BBQ&A: Rick & Ryan of The North Carolina Barbecue Company

Rick Scott and Ryan Pitz teamed up to form The North Carolina Barbecue Company, a mail order business established “to deliver to doorsteps across the country the unique culinary culture of our great state.”  The North Carolina Barbecue Company is unique in offering both Eastern and Piedmont/Lexington-style ‘cue and slaw for delivery.  Recently I sat down (at my laptop) and interviewed Rick and Ryan about how they got into the barbecue business, battle boxes, and why mail order hush puppies are an elusive goal.

Follow this link to read the interview with Rick and Ryan. (Or if you are hungry already, just click on over to their online order page.)

Old Hickory Barbecue Plant Closes

Yet another going out of business story in the NC barbecue world, this time from the town of Godwin in Sampson County, about 20 miles west of Fayetteville.  According to the Fayetteville Observer, long-time barbecue wholesaler Old Hickory Barbecue is closing its doors after 60 years.  The Old Hickory plant produced packaged barbecue and coleslaw for sale direct to individual customers and to supermarkets, restaurants and other businesses and organizations.

First Church of Barbecue

I have made many references on this blog about worshipping in the church of the divine swine, but I have never actually prayed at the Barbecue Church. One of these days I just might.  The town of Sanford is home to 250-plus year old Barbecue Presbyterian Church, located at 124 Barbecue Church Road. The church was founded by Scottish settlers in 1758 and originally spelled its name as “Barbeque.”  Barbecue Presbyterian Church is located adjacent to the tiny town (hamlet?) of, you guessed it, Barbecue, North Carolina. The town, in turn, is located near a creek named none other than… Barbecue Creek.  But why a creek named Barbecue?

According to an interesting online history of the church, “During the Revolutionary War, General Cornwallis and his troops camped on the creek near the church. It is told that as the soldiers watched the fog roll in one morning, one said it reminded him of smoke rising from the barbecue pits, thus the name Barbecue Creek; Barbecue Church was named because of her location so near the creek. However, noted historian, Malcolm Fowler, points out that there are land grants in early 1753 on record naming Barbecue Creek.”  Thus, it seems to remain a mystery exactly why this area first got the name Barbecue.

An NHL All-Star Guide to North Carolina Barbecue

As you may know, particularly if you are masochistic enough to pay attention to sports played on ice, this weekend the NHL All-Star game comes to Raleigh’s RBC Center. For those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, NHL stands for the National Hockey League, not Numerous Hickory Logs. And RBC stands for Royal Bank of Canada, not Really Bland ‘Cue.  To help out visitors to the area who are unfamiliar with our state’s barbecue culture, and locals who blush when they hear someone mention “hooking,” I have created the below guide to hockey and barbecue.

  • Hockey is often played by European men who wear mullets without irony. North Carolina barbecue is often prepared, served and eaten by men and women of European ancestry who wear mullets without irony.
  • Hockey is the most popular sport in Canada. Barbecue ain’t (if you’ve ever tried to cook a whole hog over hickory coals on top of a frozen lake, you know why).
  • On a good night, the Carolina Hurricanes might draw 20,000 fans. On the fourth Saturday of October, nearly 200,000 people are drawn to Lexington, NC for the annual Barbecue Festival.
  • Hockey requires long hours of strenuous exercise to become an expert. Barbecue requires long hours of drinking and telling lies to become an expert.
  • You can’t play hockey without a puck. You can cook barbecue without a puck.
  • Hockey’s greatest team accomplishment is winning the Stanley Cup. One of North Carolina barbecue’s greatest families is the Stamey’s, who have sold many cups of iced tea over the years.
  • Wayne Gretsky is arguably the greatest player in hockey history. Wayne Monk is arguably the greatest pitmaster in NC barbecue history.
  • People who are ignorant of hockey’s rules have a difficult time understanding the icing penalty. People ignorant of barbecue have a difficult time understanding why they should avoid Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.
  • Good hockey can be found in cities like Montreal, Pittsburgh, Boston, Vancouver, and Detroit.  Good barbecue can be found in towns like Dudley, Salisbury, Mebane, Ayden, and Farmville.

