Delwood’s Barbecue Sauce

A few months back I received a complimentary jar of Delwood’s Barbecue Sauce & Marinade courtesy of Delwood Cavenaugh II  himself.  I told him I’ d write about soon if I liked it.  Well, I owe Delwood my sincere apology for taking so danged long to fulfill my commitment.  The sauce is excellent and I’ve enjoyed it on several occasions; you readers should buy a jar ASAP to make up for my lack of timeliness in writing this post.

Delwood'sBefore I get to the sauce, who is this Delwood character?  When he initially contacted me, he described himself as “a Browns Summit based Eastern NC style BBQ sauce business with an eye towards whole hog catering, food trucks and eventually a family style restaurant.”  I was intrigued already, as Browns Summit is squarely in the middle of Lexington-style barbecue country, yet Delwood was committed to Eastern style sauce and whole hog cooking.  Another confused soul?  Well, not really, as Delwood was raised in Newport, NC, which is about as far east as one can get in NC without swimming in the ocean.

As Delwood writes on his website, “My earliest memories of BBQ are late nights and wood smoke.  Newport is ‘The Town With Old Fashioned Courtesy’, but it is best known for the Newport Pig Cooking Contest, the largest whole hog contest in these United States.  As such, I grew up surrounded by by Amazing barbecue cooks, steeped in the Eastern North Carolina style, and it was the rare weekend that someone wasn’t cooking up a pig somewhere.  As I grew up my dad taught me everything he knew about barbecuing pigs, making sauce… .”  Those sound like pretty good Eastern credentials to me.  Plus, Delwood is the son of another Delwood, and that ought to count for something.

But back to the sauce.  I’m generally skeptical of buying NC-style barbecue sauces, since the basic recipe is awfully simple–vinegar, salt, peppers, more ingredients as you wish.  However, Delwood’s sauce is really good and worth the money.  It is grounded squarely in the Eastern NC tradition, being that it is tomato-free and has an emphasis on cider vinegar and hot pepper flakes, among other spices, but it has a dollop of brown sugar that ever so slightly mellows out the vinegar tang.  I’ve enjoyed the sauce on pork shoulder and chicken, thus far, and the Mason jar and handsome label make it an attractive table sauce.

If you can find a sauce purveyor in your area (see the list of where to purchase), I definitely recommend you give it a try.  You can even order the sauce from Amazon, although the shipping fee nearly doubles the price.  Still, if you’re reading this in some far flung place like New York or California, go for it–heck, you can barely buy a bottle of water for $12 so this is a real bargain.

Thanks to Delwood for sharing his sauce with me, and I look forward to ordering my next jar as soon as finish up this one… it surely won’t be long!

Two Rights Can Make a Wrong Part 2: Cackalacky & Cheerwine

I enjoy Cackalacky sauce and Cheerwine quite a bit as individual products, but I am more than dubious about putting the two together.  One need only remember the Cheerwine Krispy Kreme donut fiasco of 2010 to think twice about these sorts of experiments.  But perhaps I’ll be proven wrong.  Until then, here’s the official press release:

Cheerwine® And Cackalacky® Join Forces to Create a New Zesty-Sweet Sauce

Images available at

Chapel Hill, NC – Cackalacky, Inc. announced today that a new Cackalacky® Sweet Cheerwine® Sauce is now available to consumers. The spicy sauce with a note of downhome sweetness was developed in collaboration with Salisbury, NC-based Cheerwine.

A unique glaze and marinade that lends itself particularly well to barbecue, chicken wings and grilled morsels, the new product is destined to become an indispensible dipping sauce and tableside condiment. Designed to compliment Cheerwine soft drinks and the bounty of the Southern table, the new blend also serves as the perfect “bookend” to the Cackalacky company’s piquant flagship Spice Sauce. The product comes in 16-ounce jars.

While Facebook friends of the two Carolina companies have heard about the product via social media since Nov. 1, the first public roll out of the sauce was hosted at the Cheerwine and The Avett Brothers “Legendary Giveback™ II” Concert in Charleston, S.C. on Nov. 14. Fans attending the benefit concert for three organizations, Operation Homefront, Big Brothers Big Sisters and MUSC Children’s Hospital were able to sample the product prior to the show.

