We previously linked to a piece about Scott’s Bar-B-Q in South Carolina. But anytime Joe York, the Leni Riefenstahl of the Southern Foodways Alliance, makes a short film, we try to find an excuse to link to it.

Despite it being on the wrong side of the border, any barbecue lover can appreciate the craftsmanship and artistry of both Rodney Scott’s cue. Same goes for the film CUT/CHOP/COOK. As if cooking over wood coals isn’t visually rich enough, Scott cuts his own trees to provide fodder for the pit and this documentary. Which leads to this great line:

Kinda like a chef pickin out his tomatoes in a garden, I pick my own trees fresh out of the woods. Yup. There ain’t no other way.

I hate to quibble, but there sure is. It’s just amazing that in a world where cooking with wood is considered by many to be too onerous, Scott regards securing that wood himself as essential. Awesome.

Any ‘cue hound has to love this film and the visuals of the coals, the sauce mopping and especially the slow-mo shot of putting the hog on the pit (at the 4:55 mark).

It’s hard to watch this documentary and not want to start up the car for the drive to Hemingway to get a few pounds. If I do, I’ll be sure to ask for a piece of skin and to respect the 9:30 a.m. opening time.

BBQ Jew’s View: Mama Jean’s Bar-B-Q Shack

Angier & Driver Streets, Durham, NC
Hours: Usually Thu-Sat  11:30 a.m.. to 3:00 p.m. (or until sold out)
BBQ Jew’s Grade: B+
Porky Says: “This pork on wheels is the real deal.”

Drive-Thru BBQ
The name Mama Jean’s Bar-B-Q Shack is, in fact, a misnomer.  This joint is no shack.  Far from it, as this joint isn’t a joint at all. It’s a BBQ truck.  Specifically, it’s a truck where you order barbecue that is cooked next to the truck on a large charcoal and hickory chip fueled cooker.  Although Mama Jean’s is far from trendy–in the best possible way–it is part of a growing trend in the food truck rich Triangle area, where everything from juice to burgers to tacos to crepes is hawked out of mobile restaurants on wheels.  And Mama Jean’s serves some of the best barbecue I’ve had in the Triangle, whether the ‘cue is on wheels or not.

Truck, Storefront, Whatever
According to Antonio Hill, Mama Jean’s owner and pitmaster, Mama Jean’s will be opening a regular sit down restaurant soon on the same street where he sets up his truck.  But for now, while he puts together the final pieces needed to open the storefront, he’s pretty happy selling his food out of his “BBQ shack on wheels.”  Really, I could care less about where he sells his food. He can cook and he does it with charcoal and wood chips, which is close enough to traditional wood-cooking for me.  Heck, if it continues to taste good he can sell his ‘cue out of the back of a Ford Fiesta for all I care.

Mama Jean’s Grub
There is no obvious menu posted on the food truck.  Actually, I didn’t see a menu at all.  Continue reading

Friday Fountain Fun

Check this link out, a fountain full of barbecue sauce–not the good, thin vinegar stuff we prefer here in NC (inset) but pretty darn cool anyway.  Thanks to burgeoningfoodie for telling me about it.  Oh, and since this post is only three sentences long you should have plenty of time to read the post from Wednesday about the Museum of North Carolina Barbecue.  I’m thinking maybe the museum needs a fountain… (four sentences, sorry).

Porky’s Pulpit: Blueprint for a Barbecue Museum

The unmistakable smell of pork cooking low and slow over hickory coals hits you as you pull into the parking lot.  It’s certainly the first time you’ve salivated on the way to a museum.  But this is no ordinary museum and it’s okay to drool.  You are about to visit The Museum of North Carolina Barbecue.  You stride swiftly from your car toward the museum’s front door, growing more eager to see what’s inside with each step you take.  You pull the door open and… you wake up and realize it was a all a dream.  But it doesn’t have to be.

 A few weeks ago I wrote about the numerous museums in North Carolina, which celebrate everything from teapots to textiles.  Yet there is no barbecue museum in the state, and as far as I can tell there is no such museum anywhere. Not in Kansas City, not in Memphis, not in mutton-loving Owensboro and not even in that big ol’ overconfident state of Texas.  But why not in North Carolina?  After all, we have the nation’s longest continuous barbecue tradition and Continue reading

Preaching the Gospel

A little Monday morning inspiration…

Hillsborough Hog Day Tonight & Tomorrow

The 28th annual Hillsborough Hog Day festival takes place tonight and tomorrow in historic Hillsborough, but I guess you figured that much out from the title of this post. 

Hog Day is a fun, free event that I have been to many times over the years, and the 2010 version of the event promises to be better than ever with the addition of the Hog Day Invitational People’s Choice competition.  Last year’s top finishers from the festival’s shoulder cooking competition will serve their barbecue (cooked fresh this year, let’s hope!) direct to attendees, who will then vote on who has the best ‘cue.  This is an improvement over the usual festival format where only judges get to sample competitors’ pork before it is lumped together to serve to the public. 

Other Hog Day attractions include live music, a car show, a pig calling contest, arts & crafts for sale, and copious amounts of BBQ sandwiches plus various carnival foods (giant turkey legs, gyros, etc. etc.).

