Friday Find: Tracing Barbecue from West Africa to Chicago’s South Side on the Sporkful podcast

Food writer Michael Twitty, writer behind The Cooking Gene, explores the origins of barbecue with Sporkful host Dan Pashman.

“They call [BBQ] suya in West Africa,” Michael says. “Suya, dibi, and piri piri are all little parts of what we would consider the barbecuing system in the [American] south.”

Then, in a kind of part 2 from last week’s podcast from Gravy, Pashman heads to the south side of Chicago to explore how that barbecue tradition migrated during the Great Migration out of the American South in the mid 1900’s. There, he speaks with Gary Kennebrew of Uncle John’s BBQ, who still identifies as being southern.

In fact, Garry is originally from Alabama, and he moved to Chicago with his family, when he was nine.

“Alabama will always be my home,” Garry says. “[But] I have grown to like Chicago.”

For more on the Sporkful, check out their previous episodes here. We previously featured a podcast from them on a pitmaster from Centerville, TN who moonlights as a preacher on Sundays.

Friday Find: Smoking on the Southside

Chicago barbecue is a less heralded style of barbecue that has origins in the American South but is only found in the southside of Chicago. Primarily rib tips (a remnants of a St. Louis cut rib) and sausage links, they are smoked in a steel and glass “aquarium” smoker that allows for year-round smoking in the harsh Chicago winters. I’ll link to another podcast next week with more on this style of barbecue but for now, here’s a short podcast from the Southern Foodways Alliance’s Gravy podcast.

Barbecue purists from the Carolinas to Texas might balk at the notion that Chicago, Illinois, has a barbecue tradition all its own. But owing to the Great Migration, and to a special piece of equipment called the aquarium smoker, reporter-producer Ambriehl Crutchfield finds that Chicago barbecue has evolved into a style unto itself.

Link to episode

Linkdown: 8/8/18

– Sadly, the NC Historic Barbecue Trail joint Jack Cobb BBQ and Son in Farmville is closing on August 18

– All aboard the barbecue train!

Fans can hop on the BBQ express for less than $100 a person and travel through spectacular mountain views. Passengers onboard will get their own basket of Southern-style barbeque goodness with hand-pulled pork slider, a couple pork ribs, and chicken drumstick accompanied by baked beans and house-made coleslaw.

And, of course, no respectable Southern barbeque would forget to warm up some apple cobbler for dessert.

– Both Speedy and Monk are quoted throughout this article from Million Mile Secrets on Best BBQ in USA: 25 Joints You Can’t Miss

– James Beard-award winning writer Adrian Miller is writing a book on black-owned barbecue joints and has started his research

– You can walk in or fly in to Stanton’s Barbeque in Bennettsville, SC near the NC/SC border

– A short review of Prosser’s Bar-B-Que, a restaurant with a barbecue and seafood buffet in Murrells Inlet (near Myrtle Beach)

– Mighty Quinn’s, who has expanded to 15 locations across the world, has launched a franchising program in aims of becoming the “Chipotle of barbecue”

– Good to know if you are making this drive:

– Aka “the dream”

– Speaking of Texas barbecue, if actor Ike Barinholtz didn’t know about Barbecue Twitter before, he sure does now (click on tweet to read the literally hundreds of replies)

Linkdown: 7/4/18

– Hate that I’m going to be out of town later this month for Bryan Furman coming to Charlotte for Brisket & Biscuits at Koffee Kup Cafeteria

Put them together, and you have a very special food weekend: First, there’s Brisket & Biscuits from 9 a.m.-noon July 21 at the Koffee Kup Cafeteria, 1520 West Blvd. For $20, you’ll get a plate cooked by Gregory Collier of The Yolk in Rock Hill and special guests Erika Council of Atlanta, the author of The Southern Souffle blog and the granddaughter of Mildred Council, aka Mama Dip, and Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin BBQ in Atlanta.

Served cafeteria-style, you’ll get Furman’s brisket, Collier’s eggs, Council’s biscuits, sides and pie (by local pie baker Keia Mastrianni).

