Linkdown: 11/20/19

Robert Jacob Lerma to the rescue: You may have heard that Ryan Cooper (co-founder of The Smoke Sheet aka @BBQTourist) has fallen ill recently, and Lerma is coordinating donations to help pay for medical bills if you are so inclined.

Wyatt’s Barbecue is bringing more whole hog barbecue to downtown Raleigh from the barbecue man behind Picnic, Wyatt Dickson

Chef Jake Wood of Plates Neighborhood Kitchen is also opening a new barbecue restaurant in Raleigh next year, Lawrence BBQ

The best barbecue in DC

Breakfast at barbecue joints in the Carolinas is a little different than the newer Texas trend of barbecue for breakfast

Hometown Bar-B-Que is doing a pretty dang good pastrami, apparently

Some details on Dr. Howard Conyers’ forthcoming barbecue book

10 years on the Texas barbecue trail: The Texas BBQ Posse looks back

Linkdown: 11/13/19

WILBER’S BACK (in Spring 2020)

Jamestown’s got a new wood-fired barbecue joint in Black Powder Smokehouse

A new barbecue newsletter called The ‘Cue Sheet from historian and author is a must-subscribe

Adrian Miller’s on the barbecue research trail at Lennon’s Restaurant in Warsaw, NC

Martin’s Bar-B-Que in Birmingham is one of the latest stops on John Tanner’s BBQ Blog, and he gave it a coveted Top Place tag

RIP San Antonio’s Granary

Barbecue-flavored vodka? Barbecue-flavored vodka.

Tejas Burgers is a new restaurant from the folks behind Tejas Chocolate that features a smoked burger

Our State Magazine’s got a NC barbecue quiz

On Mallard Creek Barbecue’s Brunswick Stew

Everyone knows that Brunswick stew originated in Brunswick County, Virginia. Or was it the city of Brunswick, Georgia? According to this article on the “complicated” history of the stew by barbecue historian Robert Moss, a claim in 1946 even claimed that the stew was a favorite of Queen Victoria and hailed from Brunswick, Germany. There’s also a Brunswick County in North Carolina but no one really tries to assert that the stew was first made there.

I’m not looking to wade into that war between Virginia and Georgia (for what it’s worth, Moss seemed to come down on the side of Virginia but says that Georgia perfected it). Instead, I’d like to focus on a local version of Brunswick stew served at the venerable Mallard Creek Barbecue. Every year as that 4th Thursday approaches and I link to an article about the preparation for the barbecue in my Wednesday linkdowns, a commenter either on this site or our Instagram or on our Facebook page inevitably comments on the Brunswick stew. Or rather, how the version served at the Mallard Creek Barbecue isn’t really Brunswick stew.

But first, for the uninitiated, the Mallard Creek Barbecue is a one day church barbecue held the 4th Thursday of October every year for the past 90 in North Charlotte. Think about that – in a city where very few things are old, this is a tradition that has been going on for 90 years. Granted, back then the land containing an old school house was vacant farmland not actually a part of Charlotte and has been incorporated in the years since. But my point remains: in a city that doesn’t have many – possibly any – institutions that are 90 years old much less much of a barbecue heritage, Charlotte somehow has a 90 year old annual barbecue. The barbecue is great and any serious barbecue fan in the area should try to attend just once. But back to the Brunswick stew…

Traditional Brunswick stew is a tomato-based thin soup or thick stew that originally was made with squirrel meat along with other a few other meats depending on the location in which it was served (shredded chicken in Virginia, pulled pork and shredded beef in Georgia, shredded chicken and beef and pulled pork in North Carolina). Then, it would have some mixture of potatoes, lima or butter beans, corn, okra, tomatoes, plus potentially a variety of other vegetables. So, to summarize: its either a thick or thin stew but maybe a soup, its made with any number of meats, and its got some veggies but who knows which ones. As you may have gathered, there really is no official recipe.

