Linkdown: 3/4/15

- The last chapter documenting Marie, Let’s Eat!’s jaunt through the Charlotte area back in January finds them at Black’s Barbecue, among other Gastonia-area places; they also check out Anna’s BBQ in Atlanta in a newer post

– The weather may be 70 degrees now, but this yo-yo weather could strike at any moment so here’s last week’s Charlotte Weekly Yelp which ran down chili options around town, including Queen City Q

–  The Great NC BBQ Map has 5 barbecue road trips that doesn’t include just the usual suspects, which I appreciate

– While John Lewis is off in Charleston starting his namesake barbecue joint, a new head pitmaster has been named at La Barbecue

– That salad’s got nuttin’ on Western Kentucky’s chipped mutton, and Robert Moss investigates

– Alabama has kicked off their own statewide barbecue marketing campaign, dubbed the Year of Alabama BBQ

– A short post on NYC barbecue

A few weekends ago, the city celebrated the smoky flesh at the annual—and free—Hudson River Park Blues BBQ Festival, featuring NYC’s three top pits, Mighty Quinn’s, Delaney and Dinosaur, with dining music provided by five authentic blues outfits. If this is the South’s long-term strategy to take the North, it seems to be working.

– Regarding Louie Mueller Barbecue, Burger Mary has some great photos and says “If you only have time to visit one traditional, iconic and outstanding barbecue joint in Texas, Louie Mueller Barbecue should be it.”

The most underrated barbecue in Memphis, according to First We Feast

– Vote for your favorite Charlotte-area barbecue restaurants in Charlotte Magazine’s Best of the Best Awards

– ICYMI, our photos and recap of last week’s barbecue dinner at Midwood Smokehouse:

Reader Question: Other NC joints that smoke inside the restaurant?

From our NC Historic BBQ Trail post, we got the following reader question recently:

My husband is trying to find a BBQ place that smokes their meat in the center of the restaurant, like The Salt Lick in Texas. Have you found any in NC?

From my own personal experience, I know both Old Hickory House in Charlotte and Hillbilly’s BBQ & Steaks in Lowell have their smokers just off the dining room inside, but I’m sure there are several others around North Carolina of which I am not aware, particularly in the eastern part of the state in which I have much less experience.

So my question is to you, dear readers: what other North Carolina barbecue joints smoke their barbecue inside the restaurant?

IMG_1463

Hillybilly’s BBQ & Steaks – Lowell, NC

IMG_1464

Hillybilly’s BBQ & Steaks – Lowell, NC

 

Photo Gallery: Crossroads ‘Cue Supper with Robb Walsh at Midwood Smokehouse

This past Wednesday night, I had the good fortune of attending another barbecue dinner at Midwood Smokehouse (who previously hosted Skylight Inn’s Sam Jones in November 2013), this time with special guest James Beard Award-winning author Robb Walsh. Just like last time around NoDa Brewing (and their head brew master Chad) was in the house, pairing each course with one of their beers. And as it turns out, Ed Mitchell happened to be there too! Now, I was planning to go to this event as soon as I got word of the event but then lucky for me, a marketing coordinator for Midwood reached out to the Barbecue Bros and offers a free press pass. Done and done.

The theme of the night was Tex-Mex, a subject of which Robb Walsh certainly is no stranger – his books include The Tex-Mex Grill and
Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook, The Tex-Mex Cookbook, Nuevo Tex-Mex, and…well, you get the idea. And as I would come to find out over the course of the night, Walsh is no stranger to owner Frank Scibelli – he has consulted on both Midwood Smokehouse as well as his Tex-Mex concept Paco’s Taco’s & Tequila. Seeing as how I have yet to make it back out to Texas in several years (a fact which Speedy and Rudy like to hold over my head), the prospect of a Tex-Mex style barbecue menu intrigued me.