– The top 15 Birmingham barbecue joints

– Howard Conyers, a rocket scientist and barbecue man, has a new digital show on PBS’s YouTube channel

– Sam Jones and Fullsteam Brewing will represent NC at this year’s Windy City Smokeout 2018 in Chicago

– Brooks Sandwich House and Seoul Food Meat Company will be featured in the first episode of season 2 of “Southern and Hungry” on the Cooking Channel; it airs later this month on 7/30

– This is a few months late to respond to the Vice Brooklyn barbecue article that broke the internet in March, but a good write up on Allen & Son which doesn’t always get the NC barbecue recognition it deserves

Linkdown: 4/25/18

– Seasoned Review visits Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro for barbecue and chicken and mostly digs it

– Reader’s Digest (which is apparently still around?) selects The Barbecue Festival as one of the Best Small-Town Festivals in America

– Chicago has 4 new southern barbecue spots that seem worth checking out

– The Ringer’s Danny Chau visits Portland and documents his meals, which included Central Texas Barbecue at Matt’s BBQ

– A Charlotte Boy Scout pitmaster has started a…crab cake food truck called Baltimore Crab Cakes

– The more you know:

The Smoke Daddy – Chicago, IL

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Name: The Smoke Daddy
Date: 6/17/17
Address: 1804 W Division St., Chicago, IL
Order: Taste of the Daddy – baby back ribs, burnt ends, pulled pork, fries, collards (link to menu)
Price: $25

Speedy: By now, most of my friends are aware of this little barbecue adventure I’m on with Monk and Rudy, and so they have a tendency to suggest ‘cue when I come to visit. This has turned out really well in some cases, terrible in others (I’m looking at you, Boomsauce). Let’s see how the Smoke Daddy stacks up.

Monk: With a name like Smoke Daddy….well, I actually don’t know what to expect. I do know that that I am definitively not a fan of that name, though. Speaking of Boomsauce, Smoke Daddy does sound like somewhere he’d take us. A place where they’d have crappy t-shirts with bad graphics and not-clever innuendo all over it.

Speedy: First off, I want to say a big thanks to my (non-barbecue) bro Berg for letting me put in the full order. He really knows when to let the pros step in. The ribs were part of the deal, and pork was a given. I tacked on burnt ends because I don’t get them too often. Add on fries and collards and we were set.

The food came out looking great, but there was a lot of sauce on everything. I get this on ribs and burnt ends, but I prefer for pork to not be overly sauced. The meat was nice and tender, though, and pulled into decent sized chunks with a nice bark. I would rate the pork as decent to good, but not anything better than that.

The burnt ends were similar. While I expect these to be sauced coming out, I still want the meat to do most of the talking. That wasn’t really the case here, as the sauce was the star. Still enjoyable, and cooked well, but I wanted a little more.

The ribs were my favorite meat. Even though they were baby backs, they were nice and meaty. They were cooked to a nice tenderness without falling off the bone. I got a nice pork flavor, which this time mixed well with the sauce.

Monk: Any idea what kind of smoker they are working with here?

Speedy: No, but I have to assume it was a gasser, just based on the space the occupied. Not sure where they’d fit a stick burner in a crowded Chicago neighborhood.

Overall, the Smoke Daddy puts out a nice product. I think they purposefully feature the sauce in all of their dishes, which I think is a bit of a shame, as I think they do a good job with their smoke. So if you find yourself in Chicago with a hankerin’ for ‘cue, you could do worse than the Smoke Daddy

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – Not rated (outdoor patio was nice, but I never went inside)
Pork – 3 hogs
Burnt Ends – 3 hog
Ribs – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 2 hogs
Overall – 3 Hogs
Smoke Daddy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 6/14/17

– The latest in the News & Observer Good Eatin’ series is a look at B’s Barbecue in Greenville

At some point in the late ’80s, the road on the side of the restaurant took on its name, but spelled “B’s Barbeque Road” with a “q.” To little surprise, the sign has gone missing several times. B’s Barbeque Road is the first left turn when coming into Greenville from the west on U.S. 264.

– City Barbeque opens its University location June 19 with a grand opening party on June 24

– The NC Blueberry Festival BBQ Cookoff, part of the Whole Hog Barbecue Series, is this weekend in Burgaw

– Bacon-wrapped bacon:

– Marie, Let’s Eat! finds some decent barbecue in Chattanooga in Big Jeff Barbeque

– Zagat’s and The Huffington Post has 12 pitmasters you need to know as part of their BBQ Nation microsite

– The Chicago Tribune is updating daily in June for 30 days of Chicago barbecue

– Robert Moss will be part of a hash panel in Greenwood, SC on July 7

The making of kettle-cooked hash is a culinary tradition unique to the Palmetto State, according to food and drink writer and culinary historian, Robert F. Moss.

“It’s something you can only get in South Carolina,” Moss said. “It’s one of the great barbecue stews. It’s sort of like a really delicious, thick, slow-simmered meat gravy.

“It really developed in South Carolina as part of fall hog-killing time, as a way to use up all the pieces and parts of the hog,” Moss added.

– SC is home to 4 different barbecue sauces: here’s recipes for each

– Happy belated Bojangles Day, you guys!

