Linkdown: 1/23/19

Long Leaf Politics: True North Carolina Barbecue hurting. Would a state law help?

This might be a story in the affirmative and while I never made it there myself, by all accounts Bill Ellis Barbecue in Wilson was an eastern NC institution. It unfortunately closed quietly last week after 55 years in business and follows an unfortunate trend after closures at Allen & Son in Chapel Hill and Q Shack in Raleigh

More on NC barbecue; I’m not sure what prompted this but Stamey’s Barbecue in Greensboro with a mini-thread laying down the truth:

Dream job, and not just because of the barbecue:

Mighty Quinn’s is looking to continue expanding in 2019

HOORAY BRISKET

Yea…just, no

Rien Fertel remembers Douglas Oliver, pitman for Sweatman’s BBQ in Holly Hill, SC, who died in the fall of 2017

Linkdown: 1/16/19

More whole hog in Texas; Buck’s BBQ in Houston is doing one on Sunday

Also making its way to Houston is smoked bologna

Midwood Smokehouse’s Roadhouse burger with a patty made of a mix of brisket and chuck lands at #13 on Charlotte Agenda’s best burgers in Charlotte list

Stubbs and Son BBQ in Sanford (no apparent relation to Stubbs BBQ in Austin) makes eastern NC barbecue and has plans to both expand the menu as well as the dining room

Wide Open Country’ list of 18 Texas joints you need to try before you die

A humorous take on the suburban SMOKEBOY dad club

How a Chicago food writer learned to love pimento cheese from the former president of the SC BBQ Association, Lake High

Anyone interested in a t-shirt?

Linkdown: 12/12/18

RIP Allen & Son Barbecue in Chapel Hill

Here’s Our State’s last article on Allen & Son’s from 2017, where you can understand why Keith Allen is ready to retire:

In 1971, when Keith was 19, he quit his butchering job at the A&P, sold his landscaping equipment, and borrowed $3,000 to open a restaurant. He gave it the same name as the one his father owned in Chatham County, where Keith worked the barbecue pit from the age of 10. Ever since, he’s gotten to his Allen & Son at 2:30 a.m. five days a week — splitting every piece of hickory, roasting every shoulder, chopping and seasoning every serving. “Nobody’s hands but mine touch my barbecue,” he likes to boast, “until the customer’s do.”

A recipe for collard chowder from Matthew Register of Southern Smoke BBQ in Garland; his cookbook comes out in May but is available for preorder now

The latest from J.C. Reid explores the barbecue explosion in Houston from a geographic standpoint:

Sweet Lew’s gets some coverage in Charleston Eater for 4 new notable Charlotte openings

In memory of Dale Volberg Reed, who
was wife to John Shelton Reed and with him co-authored the best book on NC barbecue, Holy Smoke: The Big Book of NC Barbecue

I figured Dave Grohl would stop into Buxton Hall while in Asheville last weekend for Warren Haynes’ Christmas Jam:

There’s some piggies in the hiway, some piggies in the snow, piggies going faster than they’ve ever gone before

Linkdown: 10/17/18

– A piece on Sam Jones helping out in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence

“Everybody can do some good, not just for hurricane relief but in general. You don’t have to be a cook. You ain’t got to be a millionaire or an orator. … Everybody possesses some type of talent or skill. There is something you can do.”

– The Smoking Ho has some photos from the Woodlands BBQ Festival, where some of Houston’s best barbecue restaurants showed out

– Dallas News staff writer Ben Baby provides an uninformed answer about Texas vs Carolina barbecue in this mailbag column

A: As much as I like the Carolinas and the people it produces (like KAGS-TV’s Matt Trent), this isn’t even up for debate.

Carolina barbecue is essentially all about pulled pork and the sauces. Both are enjoyable. But both of those items exist in Texas.

I’m not going to pretend like I’m a barbecue expert, but I know very few places do brisket as well as us. And there’s nothing like ripping apart marbled, fatty brisket and enjoying it with your meal (if you have some homemade tortillas for the brisket like at 2M Smokehouse in San Antonio, it’s a game-changer).

