Linkdown: 2/21/18

– Congrats to Sam Jones on his James Beard nomination!

– Two other barbecue chefs got nominations as well including Rodney Scott of Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston and Tootsie Tomanetz of Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, TX; Ronnie Killen was also nominated but technically for his new steakhouse, Killen’s STQ

– Texas Monthly has more on Tootsie’s nomination

– A new barbecue restaurant recently opened in Darlington, SC named Fahrenheit 225

– Guy Fieri is curating a lineup of “barbecue badasses” for the country music festival Stagecoach in Indio, CA in late Apil – though the actual list itself doesn’t live up to that billing

– Harold Conyers, a NASA scientist who studied engineering at NC A&T for undergrad and Duke for grad, recently gave a keynote at Morris College in South Carolina

– How Frank Scibelli, restaurateur behind Midwood Smokehouse, Mama Ricotta’s, and Paco’s Tacos (and more), works each day

– The folks behind Seoul Food Meat Co are opening a korean barbecue restaurant next door, targeting later this month

– Owner Rob Berrier announced last month that the Little Richard’s BBQ stores on County Club Drive in Winston-Salem and in Wallburg have changed their names to Real Q; the remaining four Little Richard’s locations separately owned by Nick Karagiorgis and his son Stavros will keep the Little Richard’s name. Read more for the somewhat confusing history behind the ownership of the different locations at the link below.

 

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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.

Smokey Joe’s Barbecue – Lexington, NC

IMG_1633
Name
: Smokey Joe’s Barbecue
Date: 1/15/18
Address: 1101 S Main St, Lexington, NC 27292
Order: Small chopped tray with hush puppies and a Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: $9

Monk: Part two of my MLK Day sojourn to Lexington, Smokey Joe’s is right in downtown Lexington off South Main Street in a small brick building with a drive-thru window. This was actually my first time in downtown Lexington since most of the joints I’ve previously gone to were right off interstate 85.

In terms of menu, Smoke Joe’s was almost identical to what I had just seen at Speedy Lohr’s in terms of having not only barbecue but other southern comfort food staples in hamburgers, hot dogs, fried chicken, chuck wagon, fried fish, etc. I’m not sure if this is just the typical menu setup for a classic Lexington joint or just a coincidence but I’ll have to pay more attention the next time I’m at a different spot.

Ordering the small tray allowed me to compare like to like with what I had just eaten at Speedy Lohr’s. The portions were nearly identical – that is, much larger than the “small” designation would indicate. In terms of pork Smokey Joe’s was smokey, tangy, and moist. I was officially two for two on the day.

As for sides, I actually preferred the slaw here since it was more vinegary and less sweet than Speedy Lohr’s. The basket of oblong-shaped hush puppies was less plentiful than the previous spot, which was welcome from me. I should note that, had I actually wanted more hush puppies it would have gladly been refilled by the friendly wait staff. This being my second meal in a matter of an hour span, I was most definitely not looking for more hush puppies.

This particular day was a good day full of really good barbecue (emphasis on “full”). Smokey Joe’s was yet another above average Lexington joint and when I am ultimately able to make a credible Lexington big list, I suspect Smokey Joe’s will be up there just a notch below my favorites.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs

Speedy Lohr’s BBQ – Lexington, NC

IMG_1625
Name
: Speedy Lohr’s BBQ
Date: 1/15/18
Address: 3664 NC-8, Lexington, NC 27292
Order: Small chopped tray with hush puppies and a Cheerwine 
Price: $9

Monk: On our way to Cook’s BBQ just after Thanksgiving, we actually passed Speedy Lohr’s BBQ, a barbecue joint with a very similar name to two other joints in the town of Lexington: Speedy’s Barbecue Inc. and Speedy Lohr’s BBQ of Arcadia. While Cook’s was alright, after this trip in hindsight maybe we should have just stopped at Speedy Lohr’s instead of heading another 4 miles south.

Speedy Lohr’s is located in a no frill building off NC Highway 8 south of Lexington, a classic Lexington-style joint that actually caught fire in 2015 and closed. Thirteen months and $200,000 later, it reopened in August 2016 with its barbecue pits now conforming to current code and has been seemingly humming along ever since. Prior to Speedy Lohr’s taking over the building and its pits in June 2013, it was a barbecue restaurant named Whitley’s Barbecue. Owners Randy and Amy are no strangers to the barbecue business though, with Randy’s father previously running a barbecue joint in the area that was a casualty of when the state of North Carolina expanded highway 8.

Knowing that I was likely going to go to one more spot that day, I tried to keep it simple with a small chopped pork tray with hush puppies instead of buns (duh). Little did I know, the small tray is actually quite big and I left a bit more stuffed than I would have liked. Thankfully, what I was stuffed with was really good smoke-kissed chopped pork basted in a traditional Lexington dip. I couldn’t stop eating the pork until it was all finished even though I knew that I was going to pay for it later due to my limited stomach space. But it was just that good.

The basket of fresh, small orb hush puppies was also a rather bountiful and the slaw on the other side of the cardboard tray was maybe a tad heavy on the dip but still good. Each part of the Lexington trinity was hitting on all cylinders that day.

