Barbecue lovers from Pikeville to Paducah should give thanks for Wes Berry, the English professor and ‘cue enthusiast whose new Kentucky Barbecue Book is a survey of all things smoked and sauced in the Bluegrass State. Packed with recipes from and interviews with the people who make smoked meat happen in Kentucky, the book offers a rare but focused peek into a lesser-known barbecue culture.
The most unique facet of Kentucky barbecue is the smoked mutton found in the western part of the state. Harking back to a time when sheep were plentiful in western Kentucky, mutton barbecue is traditionally dressed with a Worcestershire-based “dip” that is a dark cousin to the more traditional pepper-and-vinegar concoctions popular in the rest of the state.
In Berry’s book, he shares a recipe for mutton dip that he wrangled from the owners of Ole South Barbeque, a joint located in the smoked-mutton mecca of Owensboro, Kentucky. While this sauce is meant for basting and dressing up mutton, it makes a tasty complement to smoked meat of any kind.