The recipe for Mallard Creek’s version uses ground chicken, beef, and pork instead of shredded versions of those meats. Lima beans are nowhere in sight and instead only corn and tomatoes are found in the stew. And perhaps most controversially, instead of potatoes, they use rice. Critics argue that the use of rice is filler to make the recipe go longer, but as Charlotte food writer Kathleen Purvis wrote in 2014, their recipe has been used since the 40’s and was more than likely made up by Rebecca “Beck” McLaughlin according to her son Dale since, as he notes “[s]he didn’t go by recipes on hardly anything.” Purvis’ article notes that the breaks from traditional Brunswick stew may have simply been a matter of preference since potatoes got too mushy and lima beans tasted too strong, according to Beck.

The official Mallard Creek Barbecue FAQ even has a question dedicated to the stew, noting “[o]n the practical side, some stews have potatoes – but don’t store/freeze/reheat well, [so] your Mallard Creek Stew will not break down as much, since the rice holds better.” It also notes that rice can’t possibly be used to stretch the recipe since there is “6 times as much meat vs rice (by weight) in each serving of stew.”

While I am really only versed in North Carolina versions of Brunswick stew, I quite like Mallard Creek’s version particularly on days when the sun is shining but the temperature is cooler. Were I to travel extensively in Virginia or Georgia, I have a feeling I’d like those respective versions as well (perhaps Georgia more so than Virginia based on what I’ve read). Regardless, my curiosity is officially piqued and as such, I will be ordering Brunswick stew any chance I get in my barbecue travels now.

I just wish I had gotten a gallon or two from this year’s Mallard Creek Barbecue.

For more on Brunswick stew:

More photos from this year’s 90th Mallard Creek Barbecue:

Linkdown: 10/23/19

The 90th Annual Mallard Creek Barbecue is this Thursday

Last weekend’s Smoke on the Water barbecue competition in Washington, NC raised $30,000 for local charities

The Barbecue Festival will bring in over $6.5 million dollars to the area

Matthew Odam’s list of top 50 Austin restaurants is now out and includes 3 barbecue restaurants – Franklin, Interstellar, and La Barbecue

A new contender enters the barbecue drink ring: sweet tea, Cheerwine, or champagne?!?

Robert Moss’s 7 Memphis joints to visit in next month’s Southern Living

NC Tripping’s list of best restaurants in Cleveland County includes several barbecue restaurants including Bridges Barbecue Lodge, Alston Bridges, and The Honey Hog

Linkdown: 9/25/19

Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque at Sweet Lew’s this Sunday!

Corky’s Bar-B-Q was the final sandwich of John Tanner’s Great Memphis Region Barbecue Sandwich Tour

Robert Moss on Boston butts

The Barbecue Festival adds two new sporting events to the weekend’s festivities: the BBQ Hardwood Classic and the Pig Pickin’ Throwdown

How the Northeast did at American Royal

The Athletic takes on Alabama barbecue

Jon G’s Midweek Charlotte Pop-up: THIS IS NOT A DRILL

Linkdown: 8/28/19

Robert Moss’s annual top 50 barbecue list for Southern Living is always worth a read, and this year is no different because of Moss’ inclusion of “not the usual” suspects

Coverage of the list: a SC restaurant topped the list, 8 total SC restaurants (and 3 Midlands) made the list. two Houston restaurants, only one Dallas restaurant

If Moss wasn’t busy enough, he’s got 3 recent barbecue books worth checking out from Sam Jones, Matthew Register, and Jim Auchmutey

More new Charlotte barbecue incoming:

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint’s Charleston location (its 10th) has hit the ground running according to the Charleston City Paper

It’s official: Matt Horn is opening a brick and mortar in the bay area

A “Black Tie BBQ” event is a more budget-friendly barbecue event worth checking out at next year’s Charleston Wine and Food Festival with Rodney Scott, John Lewis, Aaron Siegel, Taylor Garrigan, and Anthony DiBernardo, as well as out-of-towners Amy Mills and Matthew Register

A short article on Lexington Barbecue from the local Fox affiliate

There’s a new brisket option in the lowcountry of SC in Malone Barbecue

Rodney Scott is officially coming to Atlanta

Linkdown: 8/21/19

Sweet Lew’s Barbeque, Buxton Hall Barbecue, Lexington Barbecue, Grady’s BBQ, and Skylight Inn BBQ all represent NC on this Thrillist list

Is the North Carolina Department of Transportation Anti-Barbecue? John Tanner things maybe perhaps so.

