Barbecue in Oklahoma
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Oklahoma barbecue traditions began with the forced migration of Native Americans from the Southeastern United States during the Trail of Tears, who brought with them the tradition of whole hog barbecue.
A second influence came by way of Texas during the post-Civil War era. Cattle began to be transported through Oklahoma on cattle drives from Texas to Northern markets, but also began to be raised in Oklahoma.
Large social barbecues occurred during the territorial and early statehood days, most often at tribal events (such as the "hog fries" hosted by the Cherokee) as well as at the gubernatorial inaugurations of Charles N. Haskell (the first state governor) in 1907 and Jack Walton in 1923 (which used more than one mile of bbq trenches to serve the gathered crowds).
Governor Walton's BBQ was likely the largest in state history with meat donated from all across Oklahoma (including cattle, hogs, sheep, chickens, turkeys, rabbits, squirrels, opossums, geese, ducks, deer and buffalo. Even a bear was contributed to the occasion but it ended up in the Wheeler Park Zoo in lieu of being barbecued. 125,000 people were said to have attended.
Modern barbecue in Oklahoma is cooked both in homes as well as in restaurants, in both urban and rural settings. It is also often served at tribal gatherings, community festivals, church events and at Juneteenth celebrations.
Modern Oklahoma BBQ tends to be a hybrid form. Most sauces are similar in style to those of Kansas City and Memphis but the meat selections borrow heavily from Texas (Beef Brisket, ribs and sausage are all common). Poultry is also common as well (including smoked turkeys at thanksgiving).
Question of identity
Some have argued that Oklahoma barbecue is not a unique style but rather a conflation of the styles of neighboring regions, while others argue that the Oklahoma style unique for the way it blends the styles of its neighbors.
- "What I do believe is that most people don’t think of Oklahoma barbecue as unique – in contrast to the kind found in Texas or Kansas City or Memphis or North Carolina. In fact, this barbecue is usually described in terms of what it’s not: it’s not as saucy as barbecue from Kansas City, though both places commonly use hickory wood, and what sauce it has can be similar to K.C.’s with ketchup as a main ingredient. It’s not as tangy as Memphis barbecue and not as vinegary as what they serve in North Carolina. It’s not as dry as most classic Texas barbecue, and it’s not inclusive of just one kind of meat: both pork ribs and large cuts of beef (like brisket) play a major role. What it has in common with the other well-known barbecue styles of this country is that its tradition has existed for almost as long as theirs and was likely created by the same combination of European immigrants and black workers who came to the area and looked for good, cheap food when they arrived." - Rick Bayless
- Cherokees gather for annual hog fry
- 'Marriage' merges two territories Symbolic ceremony part of Statehood Day | News OK
- WALTON, JOHN CALLOWAY (1881-1949)
- It’s a Great Big Barbeque and Everyone is Invited - OAA - OSU Library
- OHS Podcasts
- The Meat of the Matter | Southern Foodways Alliance
- Our Nation’s Wildest Barbecue | Southern Foodways Alliance
- 18th Annual Bricktown Blues and BBQ Festival | Oklahoma City Events
- Juneteenth Oklahoma
- The Tasty Twelve: Top Barbecue Restaurants in Oklahoma | TravelOK.com - Oklahoma's Official Travel & Tourism Site
- Guts-n-Links: The Place of Sausage in the Barbecue Pantheon | Southern Foodways Alliance
- Barbecue University with Steven Raichlen: Texas and Oklahoma » TV Programs on Iowa Public Television
- Smoked bologna sandwich stands out in Oklahoma | News OK
- Bobo’s Chicken: believe the hype | Oklahoma City Restaurants
- A Brief History of BBQ - Bourbon & Boots
- Oklahoma Barbecue...A Unique Style? | Full Custom Gospel BBQ
- Republic of Barbecue: Stories Beyond the Brisket By Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt