Porky’s Pulpit: New Year’s Resolutions

Before we get too deep into 2010, here are my personal (PER) and BBQ Jew related (BBQ) New Year’s resolutions:

PER 1) In order to protect the earth and preserve it for my children, I will cut down on my vehicle miles traveled.
BBQ 1) In order to protect the art of BBQ and preserve it for my children, I will drive farther to support traditional wood-cooked barbecue joints.

PER 2) I will spend more time with my family.
BBQ 2) I will find the time to write more Hogkus.   

PER 3) I will watch my diet, in order to cut calories and lose weight.
BBQ 3) I will try to eat barbecue on average at least once per week. 

PER 4) I will not make light of the swine flu.
BBQ 4) I will only eat dead swine, and will not kiss live swine, to avoid the swine flu.

I think that about covers it.

BBQ Jew’s View: Prissy Polly’s

729 Highway 66 South, Kernersville, NC
Hours: Mon-Sat 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C+
Porky Says: “Polly has an identity crisis.”


Prissy Polly's: The view from my table

With a great name like Prissy Polly’s, which made it into my barbecue joint name hall of fame, it’s tempting to be Pollyannaish about the quality of the barbecue.  The fact that the restaurant is named after the founder’s mother makes it even better.  But despite the great name, Polly’s suffers from an identity crisis.  And, leaving the name aside, the food they serve is just okay.

Trying to Do Too Much
Instead of focusing on preparing one style of barbecue well, which is a difficult enough task, Polly’s tries to serve both Eastern- and Lexington-style ‘cue and does neither especially well.  According to their own website:

“Originally Prissy Polly’s served only Eastern-style barbecue.  This caused a bit of consternation among some of the local folks, who were accustomed to Lexington-style barbecue. To please the taste of those who preferred Lexington-style, Prissy Polly’s began to offer both styles of barbecue.”

I have to give Polly’s a lot of credit for being bold enough to start an Eastern-style BBQ joint in the heart of Lexington-style territory.  And the Eastern-style ‘cue they serve is definitely the better of the types.  I can’t really blame Polly’s for caving to local preferences either.  Judging by the fact that they have stayed in business for 18 years and have a sparkling, large restaurant, adding Lexington-style ‘cue to the menu was the right decision. I simply don’t think their Lexington-style ‘cue is particularly good.

One, Two, Three Types of ‘Cue
Since Polly’s started out serving Eastern-style barbecue, let’s focus on that first.  The biggest problem with Polly’s Eastern-style ‘cue is that it is not cooked over wood and the lack of care shows in a lack of flavor.  Sadly, Polly has plenty of company in both the east and the west in terms of not using wood, but that doesn’t excuse them.  Leaving that aside, Polly’s Eastern-style BBQ is moist and has decent flavor, which is enhanced by a slightly too salty but quite good vinegar/pepper sauce that accompanies it, though it appears to be machine chopped and is a bit mushy.  I’d probably give their Eastern-style ‘cue a B- if I were grading it alone.  Polly’s Lexington-style barbecue fares worse.

Polly’s actually offers two types of Lexington-style ‘cue.  (Pay close attention, this gets a bit confusing.)  Polly’s original Lexington-style BBQ is called “Original Lexington,” and they have served it for years.  It features a rather thick, sweet dip that has as much in common with KC Masterpiece or Kraft as it does with traditional NC style sauces.  Recently Polly’s added another Lexington-style dip option, this one called “Traditional Lexington.”  The dip used for the newer traditional version is significantly better than the original recipe, as it is much thinner and more vinegar-based, though it is still too sweet for my palate.  The Lexington-style ‘cue was too heavily sauced in the kitchen and needed no added dip at the table.

First course: Eastern-style

Second course: Lexington-style

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Porky’s Pulpit: Smokin’ at the Piggly Wiggly

recent story in the StarNews of Wilmington, NC notes that a local Piggly Wiggly has been slow cooking barbecue in house for more than a year.  The store is located in the small town of Leland, which is in Brunswick County (no relation to the stew) just outside of Wilmington.  According to the article, “Beef brisket, ribs, pulled pork, hams, chickens – the deli counter at this grocery store is a barbecue lover’s dream.”

Last year the Leland Piggly Wiggly paired with a Georgia company called SmokeRise.  According to the SmokeRise website, their “program” (ain’t that a clinical term?) is as follows:  “After a detailed, in store analysis, we recommend all items needed… to place a turnkey business in your location…  We also provide a complete, comprehensive training program to ensure your staff is fully trained in all processes of the business.” 

The SmokeRise-installed cooker at Piggly Wiggly is fueled by propane but uses real hickory logs, sort of a hybrid approach to cooking.  Although this is not quite the traditional art of barbecue, it sure sounds like a positive step compared to the pre-packaged swine-swill often sold at grocery stores.  That said, it does make me a little nervous to have the SmokeRise men marching from Georgia through North Carolina like long-lost members of Sherman’s army.

The critical question, of course, is how good does this Georgia barbecue invasion taste?  Well, let’s turn back to the StarNews, which reported positively on the barbecue produced in the Piggly Wiggly in a 2008 story.   At the time, the reporter said it changed her opinion of grocery store barbecue.  Being better than typical grocery store barbecue is a pretty low threshold to cross, but it’s something.  And it sure seems like it makes good business sense to offer decent ‘cue at a grocery store.

The 2009 PIGSTY Awards

Last year is quickly fading in my memory–the only vivid reminders are a laundry basket full of grease-stained t-shirts and the ongoing global economic crisis–so before it is too late let’s turn our attention to the BBQJew.com end of year awards.  Here are our 2009 Performance In Getting Swine Talked-about, Yes (PIGSTY) awards:

Most Voluminous Poster (MVP) – This award is given to the person who submits the most non-spam comments on the BBQ Jew website.  (Employees of BBQJew.com are not eligible for consideration, in part because there are none.)  And the winner is… burgeoningfoodie.  Congratulations burgeoningfoodie.  However, we’ve noticed a decline in your posts in recent months so don’t think you can coast to another MVP in 2010…  John Shelton Reed and BBQ Dave were runners-up and will be gunning for MVP in 2010.

Biggest Frickin’ Flame (BFF)  – This award goes to the most mean-spirited comment of the year.  Congratulations “Mike,” if that’s even your real name, because you win.  The winning comment was: “No one compares in vehemence to the self-hating anti-semetic Jew. But, here’s hoping you all don’t contract trichinosis!”  How can I love myself with comments like that directed at me?  I can at least take solace in your use of the phrase “you all,” which indicates you must be a self-hating yankee.

Best Barbecue-Related Rant Witnessed In Person (BBRRWIP) – This award goes to Bob Kantor of Memphis Minnie’s BBQ for an eloquent and impassioned tirade against margarine, people who refer to margarine as butter, and a bunch of related things.  The rant, which I can’t recall verbatim, used the margarine/butter issue as a jumping off point for a monologue about faux ‘cue, Americans’ too frequent lack of interest in quality ingredients and much more.  It was rather awesome and right on target.

Biggest BBQ Jew Benefactor (BBJB) – In 2009, this award goes to the person who buys the most BBQ Jew merchandise, as merch sales are the only way this website generates income (our business model is brilliant).  Congratulations, Random Dude From Australia Who Bought A T-Shirt And Mug, thank you for all you have done for us.  The $4 we generated from the transaction have been plowed back into our newsroom.  And, uh, if anyone wants to, like, write us a check for $5 or more we’ll re-award the BBJB to you.

Opportunity of the Year (OY) – This award is given out primarily because we wanted an award with the abbreviation “oy.”  Let’s give the OY to everyone’s favorite, The Swine Flu, for giving us the opportunity to write several space-filling posts, including this one.

Piglet of the Year (POY) – This award is given to a youngster who exhibits impressive barbecue eating talent.  This year we have a tie: The Rib Rabbi’s baby son and my toddler daughter were dragged, sometimes literally kicking and screaming, to several barbecue joints in 2009.  Some day you two will thank us for starting you out on such a healthy diet.

20.10% Off BBQ Jew T-Shirts & Mugs

I am guessing that one of your New Year’s resolutions is to buy some BBQ Jew merchandise before the end of 2010, right?  Good news, that’s a resolution you can cross off your list today at 20.10% off regular prices for t-shirts and mugs.  Lucky you. 

Just visit our online store at http://www.zazzle.com/bbqjew and enter the coupon code “NEWYOUZAZZLE” at checkout.  Hurry though, this offer expires at midnight on Tuesday!

Allen’s Update Part II

Happy ‘Cue Year! And what better way to start 2010 than by talking about one of our favorites–the original Allen & Son.

You may recall Porky’s post from the previous decade lamenting two changes at Allen and Son–cost and cole slaw. The price increase was indisputable, but the cole question was downright subjective.

Given the special place Keith Allen, slaw and Keith Allen’s slaw hold in this BBQ Jew’s gullet, the only question was when I’d head to Orange County to see for myself. My partner in pork wanted to get a second taste, so Porky and I lunched at Casa Allen.

The infamous cole slaw

I got a side order of slaw to go with my barbecue sandwich to get an unadulterated taste and my first reaction was that it was a tiny bit different. But not due to more mayo, as Porky had suspected. It just tasted a bit different than I remembered. But after a few bites, those concerns washed away and I chalked up my take to the placebo effect.

Still, like true ‘cue hounds, we had to research it a bit further. I asked our waitress if they’d changed anything about the slaw and she said they hadn’t. Later, Porky asked a long-serving waitress the same question, but in this way: “Excuse me, I know you’ve worked here awhile. Is the coleslaw creamier than it used to be or am I losing my mind?”

The waitress, in a sense, called him crazy: “It’s the same. It’s still made by the same man.”  We both got a chuckle out of that.

As for the price change, I’ll echo Porky’s sentiment in saying: While it doesn’t exactly put a smile on my punim, I understand. I’m sure the cost of ingredients’ cost has gone up, even if it’s a very short list. After all, I’m sure swine is more expensive after the Aporkalypse.

One thing you can’t blame the price increase on is a drop in business. It was packed the day we visited! That’s probably because Allen’s aficionados, like myself, are OK with paying a bit more for a barbecue plate if it means Allen and Son keep cooking ‘cue the right way.

May your 2010 be filled with good health, good cheer (and Cheerwine) and good barbecue.