Linkdown: 1/8/20

Charleston-based barbecue historian Robert Moss spotlights dishes from Home Team BBQ, Rodney Scott’s BBQ, and Lewis Barbecue on his “17 dishes that defined a decade in Charleston”

Moss was a busy man over the holidays, posting his thoughts on the direction of barbecue restaurateurs and empires in the 2020’s…

…as well as more 2020 decade predictions in this newsletter, The Cue Sheet

J.C. Reid looks back on a decade of craft barbecue

Raleigh News & Observer food writer Drew Jackson predicts Raleigh will become a barbecue capital this year

And since the above article, another Raleigh barbecue joint named Friendship Barbecue has been announced (although it will have a different approach)

The Kevin’s BBQ Joints podcast is teasing a big announcement later in January; subscribe on YouTube and stay tuned

Congrats to Stamey’s on 90 years!

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: