Monk’s Favorite Barbecue Meals of 2020

Monk: Our last piece of business before we close the door on 2020, here are my favorite barbecue meals of 2020. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I’d get to a full list of 10 like I did for 2019, but even with everything going on I still had some great meals.

10. Beef rib from Midwood Smokehouse

Midwood Smokehouse has a weekend beef rib special available every weekend for the (relatively) low price of $32 per bone. Midwood charges a flat fee and compared with what you’d pay if you had to pay by the pound, that’s a saving of at least $10-15.

9. “Bird is the word” smoked then fried chicken sandwich and smoked gulf shrimp from Leah and Louise (Charlotte)

“Bird is the Word” is a smoked then fried chicken sandwich topped with pickles and comeback sauce from Leah and Louise from James Beard-nominated chef Greg Collier and his wife Sabrina. It was also one of the best sandwiches I ate all year, even if it was technically not at a barbecue joint. The other smoked item I enjoyed on that visit was the “On My Way Home” which was “big a$$ smoked gulf shrimp” in a lemon, butter, and worcestershire sauce with cornmeal brioche.

If you are anywhere near Charlotte, get yourself too Leah and Louise at Camp Northend.

8. Smoked beef tenderloin from my backyard

My big Christmas smoke this year was both a smoked turkey breast but most importantly, a smoked beef tenderloin. I dry rubbed the tenderloin with kosher salt earlier that day before rubbing it with Billy Twang’s Old No. 3 Rub (review here) as I got my Oklahoma Joe’s offset up to temp. Two hours later, I had a perfectly medium tenderloin that sliced into perfect medallions. Yet another winner to file away for future smokes.

7. Chopped pork from Rick’s Smokehouse (review)

Rick’s was the favorite of my new Lexington discoveries as part of last year’s Lexington barbecue quest, landing just below my co-favorites Lexington Barbecue and Bar-B-Q Center and the re-review of Smiley’s (see below). Nonetheless, Rick’s is a winner that carries on the Lexington tradition for a relatively new restaurant (opened in 2009).

6. Tres Amigos platter (brisket, pork, and ribs) with smoked turkey and jalapeno cheddar sausage from The Smoke Pit

Mine and Speedy’s full review is forthcoming, but we enjoyed our visit to the newest location of the expanding local restaurant chain, which started in Concord and has grown to 4 locations. Charlotte-area folks: don’t sleep on The Smoke Pit.

5. Texas Trinity and beef rib from Prime BBQ (story)

At last February’s media event for Prime BBQ (in before times), after an extensive tour of the then-in construction Prime BBQ, the group was treated to a lovely meal of brisket, ribs, and sausage (aka the Texas Trinity) and a small beef rib. Eventually I will make it back to Knightdale for an official review, but this was quite the meal.

4. Pork belly burnt ends and sliced pork belly from my backyard (story)

While I still haven’t quite lived up to my promise that I would smoke pork belly again very soon, it is very much on my to-do list for upcoming backyard smokes in 2021. I still dream about those pork belly burnt ends from time to time.

3. Chopped barbecue sandwich with hush puppies and a Cheerwine from Smiley’s Lexington Barbecue (review)

Eight years after my first and only visit to Smiley’s, I wanted to get another visit end in case it truly does end up closing due to road expansion. And what I found was a 5 hog joint in limbo, unsure of the timing when it will be forced to close. Nevertheless, the sandwich I got on that day was the perfect Lexington barbecue sandwich.

2. Beef rib, brisket, ribs, and cheddar bossa sausage from Jon G’s Barbecue (review)

You guys all know how I feel about Jon G’s by now, so not too much more needs to be written here except that you should make the trip out to Peachland, particularly if they have a beef rib on special (but be prepared to pay for it). One of my barbecue new year’s resolution is to make the trip more often and continue to spread the word of Jon G’s.

1. Pork, ribs, and chicken from Southern Smoke BBQ (review)

Southern Smoke was my favorite barbecue at the midpoint of last year and that carried on through to the end of 2020. Matthew Register and team are doing great things in Garland, and I urge folks to make the trip like I did.

Product Review: Texas Dry Rubs by Billy Twang

Billy Twang is a Texas-based dry rub and grilling tool company that was started in Houston in 1992. All of their products are proudly made in the USA and backed by a lifetime guarantee. They recently reached out to me to try out a few of their dry rubs in exchange for an honest review, and I happily obliged.

Bottom line: Based on my experience with these rubs, I would happily recommend them to any backyard griller or smoker.

Click here for ordering information

Old No. 3 Rub ($25 but currently sold out, link)

Old No. 3 Rub is a classic central Texas salt and pepper dalmatian mix with granulated garlic. Not having time for a brisket, I tried the rub on a chuck roast that I was smoking for tacos. You can tell the quality of the ingredients in the rub just by looking at it, with the coarsely ground peppercorns and salt. Slightly overcooked chuck roast notwithstanding, the crust and flavoring on the chuck roast was excellent.

I also got good results by using the rub a porterhouse steak in a cast iron on the stove. I would occasionally get an especially peppery bite, but that’s why you have the red wine to wash it down.

Plan to use on: Brisket and tri-tip, naturally

Punch Rub ($25, link)

The aptly named Punch Rub is the spiciest of the bunch, but not overpoweringly so on the pork chops I grilled. The heat is not for kids or the faint of heart *cough*Mrs.Monk*cough* but if you are a spice head there’s nothing you can’t handle here. The rub contains high quality ingredients sourced from Mexico, France, and India.

Plan to use on: My next set of baby back or spare ribs, with a sweeter sauce to counteract the heat

Big Rub ($25, link)

The Big Rub is a more savory rub that still provides a kick on the back end due to the Tellicherry, Aleppo, and Urfa peppers. Again, this rub was too spicy for my kids on pork chops (amateurs) but not so for Mrs. Monk.

Plan to use on: Pork tenderloin or chicken or mixed into burgers

Many thanks to Billy Twang for reaching out and providing these rubs for a product test. Click here for ordering information