And while Wilber Shirley didn’t take Kevin’s bait on eastern vs Lexington-style, Ed Mitchell answers the question by claiming that smoking a whole hog is the “true heart of barbecue,” albeit after diplomatically saying he’s “never had bad barbecue.”
Our State Magazine’s February issue has a big write up on 26 Essential NC Barbecue Joints
Vote once a day between now and February 25
Steve Raichlen’s upcoming book on brisket comes out in April; here’s a book review
Speaking of Texas barbecue, Daniel Vaughn’s list of the best sausage wraps in Texas (aka #roadsausage)
J.C. Reid on the rise of vertical smokers where space is a little more limited
Relevant Instagram tips for some…
Monk: The last (and only) time I had visited Richard’s Bar-B-Q in Salisbury was nearly 5 years ago and I mostly enjoyed my meal there, preferring it to the other Salisbury joint on the NC Barbecue Trail, Wink’s King of Barbeque.
Richard’s was the choice for a Monk family lunch meet up over the holidays, providing an in-between spot between Charlotte and Pittsboro.
Pulling in, the one thing that struck me was the spelling of “Bar-B-Q” on all of Richard’s signage. By my recollection, you tend to see “barbecue,” “bbq,” “barbeque,” “bar-b-que,” or “bar-b-cue” spellings more often, but even thought its clearly a valid spelling, I don’t recall really noticing “bar-b-q” in too many places in my travels. A minor thing for sure, but perhaps worth noting in the future.
As for the ‘cue itself, I found the barbecue to have the necessary smoke but lacking the tang and spice I noted on my previous visit. Ditto for the red slaw. Thankfully, the large hush puppies were just as good as I remembered and I ate them until I was well beyond stuffed. In any case, my family and I enjoyed our meal as we lamented the recent closing of Allen & Son in Chapel Hill – most of us, anyways. My aunt said she found that one subpar and preferred the Pittsboro location much more. Now, even though Chapel Hill is gone, I will have to investigate Pittsboro. In any case, back to Richard’s – I still chuckle at the use of large coffee filters as part of the serving apparatus for the trays. Hopefully they won’t fall victim to the recent trend of NC barbecue joint closings anytime soon.
Another video from former Chicago Tribune food writer Kevin Pang during his BBQ Road Trip ’10, this time speaking with Wilber Shirley at Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro. Not the highest audio quality with the background noise of customers and ringing phones, but if you concentrate and focus a little you do get to hear Wilber’s philosophy on whole hog barbecue.
I was glad to see that Shirley doesn’t fan the flames of the Lexington vs eastern NC barbecue wars by diplomatically saying that it really just depends on where you are raised. In these divisive times, it’s good to see people reaching across the aisle when it comes to barbecue.
“Little boy found in North Carolina, that is such happy news. But in a tragic twist, he will have to spend his life eating North Carolina barbecue…”
“I welcome your vinegar-stained letters you poor flavor-deprived bastards”Stephen Colbert
Governor Roy Cooper responded to the Colbert: “Y’all have a mustard problem”
The mayor of Lexington invited him to town for a tasting
The NC Pork Council reminded everyone of a declaration by former Governor Bob Scott
However, according to D.G. Martin, the real barbecue crisis is not Stephen Colbert slandering the good name of NC barbecue; its the closing of its classic joints
My 31-year-old son and I spent a muggy, buggy summer week driving the Tar Heel State’s highways and back roads to search out its most flavorful pork. Tucking in our napkins at seven spots in six days, we experienced a slice of Americana as thick as the smoke that infused the meat before us, rubbing shoulders with generations of barbecue royalty in the process.
However, if you do want to become a SC Barbecue Association judge, you can learn how this Saturday in Columbia
I think we already saw this but ok!
