The Smokin’ Pig – Williamston, SC

IMG_2364

Name: The Smokin’ Pig
Date: 6/20/15
Address: 720 Anderson Drive, Williamston, SC
Order: Monk: Two meat combo plate with pulled pork and brisket, slaw, fries Speedy: Three meat combo plate with pulled pork, ribs and brisket, fries, okra (link to menu)
Price: $35

Speedy: Recently, Mrs. Monk and I planned a secret Atlanta trip to surprise a friend for her birthday as well as Monk for Father’s day. Knowing this would inevitably lead to eating some ‘cue while on the road, I asked former co-worker and friend of the blog Reid for some suggestions in the greater Greenville area. He came back with The Smokin’ Pig. Heading that way, Monk asked, “hey Speedy – does this guy know what he’s talking about?” My response: “Well, he does have a Green Egg.” And that was enough for Monk.

Monk: That’s exactly right, Speedy. I figured if he had a Green Egg then he was pretty darn credible as referrer of barbecue. Just as you always talk on and on about how Tyrion is a credible referrer of kings on Game of Thrones. The Smokin’ Pig has two locations, and driving south on I-85 the closest one to us at the time (albeit farther off the highway) was in Williamston. The other one is on the way to Clemson University and we overheard the waitress say to another booth that a third location was opening soon (though we didn’t hear where). On the side of the small brick establishment are an American flag and the large block letters “BBQ”. As soon as I saw this glorious sight, I knew we weren’t going to be let down by friend of the blog Reid (of the Green Egg). Just as Tyrion wasn’t let down by Varys, or so you always say.

Speedy: Don’t get me started on the Spider, Monk. We all know he has a tender heart under that smarmy, bald exterior. Anyhow, as everyone who’s been reading this blog knows, I love a good combo plate, so my order was easy. I had sworn off Carolina brisket previously, but I was feeling saucy (pun intended) so went for it anyway. In addition to pork and brisket, I was given the choice of wet or dry ribs. I opted for the dry.

Monk: Unlike Speedy, I try to be more in tune with my body and how much I can actually eat so I went for a two meat combo plate with pork and brisket. On looks alone, both were great. The brisket had a good peppery bark and was outstanding. Easily the best I’ve had in South Carolina, and it’s not even close. The pork, while maybe just a hair dry, was still tender with smoky chunks of bark mixed in. The pork stood pretty well on its own, but I as well as Speedy and Mrs. Monk added some of the scratch made vinegar sauce at the table (a house made mustard and a more ketchupy sauce were also available). I almost started to say that this was the best pork I’ve had in South Carolina before Speedy reminded me that I’ve been to Scott’s. Still, after that it is way better than anything else we’ve tried.

Speedy: I agree with all of that. The brisket was way better than I expected and the bark on the pork really helped it shine. Like the other meats, the ribs had a good amount of smoke and great flavor from the awesome dry rub. I thought they were just a little bit over cooked and the membrane on cooking style is not my preference, but overall, this is a very good baby back rib. I wouldn’t hesitate recommending any of the meats to anyone going.

Monk: For some reason, the first thing I reached for on my plate was a fry and as standard as they were, they had some great seasoning and were a signal of things to come. The slaw was a white slaw and was good not great. I didn’t finish either, focusing on the meat, but both were fine. The oddity here was the butter-topped yeast roll that came with the combo platters as opposed to corn bread of some sort. Sucker for a yeast roll that I am (I see you, Quincy’s), this was a good one but I couldn’t help but feel it was a little out of place at a barbecue joint

Speedy: Overall, this was a really great ‘cue meal. The Smokin’ Pig is a bit in the middle of nowhere, but it was a great find. I’m really interested in trying other the other location (soon to be locations!) and may have found a go to spot on the road to Atlanta.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs
Click to add a blog post for Smokin Pig on Zomato
IMG_2371 IMG_2375 IMG_2376 IMG_2378 IMG_2380 IMG_2382 IMG_2361 IMG_2386 IMG_2388

Friday Find: The Great NC Beer Map

The folks behind The Great NC BBQ Map have a new project and this time they turn their focus to NC beer. And it appears to be a slightly less daunting task than last time around, with only around 160 breweries across the state compared to the 434 barbecue joints they found.