The sauce’s next public appearance was held as a part of “A Legendary Thanks! Giving!” food drive & local music event hosted on behalf of the Food Bank of Central & Eastern NC at Fullsteam Brewery in Durham, N.C. on Nov. 16.

“The folks at Cheerwine have been an absolute joy to work with on this project!” says Page Skelton, creator of the Cackalacky brand. “We are both family-owned North Carolina businesses who share a passion for creating happy moments and ‘doing some good’ in our community.”

Tom Barbitta Senior Vice president of Marketing & Sales for Cheerwine says, “Consumers across the heartland know that Cheerwine makes a great sauce for BBQ and for cooking in general. By now teaming up with Cackalacky, we make it easy for fans everywhere to enjoy a taste of what we like to call ‘the southern handshake,’ Cheerwine and BBQ, a match made in heaven!”

Cackalacky Sweet Cheerwine Sauce can be found at Harris Teeter stores in the Greensboro, NC area in late November, just in time for the holidays. Look for it in the “Meet Your Local Neighbor” section.

The sauce is available nationally at


A Belated Happy New Year

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, came and went a couple-few weeks ago and I failed to acknowledge it on this blog.  To try and, ahem, atone for my omission, I present to you this article on Jewish pitmaster Ari White and the art of Texas-style kosher beef brisket:

L’shanah tovah, y’all, and I hope your new year is off to a good start, whether you celebrated with brisket, boiled chicken, or pork butt.

A Good Recipe For NC BBQ, For A Change

Over the years I’ve seen some highly bastardized recipes for NC-style barbecue, so it was with relief that I read this recent AP article that appeared in the Fayetteville Observer.  No crockpot, no oven, no thick ketchupy sauce, no strange cuts of pork, just a basic recipe (and good instructions) for making barbecue.  Kudos to Elizabeth Karmel for preaching the right gospel (well, mostly, as her use of olive oil might fly in the Old Testament but is odd).

Pig of the Month: First Class Flying Pig

PigoftheMonth (3)

Struttin’ with Some (Mail Order) BBQ
It’s sad but true: Some days I crave barbecue but I don’t have the time to cook it and I’m too lazy to visit the nearest BBQ joint (or, more likely, it is a Sunday and all the good local joints are closed).  On these dark days, I have a bright new option: Pig of the Month.

The good folks at shipped me a sampler pack of meats to test out.  In a rare act of generosity on my part, I invited over a few good friends and “cooked” for these semi-pro taste testers.  Much to our shared surprise, given our assumptions about mail order meat, we were impressed.  The meat ranged from good to excellent, with the sausages and bacon particularly tasty.  Our consensus was that the Pig of the Month products tasted fresh and flavorful, were convenient to cook or heat, and could easily hold their own against most restaurant barbecue.

The company’s website notes that their products are all natural and do not use preservatives, and the freshness really did shine through.  Better yet, “Our meats come from a free range, anti-biotic, and hormone free farm… They are fed a natural diet with plenty of room to run around and play piggy kickball.”

To date, I’ve tried the following Pig of the Month products:

-Maplewood Smoked Bacon.  Their a medium-thick cut, heavily salted and lightly sweetened bacon, and it is delicious.  The bacon is shipped uncooked and frozen.  This is not barbecue, of course, but it is pig and I’d eat it daily if it wouldn’t kill me.

-Candied Pecans.  Their website says it best: “We take organic pecans and roast them with egg whites, sugar, a touch of salt and some special spices to give it a kick at the end.  Sweet, crunchy, and a little bit spicy – these nuts will be gone in a jiffy.”  No argument from me!

-Hot Italian Sausage and Duck, Pear & Port Sausage.  Like the bacon, the sausage is shipped uncooked and frozen.  I cooked mine on a gas grill over wood chips to add some smoke flavor.  The Italian pork sausage is very good with a gentle heat that does not overwhelm the subtle Italian spicing; fresh taste, excellent texture.  However, it was the duck sausage (duck and pork, actually) that had me thinking about mail ordering all my meat–really excellent sausage.

