Now Available: Barbecue Bros “Forefathers of Lexington Barbecue” T-shirts!

Link: Barbecue Bros Forefathers of Lexington-style Barbecue Shirt

In the spirit of the pioneers and innovators of our favorite style of barbecue, the Barbecue Bros are pleased to make available our first t-shirt featuring those men in the classic Helvetica list style. We hope that Lexington-style barbecue fans will purchase and wear this acknowledgement of history proudly. The shirts are $24.99 and ship for free if you have an Amazon Prime account.

  • Lightweight, Classic fit, Double-needle sleeve and bottom hem
  • Available in Men’s, Women, and Child sizes S-3XL
  • Solid colors: 100% Cotton; Heather Grey: 90% Cotton, 10% Polyester; All Other Heathers: 50% Cotton, 50% Polyester

Click to purchase

A brief history of Lexington-style Barbecue

In 1919, Sid Weaver set up a tent across the street from the Lexington courthouse and began selling what would later become “Lexington-style” barbecue. He was the first man to sell this style of barbecue.

Weaver later teamed up with Jess Swicegood and those two men perfected Lexington-style barbecue and helped spread the technique across the Piedmont of North Carolina. Lexington-style means pork shoulders are smoked as opposed to whole hogs because shoulders are fattier and more forgiving than the leaner hams and loins found in a whole hog and yield more barbecue. They took the vinegar-pepper sauce of the eastern part of the state and added ketchup to provide sweetness to balance it out while maintaining the tang of the vinegar.

In 1927, Warner Stamey began working under Weaver and Swicegood while in high school, and for me this is where things began to pick up. After a few years under the tutelage of Weaver and Swicegood, Stamey moved 100 miles southwest to Shelby, NC. There, he taught the Lexington-style technique to his brother-in-law Alston Bridges as well as Red Bridges (oddly enough, not related). They, of course, opened their own respective restaurants in 1956 and 1946 respectively, both of which still exist today.

Stamey moved back to Lexington in 1938 and bought Swicegood’s restaurant for $300. It was there that he taught the legendary barbecue man Wayne Monk, who went on to open Lexington Barbecue (aka “The Honeymonk”) in 1962, which just so happens to be the Barbecue Bros’ collective favorite barbecue restaurant ever. Stamey would of course go on to open Stamey’s Barbecue in Greensboro, where his grandson Chip Stamey still owns and operates to this day. Warner Stamey is also widely credited with bringing hush puppies to barbecue restaurants.

Much of the information above was taken from Robert Moss’s seminal book Barbecue: The History of an American Institution. If you want to read more on the history of our favorite food, I highly recommend it.

Linkdown: 1/30/19

Vote in USA Today’s 10Best Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Barbecue in NC

Stamey’s Barbecue with a mini-tweet storm last week; none of which is wrong (click on the tweet below to see the rest):

Sometime it pays to have the fire chief as your pitmaster; a fire broke out in the smokehouse of Skylight Inn last week but Sam Jones was among the firefighters who put the fire out

Rock the Block in downtown Charleston is Saturday, February 23 and benefits Hogs for the Cause; Sam Jones and Justin and Jonathan Fox of Fox Bros BBQ will be in attendance

Conde Nast Travel recently profiled Birmingham and its reinvention and shouted out Rodney Scott’s BBQ, which is opening a store there in 2019

“The city caught my attention because of how pleasant it is,” says Rodney Scott, the James Beard Best Chef Southeast 2018 for his Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston. He’s set to open his next, identical concept in Birmingham first-quarter 2019. “It’s a big city, but it feels like a small town,” he says. “It doesn’t feel like New York or Chicago, but it’s just as important a food city in my opinion.”

WBTV in Charlotte recently featured the “Love Endures” mural by artist Curtis King, which was saved from demolition and now resides behind Sweet Lew’s BBQ

The New York Times’ eating guide for Atlanta for this weekend’s Super Bowl and gives Bryan Furman and B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue a shoutout for being the only whole hog joint in town

Sure, why not?

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: 7/16/18

– Oh yeah?!? Well, um, no one eats barbecue to be healthy so…

– Bob Garner gets a bit existential in his latest column: What happened to barbecue?

