Sunday, December 3, 2017


Americans are proud of their techniques for barbecuing meat.  Most regions of the American South have their variations, and restaurants in the North and elsewhere in the country try to emulate one version of American barbecue or other.  One man ate at as many of the various American barbecue restaurants as he could, and wrote a book about his experiences and conclusions.

Other countries have their own barbecue practices, such as, for example, Australia and South Africa. Wikipedia attempts to chronicle all the worldwide barbecue variations here, though they admit their article still needs more research.

Bear in mind that what some places in the world think of as "barbecue" is really just grilling meat outdoors.  The true American barbecue involves methods of cooking meat "low and slow", i.e., for a long time over low heat, making even cheap tough cuts tender and tasty.

At least one other country has a technique for cooking meat "low and slow"--Mongolia.  The Mongolian slow cooking technique for meat is called boodog (or bodog).  It is as elaborate as American barbecue, if not more so, but very different in detail.  It is usually practiced upon goats or marmots, and no one is sure how old it really is.

Boodog cooks the animal's meat inside the animal's own hide.  Here is a summary of how it is done.
  • Kill your goat by hitting it over the head, and then cutting its throat, to drain the blood from the body.
  • Carefully remove the head and the legs, and hang up the body to drain.   Cut off most of the fur.  Be careful not to nick or cut the skin elsewhere. 
  • Tie off the holes where the legs used to be with wire, and remove the meat and organs from the rest of the animal through the hole where the head used to be.  Cut the meat into stew-sized chunks, and season it as you like.  Add vegetables if you wish (probably a modern variation).
  • Heat a number of rocks (i.e., by putting them in a fire).
  • Layer the heated rocks and the meat into the animal skin in alternating layers until the skin can hold no more.
  • Close the head opening with more wire.
  • Use a blowtorch or similar fire source to singe the remaining fur off of the skin.  This act also contributes to the heating of the meat inside.
  • When the meat is done (and experts in the technique supposedly can tell when it's done by the sounds coming from the meat sack that used to be the goat), slice the skin open and serve.
It is Mongolian custom to hand around the heated, greasy, blackened rocks to the folk eating the meat; supposedly, it's good luck to pass them back and forth in your hands (gingerly, of course) and helps alleviate arthritis.

There are videos depicting the process; I have attached two of them to this post.  Please note:  VIEWING THE BOODOG PROCESS IS NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH!  But if you are curious, and not likely to be distressed by watching butchering and prolonged meat handling under less than kitchen-clean conditions, feel free to watch the videos above.  The top one is about a half-an-hour long.  The one underneath is the TL;DR version, about two-and-a-half minutes long.  Both are very graphic, but fascinating, and despite common elements, is very different from American barbecue rituals.

EDIT:  (12/4/2017)  The longer video shows a different barbecue technique than boodog; khorkhog, in which the animal's meat is placed with vegetables and hot rocks in a closed container other than the animal's hide to cook.  Usually large metal milk containers are used.   The process is less messy than boodog but the principle is the same; heat your meat gradually inside a closed container with hot rocks.  It is still a "low and slow" method of cooking.

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