THE TASTE OF THE SOUTH
Barbecue is one of those food subjects that can light up a conversation. It can draw people together (and it can spark serious debate) because people are passionate about this crowd-pleasing main dish. The word itself carries different meanings. In its noun form, barbecue is a mouth watering, meaty, mealtime centerpiece. It’s also a casual gathering which often takes place during the summer months. As a verb, “barbecue” refers to the practice of cooking meat and vegetables on the grill, low and slow, as they say. Technically, the term “barbecue” describes the technique of cooking meat slowly over a wood fire employing both the fire and the smoke produced by it, in concert with the seasoning on the meat itself, to achieve tender, flavorful meat. Fall-off-the-bone meat is the goal of every pitmaster. In short, I think it’s safe to say that most people love barbecue. There is generally a positive association with the term barbecue because it connotes a coming together with people you care about around a thoughtfully prepared meal. But, for the barbecue connoisseur, it’s even more than that.
From a flavor perspective, barbecue is hardly a one-taste-wonder. In fact, different barbecue preparations yield a veritable flavor spectrum, which is why this food category has been divided into distinct styles. There’s a bit of debate about how many styles exist, but most people agree that there are four styles of BBQ and, as you might expect, people are crazy for their preferred barbecue style.
Just ask barbeque lovers in the Palmetto State and you’ll get an earful of what makes Carolina barbecue — South Carolina to be specific — so succulent and sought after. Fun fact: did you know that we have a South Carolina Barbecue Trail? And you can access a digital, interactive map of it online. How cool is that? We’ll explore what it is and how you pick up the trail right here in the Lowcountry. But first, let’s get a handle on what distinguishes Carolina — particularly South Carolina — barbecue from the other three regional styles.
WHAT MAKES BBQ SOUTHERN STYLE?
So, to be clear, this category of barbecue is actually referred to as Carolina barbecue. As with the other types, there are sub styles, but let’s focus on the category itself before drilling down further. Carolina barbecue starts with pork. This is a key distinction for this style of barbecue. Other styles can connote other types of meat, but not so with Carolina barbecue. As for the subtypes of Carolina barbecue, we have Lexington style and Eastern style.
Lexington style, which hails from the North Carolina city bearing its name, is noted for its red sauce made with ketchup and vinegar. Red pepper flakes often show up in this sauce also. The meat used is pork shoulder. This style has been pegged as the style associated with the Western parts of the Carolinas. Eastern style, on the other hand, calls for a vinegar and pepper finisher to the meat using no red sauce whatsoever. Often a mayonnaise based slaw tops this kind of barbecue which employs the whole pig as the meat base.
Here it’s useful to mention that South Carolina boasts an array of four sauces for its barbecue. These flavor concoctions include Mustard, Heavy Tomato, Light Tomato, and Vinegar Plus Pepper. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is.
Well, let’s take our appetite for authentic barbecue and head over to a destination on the South Carolina Barbecue Trail I mentioned earlier, One Hot Mama’s. It ranks as a ‘where the locals eat,’ family friendly restaurant, and for right reason. At this locally owned favorite of locals and tourists alike, love of people, love of family, love of food, and love of barbecue is central. It’s why executive chef and managing partner, Orchid Paulmeier, has succeeded with pleasing scores of customers in not one but two locations in the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton area for many years. This effervescent Filipino entrepreneur is as likeable as she is capable. Her warm smile and infectious laughter contribute to her magnetic personality which charmed both fans and judges during her run on The Food Network show, The Next Food Network Star. When you dine at One Hot Mama’s, be sure to ask if she’s in the kitchen because you’ll want to meet this culinary star yourself! It’s no surprise that she’s surrounded herself with a charming staff who is eager to serve up authentic South Carolina barbecue to hungry patrons.
OUR SECRET SAUCE: PASSION
Chef Orchid’s passion for feeding people and for serving barbecue translates into dish after dish of carefully combined, fresh, and often, local ingredients. Perfect 10 Sauce, one example of her spread of house-made sauces, graces every table. Perfect 10 Sauce is a drizzled accent on the jaw dropping menu masterpiece called the Big Daddy Sandwich. This towering specimen of culinary brilliance starts with pulled pork Texas beef brisket on a homemade yeast roll (baked fresh every morning) which is smeared with chipotle mayo (made with SC’s own Duke’s mayonnaise), covered in melted pepper jack cheese, and finished with skinny fried onions. This customer favorite is proof that Mama Orchid is not afraid to wander outside of the borders of Carolina barbecue.
Ever since One Hot Mama’s opened its doors, Chef Orchid has owned her pitmaster role unapologetically. We see this in menu favorites, such as the fried wings. Tied for our attention are the 2019 Wingfest Winner Hawaii Five-O wings, perfectly prepared with ginger, soy, pineapple marinade, and a Teriyaki glaze, and the Carolina Gold wings which boast South Carolina Mustard BBQ sauce. From baby back ribs to hickory smoked barbecue, you really can’t go wrong when ordering any of the signature offerings on One Hot Mama’s extensive menu.
TRY THIS COMFORT FOOD IN THE WAY IT WAS MEANT TO BE EATEN
‘Classic comfort food with a little bit of a twist’ is how Chef Orchid describes the food you’ll find on the menu at both locations of One Hot Mama’s. Since 2007, satisfied customers have kept coming back to One Hot Mama’s for the to-die-for barbecue and for the overall dining experience. Well versed in how to cook and how to feed people, Chef Orchid and her staff pride themselves on upholding quality, freshness, innovation, and consistency in every dish. Whether you are a barbecue connoisseur or not, come taste for yourself! You will not be disappointed. It’s no surprise that One Hot Mama’s has earned a spot as a key destination on the South Carolina Barbecue Trail.