Linkdown: 1/30/19

Vote in USA Today’s 10Best Reader’s Choice Awards for Best Barbecue in NC

Stamey’s Barbecue with a mini-tweet storm last week; none of which is wrong (click on the tweet below to see the rest):

Sometime it pays to have the fire chief as your pitmaster; a fire broke out in the smokehouse of Skylight Inn last week but Sam Jones was among the firefighters who put the fire out

Rock the Block in downtown Charleston is Saturday, February 23 and benefits Hogs for the Cause; Sam Jones and Justin and Jonathan Fox of Fox Bros BBQ will be in attendance

Conde Nast Travel recently profiled Birmingham and its reinvention and shouted out Rodney Scott’s BBQ, which is opening a store there in 2019

“The city caught my attention because of how pleasant it is,” says Rodney Scott, the James Beard Best Chef Southeast 2018 for his Rodney Scott’s BBQ in Charleston. He’s set to open his next, identical concept in Birmingham first-quarter 2019. “It’s a big city, but it feels like a small town,” he says. “It doesn’t feel like New York or Chicago, but it’s just as important a food city in my opinion.”

WBTV in Charlotte recently featured the “Love Endures” mural by artist Curtis King, which was saved from demolition and now resides behind Sweet Lew’s BBQ

The New York Times’ eating guide for Atlanta for this weekend’s Super Bowl and gives Bryan Furman and B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue a shoutout for being the only whole hog joint in town

Sure, why not?

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.

Recap: 2015 Super Bowl Smoke

If you are a longtime reader of our blog (do those exist?) then you will recall that for the past two Super Bowls, Speedy and I have taken the opportunity to step out from behind our blogger notepads and laptops for the Monk family annual Super Bowl party. Two years ago, Speedy and I competed head to head in a smoke off of pork butts and wings (in which I edged him out just slightly). Last year, we tackled our first brisket. This year, turns out Speedy was going to be out of town for the Super Bowl so I would have to go my own way (go my own way).

I started the night before by rubbing the meat with the “Luv Rub” that I picked up from Boone’s Bar-B-Que Kitchen. In year’s past I had mixed my own rub but decided to go the easy way this year. Besides the ease of simply sprinkling from the bottle, the rub itself enhanced the meat nicely.

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In terms of prep, that was basically it until my alarm woke me up at 5am to start the fire. In the smoke off two years ago, I didn’t get the fire going and get the meat on until close to 9am and felt like the pork butt could have used another hour or two so I wasn’t going to make that mistake this year. By 5:45 I had the meat indirectly set over the coals and had a pretty good smoke going. This time I decided to smoke it fat side up just to see if I noticed a difference.

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Outside of a brief nap around 6:30am, I stayed up and checked the temperature every 20-30 minutes for the next 11 or so hours. At around 4:30 the meat temperature had reached 190 degrees and it had a good bark, so I pulled the meat off the grill and let it sit for about an hour before chopping.

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After I chopped the butt I added some homemade Lexington dip to the pan and served to the party. I was really happy with how it came out and thought the rub from Boone’s worked out really well. I’m not sure that I noticed a huge difference smoking the butt with the fat side up, but it didn’t screw anything up so I would do it that way again. I also got some really good feedback from the crowd at the party.

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Once again, I was really happy with how it turned out and besides that, it was a lot of fun to smoke it on my own. I can’t wait until the next opportunity to try it again.

Monk

Recap: Speedy and Monk vs. The Beast Mode Brisket

Monk: As our loyal readers may recall, last year Speedy and I had a Super Bowl Smoke-Off of pork butts where I was fortunate enough to defeat Speedy in a close vote. This year, we wanted to switch it up and try our hands at smoking a brisket, something which neither of us had done. I have to admit, being largely unfamiliar with beef barbecue I was a little anxious to see just how this would go.

Speedy: First off, I’m still bitter about said smoke-off. I guess it’s my own fault for letting Mrs. Monk count the votes. Foolish.

Monk: Mrs. Monk is a saint!

Speedy: …But I digress. When I told Mama Speedy about our Super Bowl plans she volunteered to go to Shuler Meats to grab us a brisket. Everything I’ve ever had from Shuler’s has been awesome (and Mama Speedy goes there A LOT), so I immediately took her up on that offer. We got a really nice brisket and a few chicken wings and we were ready to go.

