South of the Border

While many of you barbecue purists don’t consider ‘cue from south of the border or news from north of it, this New York Times piece on S.C. ‘cue combines the two. More specifically, it’s about Scott’s Variety Store and Bar-B-Q in Hemingway, S.C.

Now I know what some of you are thinking: Oy! But before you click away, know that John T. Edge, author of the fabulous Southern Belly and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance, wrote the article. In my book, that alone makes it worth reading.  

Might decent cue follow this sign?  (photo by Diamondduste)

Might decent 'cue follow this sign? (photo by Diamondduste)

The piece and the awesome, accompanying audio slide show really capture the atmosphere and color of slow-cooking swine. While there’s no mention of that palmetto state sacrilege–mustard in the dip–there is some MSG, unfortunately. But did you see that wood pile?!

My favorite passage from the article: 

Locals knew that if they dawdled until the serving table ran low, Jackie Gordon, Rodney Scott’s aunt, would break down another pig on the bone table. They knew that, with a little luck, they might score a rack of spareribs, wrenched hot from a carcass.

True to my name, I’d dawdle as long as it took to get some piping hot ribs.

Anyway, have a great weekend. And if you’re driving down to Hemingway, holler.

Documuttonary Film School

As you, dear readers, are well aware this website has a narrow-minded myopic laser-like focus on North Carolina’s pork barbecue culture.  Still, we cannot refrain from putting a plug in for a documentary film on another of America’s underappreciated forms of barbecue–Kentucky mutton.  Mutton is one of just a handful of distinct barbecue styles in the U.S., and without a doubt it is the most obscure of the styles.  A new (to us) documentary helps bring mutton the attention it deserves. (Disclaimer: I have not actually eaten mutton, so perhaps the film is bringing mutton attention it does not deserve.) 

Hmm...

Um, no...

According to its websiteMutton: The Movie “takes you on a magical journey to the northwestern corner of Kentucky (Owensboro to be exact) where the descendants of the Welsh who settled the banks of the Ohio River don’t count sheep, they barbecue them.”  Well put.   Mutton is an informative, entertaining documentary and clocks in under 20 minutes long, so you really have no excuse to not watch it.  Of course, we respectfully disagree with Owensboro, Kentucky’s claim to the title of “Bar-B-Q Capital of the World.”  Heck, the people of Owensboro can’t even spell barbecue right!  Still, in the interest of fostering good will among the barbecue-loving people of the world, we present this in-depth analysis of the common ground between mutton and NC pork barbecue:

  • Both mutton and NC barbecue are traditionally cooked over Hickory wood.
  • Both are sources of local pride and the products of hard work, sweat and tears beers.
  • Mutton is often cooked by Catholic churches as a fundraiser, while NC barbecue is a common part of fire department fundraisers.  Catholics and firefighters fear hellfire and fire, respectively, yet have no qualms about Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Stephenson’s Bar-B-Q

11964 N.C. Highway 50 North, Willow Spring, NC
919.894.4530
No Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C
Porky Says: “Dude, where’s the wood?” [Editor’s note: it’s somewhere]

A good looking barbecue plate from Stephenson's.

Stephenson’s barbecue plate.

Stephenson’s has a long, proud history and is featured as one of 24 barbecue joints on the NC Barbecue Society’s exclusive Barbecue Trail (which lists only those joints that cook with wood and meet various other criteria).  Yet I was underwhelmed during a recent visit.  First of all, despite being listed a wood burner I saw no evidence of a wood pile  and the barbecue did not taste wood-cooked to me.  I wonder if Stephenson’s has switched from wood cooking, or perhaps they use charcoal instead of split wood and keep their charcoal inside.  Even if they do cook with wood and I somehow missed it, I simply did not think Stephenson’s ‘cue was particularly good. [Editor’s note: I’ve been told by reliable sources that they do indeed stick cook over wood!]

I found the barbecue a bit greasy, almost slimy even.  It was coarse-chopped (seemingly by hand) to a nice consistency, but lacked in flavor.  Stephenson’s almost straight vinegar sauce helped the flavor but did not save the ‘cue from mediocrity.  The sides, on the other hand, were quite good.  The coleslaw was lightly “mayo’d,” with quite a lot of added sugar (a bit more than I think slaw needs, actually) and generously flecked with pickle/relish.  The hush puppies were perfectly fried, fluffy golden brown spheres.  The barbecued potatoes were also good, with a classic Eastern-style tangyness to them.  In summary, I always judge a BBQ joint primarily Continue reading

Hava NaGrilla

Summer doesn’t really heat up until the kosher barbecue festival circuit does. On that note, meat-lovers of all faiths should head to the Philadelphia area this Sunday for the Hava NaGrilla Kosher Barbecue Festival. The contest’s name stems from the popular hora dance, a.k.a.  “Hava Nagila.”

