Because the more you know: a short 4-minute explainer on NC barbecue from North Carolina’s own “barbecue man” himself, Bob Garner. For more from Garner, you can check out NC Weekend’s YouTube Channel.
Note: a version of this post was posted in December 2017. It has been updated as of December 2018.
Monk: For those last minute shoppers (whoops, should have posted this a few weeks earlier), here’s some gift ideas for the barbecue lover in your life. Or perhaps you if you want to treat yo’ self. The bolded items are the ones I can personally recommend.
Cookbooks, from pitmasters and food writers alike
- Whole Hog BBQ: The Gospel of Carolina Barbecue with Recipes from Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ by Sam Jones and Daniel Vaughn (pre-order) new
- Southern Smoke: Barbecue, Traditions, and Treasured Recipes Reimagined for Today by Matthew Register (pre-order) new
- Hardcore Carnivore by Jess Pryles (signed) new
- Pitmaster: Recipes, Techniques, and Barbecue Wisdom by Andy Husbands and Chris Hart
- The South’s Best Butts: Pitmaster Secrets for Barbecue Perfection by Matt Moore
- Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades by Steve Raichlen
- Praise the Lard: Recipes and Revelations from a Legendary Life in Barbecue by Mike Mills and Amy Mills
- Buxton Hall Barbecue’s Book of Smoke: Wood-Smoked Meats, Sides, and More by Elliott Moss
- Barbecue: a Savor the South cookbook by John Shelton Reed
- Peace, Love, & Barbecue: Recipes, Secrets, Tall Tales, and Outright Lies from the Legends of Barbecue by Mike Mills
- Franklin Barbecue: A Meat Smoking Manifesto by Aaron Franklin
- Southern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ: The Complete Year-Round Guide to Grilling and Smoking by The Editors of Southern Living
Food History, Cultural Writing, and Photography
- The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael Twitty new
- The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South by John T. Edge new
- Texas BBQ by Wyatt McSpadden new
- Texas BBQ, Small Town to Downtown by Wyatt McSpadden new
- Virginia Barbecue: A History by Joseph R. Haynes
- Brunswick Stew: A Virginia Tradition by Joseph R. Haynes
- The One True Barbecue: Fire, Smoke, and the Pitmasters Who Cook Whole Hog by Rien Fertel
- The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America by Johnny Fugitt
- Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed
- Bob Garner’s Book of Barbecue: North Carolina’s Favorite Food by Bob Garner
- The Best Tar Heel Barbecue: From Manteo to Murphy by Jim Early
- Barbecue Crossroads: Notes and Recipes from a Southern Odyssey by Robb Walsh
- Barbecue: The History of an American Institution by Robert Moss
- North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries by D.G. Martin
- Carolina ‘Cue by Our State Magazine (or directly from Our State)
- The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue by Daniel Vaughn
- Barbecue Lover’s the Carolinas: Restaurants, Markets, Recipes & Traditions by Robert Moss
- Foods that Make You Say Mmm-mmm by Bob Garner
Hats, T-Shirts, Apparel
- Skylight Inn “Patch” T-Shirt new
- Sweet Lew’s BBQ mesh back trucker hat new
- “Smoked While you Sleep” Buxton Hall Barbecue T-Shirt (above) new
- Lone Star BBQ T-shirt from Hardcore Carnivore new
- Lewis Barbecue Hats, T-shirts (above) new
- Bull Shirt Hoodie from Meat Church new
- Brisket Commander T-shirt from Meat Church new
- Sam Jones BBQ Hats, T-shirts (above)
- Our State NC BBQ T-shirt
- House of Swank North Carolina BBQ Shirt
- Cheshire Pork socks, shirts, onesies
- Carolina ‘Cuer Shirt
Accessories, Stocking Stuffers, etc.
- Smoky Lard from Buxton Hall new
- Lard Soap from Buxton Hall new
- Sauces from Buxton Hall – red, vinegar, mustard new
- Barbecue Sauce Set from Lewis Barbecue new
- Pig of the Month BBQ of the Month Subscription
- Four Rub Sampler Set from Hardcore Carnivore new
- Butcher Paper from Hardcore Carnivore new
- BRISKETBOSS knife from Hardcore Carnivore new
- Meat carving fork from Hardcore Carnivore new
- Smathers and Branson NC Pig Flag Belt new
- Smathers and Branson NC Pig Flag Needlepoint Flask new
- The Road Tripper Set: NC BBQ from EDIA Maps new
- The Ocho Black Friday Pack from Meat Church new
- Pig of the Month BBQ of the Month Subscription
- Sam Jones BBQ Eastern NC BBQ Set
- Go Pig or Go Home koozie
- House of Swank NC BBQ Can Koozie
- The Great NC BBQ Map, 2nd Edition
- NC BBQ Traditions Print from EDIA Maps
- The Road Tripper Set: NC BBQ from EDIA Maps new
- Pork Chart Print
- Butcher’s Coasters
- Carolina Cue Tote Bag (plus more in the Gift Shop at the site)
- Carolina Cue Gift Packs and Gift Certificates
The folks at Redneck BBQ Lab in Benson, NC – Jerry Stephenson and his sister Roxanne Manley – don’t strictly adhere to eastern or western NC barbecue disciplines and instead pull from all barbecue cultures. Bob Garner visited for North Carolina Weekend on UNC-TV.