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Monk: A few chicken wings? Pshh, try nearly 10 lbs worth. Not to mention she got us a 15 lb packer brisket with both the flat and the point. Mama Speedy really hooked it up. Clearly we were going to try and cook it as authentic central Texas style as we could, so both Speedy and I did some research and consulted several YouTube videos on cooking briskets, particularly the Aaron Franklin ones we posted last week. So the night before the Super Bowl, we tried our hands at trimming the fat of the brisket down (with a few minor mistakes) and used a rub that mostly consisted of coarse salt and pepper (plus a few other spices). We also drank a lot of Shiner. And not just Shiner Bock. We got a Shiner Spring seasonal six pack (FM 966 if you are keeping score at home) plus another variety pack with 6 different types of Shiner, a few of which I had never even heard of. And in case we ran out of those bottles, I just so happened to still have a little Shiner Oktoberfest in the kegerator (we didn’t get that far, thankfully). Needless to say, I think we were in the right Texas mindset to smoke some brisket.

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Speedy: So we were left with a decision – put in a little extra effort and cook true ‘cue on Monk’s Weber charcoal grill (set up as an indirect smoker, of course) or use my electric smoker, not worry about getting up in the middle of the night to check the fire and take the easy (and less tasty) way out. But Monk and I don’t do anything the easy way. So we fired up the Weber with hardwood briquettes and white oak chunks.

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Monk: That itself presented its own challenges, as I experienced last year, with keeping the temperature consistent. Not to mention the fact that due to our inexperience with brisket we decided to start the smoking at midnight the night before to ensure that we would have enough time to properly smoke the meat. The last thing we wanted was to be meatless once our guests arrived the next day.

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Speedy: Of course Monk and I had to check the fire throughout the night, so Monk checked it right before he went to bed (around 1:30) and I set an alarm for 4 am. Heading out to Monk’s patio, I was displeased to see the fire nearly out, with just a few coals left burning. Now, dear readers, you may not know this, but I’m not exactly a cool customer, so I freaked out. Not wanting to wake Monk up, I immediately threw on more coals but also filled up the starter chimney and got that going as well. Shortly after, Monk awoke to find me nearly burning down his house. We decided we’d make a second pile of coals to put in the grill in order to make sure we didn’t lose heat. I’m not sure this was the greatest idea, but it made us feel like we could go back to sleep.

Monk: I arose a few hours later and lo and behold, the brisket internal temp was just about 180 – so uh, yeah, it was very close to being finished, only at 7am and waaay before we needed it to be. Maybe we had been a little aggressive with the extra charcoal at 4am but what are you going to do. We kept the brisket on the smoker for another 3 hours until the internal temp was at 190 and decided that if we didn’t want an overdone brisket, we needed to take it off the smoker and figure out some way to keep it warm for about 8 hours. Clearly, this was not the ideal situation.

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Speedy: But we thought to ourselves “Hey – these restaurants keep their brisket warm all day. If only there were a way that we could see what others have done in similar situations.” It took a while to figure out what to do, but Monk had the great idea of Googling a solution. The answer – wrap the meat in double foil, then in a towel, place in a cooler, and stuff the rest of the cooler full of towels so there’s no empty space. So we did. And 8 hours later, I got the brisket out to slice and let me tell you – it was HOT!

Monk: …which was such a relief. As he was slicing the brisket, Speedy mentioned to me that the flat was a little dry but that the point was still pretty moist, which I understand to be pretty common when cooking brisket. However, the brisket went pretty quickly so that had to be a good sign. Unfortunately, I actually don’t think I had much brisket at all once it was served – there was too much going on at the party in terms of gathering prop bet sheets and quarters bets before kickoff and then I kinda forgot to eat. I also forgot to take any more photos the rest of the night…oops.

Speedy: At the end of the day, I think it turned out well for our first try. Did we make some mistakes? Sure. But we turned out a nice brisket that people really enjoyed. I think the flavor was great and we had great bark – we just dried out a bit of it. But that just gives us an excuse to do it all over again!