EDIA Maps have returned to Kickstarter to fund this project, and as of this writing they are almost halfway to their $7,500 goal with 28 days to go. As always, there are tiers to the funding, but just $10 will get you a folded map and sticker and it goes up from there. The NC BBQ Map is a go-to resource for me and I can’t wait to see what they do with beer.

Monk

Linkdown: 6/24/15

– In Praise of Hushpuppies and Barbecue, by Robert Moss

– After a fire early Monday morning, Speedy Lohr’s in Lexington will be closed for a few weeks

#Brisketgate explained, from the man who shot the original video at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party a few weekends back

NYC’s top 20 barbecue restaurants, according to Eater – bookmarking this for our week in NYC in October

– The name of the article says it all: 11 ways BBQ is like church

These days, it seems like more and more fanatics are joining Belinda Carlisle in the belief that heaven is indeed a place on Earth. To us, it smells of burning oak, cold beer, and fatty brisket. To many, barbecue is like a religion, so much so that barbecue worship is a lot like going to church. Still a non-believer? Here are 11 reasons barbecue is like church, but with better bread. So it was written, so it was smoked.

– Queen City Q is now hiring for its upcoming Matthews location

– EDIA Maps (the folks behind The Great NC BBQ Map) create a barbecue cocktail for the summer

– The case for Santa Maria being the secret fifth major barbecue style in the US

Santa Maria barbecue is always cooked over a fire of red oak logs, using meats heavily seasoned with salt, pepper and dry spices, then marinated or basted with a mixture of vinegar and oil while cooking. Side dishes almost always include fire-grilled then buttered bread, tossed green salad, fresh tomato salsa and beans. Because the area is known for growing sweet strawberries, berry pie or strawberry shortcake is often paired with the main course as dessert.

– Charlotte’s getting a “Mediterranean smokehouse” concept in the old Sol and Tijuana Flats location from local restaurateur Martin Sprock (c0-founder of Moe’s and whose other ventures includes Leroy Fox and RuRu), and it sounds interesting while bringing up a little skepticism from this barbecue bro

The concept for the restaurant is the first of its kind for Sprock. He plans to feature barbecue menu items like pulled pork, smoked butts, chicken and lamb – all with a Mediterranean flavor.

A specialty grill that uses hickory wood will be the focal point of the restaurant, which he plans to adorn with distressed wood and copper trim. The restaurant will also have a bar and an approximately 1,000-square-foot patio

– A NC barbecue trail from the Wilmington Star-News, though curiously it includes Buxton Hall BBQ in Asheville, which isn’t open yet

– Want to win a $500 gift card to Midwood Smokehouse? Of course you do! Even though Father’s Day was last weekend, enter in Midwood Smokehouse’s #SummerofDad photo contest through the end of the month for a chance to win

Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que (food truck) – Charlotte, NC

IMG_2352
Name
: Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que (food truck)
Date: 6/18/15
Order: Smoked chicken platter with slaw, mac and cheese, and a drink (link to menu)
Price: $12.98

We’re clearly on the record of being anti just about any barbecue sauce other than our beloved Lexington-style vinegar sauce (or dip, as we prefer to call it). Thick ketchup-y sauce? Nope. Mustard? Definitely not. A mayo-based white sauce? We (mostly Speedy) don’t prefer a mayo-based slaw and definitely don’t want that stuff anywhere near our pork. The thing is, a white sauce isn’t meant for pork – its really meant for chicken. And at some point I knew I had yet to try it during my barbecue travels. Though the prospects of my first chicken and white sauce coming from a food truck on a 99 degree day could have disastrous results, I figured I’d go for it.

I tried Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que’s Matthews location solo a little over two years ago within a few weeks of it opening and had recently been thinking it would be worth a revisit as it’s not too far from the new casa de Monk. Their food truck in Charlotte began operating just about a month ago and had started making its rounds at the food truck rodeos and local breweries. It operates a limited menu of pork, turkey, and chicken with a handful of sides.

Back to the chicken and white sauce. I had my reservations but they were pretty much erased once I bit into the coarsely pulled chunks of smoked chicken. The white sauce complimented the chicken really well. My one complaint was that I would have liked it to be pulled into smaller chunks. I’m not about to turn my back on my beloved chopped pork, but for a change of pace more of this could be nice.