Not that we’re 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.
Monk: Bob Garner’s latest book, published in 2014, isn’t strictly a barbecue book per se. Instead it focuses on various favorite foods and drinks of North Carolina, though naturally barbecue is featured being that it is the state’s most popular food.
The barbecue chapter of the book covers the basics in terms of the history of barbecue in the state and how the two dominant styles of barbecue came to be. Where it does cover some new territory compared with previous barbecue books from Garner is the introduction of different styles of smokers into NC, comparing offset and rotisserie smokers imported from the midwest and Texas to the traditional NC brick barbecue pits with its direct heat method. Instead of an exhaustive list of all barbecue restaurants (which Garner previously covered in his Big Book of Barbecue), he instead showcases just four restaurants – one from the east (Skylight Inn), one from the piedmont (Lexington Barbecue), a new-style joint that serves beer while still smoking over wood (Hillsborough BBQ Company), and a regional chain (Smithfield’s Chicken and BBQ).
The book does contain recipes as well, and I particularly like that the recipe for “charcoal cooked pulled pork” is for a Lexington-style barbecue recipe smoked on a Weber charcoal grill.
The subsequent chapters of the book cover foods often eaten with barbecue like brunswick stew and collards as well as desserts such as banana pudding and peach cobbler. This is smartly done by Garner.
As for other barbecue-related items, the book also has later chapters on barbecue sauces found in stores, Texas Pete hot sauce, as well as soft drinks created in NC. Longtime readers and followers will note how much I love Cheerwine or Sun Drop with barbecue, and of course the history of those are featured.
“Foods That Make You Say Mmm-mmm” lovingly explores the food and drinks of North Carolina in a way that only a native North Carolinian can. It is very much a Bob Garner book – and that’s a very good thing.
Monk: A few months back, I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate on a barbecue roundtable at the NC State BBQ Camp by Dana Snow, professor of Food Science at NC State. Considering I am both a NC State grad and a barbecue aficionado, I could think of no greater honor and accepted immediately.
The camp itself was early last month, and on day 2 I arrived shortly before the roundtable during a break in the camp. And to my surprise, they had beer! It had been at least 15 years since I had drank a beer on campus at State (not counting football games of course), so I was in a great frame of mind ahead of the roundtable discussion underneath the big tent.
The roundtable was moderated by the great Bob Garner and joining me on the panel was Joe Beasley of Haywood Smokehouse in the Asheville/Waynesville area as well as Tripp Hursey, the great grandson of the Hursey family that runs the Hursey’s Bar-B-Que restaurants in Alamance Count. While those guys could provide the perspective of owning and running a barbecue restaurant, I was on there to give a different perspective as a barbecue blogger.
Bob kicked off the panel by prompting each of the panelists question or two about our experiences before opening it up to the campers. I recounted the story of how Speedy, Rudy, and I got the idea for the blog in 2012 and also told stories of how Mrs. Monk puts up with my barbecue obsession. I may look a bit pensive and anxious in the photos that Mrs. Monk captured from the discussion, but once I got going I felt more and more comfortable (the couple of beers also helped). Unfortunately, after about 40 minutes a downpour came and made it extremely hard to hear any discussion under the tent so Bob made the executive decision to call it in favor of a happy hour before the pig pickin’. More beer!
And to my surprise, the two beers on tap were both beers made on campus. And a sour at that! Predictably, the sour was not for everyone and most campers went for the Wolfpack Pilsner. Oh well – more sour for me. Soon enough, it was time for the pig pickin’ and a huge 200 lb porker that had been smoked offsite more than ably fed all of the 30 or so campers plus the 10-15 or so guests. Being in this part of the state, it was of course served eastern style with a vinegar sauce and white slaw. And it tasted amazing. Finally, for dessert peach cobbler with Howling Cow (the ice cream made on campus) capped off the meal perfectly.
It truly was an honor to participate in this year’s NC State BBQ Camp. Big thanks to Dana Snow for the invite and hopefully I can participate again next year.
– Oh yeah?!? Well, um, no one eats barbecue to be healthy so…
— WRAL NEWS in NC (@WRAL) July 11, 2018
– Bob Garner gets a bit existential in his latest column: What happened to barbecue?
That’s why your traditional view is what I argued in my 1995 first book. It sold a ton of copies in hardback, far more than any of my subsequent books, and nearly all of them were sold in-state.
But, I have to accept that “North Carolina Barbecue: Flavored by Time” is now out of print. We can only visit the memory and greatness of those places at Rocky Mount’s park display commemorating the city’s barbecue heritage.