Oh, and did I mention that this year’s event also features a beer garden featuring Durham-based Fullsteam Brewery’s beer?  Get thee to Hog Day!

Judge Ribs Not Lest Ye Ribs Be Judged

This past weekend I was lucky enough to help judge the Texas Pete Twin City RibFest in Winston-Salem.  Although ribs don’t hold a place of any real importance in North Carolina barbecue culture (sorry Rib Rabbi, but it’s true), I still didn’t hesitate to sign up when offered a coveted judge’s seat.  And the fact that 60 MPH winds and heavy downpours were forecast didn’t dampen my enthusiasm.  (Luckily, only the rains materialized while I was at the event.)  I was ready to make my first appearance as a bona fide, albeit not certified, barbecue judge.

Receiving instructions from festival organizer Allen McDavid (Photo by Ben "Boss Hog" Pressgrove)

I can attest that the six-person judges panel took its job as seriously as one would expect (i.e., at least somewhat seriously).  We were focused on the task at hand, especially since Ms. Texas Pete 2010 no-showed for her judges gig, leaving us menfolk with nothing to ogle besides the ribs on the table in front of us. 

Festival organizer Allen McDavid spent upwards of three minutes preparing us for our roles as judges.  He paced back and forth in front of the judge’s table and explained…  The ribs would be served one at a time on a numbered plate to protect their identity (lest any of the judges be on the take and working for a contestant).  Each rib was to be judged on four categories–taste, texture, tenderness and appearance.  Each category should be rated between 2 and 9, with 2 being the worst score we could dole out and 9 being the best.  (Apparently barbecue judges cannot count to 10.) A score of 1 would be assigned only if a contestant broke a rule related to the category, such as garnishing with something other than lettuce or parsley.   After tasting the first rib, we should write down our scores, take a drink of water to cleanse the palate, and wipe our hands if we so desired.  And then we were to taste, rinse, wipe and repeat until each contestant’s ribs were sampled.  

Nothing too it, right?  Anyone could be a barbecue judge.  Piece of cake.  Or so I thought until the tasting began.  Continue reading

BBQ&A Interviews: Now 73.7% Easier to Read*

Good news for everyone who hates scrolling down or reading a narrow middle column–i.e., those who think the blog format is a bit less than ideal for the type of hard hitting, in depth whiny, long-winded reporting BBQ Jew specializes in…

We recently updated all of our BBQ&A interviews to include a link to .pdf versions of the interviews.  For example, see our BBQ&A with Sean Wilson of Fullsteam Brewery here.  Or see our BBQ&A with the authors of Holy Smoke here.  Want to see more?  Just click on “BBQ&A” in the right hand column under the “Categories” heading, choose the interview you want and then find the .pdf links at the top of each post. 

*According to unverifiable claims by the unreliable authors of this website.

Blues, Brews, (Jews) and Ques

Volunteering at a barbecue fundraiser? You had me at barbecue.  

The event was a chance to help the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina, which is always a good thing. Even better, Porky, Ol’ Hickory and I were slated to help with the food prep.  

The food bank site billed the event as Blues, Brew & Que, but we preferred the plurals in Blues, Brews and Ques, as the logo had it, since both of us BBQ Jews were in attendance. By any name, it was a pretty cool scene.  

still life with barbecue

We got to chat with the competitors taking part in the morning ‘cue competition. That included the winning chef, Fred Woodard of Smokey W’s, who specializes in whole hogs.   

Orange County Cookers and Mark Johnson were the runners up and we were excited to learn that they’ll be taking part in the shoulders cooking competition at Hillsborough Hog Day next weekend.  

FWIW, both smoked on BQ Grills, the Rolls Royce, er, F-250 of the barbecue world. Speaking of which, that was the truck of choice in the DAP parking lot.  

The competition was officially sanctioned by NC Pork Council, who provided the hogs. Unfortunately, all but one team cooked with propane. All of the competitors’ barbecue was sold as fundraising sandwiches, and I’m guessing the lack of wood might have had something to do with the quality of the ‘cue I had at the event.    

Still, it was a good time. When we left, the renovated Durham Athletic Park was bumping, as the the blues were in full swing. But one thing that gave me the blues was the startling discovery that ribs are deemed superfluous at these events.  

Given the time constraints, contestants didn’t bother with the ribs. Some competitors gave them away and some–shockingly–even tossed them in the trash. That was especially upsetting for this Rib Rabbi.  


Bonus Question: How many contestants does it take to shred pork?  


Father’s Day Merch Sale

Don’t you want dad to be happy after all the years of headaches you brought him?  Now’s your chance to finally make him proud of you.  In honor of Father’s Day, you can get free shipping for orders of $35 or more through tomorrow afternoon.  Just enter the “DADDYFREEGRD” coupon code at the BBQ Jew store.

Dad sure would look nice in a “Devout from Tail to Snout” t-shirt.  And you’d better believe he’d enjoy his next cup of coffee even more if he had a BBQ Jew logo mug to drink it from (oh, and don’t forget, dad always likes his coffeee with a shot of whiskey).  Or maybe all dad wants for Father’s Day is a “Pork is Kosher, Right?” bumper sticker for his F-150.  Heck, get him one of each to make up for all the pain he’s endured since you were born…