In all honesty, I actually meant to go to Speedy Lohr’s BBQ of Arcadia that day to try and knock out another joint on the NC Historic Barbecue Trail. I’ll get to that some other time but I was very happy with the meal I got at Speedy Lohr’s BBQ. In my preliminary “Speedy” power rankings of Lexington joints with that in the name, Speedy Lohr’s BBQ wins out over Speedy’s Barbecue Inc. simply because they smoke over wood as opposed to electricity (even though we gave Speedy’s 4 hogs back in 2012). Next up I’ll have to try Speedy Lohr’s BBQ of Arcadia to see who takes the belt.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 4 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 4 hogs
Speedy Lohr's BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 1/17/18

– As good as the man’s barbecue is, at some point you have to wonder if Ed Mitchell’s business sense doesn’t match up; his Raleigh restaurant and food truck are both currently on hold and don’t look to be moving forward anytime soon

– Due to the fire at the old Lexington Home Brands Plant No. 1 and the expected clean-up time, Uptown Lexington has decided to cancel the annual BBQ Capital Cook-off in April

– A new all wood barbecue joint named Meating Street BBQ has opened in Roswell, GA; it was opened by a SC native

– The team behind General Muir in Atlanta are opening a wood-fired barbecue joint called Wood’s Chapel in the Summerhill neighborhood that will smoke whole hog among other meats

– An eastern NC native is now smoking whole hogs in central Virginia as part of a Carolina Q Pig Pickers catering operation

– The Smoking Ho starts 2018 off with a review:

– Fuller’s Old Fashioned Bar-B-Que gets a mention on this post on where to eat in Fayetteville, NC

– In another travel guide (this time from the Chicago Tribune via The Washington Post), both Henry’s Smokehouse and Bucky’s BBQ are mentioned as “100-mile barbeque”

– When there’s a threat of 1-3″ in the forecast in NC:

 

Cook’s BBQ – Lexington, NC

IMG_1013 (2)
Name
: Cook’s BBQ
Date: 11/25/17
Address: 366 Valiant Dr, Lexington, NC 27292
Order: Monk: Three meat combo plate (chopped pork, sausage, ribs) with red slaw, hush puppies, fries, and Cheerwine; Speedy: Three meat combo plate (coarse chopped pork, brisket, ribs) with red slaw, hush puppies, tater tots, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: ~$17 each

Speedy: Monk and I were both embarking on a post-Thanksgiving drive from High Point to Charlotte (albeit in different vehicles), so we planned on a noon rendezvous at Cook’s BBQ in Lexington. As I was driving up, I thought that I might be entering a scene from Deliverance, and that possibly Monk was trying to kill me. Good news – he wasn’t, and Cook’s BBQ is real.

Monk: It is a bit of a weird location for a barbecue restaurant but I would never “Deliverance” you, Speedy. Off of 85, you go drive down Highway 8 south of Lexington proper and take a few turns on country roads. Then you drive past a few houses before happening on Cook’s in a dead-end at the end of a residential street.

The restaurant has been around since 1969 (though the current owners took over in 1984) so they must be doing something right, even if I feel it’s hardly ever mentioned along with the other Lexington joints. To add to its bona fides, it was also included along with Lexington Barbecue, Skylight Inn, Allen & Son’s, and other NC barbecue heavy hitters in this 2012 Washington Post primer on NC barbecue ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. I had been wanting to stop in for years, particularly once I realized they were open on Sundays – a rarity for most family-owned barbecue joints.

Speedy: One thing that’s a little different about Cook’s from most Lexington style joints is the variety of meats. In addition to pork, they have brisket, ribs, and sausage. As Monk and I do when we see lots of meat, we ordered it all. I opted to go with coarse chopped pork (for a change of pace), the ribs, and the brisket. Monk had the same order, but subbed sausage instead of brisket. We both had red slaw and some form of fried potatoes (tots or fries).

Monk: The table agreed that the sausage was the best meat that we tasted that day, though I don’t know where Cook’s gets its sausage from or whether its house made (I suspect its not). In any case, it’s good.

Speedy: Agree, and I will order it should I go back. The brisket surprised me. NC brisket is generally plain bad (I’ve sworn it off a time or two myself), but this stuff was decent. Not on par with anything I’ve had in Texas, but it was definitely passable.

Monk: I did read afterwards that its one of only two places in Lexington that even serves brisket, so its definitely an anomaly. The ribs were a bit overcooked and fell apart as soon as I attempted to pick up the rack. Not to mention they were overly slathered in a thick, sweet sauce. I would avoid.

Speedy: I didn’t care for the coarse pork. It was a mistake to order it that way. Monk enjoyed the fine chopped better. The sides were all good – particularly the hush puppies.

Monk: I had higher hopes for Cook’s being a hidden gem that might sneak into my personal best of NC list but perhaps my expectations were too high. While Speedy and I agreed that the meats were mostly above average, I don’t know that either of us will be going out of our way to make a special trip out to Cook’s Barbecue anytime soon, threat of Deliverance or not.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3 hogs
Pork – 3.5 hogs
Brisket – 3 hogs
Sausage – 4 hogs
Ribs – 2.5 hogs
Sides – 3.5 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs
Cook's Barbecue Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Linkdown: 11/1/17

– Photos from last weekend’s Barbecue Festival in Lexington, where almost 200,000 people made the trip

– More whole hog is coming to Texas in the form of Feges BBQ in Houston

– Meanwhile, in Austin:

– Barbecue vs chili (?): who ya got?

– Bare Bones in Raleigh served their last barbecue this past Sunday

– Truth:

 

Friday Find: Whole Hog (dir by Joe York)

Directed by Southern Foodways Alliance ringer documentary filmmaker extraordinaire, Joe York. We previously posted the follow-up to this video on the late Ricky Parker’s son, Zach, who is carrying on the tradition at Scott’s-Parker’s.

by Joe York, an examination of barbecue culture in west-central Tennessee. At the core of the story is whole hog stalwart Ricky Parker, pitmaster at B.E. Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Lexington, Tennessee.