comes to sauces, it’s very particular to sweet and tangy but also likes to throw in just the right amount of spiciness. It’s not so much for sweet as there is a need for vinegar in the sauces.
St. Louis style
When it comes to iconic BBQ, the St. Louis style applies to ribs that are grilled and sauced throughout the cooking process. It’s mainly a tomato-based sauce. Compared to the southern styles, the Missouri method features a sweeter-tasting sauce that has a distinct vinegar tang. One major difference to Florida-style St. Louis ribs is that Florida BBQ pros like to leave the riblets on the meat whereas St. Louis style will often cut these off.
White as Alabama
It’s not too common that Alabama-style BBQ is going to be found throughout Florida, but it’s among one of the barbecue sauces that makes chicken fried steak and BBQ meat taste so different. The white BBQ sauce that separates many other types of sauce is mainly mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, and spices. This makes the sauce just a little bit sweet with a whole lot of tangy with a small amount of spice.
Georgia is another type of BBQ style that you’ll find in small nooks across Florida and brings a bit of southern class to the panhandle. Georgia BBQ-style meat is primarily pork and has a rich tangy sauce. While pork butt and pork belly are often on the menu, sandwiches play a big part in Georgia-style barbecue. Another uncommon part of ingredients that are added into pork rubs includes a small amount of cinnamon to spice things up.