That’s why your traditional view is what I argued in my 1995 first book. It sold a ton of copies in hardback, far more than any of my subsequent books, and nearly all of them were sold in-state.

But, I have to accept that “North Carolina Barbecue: Flavored by Time” is now out of print. We can only visit the memory and greatness of those places at Rocky Mount’s park display commemorating the city’s barbecue heritage.

I could insist on continuing to scribble history books many people won’t buy. Not many among them seem to read history any longer. Doomed to repeat it? I don’t know.

– WRAL’s list of best barbecue in the Triangle dubiously contains two chain restaurants

– Four NC pitmasters, including Adam Hughes of Old Colony Smokehouse in Edenton, will compete on Chopped Grill Masters in an episode airing August 7

– Delish’s 15 best barbecue festivals in the USA includes The Barbecue Festival in Lexington

– Say it ain’t so, Dave. Say it ain’t so.

– The Washington Post food writer Tim Carman managed to find a new angle on a Rodney Scott profile

 

Photo Gallery: Smoking a pork butt Lexington-style

Monk: For this year’s annual Super Bowl smoke, I knew a few things going in:

  1. I was going to use a Big Green Egg to smoke a pork butt for the first time (the BGE was my neighbor’s)
  2. I wanted to try to smoke it and serve it a little more authentically Lexington-style, particularly the rub

The NC BBQ Society’s website has been my go-to page for a Lexington-style dip recipe (that is, a thin barbecue sauce for those of you not in the know) the past few years (recipe here) while using a rub of my own (or Speedy’s) concoction. All these years, they’ve had a recipe for “Cooking Pork Shoulders Lexington Style” just a little further down the page that I’ve been ignoring. Turns out this is actually a transcription of a recipe from the book “The Best Tarheel Barbecue: From Manteo to Murphy” by NC BBQ Society founder Jim Early, which I just so happen to own. So I’ve really had no excuse not to try this technique before now.

On that page, in terms of rub it states “Rub the exposed side of the meat (not skin side) with a fair amount of salt. Set aside at room temperature.” And that’s it. I had to re-read a few times just to be sure I wasn’t missing something. No other spices, no overnight rub – this really was going to be a different technique than I was used to.

Doing a quick Google search, I found some corroborating evidence that salt only is indeed the way that the Lexington Barbecue rubs its pork butts (a second source here also somewhat verified it). So my mind was made up – I just hope it wouldn’t be a bust for our annual Super Bowl Party but it seemed so simple so what could go wrong?  At least we had 100 takeout wings as backup.

Speedy: Just to interject here, Monk, but I’m not sure I buy it. Maybe it’s been in the dip all these years, but I feel like I get some peppery goodness in all the Lexington ‘cue. I’ll reserve judgment until I try it for myself, but it just doesn’t feel right.

Monk: I was skeptical too, but I’m confident you will recognize Lexington in this technique. Next time we get a chance, we should do a side by side with just salt versus a more peppery rub.

The morning of, I rubbed about a ¼ cup of Morton’s coarse kosher salt on the smaller 5 lb pork butt and set aside at room temperature while I got the Big Green Egg lit – though admitedly this took a little longer seeing as this was my first time and I was starting solo.

Outside of that, everything else went about the same as a normal smoke. About 8.5 hours later, I pulled the butt off and let it rest for about an hour before chopping it and adding the Lexington dip.

I must say, I do believe this was the closest I’ve come to recreating Lexington-style pork butts at home. A slider with this chopped pork, a red slaw that Mrs. Monk prepared, and some Texas Pete tasted pretty darn close to what you might find in Lexington. I’m not saying its going to replace a trip to Lexington #1 anytime soon, but its not bad for a backyard smoke.

Hill’s Lexington Barbecue – Winston-Salem, NC

IMG_1001
Name
: Hill’s Lexington Barbecue
Date: 11/24/17
Address: 4005 Patterson Ave, Winston-Salem, NC 27105
Order: Monk and Speedy: Chopped plate with red slaw, hush puppies, fries, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: $30 (for two)

Monk: When Speedy and I stopped in at Hill’s Lexington Barbecue the day after Thanksgiving, we didn’t know we were stepping into a little bit of controversy – we just wanted to try a new barbecue joint. As should be well-known to longtime readers of the blog, Lexington-style barbecue is the favorite style of the bros (or at least I think that’s still the case for the Texan, Rudy). Well, Hill’s claims to be the first barbecue restaurant to be branded as “Lexington barbecue” and has done so since 1951. According to Jim Early in The Best Tar Heel Barbecue: Manteo to Murphy, “[a]t the time they opened there were a few small side street barbecues in Lexington operated by Stamey, Beck and Swicegood. But none called their barbecue place ‘Lexington Barbecue’.”

