VIRGINIA - Virginians who migrated to southern and western settlements took their barbecue traditions with them, giving each region its own version of barbeque, according to Joe Haynes, author of the 2016 book "Virginia Barbeque: A History."
Virginia Barbecue Is the Regional Style You're Overlooking
He describes southeastern Virginia barbecue sauces as vinegar/tomato based with a hint of mustard flavor. At the same time, central Virginia uses Worcestershire sauce, while northern Virginia features sweeter tomato-fruit combinations. In Shenandoah Valley, wood-smoked barbecue chicken is basted with an herbaceous vinegar-based sauce.
Oak or hickory wood is traditionally used to flavor meat smoked in a smoker, although applewood or cherry may also be added for optimal smoking results. Meat should be smoked until its surface develops a dark "bark," typically three hours. As part of the smoking process, the temperature must be monitored carefully with additional coals or wood chunks to keep fire burning optimally and achieve desired results.
Pork remains the standard fare at Virginia barbecue joints, though beef ribs, chuck, and sirloin also play an integral part. Haynes says his local Virginian barbecue had just as many fans during his youth as Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City or Gates' in Lexington, Kentucky; thus sparking his belief that Virginia is set for a "smokin' hot, finger-lickin' good" revival of barbecue culture.