To learn more about North Carolina barbecue, check out BBQ Jew’s BBQ U and this article that explains the difference between our beloved state’s two styles of ‘cue.

United States of Food

What a country! As one can see in this state-by-state map of food specialties, we live in a diverse, delicious, somewhat obese nation.

It’s worth a gander to see what one quirky web site makes of our nation’s food. North Carolina is represented by barbecue dry barbeque. Oh. To this rabbi’s ears, that’s akin to wet water.

Meanwhile, on the wet barbecue front, I’d humbly suggest that the pride of Kansas City should carry Missouri. No disrespect to the noble toasted ravioli, but everyone knows they couldn’t clean K.C. rib fingers with a Handi Wipe (so to speak). And tossing the “wet barbecue” title across the line to Kansas wreaks of a compromise.

I’m sure we everyone would make an amendment or two, but it’s a fun map. As I perused it, I found myself putting together a heckuva plate. It’d be heavy on North Carolina, with sides of Alabama, Oklahoma and Montana a little Kentucky (why not!). Maybe a little Mississippi for dessert.

What’s your All-American meal?

Pure. Refreshing. Bacon.

A tip of the snout to the NC BBQ Society, as I learned in their January newsletter that the following beverage exists: bacon flavored vodka. Bakon Vodka (tagline “Pure. Refreshing. Bacon.”) is an inspired vision and leads me to wonder what the future might hold. If they can make bacon vodka, barbecue flavored vodka is possible too. Until then, you can make your own vodka porktails at home, I suppose. 

BBQ Jew’s View: Brushy Mountain Smokehouse & Creamery

201 Wilkesboro Blvd., North Wilkesboro, NC
Hours: Mon & Wed-Sat 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday Buffet from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C
Porky Says: “A pitless pit stop.” 

Bobby Flay’s Kiss of Death
Few self-respecting Carolina barbecue joints have websites.  Fewer still would be proud of an appearance on a TV show featuring the Food Network’s brash yankee know-it-all Bobby Flay.  The Brushy Mountain Smokehouse and Creamery has a website that touts its 2005 appearance on “BBQ with Bobby Flay.” Leaving those sins aside, the Brushy Mtn. Smokehouse has its advantages: namely the combination of homemade ice cream and a large menu sure to please a variety of tastes.

No Pit Stop
The relatively wide range of offerings available at Brushy Mtn. Smokehouse make the restaurant a nice pit stop for family road trips in the heart of stock car racing country. (North Wilkesboro, where Brushy Mtn. Smokehouse is located, is famous for its legendary speedway and its prominent role in the history of stock car racing, which was tied closely to moonshining, another local tradition.) Alas, this barbecue pit stop features no traditional wood pit, as the barbecue at Brushy Mtn. Smokehouse is cooked over gas.

Brushy Mtn. Smokehouse offers a sizeable menu that includes barbecued ribs, chicken and pulled pork, all dishes that are “on track” for a barbecue joint (pardon the pathetic attempt at a car racing pun).  Alongside these legitimate dishes, the Smokehouse offers a few items that raise a caution flag for me, most notably the Barbecue Crunchers (“Our famous Smokehouse Barbeque nestled inside a crunchy tortilla shell flavored with our homemade sweet Barbeque Sauce”). Did they just say “nestled” and “tortilla”? Oh dear.

With items like catfish and potroast on the menu, it is safe to say that the Brushy Mtn. Smokehouse does not consider itself a traditional Carolina barbecue joint, and thus it is probably unfair for me to judge it in that context.  But that is what I do on this site. Suffice it to say that the chopped/pulled barbecue is standard, middle of the road fare, neither particularly good nor particularly bad. I’ll spare you the details and leave it at that. The good news is that after your meal, you can head into the attached Creamery, where many varieties of homemade ice cream are available. My family enjoyed the ice cream and we had a good time, even if the barbecue isn’t nearly good enough to take a checkered flag.