Linkdown: 1/18/17

– Backyard BBQ Pit is listed on Eater’s 10 Indispensable Durham Restaurants

– Also from Eater Charleston, Fiery Ron’s Home Team BBQ makes the winter edition of the Essential 38

– Gotta say, I know pretty much nothing about East Texas-style barbecue which is primarily “ribs and links” joints

– Which is not actually too dissimilar from Chicago-style, whose “holy trinity’ is ribs, rib tips, and hot links

– Marie, Let’s Eat! tries Lil’ Choo Choo BBQ in the Tennessee capital

– Clark’s Barbecue is reviewed by the Greensboro News & Record’s Go Triad blog (our review here)

– Charlotte-based food truck OooWee BBQ will be opening a brick and mortar location in downtown Pineville

– Want to turn barbecue into a breakfast item? Put an egg on it, according to BBQ Hub.

– The barbecue’s not great (our review here), but that shrimp burger is legit

Linkdown: 8/10/16

– Speedy Lohr’s in Lexington has finally reopened, nearly a year after a fire forced it to close

– Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ writes a eulogy for the barbecue joint, including Grady’s

We all know that barbecue is growing, but a reminder is in order. As we pointed out last year, the independently run, counter-service barbecue restaurant numbers are shrinking. Those are the barbecue joints. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

– Missed this last week, but Jim Shahin had a SC barbecue primer in addition to the “future of barbecue” article I linked to

– Saveur Magazine has an article on the history of Chicago barbecue

– Robert Moss likes the whole hog at Buxton Hall a lot, but says not to skip the fried catfish

– Grant’s latest stops: Roger’s Bar-B-Que in La Grange, GA and Byron’s Smokehouse in Auburn, AL

– The Davidson Farmer’s Market Pig Pickin’ is this Saturday and features Chef Michael Spencer of Fork! preparing a 150-pound pig for pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, and banh mi sandwiches

– Wyatt Dickson of Picnic will be bringing whole hog barbecue to Lewis BBQ on 8/21

Green Street Smoked Meats – Chicago, IL

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Name: Green Street Smoked Meats
Date: 4/30/16
Address: 112 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607
Order: Half pound pulled pork, half pound sliced brisket, hot link, potato salad, broccoli salad, two beers (link)
Price: ~$60

Monk: Chicago is often mentioned in the second-tier of barbecue styles in the US (along with Santa Maria-style tri-tip). Chicago style (at least along the south side, from what I gather) is more rib and rib tips. While I can’t say that I experienced authentic Chicago barbecue at Green Street Smoked Meats in the West Loop neighborhood, I did get a pretty damn good meal. The West Loop has become a destination for food-loving people, and GSSM was in good company less than a block away from both Au Cheval (with Bon Apetit’s best burger in the US) and The Girl and The Goat from former Top Chef Winner Stephanie Izard.

Located in a warehouse along with partner coffee shop Sawada Coffee, Green Street Smoked Meats is a hip counter-style place with biergarten tables and stringed lights that primarily serves meat by the half pound (except when its by the “each” in the case of a pork sandwich or hotlink or the such). It has a great atmosphere though unfortunately we weren’t able to sit outside in the alley on that day due to cold and rain (ah, Chicago in April).

Naturally, I always have to get pulled/chopped pork if its on the menu, but to tell you the truth I wasn’t pumped about it, especially when I saw a previous order tossed in a bowl with a sauce before being served. The tangy sauce hid any smoke that may have been imparted to the meat from the wood, and the pork was just average as a result.

GSSM is really a Texas-style joint, so it makes sense that the brisket was the star of the show. We even got a few unsauced burnt ends thrown in for good measure (party, bonus). This was a fine representation of Central Texas brisket with a nice peppery bark and both lean and fat slices presented. The Texas-style hotlink was another highlight. It had good snap and flavor while being just moist enough.

Mrs. Monk and I got two sides and the portions were more than enough for us. The potato salad was fine but left me wondering if I should have ordered something else. Mrs. Monk couldn’t get enough of the broccoli salad. I liked it too – what little I was able to sneak away from her clutches. Her mini review:“It was dank; I ate all of it.”

It was unfortunate that it was only the Mrs and I eating that day since I would have liked to try the more unconventional meats on the menu such as the smoked salmon or pastrami (on the recommendation of TMBBQ). We had more than enough food (to the point of taking a box of leftovers with us) and more meats also would have put tab at close to $100. Which brings up a good point – Green Street Smoked Meats may be just a little bit on the pricey side. In any case, I would definitely recommend it.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 4 hogs
Pork – 2 hogs
Brisket – 4 hogs
Sausage – 4 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Green Street Smoked Meats Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Green Street Smoked Meats

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