Pork, Pickles & Peanuts

What could be finer than pork, pickles and peanuts in Carolina?  Nothing, or so I’m told.  Stop by Duke Homestead in Durham this Saturday (tomorrow, in other words) and find out for yourself.

According to PP&P’s organizers, the festival will feature “a BBQ cook off and pie competition, live music, costumed interpreters at our historic site, local arts and crafts vendors, and a mock Tobacco Queen pageant.”

Better yet, the winner of the pageant “will make her debut in September at our Harvest & Hornworm festival.”  I bet you can’t wait to put that on your resume, young ladies!

In all seriousness, the event looks like it’ll be a blast so check it out.  Learn more on the Interwebs.

Barbecue Sauce Contest

Taking a page from the Democratic National Committee’s barbecue sauce contest (which I was invited to help judge but unfortunately could not participate), the Charlotte Observer and Raleigh News & Observer are seeking the best amateur sauce recipe in the state.

The Great N.C. Barbecue Sauce Contest offers a cash prize ($100) and “bragging rights” (pricelessworthless) to the winner.  The contest is open to residents of North or South Carolina who are at least 18 years old. Makers of commercially sold sauces are not eligible.  Enter by 5 p.m. on April 27th at charlotteobserver.com/food or nando.com/saucecontest

Bull City BBQ Classic

I am very late in promoting this event–alas, “real life” has gotten in the way lately–but I wanted to let y’all know about the first ever Bull City BBQ Classic.  The pork shoulder and pork rib cooking competition takes place this weekend in… you guessed it, Durham (aka the Bull City).  The event is affiliated with Refiner’s Fire Community Church, which is a damn near perfect affiliation for a barbecue contest.  (Other good BBQ church names might include Holy Hickory Episcopal, Outside Brown Baptist, the Church of the Latter Day Whole Hogs, or Barbecue Presbyterian Church.)

The event takes place at Refiner’s Fire Community Church’s parking lot at 1003 E. Main Street on Saturday.  Cooks will compete for pork rib and pork shoulder prizes, as judged by a three-celebrity panel: Michael Reese with 103.9 Radio Station, Anthony Wilson with ABC 11 and Dan Hill with Hill Chesson Insurance Company.  You’ll notice that your’s truly is conspicuously absent from this panel, but maybe next year I’ll get called on.

Judging begins at 11 a.m. and awards will be handed out by 2 p.m.; what happens in those three hours is anyone’s guess.  For more information, including seeing if you can enter the competition last-minute, contact Renee Brown at brownrr9 @ gmail.com

Carolina Pork Experiment

The yankees are coming, the yankees are coming.  But this time they are here to spread joy and pork.  This weekend the Carolina Pork Experiment, a stop on the circuit of the Brooklyn Brewery-sponsored The Food Experiments, will be held in Durham.

The event is a chance for amateur cooks to show off your porcine cooking talents, and for spectators to have a good time and a cold draft minus the competitive pressure.  (Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver is well-known as a perhaps the leading advocate for pairing beers and food.  His book, The Brewmaster’s Table, is a classic for foodies and beer geeks alike.)  Read more about The Carolina Pork Experiment after the jump. Continue reading

2012 Calendar of Events

With a new year upon us, it is time for me to update the Events page of this website with hog happenings planned for North Carolina in 2012.  If you know of a barbecue-related event coming up in the year ahead, especially if the event was not listed last year, please comment on this post or drop me a line at BBQJew at gmail.com. The more info you can provide about the event, the better. Providing a web address is helpful, but providing a free backstage pass, celebrity judging offer or other bribe is even better…

Thanks y’all,

Porky

World Kosher BBQ Championship

In case you missed it this past weekend, BBQ Jews from across the country (well, at least from a few metropolitan areas) descended on Memphis for the 23rd annual World Kosher Barbecue Championship.  For an event preview, see this article.  For event results, check… actually, do you really care who won?  It’s the concept that is most interesting.

From the contest website: “In a city where treif BBQ restaurants far outnumber synagogues, it was only natural that a creative team at the oldest, Jewish Orthodox congregation in the Mid-South, Anshei Sphard-Beth El Emeth (ASBEE), decided twenty-four years ago to offer a kosher alternative to the long-standing Memphis BBQ contest of the swine variety.”

Sounds like a good time and good food. Not as good as eating pork, of course, but good nevertheless.

