Some of the founders and mainstays of my favorite barbecue restaurants and comfort food eateries died recently. So I have to insert “the late” beside their names when I describe their lifetimes’ great accomplishments, the eateries they made into an icons.
Say it ain’t so, Subway (it is so)
Fox Bros BBQ is finally opening a second location in Atlanta
James Beard Award-winning author Adrian Miller is in Cleveland for his forthcoming book “Black Smoke” if you can help with his research:
More on Miller and his forthcoming book
Add this to your DVR…err, Hulu Watch List
Charlotte’s Midwood Smokehouse got inspired by Valentina’s Tex Mex on a recent research and development trip to Texas; here’s hoping this becomes a more regular thing
Everyone knows that Brunswick stew originated in Brunswick County, Virginia. Or was it the city of Brunswick, Georgia? According to this article on the “complicated” history of the stew by barbecue historian Robert Moss, a claim in 1946 even claimed that the stew was a favorite of Queen Victoria and hailed from Brunswick, Germany. There’s also a Brunswick County in North Carolina but no one really tries to assert that the stew was first made there.
I’m not looking to wade into that war between Virginia and Georgia (for what it’s worth, Moss seemed to come down on the side of Virginia but says that Georgia perfected it). Instead, I’d like to focus on a local version of Brunswick stew served at the venerable Mallard Creek Barbecue. Every year as that 4th Thursday approaches and I link to an article about the preparation for the barbecue in my Wednesday linkdowns, a commenter either on this site or our Instagram or on our Facebook page inevitably comments on the Brunswick stew. Or rather, how the version served at the Mallard Creek Barbecue isn’t really Brunswick stew.
But first, for the uninitiated, the Mallard Creek Barbecue is a one day church barbecue held the 4th Thursday of October every year for the past 90 in North Charlotte. Think about that – in a city where very few things are old, this is a tradition that has been going on for 90 years. Granted, back then the land containing an old school house was vacant farmland not actually a part of Charlotte and has been incorporated in the years since. But my point remains: in a city that doesn’t have many – possibly any – institutions that are 90 years old much less much of a barbecue heritage, Charlotte somehow has a 90 year old annual barbecue. The barbecue is great and any serious barbecue fan in the area should try to attend just once. But back to the Brunswick stew…
Traditional Brunswick stew is a tomato-based thin soup or thick stew that originally was made with squirrel meat along with other a few other meats depending on the location in which it was served (shredded chicken in Virginia, pulled pork and shredded beef in Georgia, shredded chicken and beef and pulled pork in North Carolina). Then, it would have some mixture of potatoes, lima or butter beans, corn, okra, tomatoes, plus potentially a variety of other vegetables. So, to summarize: its either a thick or thin stew but maybe a soup, its made with any number of meats, and its got some veggies but who knows which ones. As you may have gathered, there really is no official recipe.
The recipe for Mallard Creek’s version uses ground chicken, beef, and pork instead of shredded versions of those meats. Lima beans are nowhere in sight and instead only corn and tomatoes are found in the stew. And perhaps most controversially, instead of potatoes, they use rice. Critics argue that the use of rice is filler to make the recipe go longer, but as Charlotte food writer Kathleen Purvis wrote in 2014, their recipe has been used since the 40’s and was more than likely made up by Rebecca “Beck” McLaughlin according to her son Dale since, as he notes “[s]he didn’t go by recipes on hardly anything.” Purvis’ article notes that the breaks from traditional Brunswick stew may have simply been a matter of preference since potatoes got too mushy and lima beans tasted too strong, according to Beck.
The official Mallard Creek Barbecue FAQ even has a question dedicated to the stew, noting “[o]n the practical side, some stews have potatoes – but don’t store/freeze/reheat well, [so] your Mallard Creek Stew will not break down as much, since the rice holds better.” It also notes that rice can’t possibly be used to stretch the recipe since there is “6 times as much meat vs rice (by weight) in each serving of stew.”
