South Main Street BBQ – Waxhaw, NC

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Name
: South Main Street BBQ
Date: 8/8/18
Address: 116 E South Main St, Waxhaw, NC 28173
Order: Chopped pork sandwich with slaw, chips, and Cheerwine (link to menu)
Price: $9

Monk: On an excursion to Frontier Meats just south of Waxhaw to research potential meats for future smokes, I stopped by South Main Street BBQ, a self-proclaimed “Tex-Lex” barbecue restaurant in charming downtown Waxhaw located in the former JB’s Lazy Pig BBQ location. Owner John Crane, who also runs the Killer Q food truck, purchased the business in September 2017 and relaunched it as South Main Street BBQ this past April since it was, you know, located off of South Main Street.

When I tried Killer Q in September 2015, I was a fan of the smokiness in the meat and noted how they had just acquired a BQ stick burner (the kind that Sam Jones uses). I’m not sure if they are using that smoker here but unfortunately, I did not taste that same smokiness in their storefront. While the large sandwich had good texture between the pulled pork and the slaw, when I pulled strands of pork out I just didn’t get a lot of smokiness.

Speaking of slaw, what is normally added for free will cost you an extra $1 here. Obviously, it’s just a dollar, but on a $7 sandwich it seems a bit excessive. Another gripe – the lunch combo came with a bag of Lays where I would have preferred cornbread (that’ll cost you another $2 extra).

South Main Street BBQ does offer brisket (i.e. the “Tex” in the “Tex-Lex”), but only on Saturdays. I’ll have to try that if I make it back to Waxhaw either for Frontier Meats or to check out The Dreamchaser’s Brewery across the railroad tracks downtown. Perhaps if I do, the pulled pork will be a little smokier.

Ratings:
Atmosphere/Ambiance – 2 hogs
Pork – 2.5 hogs
Sides – N/A
Overall – 2.5 hogs

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Linkdown: 8/1/18

– House of Swank in Raleigh designed an iconic NC barbecue t-shirt but has recently learned that the design has been ripped off by Tervis tumblers that are being sold at some Bed, Bath, and Beyonds

– Has Lockhart lost some of its luster?

– Savor Virginia has a Richmond barbecue tour

– No, of course Franklin Barbecue is not closing

– Aaron Franklin does, however, have a new cookbook in the works that isn’t about barbecue but is sticking with beef

– The Y’All Sauce Co. out of Winston-Salem is a new line of barbecue sauces inspired by Tennessee, Kentucky, and Mississippi; sauces from North Carolina, South Carolina, and Louisiana are in development

– Steve Raichlen remembers Jonathan Gold

– What are your thoughts on the term “pitmaster?”

– Nice find by Twitter user @MatthewTessnear

Linkdown: 7/25/18

– The food writing world lost a titan last week. RIP Jonathan Gold.

– Rudy Cobb of the famed Jack Cobb BBQ and Son in Farmville is retiring next month and closing the restaurant

– Food and Wine has a list of best barbecue joints in each state (plus a few runner-ups)

– Art’s BBQ and Deli and Bar-B-Q King are on this list of classic Charlotte restaurants you must try

– The #1 barbecue sauce on Amazon is based out of Charlotte, and they are making a hot version of it

– The NC BBQ Society website has been redesigned

– Barbecue is a sport

– A Brooklyn man with Greenville, NC connections is selling eastern Carolina-influenced ribs and chicken at the corner of Albany Avenue and Pacific Street in Crown Heights

– The last remaining smokehouse (for smoked hams) in Smithfield, VA has closed

– An oldie but goodie

Monk Participates at a Barbecue Roundtable at the 2018 NC State BBQ Camp

Monk: A few months back, I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate on a barbecue roundtable at the NC State BBQ Camp by Dana Snow, professor of Food Science at NC State. Considering I am both a NC State grad and a barbecue aficionado, I could think of no greater honor and accepted immediately.

The camp itself was early last month, and on day 2 I arrived shortly before the roundtable during a break in the camp. And to my surprise, they had beer! It had been at least 15 years since I had drank a beer on campus at State (not counting football games of course), so I was in a great frame of mind ahead of the roundtable discussion underneath the big tent.

The roundtable was moderated by the great Bob Garner and joining me on the panel was Joe Beasley of Haywood Smokehouse in the Asheville/Waynesville area as well as Tripp Hursey, the great grandson of the Hursey family that runs the Hursey’s Bar-B-Que restaurants in Alamance Count. While those guys could provide the perspective of owning and running a barbecue restaurant, I was on there to give a different perspective as a barbecue blogger.

Bob kicked off the panel by prompting each of the panelists question or two about our experiences before opening it up to the campers. I recounted the story of how Speedy, Rudy, and I got the idea for the blog in 2012 and also told stories of how Mrs. Monk puts up with my barbecue obsession. I may look a bit pensive and anxious in the photos that Mrs. Monk captured from the discussion, but once I got going I felt more and more comfortable (the couple of beers also helped). Unfortunately, after about 40 minutes a downpour came and made it extremely hard to hear any discussion under the tent so Bob made the executive decision to call it in favor of a happy hour before the pig pickin’. More beer!

