Barbecued food boasts a robust flavor that sets it apart from other cuisine.

Professional chefs from across the United States have voted on all-time favorite foods and the results are in – barbecue, bacon and shellfish top the list. People in the fair state of Louisiana can count themselves lucky, with enviable access to locally produced versions in all three winning categories. Pair a dish with some great wine and it’d be difficult to find a better meal. Whether grilling at home in the backyard, dining at a restaurant or grabbing some take-out, the Pelican State offers an array of options to suit every appetite.

Fill the Gas Bottles and Chop the Wood, It’s Grilling Season

Spring has arrived in all its beauty and that means barbecue season is here. In the South, the temperatures are rising but the downpours are yet to set in, so it’s the perfect time for outdoor parties and al-fresco eating. Barbecued food boasts a robust flavor that sets it apart from other cuisine. And there’s a big market for barbecue supplies. Rubs, smoking wood, cooking mats and even salt slabs are popular accessories right now. Culinary courses specifically focused on how to barbecue meats and vegetables are also available.

Sizzling Barbecue Trends in 2018

The low-and-slow method of cooking on a barbecue or grill is expected to continue to be a hot trend in 2018. Chefs are increasingly interested in sustainability, so utilizing lesser-known cuts of meat (such as the shin) could also become a food movement. By trying to use as much of the carcass as possible, cooks will process a greater volume of meat products, which will allow them to assert more of their own style in the kitchen. Craft barbecue is likely to become a thing, too. Essentially, the practice relies on skilled traditional cooking techniques, and making the process more of an experience for consumers.

A Healthful Alternative

Barbecue advocates say broiling can be a more nutritious way to eat, which is another priority for diners. Often high in protein and low in carbohydrates, a barbecued dish may be the healthiest choice. Grilling allows excess fat to drip through the grates, instead of pooling in a pan. Barbecued vegetables retain vitamins and nutrients as they’re cooked more gradually and without oil. Food that’s grilled may even be tasty enough not to require accompanying sauces or condiments, which frequently contain high amounts of sugar. For these reasons, barbecue options are also a hit at catered events.

Barbecue Is Changing

While barbecue is considered a long-held American custom, it is still evolving. Chefs are starting to experiment with fusion dishes, combining ethnic cuisine with traditional grilling methods to create meals such as brisket ramen. Meat-free entrees are gaining traction with the public as well. Cauliflower and pineapple steaks, and even jackfruit are being flame grilled on the barbecue.

Barbecue is popular comfort food in Louisiana. The Joint in New Orleans, Sammy's Smokehouse in Shreveport and Hannah Q in Prairieville are just a few of the places favored by local diners. But barbecue is a very subjective topic. Maybe the best grilled fare in the South is at your place.