The first course paired tortilla chips with three salsas (one of which was a revelation, unfortunately I can’t recall exactly which one), Frito Pie (a delight which I hadn’t yet experienced in all my years), and campechana (basically, a Tex-Mex shrimp cocktail) with NoDa’s CAVU blonde ale. I must say, if there weren’t two more courses coming, I could have eaten just Frito Pie all night long. Damn, it was that good.

Beef rib and barbacoa served with tortillas highlighted the second course with NoDa’s Black IPA, Midnight Madness. The beef rib was served both on and off the bone, and I came dangerously close to taking the entire bone for myself before realizing that oops, I should actually be sharing with the table instead of being a greedy freaking gus. But man, that thing was smoked to perfection and I’d be curious to see whether Midwood would ever offer it as a special – Frank Scibelli seemed to be taking an informal poll as to whether folks would ever buy it or not, so we shall see.

Finally, we ended the night with a duo of mini pies and Jam Session Pale Ale. Thankfully, the pies were indeed mini and I didn’t have to stuff myself with a big dessert (plus another beer) after the big meal. All in all, the food in each course was new and interesting and fantastic.

For the Sam Jones dinner, I recall them having four courses and I felt like we were constantly rushing to finish the food in each course and chugging beer. This time around, the three courses provided a nice balance between eating and drinking and actually being able to breathe between courses, converse with our table neighbors, and finish beers. So, whether done on purpose or just happenstance, well done by Midwood on the change.

After dinner, I was able to speak briefly with Ed Mitchell and his son/business partner Ryan. I mentioned how much I loved his barbecue and was looking forward to what they would do next. After a period of time they will be making an announcement on what they’ll be doing next, but in the meantime it sounds like he might be doing some things with Frank at Midwood. Logistically, they would have to figure out how Midwood’s Texas-manufactured offset smoker would jive with Mitchell’s brand of eastern NC whole hog barbecue cooked over direct coals, but the prospect of Ed Mitchell smoking barbecue in Charlotte is just too exciting for me to handle.

I also got a chance to briefly speak with Midwood’s Pitmaster Matt Berry and relayed to him and Frank the nice post from our meetup with Marie, Let’s Eat! posted earlier this week. Really nice guys, those two. I gotta say, I love these barbecue dinners (which benefit the Southern Foodways Alliance) and hope Midwood continues to have them when the right occasion presents itself. As long as they keep doing them you will find me there, press pass or not.

-Monk

Linkdown: 2/25/15

- The chapter on Midwood Smokehouse from Marie, Let’s Eat! was posted earlier this week (our photos from the meet up here); he also checked out Mac’s Speed Shop during his Charlotte-area travels in January

– More on Smoke Modern Barbeque’s second location in Ballantyne

– A review of Uncle J’s BBQ and Restaurant in Kings Mountain from the Gaston Gazette

Expansion into the South is a sign of City Barbeque’s success; Speedy checked out their Cary location a few weeks back and thought it was decent

– Could Aaron Franklin actually win a James Beard Award?

– Did you know a barbecue pork sandwich chain used to dominate Texas and the rest of the south?

– Lexington makes the list on Thrillist’s list of best barbecue cities in the US

– Lockhart also makes the list at #3, and TMBBQ has a timeline of the city’s barbecue

– Is chicken mull having a moment? First a post on The Daily South, then another on Serious Eats (granted, both by Robert Moss), now Garden and Gun has a recipe

Friday Find: Eat Meat Repeat, A Meat Week Movie

Meat Week was in late January, but here is a trailer for a documentary about the event, filmed around its 10th anniversary last year.

For the 10th Anniversary of Meat Week, we hit the road, stopping at 8 different cities during the 8 nights.

We took our cameraman friend along and captured the journey, in a van, across 15 states, through ice, snow, sleep depravation, and meat sweats.

A big part of our journey was finally meeting the people who celebrate Meat Week in other cities, and seeing how they put their own stamp on the holiday. We’ve been sharing meat with them via internet for years, so it was amazing to finally eat BBQ together in person.

We’re working on a documentary about this journey and the 10 years of Meat Week leading up to it, specifically how a small group of friends gathering over BBQ turned into a nation-wide community.