Odd that there’s no mention of pork anywhere on their site–there must be some sort of mistake, as my friends at Kosher Ham can attest. OK, fine–the festival’s organizers don’t share our opinion about pork being kosher.

Even chickens dance the hora.

Even chickens dance the hora.

Nevertheless, it sounds like a fun time. Local meteorologist Glenn “Hurricane” Schwartz and the rest of the judges will issue awards for  best beans, brisket, chicken and ribs, in addition to most creative booth, best team name and grand champion.

There’s even kosher pickle eating contest and a 3 on 3 basketball tournament, which strikes me as both very Carolina and very incompatible with eating massive amounts of barbecue. Perhaps chicken is easier to digest than barbecue (pork).  Then again, all attendees will have to be on their toes for the many kick ass outbreaks of Hava Nagila sure to arise.

It’s all for a good cause–the Golden Slipper Club and Charities–so head on over if you’re in that part of the country. After all, we don’t get many chances to do a mitzvah by eating smoked meats.

Kosher Browsing

Somehow, the site Kosher Ham has escaped BBQ Jew’s gaze until now. Amazing, given our similarly-themed names. Well, consider it gazed upon.

The t-shirt-slinging site is aimed at “pragmatic, open-minded individuals that question the categorical idea of black and white.” Sounds about right.

image courtesy of Kosher Ham

image courtesy of Kosher Ham

Just as a word of warning, some of Kosher Ham’s shirts almost made us blush. Yet, many are inspired and several are sure to put smiles on the punims of you Jewish readers. For instance, I’m digging the Dr. Seuss/gefilte fish shirt. And this one‘s on my 2009 Hanukkah list.

For you enlightened gentiles, may I suggest this nice play on words.

One shirt is N.C.-specific, but it’s obviously made elsewhere (the site is based in Chicago). There’s no surer way to identify yourself as “not from here” than to pronounce our capital ‘Rally.’ Come on Kosher Ham, you’re better than that. This much better.

While we’re on the topic of t-shirts, be on the lookout for BBQ Jew gear in the near future. Certainly by Hanukkah. We promise they’ll pronounce Raleigh correctly (if at all) and feature plenty of bad BBQ Jew puns. Consider yourselves warned.

BBQ Jew’s View: Carolina Q Dog

409 Blackwell Street, Durham, NC
919.687.6500
Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C+
Porky Says: “An inside the park heart attack.”

Baseball and Barbecue: Two Beautiful Traditions
I recently headed to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park (DBAP) in downtown Durham, NC to root for the hometown heroes.  But baseball was not the only thing on my mind.  A co-worker had told me about the “Carolina Q Dog” and, in the name of good journalism, I vowed to try it.   

The Carolina Q Dog is sold at the Dillard’s Bar-B-Q concession stand right behind home plate on the DBAP’s main concourse (actually, its only concourse).  Dillard’s is a Durham institution located just a few miles from the DBAP, and I will review the joint separately another time.  The Dillard’s ballpark concession stand offers a limited menu that features their ‘cue in plate and sandwich form, among other dishes.  The Carolina Q Dog is offered only at the ballpark and consists of a footlong hot dog smothered in chopped BBQ with a side of slaw.  It’s better than it sounds.  Or maybe it’s worse than it sounds, depending on your perspective.

I didn’t think it chopped pork on an all-beef dog sounded like a good combination, but it turned out to be pretty tasty.  The fact that Dillard’s barbecue is finely chopped and has mustard-tinged vinegar sauce (in the South Carolina tradition) is very helpful when paired with a hot dog.  Next time you go to a Bulls game and want to give your arteries a work out, try the Carolina Q Dog.  It’s a nice treat by ballpark BBQ standards.

Hot diggity dog!
Hot diggity dog!

Still, even though the Carolina Q Dog was pretty good, I doubt they’ll be changing the Take Me Out to the Ball Game lyrics anytime soon…
Take me out to the DBAP, Take me out with the crowd/Buy me a foot long with bar-b-q, I don’t care ’cause I’m the BBQ Jew/Let me root, root, root for the D-Bulls, If they don’t win it’s a shame/For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out, At the old… AAGH!! DOES ANYONE HAVE A DEFIBRILLATOR?!