Hog Happenin’ in Lincolnton Today and Saturday

If you’re like me–i.e., you’ve gone nearly 12 hours since you last ate barbecue–take comfort in the fact that you can get your ‘cue fix this weekend.  Tonight and tomorrow in Lincolnton is the annual Hog Happenin’, not to be confused with the Wil King Hog Happenin’ in Kinston that took place way back in May, or the Hog Happnin’ in Shelby in November.  According to the festival website, the Lincolnton event features “a regional bike fest and Kansas City Barbeque Society Sanctioned North Carolina State Championship Barbeque Cook-off that brings motorcycle owners and Barbeque teams together in downtown Lincolnton… While there are many hog events throughout North Carolina, Lincolnton was the first to combine the animal with the mechanical.” Hogs and Hogs, get it? Honestly, it took me a second…

The event draws close to 10,000 people to little downtown Lincolton, including volunteers from members of the  Christian Motorcycle Association, Carolina Faith Riders, Freedom Biker Church. Who knew there were so many motorcyclists riding for the lord?  I sure didn’t but good for them.  Word on the street is that the Veggie Tales Vegan-Baptist Biker Society is sitting out the Hog Happenin’ but may return for the yam portion of the Ham & Yam Festival in Smithfield next year.

At any rate, the Lincolnton event is free and open to the public.  Many more details online, and probably many more religious biker clubs I have not yet learned about.

Hogs and Pigs, Oh My

Two Triangle-area barbecue events take place this weekend:

Hillsborough Hog Day, the classic barbecue festival, cook-off and cultural event, moves up a month from past years in order to beat the heat.  The 29th annual event is held in River Park behind the courthouse and features live music, other entertainment, arts and crafts, and lots of chopped pork.  I’ll be dropping by bright and early on Saturday morning to help judge the pork shoulder cooking competition, so I’m looking forward to partaking in some breakfast barbecue.  I hope you’ll come out later on in the day to take in the festitivies, as it’s always a well run event and in the past the hot June weather has been my only complaint!  While you are in Hillsborough, be sure to check out the new Hillsborough BBQ Company.

A few dozen miles east of Hillsborough in Raleigh this weekend is the sixth annual Carolina Pig Jig, which will be held at the state fairgrounds as part of the Got to Be NC Festival (meaning, there will surely be an appearance by the giant shopping cart–you’ll see what I mean if you don’t know already).  The Pig Jig is a cooking competition organized by Raleigh Masonic Lodge #500 as a benefit for area children’s homes.

Porky’s Pulpit: To Judge or Not to Judge

On Saturday I had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of judging my first officially sanctioned barbecue competition.  I was one of an elite few hand-selected judges (okay, actually one of 54 judges and I had practically begged for the opportunity) at the first annual BBQ Capital Cook-off in Lexington, NC. 

The event drew more than 50 teams from across the southeast, including a half dozen or so from the Lexington area.  Under the rules of Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) sanctioned events, the teams competed across four categories: chicken, pork ribs, pork butt/shoulder and beef brisket.  Prizes were awarded for the grand champion, the best cumulative score across the four categories, as well as category-specific winners.  If you actually care about the details of the event, including who won, read this article.

I thoroughly enjoyed the judging experience, especially meeting a bunch of friendly and dedicated barbecue enthusiasts.  It’s definitely a different world out there on the “barbecue trail,” as members of the BBQ competition tribe call it, and I enjoyed being let into the world for a few hours.  I was among the younger judges, but it was a more diverse group than I expected: quite a few women, not all of whom were dragged there by their spouses, as well as people from as far away as Alabama and even, gulp, San Francisco.  There was a real sense of camraderie among the judges and other volunteers; one big, smoked meat loving family. From what little I observed of the teams competing, the camraderie is equally strong among cooking teams.

Despite the good time I had, I am not yet a competitive BBQ convert.  But it’s not because of the quality of the food.  The 24 samples I tried (six in each of the four categories, per KCBS judging protocol) were as a whole excellent–most were better than good restaurant barbecue and some were exceptionally good, with just a few subpar.  Plus, I wholeheartedly support the KCBS focus on wood-cooked barbecue, as gas and electric cookers are banned.  Yet I don’t quite buy into the concept of turning barbecue–which to me is all about enjoying oneself among friends in a laidback atmosphere–into a competition governed by a myriad of bureaucratic rules (e.g., a strict policy of disqualification for entries featuring garnishes other than green leaf lettuce, parsley or cilantro).  It’s not that I begrudge anyone the thrill of competing, but I’m not sure it is the scene for me.  On the other hand, I sure do like getting the opportunity to sample a bunch of delicious barbecue so I’m not ruling out giving judging another shot…

Judgment Day is Near

If you happen to be in Lexington, NC this Saturday please drop by and say hello to your’s truly.  Just don’t interrupt me while I’m hard at work.  I’ll be among the dozens of lucky folks volunteering at the first annual Lexington BBQ Capital Cook-off, a Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) sanctioned cooking competition.  It will be my first experience judging barbecue as a KCBS Certified Barbeque Judge and I am feeling the pressure already–am I worthy of grading others on their chicken, pork ribs, pork butt, and brisket?   

The cook-off should be a fun event to watch, but a word of warning: according to the Greensboro News & Record, “Because of health department regulations, those who attend the two-day event will not be able to taste the barbecue prepared by the teams during the competition.”  What a drag, and what a waste of pork.  The good news is that three of the competitors will be selling BBQ to hungry onlookers.  Read more about the event in the Greensboro News & Record or at the event website.  See you in Lexington!

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