I like Bojangles a lot. I’m sure Cook Out is fine. But when it comes to food from the Carolinas, I draw the line at barbecue.

– Midwood Smokehouse has the best crinkle cut fries in Charlotte, according to Charlotte Agenda

– From last week’s photo, here’s the story behind what Bill Murray actually ate and drank from Midwood Smokehouse

– Hoodline’s list of five best barbecue restaurants in Charlotte is based on Yelp data and contains a korean BBQ restaurant (Let’s Meat) and the just average McKoy’s Smokehouse

– Jim Shahin’s latest is on New Orleans barbecue

– The Eastern Carolina BBQ Throwdown took place this past weekend in Rocky Mount

– This viral marquee sign at Little Pigs in Asheville is fake news

– Here’s what to expect at The Barbecue Festival later this month

– Say what now?

Linkdown: 8/29/18

– Brett Martin (for GQ) on how Houston got cool

– According to this article (which is about a new Jim Noble fried chicken concept), Noble Smoke is now being targeted to open in March 2019

– You can now vote for the best barbecue joints by state in Southern Living’s “South’s Best 2019” poll

– Texas Monthly on the Barbecue Nation exhibit in Atlanta

– According to this list, The Pit is one of Raleigh’s best soul food restaurants

– Yea…I’m gonna need to try this out soon on my own Weber

– A comparison of the two out-of-state whole hog joints coming to Birmingham in the coming months – Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint and Rodney Scott’s BBQ

– Your move, Texas Pete:

Linkdown: 6/27/18

– The origin story of the great Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque, the next great pitmaster (who’s already here)

Though he’s been a restaurant owner and full-time pitmaster for just four years, Furman, 37, already sits among the greats. Maybe it’s because he swaps out typical commodity pork for whole heritage-breed hogs he raised himself. (“Nobody else was doing that,” Furman says, “Not in a barbecue restaurant.”) Maybe it’s his unique Carolina-meets-Georgia style sauce, a sweet and tangy blend of mustard and fresh peaches. (“He does everything different,” says Nikki Furman, his wife and business partner.)

– B’s Cracklin Barbeque and a few other Barbecue Bro faves are on this Eater list of best Atlanta barbecue

– Eater’s got a list of barbecue in New York City, too

– Meet the Executive Pitmaster for Midwood Smokehouse’s 4 locations, Matt Berry

– Noble Smoke is one of Charlotte Agenda’s 9 most-anticipated restaurants and bars opening in Charlotte by the end of 2018 (wow that’s not a brief title)

– The Takeout has a crash course on Chinese barbecue, which isn’t wood-smoked like American barbecue

– Houston foodwriter J.C. Reid on the expanding role of the pitmaster

Another responsibility is that of barbecue ambassador. Pitmasters are asked to travel to distant locations to cook for an event or speak on a panel. In this case, the pitmaster isn’t just drawn away from working the pits — he’s often absent from his barbecue joint for days at a time.

– 8 Austin barbecue sandwiches that break the mold

– This Travel + Leisure list of the 25 best places for barbecue in the U.S. is based on Yelp and is…certainly a list

– Reminder: Daniel Vaughn’s Smokelandia airs its pilot episode tonight

– Registration is now open for October’s Tour de Pig in Lexington

Q – Houston, TX

IMG_5760
Name
: Q
Date: 4/6/18
Address: Terminal E International Departures (Upper Level), Houston, TX 77032
Order: Smoked Sausage and Brisket combo with coleslaw (link to menu)
Price: $17

MonkIdeally, my first taste of barbecue on a Texas trip wouldn’t be airport barbecue. But the newish Q, a Texas BBQ Smokehouse collaboration with famed Houston pitmaster Greg Gatlin, is far more authentic than your average airport barbecue restaurant. Instead of smoking offsite and trucking it in daily, they have two onsite Oyler smokers with a fancy ventilation system that they are able to keep going 24 hours a day.

Now, I know what you might be thinking – did Monk route his flight to Austin through Houston just for barbecue? While I appreciate that you might have thought that, it wasn’t so pre-planned as that. While Mrs. Monk’s flight was paid for by her job (the impetus for this trip), I went a cheaper route which included a layover and it just so happened to have a stop in Houston. I honestly didn’t realize what was where I was passing through until the morning of my flight, but luckily my 2 ½ layover would allow me plenty of time to check it out once I got to Houston.

If you are not ordering your ‘cue to take back to your gate or onto your plane to taunt your fellow travelers, there is both bar seating and some high top tables around the backside of the to-go counter and kitchen. This being a fancy OTG restaurant, I ordered via iPad at the bar and the food was brought out shortly after.

And my first taste of brisket in Texas in nearly 6 years at an airport joint was…not actually bad at all! The smaller brisket slices (the two meats totaled ½ lb total) had the peppery bark I would expect and was not the least bit dried out. Guess they have started to get the hang of those Oylers.

The all beef sausage passed muster as well, and had a nice little kick to it due to jalapeños. I’m sure there are better sausages out there, but this wasn’t half bad at all. In trying to keep it light, I opted for just one side and ordered the coleslaw which was standard.

When passing through Houston, you could do a lot worse than finding yourself at Q near gate 2 at Terminal E (just follow your nose to smell of smoke). Despite my first barbecue meal of this trip being in an airport, my Texas trip was off to a good start.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Brisket – 3.5 hogs
Sausage – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs

Linkdown: 4/18/18

– So Aaron Franklin doesn’t actually eat Texas barbecue and might actually prefer Carolina barbecue?

“I don’t really know. I don’t eat barbecue,” he says. I laugh nervously, but Franklin doesn’t waver. “I don’t eat that stuff, but I love to cook it. If I’m in a special place like up in the Carolinas hanging out with Sam Jones (whose family has been in the BBQ biz for more than 70 years), I’m absolutely going to get a pork sandwich. If I’m hanging out with Rodney Scott (a world-renowned BBQ chef from Charleston), I’m absolutely going to get some of that pulled pork. Time and place, but as far as scenes and stuff, I don’t really keep up with it. My concentration is right here.”

– Austin 360’s response: On Carolina Barbecue and Aaron Franklin’s Texas cred

– The Houston BBQ Festival was last weekend and The Smoking Ho has photos

– WNCT continues their Hidden Gems Barbecue series with Hardison’s Carolina Barbecue in Jamesville

– High Point gets an Indian barbecue restaurant, BBQ Nation

– Travel Noire’s 19 Great Black Owned Barbecue Joints Across America includes a few Barbecue Bros faves

– Tarheel Q gets a write up in the Lexington Dispatch after changing owners last December

Leon said there is some pressure with running a barbecue restaurant in Davidson County due to the county’s barbecue reputation. He added that if the restaurant does a poor job, it not only reflects on the restaurant but the other restaurants as well, because Lexington barbecue is a style and one restaurant’s success means success for the others in the county.

– OH NO

Linkdown: 4/11/18

– The brisket bandits in St. Louis have been caught

– Texas Pete, a NC barbecue staple, gets a mention in this Eat Sip Trip article on the origins of hot sauce

Garner Foods of North Carolina was seeking to augment their barbecue sauce line and introduced a red pepper Louisiana-style hot sauce in 1929, which they named Texas Pete, to capitalize on the popularity of cowboy movies at the time. The product is a Carolina staple. According to food author Robert Moss, at the legendary Skylight Inn Barbecue in Ayden, NC, “They douse the pork with vinegar and Texas Pete while it’s still being chopped.”

