Barbecue Master Rodney Scott On Why South Carolina Barbecue Is The Best - Exclusive

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America is full of different regional styles of barbecue, all with something to offer to the dedicated carnivore. You've got Kansas City, with its syrupy sweet barbecue sauce that turns meat into candy. Then there's Central Texas, which is all about hunks of beef coated in a thick crust of salt and pepper and smoked for a very long time. If you want to move beyond the standard beef, pork, or poultry, swing by Kentucky, where you'll find barbecued mutton with vinegar sauce.

We don't want to minimize the deliciousness of any state's barbecue, but for renowned pitmaster and Palmetto State native Rodney Scott, one style of barbecue stands above the others: the whole hog barbecue he grew up preparing in rural South Carolina. That might just be a personal opinion, but Scott's views on barbecue hold weight — not many pitmasters can claim to be critically acclaimed cookbook authors or James Beard Award winners, and Scott is both (via Crown Publishing). In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Rodney Scott told us what makes South Carolina the most special place for barbecue in the country.

Why South Carolina barbecue is different

Of course, one of the things that makes Rodney Scott's method of preparing barbecue different is that he prefers to cook the whole pig in one piece over the coals left over from burning hardwood (via Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ). This old-school approach results in unparalleled flavor, but it's not what Scott pointed to as the most distinctive feature of the South Carolina style.

Instead, he mentioned that South Carolina actually has three distinct micro-regions of barbecue. They're defined not by the choice of meat, but rather by the style of sauce. "You have a vinegar and pepper sauce that's mostly on the coastline, to about the middle of the state. Then, you fall into that mustard region, and then in the northwest corner of the state, near the mountains, you have tomato." Scott's personal preference is for the vinegar-based sauce, which he prepares with "white vinegar ... crushed pepper flakes, sugar ... cayenne pepper, black pepper, [and] lemon juice."

Beyond the sauces, South Carolina is a must-visit barbecue destination because barbecue has been cooked there for many generations. "Barbecue was born in the South. South Carolina has that history and that consistency," Scott said. Sure, you can probably get good BBQ in Brooklyn these days, but it won't be steeped in the same rich traditions as it is down South.

Rodney Scott's BBQ has locations in Charleston, Atlanta, and throughout Alabama. You can buy Scott's cookbook, "Rodney Scott's World of BBQ," on Amazon.