Linkdown: 9/2/15

– The BBC reports on black pitmasters being left out of the barbecue boom

“National press is infatuated with white, male hipster BBQ,” writes Robb Walsh on the blog First We Feast. “Believe it or not, blacks, Latinos, and women are involved in the barbecue biz too.”

– On a related note, Robert Moss’ list of the 15 most influential people in barbecue history

Here, arranged chronologically, is my list of the 15 most influential figures in American barbecue history. By “influential”, I don’t mean the best cooks or the most successful restaurateurs, necessarily. We’re talking about impact and legacy: the people who helped shape the South’s rich barbecue tradition and create and promote the diverse regional styles we enjoy today. It’s a list that cuts across lines of race and class.

– Moss also has the first part in a series for the “Best of Southern BBQ” Awards

– Just saw that Bill Spoon’s now has a barbecue food truck serving the greater Charlotte area

– La Barbecue – #1 in our recently released Austin rankings –  is moving again in order to stay open during nights for patrons of the neighborhood bars

– The Smoking Ho’s recap of the TMBBQ Behind the Pit Dinner at Snow’s BBQ

– Marie, Let’s Eat! continues his Alabama barbecue travels at Bar-B-Q Hut in Heflin and The Rocket in Jacksonville

– This list is from 2012 but worth a revisit since it has been retweeted in the past week

– The Southern Sauce Festival,  which combines the Q-City Charlotte Barbecue Championship and the Charlotte Beerfest, is one of the 10 things you must do in September, according to Charlotte Five

– From friend of the blog Johnny Fugitt, the most underrated barbecue in St. Louis

– More lists: Yahoo’s 50 best barbecue restaurants in the America by state; gotta say, some headscratchers in this one

– IT’S ALL HAPPENING:

-NPR article on how locals are turning 5-hour long lines at Franklin’s into cold hard cash

– The Daily Meal’s list of America’s 35 Best Ribs 2015 was compiled from 40 different “rib experts” and includes The Pit in Raleigh at #34; Louie Mueller takes the top overall spot (check out Rudy’s recent review here)

Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ and Rocky Top BBQ Company

For this year’s Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship (our photos and some thoughts here), they had several more barbecue trucks than they did last year. This, in turn, allowed Speedy and I to check out a couple more Charlotte-area barbecue vendors that we hadn’t been able to try yet. It may be harsh to judge each of these vendors based on their output at a barbecue festival, but nonetheless here’s some of our quick thoughts on the two sandwiches that we both tried that day.

Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ – Belmont, NC (link)
Pork sammy – 3 hogs

Monk: Ranucci’s Big Butt BBQ has won a lot of competition trophies on the Memphis Barbecue Network, including grand champion of last year’s version of the Q City Championship (when it was a Memphis Barbecue Network event; this year it was sanctioned by the NC BBQ Association). From what I can tell, they mostly do private events and catering, so this was a fairly rare opportunity to try their barbecue. Their pulled pork sandwich was coarsely pulled pork strands as opposed to chopped and had decent smoke. But ultimately I found it a little dry unless I added their eastern style sauce, which I dashed on before leaving their truck and sitting elsewhere. Not bad, but I wasn’t blown away like I was hoping from such an accomplished barbecue competition team.

Speedy: I actually didn’t notice the sauce before leaving the truck, so I had to do without. Like Monk, I found it to be a little dry and a little lacking on the flavor. At the end of the day, competition barbecue is so different than churning out a bunch of sammies for a festival crowd. I just feel like it this setting, vendors should pick a flavor and go with it instead of having festival goers choose and sauce their own sandwich.
Ranucci's Big Butt BBQ
Sandwich from Ranucci's Big Butt BBQ

Rocky Top BBQ Co. – Monroe, NC (link)
Pork sammy – 3 hogs

Speedy: The Rocky Top BBQ Company is a catering and competition team out of Monroe, NC. They’ve been competing since 2009 and have even appeared on BBQ Pitmasters. Monk and I both ordered the barbecue sandwich from Rocky Top as well. I thought the sandwich was pretty good, but not great. I did enjoy it more than Ranucci’s – it was sauced, so dryness wasn’t an issue. It did taste a bit sweeter than I am accustomed to, so I probably would prefer a little more vinegar-y tang. Overall, I thought it was enjoyable.

Monk: To me, something was a little off on this sandwich, texture-wise. And I agree with Speedy on the sauce being a little sweeter than I’d like. Of the two sandwiches I tasted, I preferred Ranucci’s to this one, but as you can tell neither knocked my socks off.
Rocky Top BBQ Co.
Sandwich from Rocky Top BBQ Co.

Photo Gallery: 2014 Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship, 10/18/14

A few photos from last weekend’s Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship, now a NC BBQ Association sanctioned event. Whether it was due to the change in sanctioning bodies or different organizers, I enjoyed the changes to this year’s version of the festival a lot. The barbecue competitors were more front and center, lined up on S. Tryon Street instead of being an afterthought to a street festival. There were also several more professional barbecue vendor options to choose from to eat. All in all, not a bad way to spend a few hours on a beautiful autumn Saturday morning.

Monk

Linkdown: 10/15/14

Deep fried barbecue on a stick at – where else – the NC State Fair in Raleigh

– The 85th annual Mallard Creek BBQ Festival has big plans for 2014

In 2014, we expect to cook 14,600 pounds of pork barbecue, prepare 2,500 gallons of Brunswick stew, shred 2 tons of Cole slaw, brew 400 gallons of coffee, and entertain close to 20,000 people.

Shots fired at Lexington-style barbecue by Linwood Parker, who owns White Swan Barbecue; isn’t White Swan the gas station barbecue who cooks with gassers?

“Years ago, when people started moving west in their oxen-dawn carts, it took so long they forgot the recipe for barbecue,” he said.

“When they reached their destination, the only kind of hogs they had were piney wood rooters that fed off acorns. So, their hog meat was green. They just added a lot of catsup to it to cover up the green color.”

Review of Bob Garner’s latest book, “Foods That Make You Say Mmm-mmm”

The 23rd Annual Hog Happnin‘ returns to the Cleveland County Fairgrounds on Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1

– Austin Chronicle story on John Lewis’s upcoming barbecue restaurant in Charleston

– A Notre Dame football blog talks NC barbecue in a post before last weekend’s game against UNC in South Bend

– Sam Jones is heading to Dallas for a whole hog event in November

– Eater story (with some nice photos) on the opening of Arrogant Swine in New York

Located on the border of East Williamsburg and Bushwick near the English Kills Canal, Arrogant Swine is the brainchild of pitmaster Tyson Ho, who studied under perpetual Barbecue Block Party participant Ed Mitchell, sometimes called the Pope of North Carolina barbecue. The hulking 3,000 foot space is a former warehouse, with high ceilings, a full bar, and a counter at the rear where the smoked meat and sides are sold by the plate or by the pound. Place your order and receive a number hoisted on a metal rod; carry it to your table and your meat horde will be delivered by and by. There’s an outside seating area, too, with giant graffiti murals decorating the outside walls of the building, and an L-shaped shack out back where the barbecuing is done.

– Shame about where this photo was taken but the linked article takes a look at barbecue culture in Charlotte

– This weekend you can actually taste some of the pitmasters barbecue at the Q-City Charlotte BBQ Championship ( as opposed to years past); more details here