And to my surprise, the two beers on tap were both beers made on campus. And a sour at that! Predictably, the sour was not for everyone and most campers went for the Wolfpack Pilsner. Oh well – more sour for me. Soon enough, it was time for the pig pickin’ and  a huge 200 lb porker that had been smoked offsite more than ably fed all of the 30 or so campers plus the 10-15 or so guests. Being in this part of the state, it was of course served eastern style with a vinegar sauce and white slaw. And it tasted amazing. Finally, for dessert peach cobbler with Howling Cow (the ice cream made on campus) capped off the meal perfectly.

It truly was an honor to participate in this year’s NC State BBQ Camp. Big thanks to Dana Snow for the invite and hopefully I can participate again next year.

 

 

 

 

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

 

Pitmasters of Charlotte: Garren Kirkman of Jon G’s Barbecue

While there is certainly good barbecue to be found in Charlotte, I wouldn’t quite say that it’s a barbecue city…yet. However, there are pitmasters out there doing great work, and I hope to spotlight that a little more in this series of posts called “Pitmasters of Charlotte.”

First up is Garren Kirkman, who along with his wife Kelly own and run Jon G’s Barbecue out of Marshville/Monroe. You may recognize Jon G’s as the current #1 on our Charlotte Big Board, so Garren was a natural first choice to feature.

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How long have you lived in Charlotte (or the surrounding area) and how did you get here?
I was born and raised in Statesville, NC and moved to Union County in 2007 for work. I’m a nuclear medicine supervisor by trade.

How did you become a pitmaster?
First off, I call myself a firekeeper. If you are reading this and think I’m a pitmaster, thanks!

I went to Walmart, found a choice whole packer brisket on clearance, went home and smoked it on an offset Char-Griller bellowing gray smoke for 16 hours and produced a meteorite. Needless to say…I had some work to do. (Although everyone ate it happily that day.) Brisket was surprisingly the first thing I ever smoked and not a Boston butt.

What is your favorite meat to smoke? What type of wood do you prefer?
Brisket and beef ribs are definitely top two, brisket being more of a challenge. My favorite thing to smoke would be beef ribs (dinosaur rib), but we typically save those for catering events due to regional unpopularity.

Mixture of well seasoned white oak and pecan are my choices for wood, but occasionally some red oak will slip in as well. We won’t turn red oak down as long as it’s seasoned. It is all about a consistent, clean burning fire.

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What are your barbecue influences?
If you’ve ever had our food it’s obviously influenced by Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin,TX. But aside from Texas influences, I admire Skylight Inn and Sam Jones in Ayden, NC. While I’m not smoking exactly like them, the history and their dedication to quality and product speaks for itself. I am not a trained “chef” so there is definitely some “Grandmas Sunday lunch” influence on our side dishes. On a side note, we do have a couple events planned this fall featuring a whole hog.

What is your favorite barbecue joint or style?
I’m not into chain restaurant barbecue. I like to go places where I can see the hard work that’s being poured into the food. I like to think we accomplish this even though we are a food truck (for now).

IMG_2509 (2)What is your earliest memory of barbecue?
Growing up in a small town in NC, fire department BBQ was a go-to and is honestly my first memory of BBQ. I’ll just say, it was for a good cause!

What is the best thing about Charlotte barbecue?
If I’m being completely honest, barbecue is not our first choice of a meal when we are home. We save it up for places like Buxton Hall in Asheville, Lewis Barbecue in Charleston, or when traveling to Texas, more up and coming places like Truth Barbecue. Of course we have made the rounds at Franklin Barbecue, La Barbecue, etc.

What is a weakness or opportunity of Charlotte barbecue?
I’d love to see more pitmaster based barbecue joints. A face behind the food, if you will. And less gas.

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Thanks to Garren for being our first guinea pig for this series. If you know of a pitmaster who we should feature next, let us know!

Linkdown: 7/11/18

– Adrian Miller, James Beard Award Winner: It’s time to diversity the BBQ Hall of Fame

Of the 27 inductees chosen thus far, only one African American is in the Hall. This is an absurdity that needs to be rectified given the significant contributions that African Americans have made to American barbecue culture.

– What’s the best beer pairing for barbecue? 12 pitmasters weigh in, including Sam Jones

– No surprise here

– Heirloom Market BBQ, B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque, and Fox Bros BBQ continue to be on Eater Atlanta’s refreshed 38 essential restaurants

– Midwood Smokehouse Park Road and Unknown Brewing have collaborated on a smoked malt Helles beer called Heaven and Helles and are debuting it this Saturday at their Hop, Chop, and Sauce It party

– TMBBQ’s best pitmaster pit stops in Texas

– Conyers also earned a PhD in 09 from Duke

– City Limits Q in Columbia (who I still really need to try) is serving smashburgers this Friday at Craft and Draft

– Jon G’s Barbecue will be at the Union County Farmer’s Market in Monroe this Saturday at 10:30

– Not sure if there will be any left at the time of posting, but here’s your PSA

Friday Find: “Nourish” by Howard Conyers

Howard Conyers is a literal rocket scientist from Manning, SC who attended NC A&T in Greensboro for undergrad and Duke University for grad school where he earned a MS and PhD. He now has a show on PBS’s YouTube Channel, and the first episode is on SC whole hog.

When most people think “barbecue,” they don’t think “whole hog.” But that’s not the case for Dr. Howard Conyers, rocket scientist and South Carolina Whole Hog pit master. Watch this episode for a short-course on everything you need to know to fire up the pit for this regional Southern tradition.

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: 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