Speedy: Let’s first start with how we ended up at Hill’s. We used the excellent Great NC BBQ Map to find a joint that uses only wood coals close to our hometown of High Point that neither of us had ever been to. After a quick 25 minute drive in the Monk-mobile, we were walking into an old-timey joint that looks like it hasn’t much changed since the aforementioned 1951 date.

We quickly ordered and had our food within 3 minutes.

Monk: And we aren’t talking figuratively here, folks. We literally mean we had food within 3 minutes of ordering.

Speedy: The plate looked great – finely chopped pork, red slaw, and crinkle fries. We might as well have been in heaven. Digging in, I was treated to that nice smokey Lexington flavor I love (and miss in Tennessee). The pork was solid, though I think the ratio of ketchup to vinegar in the dip favored the ketchup a little too much. The pork was served with dip, and no extra was needed.

Monk: I agree that the dip was a little too much on the sweet side, but that’s a minor complaint. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have added more of the table side dip to the meat and just sprinkled it with Texas Pete.

Speedy liked the hush puppies more than me – they were a little more on the savory side of the spectrum – but again, not a huge negative. The red slaw was a classic example of a Lexington barbecue slaw and as is the best that can be hoped for, the fries were fries and didn’t ruin the meal.

Speedy: Similar to the meat, I thought the slaw was a little too sweet, but overall, that’s nitpicking the meal. This was definitely a classic Lexington-style meal. And while neither Monk nor I liked it as much as Lexington #1 or Stamey’s we both left Hill’s Lexington Barbecue feeling full and satisfied. I’m not sure what more you can ask for.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs
Hill's Lexington Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 11/29/17

– A tiny new joint in the mountains of NC called The Tin Shed has opened on a farm in the tiny town of Spruce Pines

– RIP Douglas Oliver, longtime pitmaster at Sweatman’s Bar-B-Que

– Dino Philyaw, a former University of Oregon and Carolina Panthers football player originally from Dudley, NC, has brought (among other things) Eastern Carolina barbecue to Eugene

Dino Philyaw cooks all kinds of barbecue but he is partial to the type of vinegar and pepper sauce-based barbecue from eastern North Carolina, where he’s from.

– How our differences show our similarities

Even before I was old enough to be given my first rifle, I was aware of the difference between eastern and western N.C. barbecue. Eastern BBQ, strangely enough, was almost considered a foreign dish. More than one elder statesman from the Piedmont informed me that the sauce was indeed different — it could be “downright bitter!” Adding ketchup to slaw, furthermore, was just what one did. It complemented the sliced or chopped pork shoulder. With my provincial yet well-informed definition of barbecue and sides, I kept chomping away, whenever there was an opportunity to do so.

– A few long-but-not-forgotten barbecue restaurants get a brief mention in this Charlotte Five article on most missed Charlotte restaurants – Old Hickory House, Olde Original BBQ, Ol’ Smokehouse, Rogers Barbecue

– HECK YES:

Linkdown: 8/17/16

– WOW: Picnic is hosting a three-day “bbq revival” and bringing in Elliot Moss of Buxton Hall, Sam Jones of Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ, Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin BBQ, Tyson Ho of Arrogant Swine, John Lewis of Lewis BBQ plus a lot more

– Speaking of Buxton Hall Barbecue, they have been named the #9 best new restaurant in America 2016

– Grant visits Zombie Pig BBQ in Columbus, his last new Georgia barbecue restaurant for awhile

– First We Feast gets another esteemed panel of experts to discuss “The Most Influential BBQ in America”; Barbecue Bros faves Stamey’s and Scott’s makes the list from the Carolinas

– Daniel Vaughn revisits Fox Bros Bar-B-Q after a few years and comes away impressed

– Question #1: Why are there two styles of NC Barbecue?