James Beard-award winning author Adrian Miller, whose forthcoming book Black Smoke will focus on African american contributions to barbecue culture, will be in Charlotte on 2/12
Three words that you don’t hear too often together: “true,” “Miami,” and “barbecue
Barbecue in Miami can be hard to grasp or define. Other than a few places, most of what one might call barbecue here is more a Georgia-style hybrid of grilling and smoking either baby-back ribs or whole chickens. The rare spots that give brisket or pork the dozen-plus hours of pure smoke that’s synonymous with Texas or Carolina barbecue are faithfully trying to replicate an established style. With their Jupiña mop sauce, black-as-night Malta barbecue sauce, and pork belly burnt ends ($10), Briceño and Honore have finally invented a style of barbecue synonymous with Miami.
In the spirit of the pioneers and innovators of our favorite style of barbecue, the Barbecue Bros are pleased to make available our first t-shirt featuring those men in the classic Helvetica list style. We hope that Lexington-style barbecue fans will purchase and wear this acknowledgement of history proudly. The shirts are $24.99 and ship for free if you have an Amazon Prime account.
- Lightweight, Classic fit, Double-needle sleeve and bottom hem
- Available in Men’s, Women, and Child sizes S-3XL
- Solid colors: 100% Cotton; Heather Grey: 90% Cotton, 10% Polyester; All Other Heathers: 50% Cotton, 50% Polyester
A brief history of Lexington-style Barbecue
In 1919, Sid Weaver set up a tent across the street from the Lexington courthouse and began selling what would later become “Lexington-style” barbecue. He was the first man to sell this style of barbecue.
Weaver later teamed up with Jess Swicegood and those two men perfected Lexington-style barbecue and helped spread the technique across the Piedmont of North Carolina. Lexington-style means pork shoulders are smoked as opposed to whole hogs because shoulders are fattier and more forgiving than the leaner hams and loins found in a whole hog and yield more barbecue. They took the vinegar-pepper sauce of the eastern part of the state and added ketchup to provide sweetness to balance it out while maintaining the tang of the vinegar.
In 1927, Warner Stamey began working under Weaver and Swicegood while in high school, and for me this is where things began to pick up. After a few years under the tutelage of Weaver and Swicegood, Stamey moved 100 miles southwest to Shelby, NC. There, he taught the Lexington-style technique to his brother-in-law Alston Bridges as well as Red Bridges (oddly enough, not related). They, of course, opened their own respective restaurants in 1956 and 1946 respectively, both of which still exist today.
Stamey moved back to Lexington in 1938 and bought Swicegood’s restaurant for $300. It was there that he taught the legendary barbecue man Wayne Monk, who went on to open Lexington Barbecue (aka “The Honeymonk”) in 1962, which just so happens to be the Barbecue Bros’ collective favorite barbecue restaurant ever. Stamey would of course go on to open Stamey’s Barbecue in Greensboro, where his grandson Chip Stamey still owns and operates to this day. Warner Stamey is also widely credited with bringing hush puppies to barbecue restaurants.
Much of the information above was taken from Robert Moss’s seminal book Barbecue: The History of an American Institution. If you want to read more on the history of our favorite food, I highly recommend it.
Kevin Pang, formerly of the Chicago Tribune and now of the AV Club’s food blog The Takeout, took a barbecue road trip from Chicago to the Carolinas and back in 2010 and documented it on the BBQ Roadtrip Tumblr. Here, he interviews Keith Allen of the recently departed Allen and Son Barbecue in Chapel Hill to discuss his philosophy on barbecue.
Side note: I remember devouring this roadtrip blog in on sitting back when we first started our blog. What a cool trip, and I could only wish for someone to pay the Barbecue Bros to take a similar trip.