While I am really only versed in North Carolina versions of Brunswick stew, I quite like Mallard Creek’s version particularly on days when the sun is shining but the temperature is cooler. Were I to travel extensively in Virginia or Georgia, I have a feeling I’d like those respective versions as well (perhaps Georgia more so than Virginia based on what I’ve read). Regardless, my curiosity is officially piqued and as such, I will be ordering Brunswick stew any chance I get in my barbecue travels now.
I just wish I had gotten a gallon or two from this year’s Mallard Creek Barbecue.
Bryan Furman’s next step is a stall inside a Kroger grocery store in Atlanta until he is able to rebuild his restaurant in Atlanta’s westside
John Lewis’s next step is a New Mexican place in Charleston
A murderer’s row of barbecue pitmasters will be in St. Simon’s Island in early October. Participants will include: 17th Street BBQ, The BBQ Ninja, B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque, Blackjack BBQ, Buxton Hall Barbecue, Certified Burgers and Beverage, Chef Kenny Gilbert, DL3 BBQ, Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q, Frosty’s Griddle & Shake, Holy City Hogs, Home Team BBQ, Mama Jean’s Barbecue, Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint, Peg Leg Porker, Pig Beach, Southern Soul Barbeque, Sugarfire Smoke House, Swig & Swine, Taqueria del Sol, Tuffy Stone and Cool Smoke, Woodstack BBQ Tavern, Red Gum BBQ, Pelican Oyster Company, Piedmont Brewing & Kitchen, Poteet Seafood, Potlikker Peanut Company, Sea Island Forge, The Southern Fork Podcast, The Local Palate, Author and Southern Living BBQ Editor Robert Moss, Smokelore Author Jim Auchmutey and Sam Jones Hologram Tour.
The final TerraVita Food and Drink Festival has a good lineup of its own pitmasters the following week in Carrboro: Sam Jones, Matthew Register, and CHristopher Prieto
Food & Wine profiles the next generation of Texas pitmasters
It’s official: Matt Horn is opening a brick and mortar in the bay area
A “Black Tie BBQ” event is a more budget-friendly barbecue event worth checking out at next year’s Charleston Wine and Food Festival with Rodney Scott, John Lewis, Aaron Siegel, Taylor Garrigan, and Anthony DiBernardo, as well as out-of-towners Amy Mills and Matthew Register
NC DOT, careless of the thousands of victims of The Great Wilber’s Debacle, now turns its guns on Lexington. NC Dot has determined that the Smiley’s-Speedy’s section of Winston Road apparently gets a fair amount of traffic. Of course it does. It contains two barbecue places.
Robert Moss reflects on Charleston’s dining scene so far, including the barbecue scene which went from “minor outpost to [an] acclaimed destination”
Robert Moss drops rib knowledge in this well-researched article on the history of pork ribs
Chapel Hill’s TerraVita Food & Drink Festivalwill end this year but is going out with a bang in terms of barbecue; in addition to Sam Jones, [t]his year’s Hill Fire event will focus on North Carolina barbecue and bring together the state’s new generation of pitmasters, including Matthew Register of Southern Smoke, Chris Prieto of Prime Barbecue, Wyatt Dickson of Picnic in Durham, as well as other chefs who use smoke in their cooking.
Sauceman’s is relocating to Sugar Creek Brewing from its original location on West Boulevard
The True ‘Cue Newsletter is no more for a variety of reasons, but we are happy to announce that we will help spread any future True ‘Cue news from them received via press releases.
In the final issue of the newsletter, John Shelton Reed did have some nice news to share: In parting, there is some Campaign news to report. Our latest branch, joining those in the Carolinas, Georgia, and Kentucky, will cover Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. It is in the capable hands of John Tanner. We wish him well and look forward to hearing where one can get Real Barbecue in and near our nation’s capital.
An update on Bryan Furman’s plans for the Atlanta B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque
Mr. Barbecue in Winston-Salem had a pit fire last week, caused by embers, but they vow to return
Midwood Smokehouse has them some new fancy sandwiches
Stephen Colbertis at it again: “I love everything about North Carolina other than that damn vinegar stuff that y’all put on the barbecue.”
As usual, Kathleen Purvis puts it all in perspective: