Prime Barbecue – Knightdale, NC

Name: Prime Barbecue
Date: 7/28/22
Address: 900 Park Offices Dr Suite 120, Durham, NC 27703
Order: 3 meat sampler with pork, brisket, and ribs, deviled egg potato salad (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Speedy: A quick work trip afforded me an opportunity I’d been looking forward to for a long time – a visit to Prime Barbecue. Monk first clued me in to Prime Barbecue in early 2020, when he was invited to tour the not yet open facility and sample some of the planned menu. Reading his description of Texas style ‘cue in NC got me interested, and pitmaster Christopher Prieto’s time on “BBQ Brawl” season 2 only made me that much more determined to make it out to Knightdale to sample the goods. However, due to various scheduling challenges and a bit of a pandemic, it took me over two years to make it happen. Let me tell you, dear readers, it was worth the wait.

Monk: I haven’t yet made it back out to Knightdale for an official review, but was thrilled to see Speedy was going to check it out for himself while back in NC recently.

Speedy: Walking up on this hot Thursday around 12:30 in the afternoon, I saw a large outdoor space, complete with a play area for kids and covered picnic style seating. On this day, the outdoor area was pretty sparse (did I mention it was hot?), but walking in, the space was buzzing. The large dining room was nearly full, and there was a line of about a dozen customers ahead of me. The line moved quickly until it was time for me to place my order.

The main reason I like dining with Monk is not the company he provides…

Monk: …hey, wait a minute…

Speedy: …but rather the addition of another eater that allows me to order everything on the menu. Alas, on this day, I was dining solo, so I had to make some tough choices.

Monk: Longtime readers know that I feel your pain here.

Speedy: Of course I opted for the three meat platter – selecting brisket, ribs, and turkey (along with sides of barbecue rice and green beans). The pulled pork and sausage will have to wait for my next trip (and there will be a next trip).

Let’s start from the top – the brisket. Generally, I order a mix of fatty/lean, but today it all looked very moist, so I stuck with the lean. I didn’t sample the fatty, but the lean was nearly perfect. Great bark, moist, peppery, and flavorful with just the right amount of tug. Prime Barbecue struck a perfect balance of enough seasoning to penetrate the meat fully without over-seasoning the outside. That kept every bite flavorful. This was a top ten brisket-gasm of my life.

Next up – the ribs. Prime serves pork spare ribs, that to my taste were perfectly seasoned and cooked. I was able to get a good, clean bite, but also pull meat from the bone easily. The ribs were glazed enough to add some sweetness without being too sticky. I have no improvements to offer here either.

Monk: While the brisket was really good during the aforementioned media preview in 2020, the ribs were the star of the show for me. Seems like that is still the case here.

Speedy: I’m on record lately as to really enjoying smoked turkey, so I was excited to try my final meat – the sliced turkey breast. For me, this was the only meat I didn’t love. While cooked perfectly and not at all dry (the usual culprit for imperfect turkey), I found the turkey to be a bit on the buttery side. My presumption is the turkey is wrapped in foil with butter at some point in the smoke process, and while it definitely kept the meat moist, I felt like the turkey and smoke flavors got overpowered. If you are a fan of buttery meat, I still think you will love this dish, but it wasn’t for me.

I was pretty full from the feast above, but did still have room for a couple of bites of each ordered side. The green beans were solid, and worth ordering. The barbecue rice (complete with bits of sausage) was like no other rice I’d had before and will be something I’ll order again. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I washed it all down with Cheerwine from the soda fountain – just an extra cherry on top of a great meal.

Since we started our blogging over ten (!) years ago, the Barbecue Bros have seen the proliferation of Texas-style barbecue all over the country. I’m happy to say that Prime Barbecue takes this style (along with a few twists) and not only does justice, but serves up one of the best meals you can find anywhere. Five hogs.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4.5 hogs
Brisket – 5 hogs
Ribs – 5 hogs
Turkey – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs

Friday Find: Raleigh Magazine Spills the Sauce on the BBQ Scene

Web link

Monk: Gina Stephens and Melissa Howsam of Raleigh Magazine take stock of the current Raleigh barbecue scene and heap praise on Durham’s Lawrence Barbecue and Jake Wood. They also discuss an epic barbecue road trip documented by the magazine and end the episode with a speed round.

Description: 2020 was supposed to be the year of BBQ in Raleigh—but, pandemic. 2021 brought supply chain issues, building and permitting delays, etc. Finally, in 2022, we are going hog wild as we are likely to see more cue shack openings than any year in recent history. Pig out with Publisher Gina Stephens and Editor-in-Chief Melissa Howsam as they chat what’s cookin’ (think: the long-anticipated The Preserve BBQ by LM Restaurants), a bingeworthy BBQ road trip and BBQ wars (tomato? vinegar?!).

Barbecue Bros AV Club: First Impressions of “World of Flavor With Big Moe Cason”

Monk: In addition to “BBQ Brawl” and “BBQ USA,” “World of Flavor with Big Moe Cason” is another welcome barbecue/live fire cooking show in the current peak tv landscape. However, it differs from those shows in that its more of a travelogue show about live fire cooking in the Anthony Bourdain tradition mixed with a National Geographic show that teaches you while showing you something pretty through some gorgeous scenery and camerawork. Also, it’s worth mentioning that while Big Moe Cason is not a new face to the barbecue world and has appeared on earlier seasons of “BBQ Pitmasters,” he is a newer face to this kind of show that offers diversity and a different viewpoint and that is welcomed by me.

The first episode takes place in an around Charleston, SC where Moe meets with pitmasters Rodney Scott and John Lewis in addition to learning about the Gullah Geechee culture and food traditions to connect to his own heritage and culture. In particular, he admires Scott for his role as a black pitmaster and entrepreneur and notes that he doesn’t really see that in Iowa and the Midwest where he lives.

Through these interactions he gets inspiration for his dish that he served at last November’s Holy Smokes Barbecue Festival, a Gullah Geechee-inspired red rice dish with fresh caught crab and oysters and homemade beef sausage he collaborated on with John Lewis.

In episode two, he goes abroad to Colombia to learn their live fire traditions of cooking beef done by their cowboys, or llaneros, going back generations. He tries different foods and customs before again applying what he’s learned to the cooking of a large meal of veal llanero, fried piranha, grilled plantains, and yuca for a festival of llaneros by the end of the episode.

Through the first two episodes, the situations can be a little contrived in terms of filming Moe coming up with a menu through a series of filmed interactions before a big cook by the end of the episode. But in the end, “World of Flavor” is eminently watchable and Moe is a likable host between his big teddy bear exterior as well as his desire to learn about different cultures and apply it to his own cooking. I’m happy to follow along his journey across the world.

“World of Flavor with Big Moe Cason” airs Monday nights at 9pm ET on Nat Geo

Description: The Navy veteran and champion pitmaster Big Moe Cason sets out on an incredible journey to discover mouthwatering dishes cooked over an open flame. Cason dives for fresh conch in the Bahamas, roasts gator in Louisiana, connects with his roots in South Carolina, and wades into piranha-infested waters in Colombia. Moe explores the connections between American barbecue and cultures around the world along the way. While spanning the world, he serves up dishes that are sure to make the locals proud.

Lawrence Barbecue – Durham, NC

Name: Lawrence Barbecue
Date: 7/23/22
Address: 900 Park Offices Dr Suite 120, Durham, NC 27703
Order: 3 meat sampler with pork, brisket, and ribs, deviled egg potato salad (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

Monk: Jake Wood and Lawrence Barbecue burst onto the Triangle barbecue scene a couple years ago and has come out strong. Originally slated to be one of the many barbecue restaurants announced to open during 2020 as part of Raleigh’s big year of barbecue, it eventually opened in June 2021 and has since been named by Robert Moss one of Southern Living’s best new barbecue joints and best barbecue in Durham by Durham Magazine.

Lawrence Barbecue opened as part of Boxyard RTP, a shipping container park that has retail stores as well as a tap room for Fullsteam Brewing. Wood was originally going to smoke whole hogs but plans changed and he now has three Lang reverse-flow smokers where he smokes pork butts, Texas-style brisket, ribs, chicken, turkey, and wings.

On this visit I got a three meat sampler of 1/3 pound each of pulled pork, Texas-style brisket, and sticky ribs along with the deviled egg potato salad. While I get why it didn’t make sense logistically to smoke whole hogs, at least Jake Wood and team are executing their pork butts nicely. Not really Lexington-style even though they are smoking butts, the pork had lots of bark chopped in and adding their OG vinegar sauce really set it off.

The Texas-style brisket was well smoked and had a great bark that had a little something something else in it – maybe giving it a tangy hint in addition to the usual salt and pepper bark. The brisket was trimmed perfectly and had a nice thin layer of fat in the two slices of fatty I got. Another nice touch were the two burnt ends that were also included.

The sampler came with two bones of spares for their “sticky ribs” and they were smoked perfectly. Sticky and sweet, the bites were clean and flavorful.

I only got one side – deviled egg potato salad – but I’ve been told all are legit and inventive. I can see that based on this twist on a classic potato salad. And they even have their own beer they’ve collaborated on with Trophy Brewing named Leisure Land Lager (“leisure” is big in the world of Jake Wood).

With Lawrence Barbecue, the Research Triangle Park has legit barbecue that competes with the best in the state as well as the southeast. Next time I go, I’ll go on a cooler day (although the covered area has a huge fan, temps were near 100 that day) and will get some oysters in addition to all of the delicious barbecue.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4.5 hogs
Brisket – 4.5 hogs
Ribs – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4.5 Hogs