NC DOT, careless of the thousands of victims of The Great Wilber’s Debacle, now turns its guns on Lexington.  NC Dot has determined that the Smiley’s-Speedy’s section of Winston Road apparently gets a fair amount of traffic.  Of course it does.  It contains two barbecue places.   

Robert Moss reflects on Charleston’s dining scene so far, including the barbecue scene which went from “minor outpost to [an] acclaimed destination”

USA Today advocates for Clyde Cooper’s BBQ in Raleigh, saying its “a key stop on any tour of America’s pantheon of BBQ joints”

Bryan Furman will be at this November’s Savannah Food & Wine Festival

Can any city rival Austin’s BBQ? Austin-based food writer Rob Balon says no.

The 36th Barbecue Festival will take place October 26th in Lexington

Linkdown: 7/31/19

The Free Times profiles three Columbia-area pitmasters who are doing different styles of barbecue

The Smoke Pit will open it’s fourth location in Gastonia later this year. Its original location is in Concord with two more stores in Salisbury and Monroe.

NC Tripping with a primer on NC barbecue plus their list of the best in the state

The Editor in Chief of Garden and Gun fondly remembers barbecue meals over the years

An American living in Canada takes a 10-day southern barbecue odyssey through Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Missouri

Reposting this fantastic article on the history of ribs from barbecue historian Robert Moss just because:

The Redneck BBQ Lab, a barbecue restaurant attached to a gas station in in Benson, gets profiled by news channel WTVD 11

Plan accordingly:

Instapot ribs:The meat was tender and juicy, albeit a pallid gray color. Never mind, slap some sauce on those ribs and throw them in the hot oven until the sugars caramelize. They turned gloriously glossy with meat you could slurp off like a cartoon dog eating a chicken leg.

Linkdown: 7/10/19

Robert Moss drops rib knowledge in this well-researched article on the history of pork ribs

Chapel Hill’s TerraVita Food & Drink Festival will end this year but is going out with a bang in terms of barbecue; in addition to Sam Jones, [t]his year’s Hill Fire event will focus on North Carolina barbecue and bring together the state’s new generation of pitmasters, including Matthew Register of Southern Smoke, Chris Prieto of Prime Barbecue, Wyatt Dickson of Picnic in Durham, as well as other chefs who use smoke in their cooking.

Sauceman’s is relocating to Sugar Creek Brewing from its original location on West Boulevard

USA Today has their list of the country’s best regional barbecue joints but somehow includes Bill Spoon’s in Charlotte for North Carolina? Ok.

Southern Smoke by Matthew Register gets reviewed by the Triangle free paper

Where to Eat Barbecue Around D.C. according to Eater

A smoker fire has closed a downtown Atlanta joint

The Story of NC BBQ exhibit is currently showing at the NC Transportation Museum in Spencer

Jim Auchmutey on the south’s most overlooked barbecue states, Alabama and Georgia

More from Auchmutey on five myths regarding barbecue

Author D.G. Martin on what should replace the closed NC barbecue (and other roadside eatery) joints

A glowing profile of Matt Horn, “the future of Bay Area barbecue”

Linkdown: 6/19/19

Do you have what it takes to be Reynolds Wrap’s Chief Grilling Officer and taste ribs across america?

Another Carolina-style barbecue joint is closing, but this one’s in San Francisco

Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro is officially for sale after unexpectedly closing earlier this year due to back taxes owed

Do you order lean or fatty brisket? A primer from Robert Moss for those who aren’t familiar with Texas barbecue

The Raleigh News & Observer gets around to reviewing the two NC barbecue books released last month from Sam Jones and Matthew Register of Southern Smoke

You can still use this barbecue sauce and beer pairing guide even though Father’s Day has passed

Over 30 Bloomberg journalists tasted a variety of barbecue sauces and gave their impressions

Interesting story on the latest move towards openness in barbecue

Sweet Old Bill’s ups the ante on High Point barbecue scene

Sweet Lew’s BBQ gets a mention in the Washington Post’s locals guide to Charlotte