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:

Barbecue Bros Film Club: Ugly Delicious – “BBQ” (S1E5)

Ugly Delicious is a new Netflix series brought to us by Chef David Chang of Momofuku and food writer Peter Meehan. Like many shows of this ilk, each episode explores a different food or concept – from tacos to fried chicken to pizza and more. Though technically titled “BBQ”, this episode does explore the food-over-flame customs of other cultures – Korean BBQ in Los Angeles, greens over flame in Noma in Copenhagen (huh?), Peking Duck in Beijing, and yakitori chicken from Tokyo. Those are nice and all (and well worth watching the entire episode) but I’ll focus on the barbecue I’m used to in this write-up.

The episode kicks off with Adam Perry Lang prepping and starting a beef rib smoke at 4am in the morning in Los Angeles. 10 hours later, he pulls the beef rib out of the smoker and serves it up to David, Peter, and novelist Amelia Gray. The conversation over the meat that ensues discusses traditional vs. new and whether barbecue is uniquely American, setting the table for later segments in the episode.

Choice quote from Adam Perry Lang:

“I think the traditional barbecue is freaking unbelievable and I don’t want to change that…but I really look at it as live fire cooking. Beef and pork with fire creates a super flavor.”

The episode then moves to the Whole Hog Extravaganza, a pitmaster convention at the famed 17th Street Barbecue in Murphysboro, IL with some serious talent in attendance from Asheville (Buxton Hall Barbecue), Nashville (Martin’s Bar-B-Q Joint, Peg Leg Porker), and Austin (Micklethwait Craft Meats).

At 8:50, they go back to the discussion in Los Angeles on the regionalization of barbecue but I honestly don’t understand the point that David Chang is making here:

“That’s what bothers me is that it became regional because someone decided to take a chance to do something a little bit different. And I hate when things become an institution”.

Huh? Is he saying that he wishes barbecue was somehow more homogeneous throughout the South? How does “things becoming an institution” fit into that at all? And what’s wrong with something becoming an institution? This is not a coherent argument to me.

The episode then takes a detour to Koreatown and Copenhagen from 9:55 until 16:21 before returning back to the Whole Hog Extravaganza in Murphysboro.

Screenshot (30)

You may recall that Carey Bringle railed against the True ‘Cue pledge in 2015, rejecting their claim that true barbecue is only smoked over wood only because he himself uses both wood-assisted gas smoker as well as wood-fired pits in his restaurants. Well, it seems as if he is still at it in 2017:

People get caught up in pits and people get caught up in fuels. And they get really passionate about it. I’m passionate about telling people: “Don’t tell me how to cook my shit.” It’s about what ends up on your plate.

Next, we get an extended scene of Elliot Moss breaking down a pig and explaining his story behind Buxton Hall and why he does what he does (“it’s always been in my heart”). He mentions that being in Asheville means people care about where their food comes from so he uses pasture-raised hogs which are quite expensive. Which for Moss, just means that he uses every part of the animal.

For the amount of labor and love and how many people’s hands touch it, it should be one of the most expensive things you can buy for food.

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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