In terms of sides, the vinaigrette slaw and mac and cheese were just fine. Collards, beans, black-eyed peas, fried green tomatoes, chips, and banana pudding round out the rest of the available sides. More southern than barbecue, but that’s in line with their slogan of “southern soul food revival.”

The Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que food truck has quick service, puts out a solid product, and is worth checking out if you see them around town.

Update: Editor’s note (full disclose – Speedy is acting as editor): This review is the opinion of Monk and Monk only and does not represent the view of the entirety of the Barbecue Bros. At least one of the bros barely even considers chicken barbecue and would never, ever use a mayo based white sauce under any circumstances.

Monk

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – N/A
Chicken – 3 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3 hogs

IMG_2357 IMG_2359 IMG_2354 IMG_2360

Linkdown: 6/17/15

– Of course barbecue gets a prominent mention in this Eater feature “Destination North Carolina: A Southern Food Road Trip Extravaganza”

“From Brunswick Stew to Barbecue” is a new cookbook exhibit at UNC’s Wilson Library

– Dispelling some myths around the name and origin, here’s the real history of hush puppies

– Who won at the NC Barbecue Championships this past weekend in Tryon? Also, the big economic impact of the festival on the small mountain town of Tryon

– Shortly after being named to Southern Living’s Top 50 Barbecue Joints, B’s Cracklin Barbecue in Savannah burned to the ground; thankfully neighbors have pitched in to help rebuild

– John Lewis of La Barbecue gets profiled in Garden & Gun Magazine as well as four other “keepers of the flame” – the Monk family (of Lexington Barbecue) and Tyson Ho are also profiled

– La Barbecue, meanwhile, is no longer moving to a permanent space on South Congress in Austin and is instead expanding to dinner

– More coverage from Southern Living’s Top 50 BBQ Joints list from Greenville Online

– Apparently few places in Fayetteville serve chopped barbecue

– A short article on the 12 Bones Smokehouse cookbook

– A couple of barbecue-related gifts for dad on this coming Father’s Day

– Speaking of which, last day to order to get a Great NC BBQ Map in time

Barbecue Bros Book Club: Barbecue Crossroads by Robb Walsh and O. Rufus Lovett

IMG_2306

Not that I’m anywhere close to being qualified enough to evaluate books but more so as a public service announcement we will periodically discuss barbecue and barbecue-related books.

IMG_2326

Barbecue Crossroads: Notes & Recipes from a Southern Odyssey, written by multi James Beard Award-winning author Robb Walsh (who I had the pleasure of meeting earlier this year) with photographs by O. Rufus Lovett, is exactly the type of book I’d love to research and write some  day. The two take a roadtrip from Texas to the Carolinas and back, discovering and investigating the traditions and regional styles of barbecue in the American South. Its a travelogue that doesn’t just focus on the restaurants the two visit but also the community barbecues that don’t often get covered in the typical barbecue book. It also contains recipes and some of the most vivid color photography of barbecue culture – seriously, with enough practice in maybe a few decades I’ll be able to take photos half as good as Lovett.

Texas, Memphis, and North Carolina are well represented in the book but Grant of Marie, Let’s Eat! was a little miffed that they only devoted 5 pages to Georgia barbecue due to a perceived lack of effort or trying. This did not bother me as much as it did him, but then again thats easy to say for someone from North Carolina. Who knows what the reasons may be, but I can understand that time and resources are limited and they may have wanted to focus in predestined locations known. In any case, I really enjoyed this book and blew right through it in a matter of  a few days and would recommend it to any barbecue blogger.

Monk

Friday Find: A City Built on Barbecue (Gravy Podcast ep 15)

Many cities claim to be barbecue capitals (Ayden, Lockhart, Austin, Murphysboro, Owensboro, etc) but how many can claim to have barbecue pits attached to its City Hall. For Lexington that’s exactly the case, as barbecue pits were uncovered earlier this year during renovations to City Hall. Sarah Delia of WFAE in Charlotte weaves barbecue, government, and history all into a fantastic report for the Gravy podcast.

