Knit to This: The American Barbecue Showdown
If you made the same foolish mistake I did—that is, watching all of the new season of The Great British Bake Off in one sitting—I imagine that you’re also in the same boat I am: surrounded by six thousand crumpled Pepperidge Farms whatever-flavored-cookie bags without a thing to watch on television.
Well, here’s some excellent protein-related news!
In the run-up to the election, you might have missed the September launch of The American Barbecue Showdown. If so, I urge you to take a gander. (That’s almost a goose joke, but they never actually barbecue a goose and I can’t figure out—spoiler alert—an iguana joke right now.)
The structure of it is identical to GBBO. Everyone is nice to each other in almost the same way (though there is just the occasional trash talk; BBQ is literally a blood sport, after all), so it does a pretty good job of helping you to taper off from the GBBO sugar-high. If it’s slightly less engaging than Bake Off at times, it’s largely because whatever the BBQers are cooking up is usually in a closed smoker for, oh, nine hours and it’s a little tricky to make a closed smoker visually compelling (except when they burst into flames, which happens!).
Trigger warning: there’s a lot of meat. And I mean a lot of meat. Meat at its rawest, most … meatlike stage. It’s the sort of show where—when asked to cook a vegetable side dish—practically every single contestant grabs bacon first and starts slicing away. There’s a whole episode devoted to cooking less traditional meats, so unless you happen to be Granny Clampett and have some thoughts about how best to grill a possum, you can leave the room for a second helping of quinoa salad during that part. I did!
I’ll also mention that some bits in the first episode are subtitled. Not because it’s in any language other than English, but because there’s such a tangly thicket of (mostly) Southern accents, there are stretches where you have no idea what anyone is saying. After the first episode, you get used to it and the subtitles stop. But really, I knew what they were saying all along, y’all. Signed, I’m from Goldsboro, North Cackalacky—where BBQ is pork, the sauce is vinegar based, and that’s the best damned kind. Don’t start.
The Great American Barbecue Showdown is currently available on Netflix. All the meat is available at your local supermarket, except for maybe the possum.