There is a cool class coming up in Durham for those of you who really want to go whole hog (or have a meat cleaver fetish) and learn how to butcher one. Only a couple of spots left in this June 27th class so sign up soon. On the other hand, if you think the whole (hog) is greater than the sum of its (pork) parts, you could skip the class and just put the whole hog on the cooker like they do in Eastern NC.
Southern Living, that bastion of southern culture as viewed through a sometimes snooty lens (a monacle?) is in its best down home mode with a “‘cue awards” feature, which is available for free online. North Carolina is well represented, as it should be, including in the cover page video that highlights Sam Jones of the Skylight Inn’s family dynasty as well as legendary pitmaster Ed Mitchell.
Features include “The South’s Best Butt,” which gives props to Allen & Son, Bunn’s, Jimmy’s, Lexington #1, and Red Bridges; my only real quibble with that list is that focusing on butts (shoulders, really) rules out all the great whole hog places down east, but at least they didn’t confuse butts and full hogs. On a low note, only one North Carolina sauce made the Southern Living best of list, and it’s from, gulp, Cary. It’s a shame that they didn’t include any NC classics; Scott’s sauce would have been worthy of inclusion, among others.
Another feature worth a chuckle is the barbecue personality test. Porky LeSwine scored a “Pitmaster,” which may be a bit of a stretch but reflects my barbecue fundamentalism. I’m not sure if “yankee” is another possible test result, though I sure hope so. Anyone willing to slander yourself?
There’s quite a bit of other content within the main ‘cue awards page, so you have my permission to leave BBQJew.com to browse awhile.
For those of you still living in the past–as past when Hillsborough Hog Day took place in late June–remember that the event moved to May as of last year… and will be held THIS weekend. The festivities kick off Friday night in suddenly almost-hip historic downtown Hillsborough, and the main shindig is on Saturday. Visit the website for details: http://hillsboroughchamber.com/hog-day/. Sure, the food is a bunch of mediocre, primarily gas-cooked swine, but it’s damn fun anyway so check it out. And don’t feel too bad if you pass on the BBQ sandwiches in favor of a giant turkey leg, gyro or other carnival food staple… or if you want some real, wood-cooked BBQ then make a short side trip to the Hillsborough BBQ Company just a few blocks west of the festival.
Hey North Carolinians, today is primary election day. Get off your duff, put the smart phone down and drive to your local polling place (heck, catch a bus, bike or walk if you like, just get there). I try not to mix politics with BBQ, so I’ll refrain from making any statements about who you should vote for or what you should vote AGAINST (ahem). All I’ll say is that our democracy is a pretty damn great system, despite its flaws, so don’t take it for granted. It’s like wood-cooked pork barbecue–take it for granted and it may disappear forever.
If a friend had told me about a new BBQ joint in Wake Forest that cooks over wood coals and is run by Keith Allen’s next door neighbor, I’d have replied one of two ways: “Hmm, that is a weird dream” or “Have you been drinking again?” But when I read about such a restaurant in the News & Observer recently, I took it more seriously.
Evidently, there really is a new barbecue joint in Wake Forest that cooks with hickory and oak (gas-free, thank you very much). And it really is run by a neighbor of legendary pitmaster Keith Allen of Chapel Hill’s Allen & Son, which is one of the best ‘cue spots on the planet. I’m not sure that photosynthesis works with pitmasters, so I can’t figure out if Keith Allen’s special BBQ sunshine will help grow a neighbor into a great pitman, but I’m willing to test that theory. I’ll be headed to Fire Pit BBQ soon, and I hope you do the same.