– Question #2: How would you describe SC barbecue?

Adding one more layer of complexity, he said that a third (or fifth, depending on who’s counting) sauce should be included: “rust gravy,” a ketchup-and-mustard blend found statewide, especially at the Dukes Bar-B-Que restaurants.

– Charlotte Agenda reports that Mac’s Speed Shop is opening a downtown Matthews location, just around the corner from Moe’s Barbeque

– Tim Kaine spent his Monday night eating barbecue at Buxton Hall and jamming with a bluegrass band nextdoor at Catawba Brewery

– So you can eat barbecue and lose weight; The Smoking Ho offers proof

Clark’s Barbecue – Kernersville, NC

IMG_5391
Name
: Clark’s Barbecue
Date: 7/16/16
Address: 331 N Carolina 66, Kernersville, NC 27284
Order: Chopped barbecue tray, coarse chopped sandwich, barbecue slaw, hush puppies, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: ~$13

Monk: Growing up in High Point, little did I know that there was a wood-smoked barbecue joint not 15 minutes away in the next town over of Kernersville. Clark’s Barbecue is off NC 66 situated between US-40 and Business 40 and is apparently a mile from the much more popular Prissy Polly’s (which curiously serves both eastern and Lexington barbecue – something to explore next time around). It’s located in an unassuming rectangular brick building and I would say Clark’s was definitely going for the “no-frills” experience when it comes to ambiance.

The chopped barbecue in the tray came with a nice consistency and good moistness. The Lexington-style ‘cue was surprisingly good and some of the best I’ve had outside of the town of Lexington – nice consistency of the chop, good smoke, and the right amount of tang in the sauce. In terms of presentation, the tray was placed on a coffee filter – something I’ve also seen at Richard’s in Salisbury.

For a change of pace, I also ordered a coarse chopped sandwich, which the menu claimed was “real barbecue” for “true barbecue aficionados”. I was a bit confused by the claim when it also has both the chopped classic Lexington style and the leaner sliced options. In any case, I found it a bit unwieldy to eat, with the larger chunks too large for the now soggy bun, and thus falling out easily with each bite. For me for you dawg, give me the chopped version any day. Still need to try that sliced someday though.

This was my first time encountering circular hush puppies in my barbecue travels – though my father in law didn’t seem phased by them – but I dug them even though I thought “onion ring” every time I picked one up. Clark’s does bring out as many baskets of hush puppies as you like, a touch I always like to see especially when they are this good.

I’ll be curious to try out Prissy Polly’s on the same stretch of road to compare the two joints in Kernersville, but considering its identity crisis in serving both eastern and Lexington I think it’d be hard to beat the solid barbecue from Clark’s Barbecue.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Clark's Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 11/25/15

– CNN calls the combination of barbecue and  football a “rapturous experience” and calls out places in some rivalry games this coming weekend including Allen & Son, Stamey’s, and Raleigh’s The Pit

– “Dipped” chicken is available at some some barbecue restaurants in NC including Bar-B-Q King in Charlotte and Lancaster’s BBQ in Mooresville and Huntersville

– Missed this a few weeks back but Southern Foodways weighed in on Calvin Trillin’s New Yorker article on NC barbecue

– We’ll lay off him since the Panthers are 10-0 and he only joined the team in week 4, but Jared Allen favors KC barbecue over NC

CM: You played in Kansas City for a while. Let’s talk barbecue.
JA: I know Charlotte’s probably going to hate me for this, hands down I think Kansas City has the best barbecue in the world. They have a variety. You can go to Arthur Bryant’s up there and get kind of the Carolina style, the more vinegar-y, and I’m not huge on the vinegar. Although it is nice because it’s not as smoky, but for some reason when I think I’m going to get barbecue, I plan on being really miserably full at the end of it. You know? [Editor’s note: The Panthers are 9-0. Nobody here can hate you. Unless you talk smack about Price’s.]

The good part out here is that I’m not miserably full. It’s not that heavy; it’s a lighter barbecue. But yeah, barbecue is great.

– In “so what” news, eastern NC barbecue is ruled healthier than its Lexington counterpart

– Making the South Carolina specialty