– The Hub City Hog Fest took place in Spartanburg last weekend, where more than 40 teams from the Carolinas and Georgia participated in the two-day competition

– I checked this place out on a layover to Austin from Charlotte and I will have similarly good things to say when the review posts in a few weeks

– Luella’s Bar-B-Que in Asheville gets featured on Cooking Channel’s “Cheap Eats” episode on Asheville which first airs tonight at 11pm

– WNCT in eastern NC profiles Morris Barbecue, which has only opened on Saturdays in Greene County since the 1950’s, in their latest People and Places segment

– Sam Jones, Ed and Ryan Mitchell, and Rodney Scott (among others) will be back at this year’s Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

– Oof:

 

Killen’s Barbecue – Pearland, TX

IMG_6991
Name
: Killen’s Barbecue
Date: 1/20/18
Address: 3613 E. Broadway, Pearland, TX
Order: ½ pound brisket, ½ pound burnt ends (special), 2 sausage links, 1 beef rib, mac & cheese, fried mac & cheese, onion rings, baked beans, green beans (link to menu)
Price: $90

Speedy: I was down in Houston to visit some friends lately, so of course I convinced everyone to pop over to Killen’s, which is known as one of the top joints in Houston. Killen’s is a bit outside of Houston proper, and we went on a rainy day. All this meant we were left with a short line (though it quickly grew as the weather started to clear). Walking up, I could smell the wood coals burning and got a whiff of some beef on the smoker, so I immediately knew I was somewhere serious.

Monk: Seems like you stumbled onto the perfect time to check out Killen’s, seeing as how I’ve been reading about the long lines there for years. Brilliant, Speedy. Brilliant.

Rudy: Killen’s has been on my must-eat list for a while.  I’ve heard great things about since it opened. Houston is not known for having high quality barbecue like some of the other areas of the state, so I know this place has been getting swamped with people. Since I almost never get down to Houston, I haven’t been able to eat there.

Speedy: Killen’s is cafeteria style, where you first order meat, cut right in front of you, and then sides. One of the guys I was with had been there before and advised to skip the pulled pork, so we went all beef, with the exception of the sausage, which is a pork and beef mix. At Killen’s, you can order plates, or by the weight, and we opted for the latter. They only needed two clarifications with our order – fatty or lean brisket (fatty, duh), and jalapeno sausage or regular (regular). After about 20 minutes in line, we were ready to eat.

IMG_7027

Like at any Texas joint, I started with the brisket. I had high expectations based on my prior Texas trip (when I visited Franklin’s and La Barbecue), and let me tell you, this lived up to expectations. The brisket was peppery, moist, and as good as I could have imagined. I think it was 99% as good as Franklin’s and La Barbecue, and tasted very similar. I did not use any sauce, as none was needed. Overall, nearly flawless execution.

Monk: Wow, 99% as good as Franklin’s and La Barbecue? That’s high praise!

Rudy: Yeah, that is huge praise! Add to that the 20 minute wait and that’s even better.

Speedy: The sausage was also great. Made in house, the casing had good snap and a nice spiciness to it. It did start to fall apart a bit, but overall, it was great and is not to be missed.

The burnt ends were a daily special – made with wagyu beef and covered in sauce, they were tender and perfectly chunked. Overall, there was a little more sauce than I liked, but it was tangy and good.

The beef rib was the only thing that I thought could have been better. The rib was crazy tender and easy to cut with a plastic knife, but the bark was not as good as I had hoped and did not touch the brisket. Our beef rib was 1.4 pounds, so nearly $30 – I would have much preferred another pound of brisket.

The sides were good, but like any good barbecue joint, they were a compliment and did not stand out in any way.

I also really liked the atmosphere at Killen’s, as there was a large area of outside seating and lots of seating inside. It’s the definition of a Texas joint, and though it’s only been open since 2013, it’s damn good and not to be missed if you’re in the Houston area. I, for one, can’t wait to go back.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 4 hogs
Brisket – 5 hogs
Beef Rib – 3.5 hogs
Sausage – 4.5 hogs
Burnt Ends – 4 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 5 hogs
Killen's Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato