Linkdown: 4/14/21

Featured

Tomorrow night, UNC Press is hosting an online discussion with Adrian Miller, whose book comes out at the end of the month. Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue is my most-anticipated book of the year and I can’t wait to have it in my hands in a few weeks. The cost of the event is $15 and it benefits the Boston Book Festival.

Description: Just in time for the start of barbecue season, we’re eager to sink our teeth into award-winning food historian Adrian Miller‘s new book Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue. In this special pre-publication event, we’ll sit down with Miller—winner of the James Beard Book Award for Soul Food and a consultant on Netflix’s Chef’s Table BBQ—to hear the stories of how Black barbecuers, pitmasters, and restauranteurs helped develop this cornerstone of American foodways and how they’re continuing to influence American cuisine today. And, since Adrian’s book includes more than 20 authentic recipes, we might get some tips on how to make the most of our own adventures with the grill or smoker at home!

Native News

Smoke Show BBQ is a new Texas-style barbecue pop up in the Charlotte area from transplanted Texan chef Brandon Belfer who has worked at fine dining spots The Stanley, Crunkleton, The Asbury, Kindred, and Hello, Sailor

Charlotte-based Mac’s Speed Shop finds itself coming out of the pandemic in a strong position for growth

Roddey’s BBQ has changed their lunch hours in Rock Hill to Fridays only

Olde Mecklenburg Brewing’s Southern Spring Fest will feature smoked pork and brisket in addition to the oyster po boys and crawfish

Christopher Prieto of Prime BBQ in Knightdale has joined the previously announced pitmasters for the Inaugural Pinehurst Barbecue Festival

Non-Native News

Distant Relatives is a new barbecue trailer in East Austin serving “modern African American barbecue” and is already making waves

Beaumont-style links are making a comeback

Speaking of Beaumont, craft barbecue is catching on there

Bourbon + Barbecue = Crazy Delicious

Linkdown: 3/24/21

Featured

In the latest sign that we’re slowly coming out of this pandemic, the BBQ Fest on the Neuse, “home to the largest whole hog cook-off in the world”, returns this May to Kinston, NC. This is on top of Governor Cooper announcing yesterday that as of this Friday restaurants can open at 75% capacity indoors and 100% outdoors. While this doesn’t mean that everything going’s to snap right back to how it was, things are definitely trending upward.

As for the BBQ Fest on the Neuse, the event hopes to be back in downtown Kinston but if they aren’t able to procure that permit they will go to the Lenoir County Fairgrounds. The barbecue competition will have less competitors, there will be less vendors, and the amount of bands and stages will also be smaller. Despite all this, hopes are high for “Kinston-Lenoir County’s signature event.

Says Joe Hargitt, Visit Kinston Chairman: “We want the overall feel to be a coming out party, after COVID, for the city of Kinston.”

Native News

Charlotte-based Mac’s Speed Shop eyes growth across the Southeast in the Carolinas, Tennessee and Florida

Jon G’s has a new convert

Non-Native News

Houston-based Blood Brothers BBQ, which fuses Asian flavors with central Texas barbecue, will open a location at the upcoming Resorts World casino on the Las Vegas strip in May

Ahead of his upcoming book Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue (out April 27 on UNC Press), Adrian Miller shares a few insights with Daniel Vaughn on his barbecue travels

Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ is on Eater’s list of noteworthy new cookbooks

More on that beer collab between La Barbecue and Zilker Brewing

Get brisket tips from Evan LeRoy; a video is available for Patreon members

Steve Raichlen has some brisket tips of his own over at Barbecue Bible

…and so does Jess Pryles. Must be something in the water.

Tips on fire maintenance

Sounds like my kind of place:

Robert Sietsema tries the brisket sandwich at four new NYC-area barbecue joints: Virgil’s Real Barbecue, John Brown BBQ, Izzy’s BBQ Smokehouse, and Hudson Smokehouse

Rest In Peace to Dorothy King of Everett & Jones Barbeque in Oakland

Rock Store Bar-B-Q – Stallings, NC (Re-review)

Name: Rock Store Bar-B-Q
Location: 3116 Old Monroe Rd, Stallings, NC
Order: Sandwich combo – pulled pork sandwich, red slaw, cornbread
Pricing: $

Monk: After spending most of my energy the past two year on the Lexington Big Board, I figured it was time to start revisiting some Charlotte joints where it’s been awhile. Case in point: my second visit to Rock Store Bar-B-Q was nearly 9 years after my first. On that visit, I wondered if this might become a regular lunch spot for me due to its proximity to my client at the time. Spoiler alert: it didn’t.

Prices have gone up slightly but my sandwich combo was still a reasonable $7.25 including tax compared to $6 in 2012. Much the same as my last visit, I found that the pork was tender while not having much smoke to it. Through the Great NC BBQ Map, it has been confirmed that they smoke in a gasser with wood added in, which is obviously a little different than the “wood smoked” they advertise on their sign. The sandwich absolutely needed red slaw and their vinegar sauce plus a few dashes of Texas Pete. Once that was done, it was very satisfying.

I chose corn bread as my side and they instantly pulled out a foiled brick from some sort of warming container. Which brings me to one point in regards to the speed of fulfilling the order. Once I placed my order, they pulled out a pre-made sandwich wrapped in foil, a small plastic container of red slaw, and this brick of corn bread within a matter of seconds. Everything was the right temperature and I was eating within a minute or so of ordering, so I don’t really have any complaints but this is obviously a different approach than most places.

As for the corn bread it was definitely on the sweeter side and I like that it was warm. The red slaw was their spin on a barbecue slaw and the cabbage was chopped a little coarser than I’d prefer but it did the trick to complement the chopped pork.

I was happy with my second visit to the Stallings Rock Store Bar-B-Q. It’s not a destination barbecue joint but for a quick and cheap lunch it does a good job. They seem to be doing steady business as well as they were churning out the lunch orders while I was there. I can see them getting a slight bump on the Charlotte Big Board.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs

The Ultimate Charlotte Barbecue Plate (2021)

Monk: A lot (and I mean, a lot) has changed since the last time I did a “Best of Charlotte” series in 2016. Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen and Queen City Q, both winners in several categories, are both no longer in business. Neither are Sauceman’s or Bill Spoon’s, who in 2016 placed in ribs and pork respectively.

The Smoke Pit had the best brisket at the time and since then Jon G’s, Sweet Lew’s, and Noble Smoke have all opened their doors with wood-smoked brisket that each edges out the offerings from The Smoke Pit.

Midwood Smokehouse didn’t top any one category in 2016 but still had a strong showing by being in the top three in each of the five categories: pork, brisket, ribs, sausage, and other. Thankfully, they are still around and are well represented on this list.

Now, onto our picks for the “Ultimate Charlotte Barbecue Plate.”

Pork – Noble Smoke

Jim Noble and team are carrying on the 100+ years-old legacy of Lexington-style barbecue at Noble Smoke in west Charlotte. Simply rubbed with salt and pepper and smoked directly over wood coals in their custom brick masonry pit (named “John”) whose design was borrowed with permission from family friends the Monk family of Lexington Barbecue, upon tasting the pork transports you an hour or so north up I-85.

Honorable Mention: Sweet Lew’s BBQ

Brisket – Jon G’s Barbecue

The meat that put Jon G’s on the map. Of their many spectacular smoked meats, the brisket is the one must order every time you go. Do it and you won’t be disappointed. Trust me.

Honorable Mention: Noble Smoke

Ribs – The Smoke Pit

This one was a surprise from a recent trip that Speedy and I took to the Gastonia location of the local mini-chain of restaurants in late 2020. On that visit, Speedy noted that the dry rub ribs had the perfect bite with just the right amount of spice. I couldn’t agree more and it was the standout meat of that meal.

Honorable Mention: Jon G’s

Sausage – Cheerwine Hot Link from Jon G’s

A truly unique sausage made in-house at Jon G’s, with Salisbury, NC-based Cheerwine taking the place of the water used in the sausage-making process. The end result isn’t overly sweet or “Cheerwine-y” but it does impart a slight sweetness to counteract the heat of the jalapeno.

Honorable Mention: Sweet Lew’s BBQ

Beef Rib – Midwood Smokehouse

The beef rib is a weekend special at Midwood Smokehouse and upon my last visit is available every week for a cut-rate price of $32, well below what you would pay if it were charged by the pound.

Honorable Mention: Jon G’s BBQ (not available all weekends)

Side – Hash and rice from Sweet Lew’s BBQ

Hash and rice isn’t something you find in Charlotte, much less North Carolina, as its almost strictly a South Carolina barbecue dish. Sweet Lew’s differs from what you would find at True BBQ in West Columbia or Sweatman’s in Holly Hill in that instead of the off parts of the pig it uses pork as well as brisket, but I just love that they now offer it fulltime on their menu whereas it used to be a Wednesday special only.

Honorable Mentions: Pork skins from Sweet Lew’s BBQ, Smoked Meatballs from Midwood Smokehouse, Smoked wings from Noble Smoke