If this seems like something you’d like to see, or if you think this is a terrible idea, click one of the buttons above to let us know!

-Monk

Linkdown: 2/18/15

- Wow, Ed Mitchell’s Que in Durham has closed after less than a year at its American Tobacco Campus location

Mitchell explained that his Durham restaurant did not have any space for private dining for corporate events and only had capacity to cook one whole hog at a time, which was not enough to meet the demands of the restaurant and catering operation. “I fell in love with the space,” said Mitchell, adding that he should have had a better understanding of the space’s limitations compared to his business needs.

– In other closing news, could the River Arts District of 12 Bones Smokehouse be forced to leave its current location in favor of a new “redevelopment plan” along the river?

Now with the start of a multimillion-dollar project to redevelop areas along either side of the French Broad River, the 12 Bones site may have to make way for a new roundabout that is part of a plan to move Riverside Drive to the west, a city official said Friday. It’s a move that’s being contested by the property’s owner, former Asheville Vice Mayor Chris Peterson.

More coverage on the upcoming Stonecrest location of Smoke Modern Barbeque, which opened its Huntersville location last week

– The Barbecue Festival received won 3 excellence awards at the 2015 North Carolina Association of Festivals and Events ShowFest conference and trade show held in Charlotte on Jan. 24 and 25

– A location of Kansas City chain Gates Bar-B-Q in Missouri burned down Monday night

– From last month, Garden and Gun’s 5 unusual barbecue spots

– Robert Moss’ list of 10 Must-Visit Carolina Barbecue Joints includes several Barbecue Bros faves

Hursey’s Bar-B-Q – Graham, NC

IMG_1568
Name
: Hursey’s Bar-B-Q
Date: 2/14/15
Address: 1234 S Main St, Graham, NC 27253
Order: Two barbecue sandwiches (one slow, one without), large fries, two soft drinks (link to menu)
Price: $11

The newest (and I believe largest) location of Hursey’s Bar-B-Q replaced the previous Graham location, which was located in an old Hardee’s just off I-85/I-40 (if I am remembering that correctly). Many years ago (well before the blog), Mrs. Monk and I stopped there and this past Valentine’s Day we found ourselves stopping by this newer location for a quick bite on our way to Raleigh.

We didn’t get a chance to really check out much of the large barn-shaped establishment due to the fact that we had to get to Raleigh. But from what I could tell it did seem similar to the original location, with the order counter at the front and the dining room off to the side. This one does serve breakfast from 6-11am, as opposed to the other locations that open for lunch starting at 11.

Seeing as we were going to be eating in the car, we went for barbecue sandwiches – mine with slaw, hers without. Unfortunately, hush puppies would have been a 5-10 minute wait (since it was still technically breakfast time when we went) so we had to go with fries instead. The pork in the sandwich was moist and tangy and the crunchy white slaw complemented it nicely. I gobbled it up in just a couple of bites, seeing as I hadn’t eaten much of a breakfast that day. The fries were standard, but we found the large portion to be a bit small for two people to share seeing as how we asked the girl at the counter if they would be enough for two and she said that it would have.

I actually enjoyed this barbecue more than I remembered liking it at the original location. From what I understand, the barbecue is smoked at the original location daily and then shipped out to all of the other locations so there’s a chance the fried chicken and lackluster brunswick stew colored that previous visit. In any case, this was well worth the short jaunt off the highway.

-Monk

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Hursey's Bar-B-Q on Urbanspoon

IMG_1584 IMG_1582 IMG_1573 IMG_1576 IMG_1579 IMG_1571

 

Linkdown: 2/11/15

- Our State ruminates on the barbecue sandwich, deconstructed

– In this week’s blog for The Daily South, Robert Moss profiles a NASA scientist by day, and whole hog barbecue pitmaster by night

A career in engineering took Howard Conyers a long way from Paxville: to an undergraduate degree at North Carolina A&T followed by a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and materials science from Duke, and then to Louisiana. “I finished my Ph.D. and took my first job at Stennis,” Conyers says. “I lived in Slidell for a year and then moved to New Orleans.” Somewhere along the way, he started to miss his family’s style of whole hog barbecue. “I realized I had left something back home that is unique and special,” he says.