I could insist on continuing to scribble history books many people won’t buy. Not many among them seem to read history any longer. Doomed to repeat it? I don’t know.
– WRAL’s list of best barbecue in the Triangle dubiously contains two chain restaurants
– Four NC pitmasters, including Adam Hughes of Old Colony Smokehouse in Edenton, will compete on Chopped Grill Masters in an episode airing August 7
– Delish’s 15 best barbecue festivals in the USA includes The Barbecue Festival in Lexington
– Say it ain’t so, Dave. Say it ain’t so.
– The Washington Post food writer Tim Carman managed to find a new angle on a Rodney Scott profile
The Beard Award winning pitmaster Rodney Scott has become a celebrity in tight-knit barbecue circles. But it has come at a cost. https://t.co/Kql4Nh3EbE
— Tim Carman (@timcarman) July 16, 2018
– I think this is a pretty big deal. I may be mistaken, but I can’t recall in my 6 years of paying attention Stamey’s advertising their longtime Degar (from central Vietnam) pitmaster Chhanuon Ponn so prominently (though I know they have his photo up in the restaurant).
This is our Pitmaster, Chhanuon Ponn, he has been cooking solely over wood coals for over 33 years now. If reading this doesn’t make you hungry for some authentic wood pit-cooked NC barbecue I don’t know what will! #NCbarbecue
Photo by Jerry Wolford pic.twitter.com/x823gFXbXo
— Stameys Barbecue (@stameysbarbecue) June 5, 2018
– Bob Garner’s latest is on Skylight Inn, Bum’s Restaurant, Sam Jones BBQ, and six generations of barbecue in Pitt County:
The owners of The Skylight Inn, Bum’s Restaurant and Sam Jones BBQ all trace their beginnings to common ancestor Skilten Dennis, who began selling barbecue to camp meeting groups around Ayden from the back of a covered wagon sometime in the mid-1800s.
– Huckberry has a short profile on Rodney Scott as well as his banana pudding recipe in their latest catalog
– Garden & Gun writes up Texas A&M’s Barbecue University but they gotta give NC State’s BBQ Camp some love!
— Garden & Gun (@gardenandgun) June 9, 2018
– Food writer Peter Meehan (recently of “Ugly Delicious” fame): “Entering a National Barbecue Competition Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time”
I became a guy who was “into barbecue,” which, for as true as it is, is still somewhat painful to type. Talking Heads had told us that day was coming, when you wake up and ask yourself, Well, how did I get here?
– Food & Wine on how Jess Pryles became a hardcore carnivore
— Jess Pryles (@jesspryles) June 7, 2018
– Food Republic: “Do yourself a favor this summer and learn to properly barbecue tofu”
Me: “I’m good”
– Daniel Vaughn remembers Anthony Bourdain
— Daniel Vaughn (@BBQsnob) June 8, 2018
– A quick hit on a few NC food books
— FoodieScore (@FoodieScore) April 11, 2018
– Where to eat barbecue in Atlanta, according to Eater
– The Coach 4 A Day blog visits a classic NC barbecue joint I’ve never heard of, E.H. Bar-B-Q Hut in Rennert
– The Texas BBQ Posse on the choice of fatty, lean, or both brisket
How do you like your brisket? Fatty, lean or 50/50?https://t.co/bOib7NUl2Z
— Texas BBQ Posse (@texasbbqposse) May 23, 2018
– Gear Patrol’s list of 12 Tools the Best Pitmaster Can’t Live Without includes a few selections from Sam Jones
– The makers of The Great NC BBQ Map are looking for interns
We’re looking for 2 MARKETING INTERNS to bring on our map-making team! 👩💻👨💻One will have a social media slant, the other journalism. Info & applications thru 5/31 >> https://t.co/YUnLF2zaDi // #marketinginternship #socialmediainternship #journalisminternship pic.twitter.com/gYh9yB6jON
— EDIA Maps (@ediamaps) May 29, 2018
– A reminder that South Carolina’s official picnic cuisine is barbecue
– A review of The Bar-B-Que House in Surfside Beach, whose original location is in Oak Island across the border in NC
– Rodney Scott is on the cover of the latest issue of The Local Palate
So refreshing to see an African American #barbecue artist on the cover of the barbecue issue of a mainstream magazine. Thanks @thelocalpalate for shining a well-deserved spotlight on @rodneyscottsbbq! pic.twitter.com/QYu6UroIfd
— soulfoodscholar (@soulfoodscholar) May 24, 2018
Looks like they do a little bit of everything at Redneck BBQ Lab in Benson – pork, brisket, turkey, ribs, chicken, and even burnt ends three times per week. Definitely looks to be worth a look.
Bob Garner learns the story of this national award-winning pitmaster at his new restaurant, the Redneck BBQ Lab.
I’ve been saying it for years (and will continue to say so until I make it out there), but I really need to make it to Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ.
Join Bob Garner as he samples the barbecue at Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville where whole hogs are smoked and chopped on site.