The pits belonged to Beck’s Barbecue, an important branch in the Lexington barbecue tree. Alton Beck originally bought the pits from Sid Weaver, a founding father of Lexington-style barbecue and believed to be the first man to make a living off barbecue in the city. Beck was also friends and neighbors with Warner Stamey, who introduced hush puppies to barbecue. Warner’s son Charles (whose son Chip now runs Stamey’s in Greensboro) recalls going to Beck’s as a kid in an interview in the podcast.

The city of Lexington is moving forward with preserving the pits and incorporating them into the design of their new office space with the help of an architecture firm from Charlotte, Shook Kelley. Which I am happy to see, because NC has a trend of moving away from its history (see: the number of gas burning barbecue restaurants, even in Lexington). As John Shelton Reed (co-author of Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue and co-founder of True Cue) notes in the podcast, “I’m not actually sure we [North Carolinians] are all that interested in the history of it…we are [mostly] interested in the food.” Thankfully, in this case North Carolina is taking an important step in not only preserving but also showcasing its barbecue heritage. Hopefully its the start of a trend in the right direction.

Monk

Linkdown: 6/10/15

– The latest barbecue list, this time from Southern Living and its barbecue editor Robert Moss

– Robert Moss provides some backstory to the feature

– Moss also talks to the Wilmington Star-News about both types of NC slaw (with recipes, too)

– Moss has been a busy guy, apparently; here’s his article An Illustrated History of Barbecue which is presumably a shortened, illustrated version of his book we just reviewed

– And coverage of the list: Carolinas do OK, Three Triad Joints Make the List, Southern Mag Snubs Houston,

– Munchies: Why is Brooklyn Barbecue Taking Over the World?

…Brooklyn pitmasters tend to be less traditional than their counterparts in the South. They don’t really follow any single barbecue philosophy and aren’t so focused on beef brisket, like most of Texas tends to be. They may include items like house-cured pastrami or pork ribs or burnt ends. Most use heritage animals—free-range and hormone free—from small family farms within the region.

But now it’s spreading, very quickly and without warning, to every fucking corner of the world. The barbecue being assimilated in places like Colombia, Spain, Panama, Sweden, England, and Japan (and even other parts of the US) is not the killer ‘cue from fabled Texas BBQ cities like Lockhart or Austin. Or even the pork-centric versions with sauce in the southeast. It’s an adapted form of Southern barbecue from Brooklyn. And it all looks like it came straight out of Williamsburg.

– Franklin Barbecue clarifies its policy that line waiters cannot save spots for groups of people

– I didn’t catch wind of this event so missed it from mid May, but making a note for next year: barbecue camp at NC State

– This NPR Food article on famed pitmasters resting, or “holding”, smoked meats for hours before serving also includes tips for the home smoker

– Queen City Q won the Taster’s Choice Award for dinner entrée at this past weekend’s Taste of Charlotte

Barbecue Bros Book Club: Barbecue: The History of An American Institution by Robert Moss

IMG_2306
Not that I’m anywhere close to being qualified enough to evaluate books but more so as a public service announcement we will periodically discuss barbecue and barbecue-related books. First up is what I would consider an essential book to understanding barbecue.

IMG_2314

In order to better understand where barbecue is heading today, I think its vital to understand the history and foundation of barbecue in the US. Robert Moss is a barbecue historian from Charleston and the current barbecue editor of Southern Living Magazine, so he is as qualified as any to write about the origins of barbecue in the United States and how the regional styles popped up. And that is exactly what he does in Barbecue: An American Institution. In it, he traces the Caribbean origins of the word to the American roots in Virginia – thats right, South Carolina, you are decidedly not the birthplace of barbecue despite what your ludicrous campaign says – through the decline during the fast food era and its current rebirth.

Moss’s book is comprehensive in its documentation of barbecue’s trends across America, and while it does devote some space to detailing the regional styles of barbecue (North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, etc) if you are looking for more in-depth knowledge about a particular style you will have to look elsewhere. Still, this is as good a starting place as ever if you are looking to read up on American barbecue. Lots of great archival photos and ads are sprinkled throughout as are some barbecue-related recipes. Highly recommended.

Monk