Tyson Ho writes about the importance of mentors – barbecue and otherwise – in his latest blog for Serious Eats; he also spills the beans on the origins of the name Arrogant Swine

(If you’re wondering, the name came about when we were trying to find a pig-based url for my website. A whole hog joint needs a pig name, and url squatters had most of them. I tried every color pig.com, every variant spelling of hog, all to no luck. Then one day I walked past a poster for a beer called the “Arrogant Bastard Ale.” I wondered if Arrogant Swine was available, and it was, so that became my name.)

Smoke Modern Barbeque is a new barbecue restaurant in Huntersville from Charlotte restaurateur Dennis Thompson, who is involved in Firebirds Wood Fire Grill and Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar; it opened on Monday

– …aaaand they already have a second location planned, slated to open in July in Ballantyne

– In more expansion news, Queen City Q is opening a second location in Matthews

– Sad news out of DC, as barbecue legend Mr. P (originally from NC) was taken off of life support earlier this week

– TMBBQ goes deep on best naner pudding in Texas, though I disagree with their assertion on NC naner pudding – its been served cold everywhere I’ve ever been

First, though, let’s talk about what unifies banana pudding in Texas. That’s temperature. If you venture over to North Carolina, it’ll come piping hot and covered in meringue, but in Texas it’s served straight from the fridge.

– JC Reid from the Houston Chronicle talks about the importance of wood and smoke (via TMBBQ)

– In other Texas barbecue news, The Dallas Observer is looking for a barbecue writer

– Smoky Oak Taproom, a Charleston barbecue restaurant with an impressive tap list, to open a location in Florence, SC

– Want to win a $100 gift card to The Pit Durham?

Recap: 2015 Super Bowl Smoke

If you are a longtime reader of our blog (do those exist?) then you will recall that for the past two Super Bowls, Speedy and I have taken the opportunity to step out from behind our blogger notepads and laptops for the Monk family annual Super Bowl party. Two years ago, Speedy and I competed head to head in a smoke off of pork butts and wings (in which I edged him out just slightly). Last year, we tackled our first brisket. This year, turns out Speedy was going to be out of town for the Super Bowl so I would have to go my own way (go my own way).

I started the night before by rubbing the meat with the “Luv Rub” that I picked up from Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen. In year’s past I had mixed my own rub but decided to go the easy way this year. Besides the ease of simply sprinkling from the bottle, the rub itself enhanced the meat nicely.

IMG_1517 IMG_1519 IMG_1525 IMG_1527 IMG_1534

In terms of prep, that was basically it until my alarm woke me up at 5am to start the fire. In the smoke off two years ago, I didn’t get the fire going and get the meat on until close to 9am and felt like the pork butt could have used another hour or two so I wasn’t going to make that mistake this year. By 5:45 I had the meat indirectly set over the coals and had a pretty good smoke going. This time I decided to smoke it fat side up just to see if I noticed a difference.

IMG_1537 IMG_1547

Outside of a brief nap around 6:30am, I stayed up and checked the temperature every 20-30 minutes for the next 11 or so hours. At around 4:30 the meat temperature had reached 190 degrees and it had a good bark, so I pulled the meat off the grill and let it sit for about an hour before chopping.

IMG_1552 IMG_1556 IMG_1558

After I chopped the butt I added some homemade Lexington dip to the pan and served to the party. I was really happy with how it came out and thought the rub from Boone’s worked out really well. I’m not sure that I noticed a huge difference smoking the butt with the fat side up, but it didn’t screw anything up so I would do it that way again. I also got some really good feedback from the crowd at the party.

IMG_1562 IMG_1565

Once again, I was really happy with how it turned out and besides that, it was a lot of fun to smoke it on my own. I can’t wait until the next opportunity to try it again.

-Monk