Vote in USA Today’s 10Best Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Barbecue in NC
Stamey’s Barbecue with a mini-tweet storm last week; none of which is wrong (click on the tweet below to see the rest):
Sometime it pays to have the fire chief as your pitmaster; a fire broke out in the smokehouse of Skylight Inn last week but Sam Jones was among the firefighters who put the fire out
Rock the Block in downtown Charleston is Saturday, February 23 and benefits Hogs for the Cause; Sam Jones and Justin and Jonathan Fox of Fox Bros BBQ will be in attendance
Conde Nast Travel recently profiled Birmingham and its reinvention and shouted out Rodney Scott’s BBQ, which is opening a store there in 2019
“The city caught my attention because of how pleasant it is,” says Rodney Scott, the James Beard Best Chef Southeast 2018 for his Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston. He’s set to open his next, identical concept in Birmingham first-quarter 2019. “It’s a big city, but it feels like a small town,” he says. “It doesn’t feel like New York or Chicago, but it’s just as important a food city in my opinion.”
WBTV in Charlotte recently featured the “Love Endures” mural by artist Curtis King, which was saved from demolition and now resides behind Sweet Lew’s BBQ
The New York Times’ eating guide for Atlanta for this weekend’s Super Bowl and gives Bryan Furman and B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue a shoutout for being the only whole hog joint in town
Sure, why not?
Name: The Honey Hog
Address: 4629 Fallston Rd, Lawndale, NC 28090
Order: Chopped pork combo platter with red slaw, fries and a sample of chopped beef brisket, appetizer of cheese curds
Monk: The Honey Hog is a farm-to-table restaurant in the tiny town of Fallston (about 20 minutes north of Shelby) that this past summer brought on Johnny Ray as a managing partner and pitmaster to add wood smoked barbecue to their menu on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. Interestingly, Johnny is doing whole hog each of those days with pork ribs on Friday nights and central Texas-style brisket on Saturday nights.
The Honey Hog uses a thicker barbecue sauce that Johnny Ray has been selling in grocery store across the state and the chopped pork comes pre-sauced with it. It’s possible that I missed it, but I didn’t see this indicated on the menu and I don’t usually prefer my barbecue pre-sauced. This was no exception. In this case, it was hard to detect any smoke and I have to admit I was a little disappointed.
Well before central-Texas brisket made its way east of the Mississippi, chopped beef was something commonly found in the western part of NC heading towards the mountains. The Honey Hog didn’t have a combo on the menu so instead of ordering a full order of the chopped beef they were kind enough to provide me a sample with my meal. I could taste the smoke more on the beef, which did not come with the sauce, but it still wasn’t for me.
My sides of red slaw and fries were fine but the best part of the meal was the cheese curds I ordered as an appetizer. Those things were ridiculous and are apparently a big favorite of regular customers.
I didn’t love my lunch on this day but from what I can tell on social media The Honey Hog is probably be worth a second visit to try the ribs or brisket specials. And I’ll retry their whole hog, making sure to request the sauce on the side.
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Chopped Beef – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 2.5 hogs
Overall – 2.5 hogs
The co-founder of True Cue joins the Kevin’s BBQ Joints podcast to give a “city guide” for the entire state of NC.
John Shelton Reed, sociologist and essayist, author or editor of twenty books, most of them dealing with the contemporary American South, guides us through North Carolina for BBQ spots in the major cities as well as way off the beaten path for incredible finds.
BBQ Joints discussed:
Lexington Barbecue: http://www.lexbbq.com
Smiley’s Lexington BBQ: https://bit.ly/2GwQajp
Bridges BBQ Lodge: http://www.bridgesbbq.com
Stamey’s Barbecue: http://stameys.com
Skylight Inn BBQ: http://www.skylightinnbbq.com
Sam Jones BBQ: http://www.samjonesbbq.com
B’s Barbecue: https://bit.ly/2Gu7PrN
Wilber’s Barbecue: http://www.wilbersbarbecue.com
Picnic Durham: http://www.picnicdurham.com
Buxton Hall BBQ: http://www.buxtonhall.com
Southern Smoke BBQ: http://southernsmokebbqnc.com
The Campaign for Real Barbecue: http://www.truecue.org
Contact True Cue: http://www.truecue.org/contact
Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue: https://www.amazon.com/Holy-Smoke-Nor…
NC BBQ Society Trail: http://www.ncbbqsociety.com/bbqmap/tr…