Pig of the Month 3 ribs-Three varieties of pork ribs: Memphis Style Love Me Tender, Texas Style Cattle King, and Key West Style Citrus Grilled Baby Back Ribs.  I prefer spareribs to baby backs, but I may be in the minority on that view. Regardless, these pre-cooked, heat and eat ribs surprised me and my co-tasters.  We expected dried out, flavorless ribs but that wasn’t the case at all.  I wrapped the ribs in foil, per the directions, and warmed them for 20+ minutes.  The ribs had a deep smoke flavor, a good bark, tender meat, and had good flavor from each of the sauces, though I prefer my ribs with less sauce and my sauce less sweet.  Really impressive.  My only complaint was that the meat was a bit too tender, which is probably inevitable for a reheated rib.  As my friend and fellow taste tester observed, “These ribs may not be 10s, but they are easily 7s, and a pre-cooked rib that ranks a 7 may as well be a 10.”  (I’ll spare you his lengthier analogy, which involved a comparison to Olympic diving, with degrees of difficulty establishing the maximum score possible… a good way to look at it, actually, but you get the point.)

I honestly can say that I enjoyed everything I ate from Pig of the Month, but I don’t to be a complete Pollyanna.  Some small criticisms of Pig of the Month include:

-Only selling baby backs is unfortunate, especially when you sell a “Texas -style” rib–you’ll be hard pressed to find a baby back rib at any self-respecting Texas barbecue joint.  Hopefully they will add some St. Louis cut ribs or spareribs soon.

-I’d prefer the sauce be packed separately instead of cryovaced into the rib, or least put on the rib in lesser quantities. I thought there was simply too much sauce on all three of the ribs I tried.  I should note that they do sell a dry rub rib, which is what I’ll order next time, so I can sauce the ribs myself (or not at all).

-For a company based in Dayton, Ohio there is a heavy emphasis on phony Southernisms in the marketing and packaging.  (E.g, “Y’all come back soon, ya hear.”  It’s probably a calculated marketing decision but I found it hokey and forced.  Their product is good enough on its own that they can drop the act and admit to being yankees–yankees who produce barbecue good enough to please this southern boy.

Check out the Pig of the Month website to see their full product selection, which ranges from corned beef brisket to pulled pork to ribs to sausage to bacon to cracked four pepper bacon to chocolate covered bacon to bacon caramel cheddar popcorn to…

Butchering a Whole Hog

There is a cool class coming up in Durham for those of you who really want to go whole hog (or have a meat cleaver fetish) and learn how to butcher one.  Only a couple of spots left in this June 27th class so sign up soon.  On the other hand, if you think the whole (hog) is greater than the sum of its (pork) parts, you could skip the class and just put the whole hog on the cooker like they do in Eastern NC.

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 or

Have a Heart on Valentine’s Day

It’s not everyday that I have an excuse to post a photo like the one below.  But Valentine’s Day is as good a day as any–and better than most–to show a little heart.  Thanks to Chef-Owner-Budding Cardiac Photographer Sam Suchoff of The Pig in Chapel Hill for the photo.  Lord only knows what Sam was up to with these pig hearts when he took the photo, but I’ll bet the end result tasted good.


The Devil Went Down to Georgia

Today’s post comes to us via a FOBJ (Friend of Barbecue Jew), a rare breed indeed.  Bennett Brown of LowCountry Barbecue in Atlanta wrote in to ask if I was willing to run a guest post from him.  Far be it from me to refuse a fellow barbecue traveler’s generous offer.  So, like God before me, I am resting (though not on the 7th day) and allowing my humble servants to work.  Without further ado, here’s Mr. Brown’s introduction to Georgia barbecue along with a simple Georgia-style sauce recipe that shouldn’t look too foreign to devotees of North Carolina’s Lexington-style dip.

Barbecuin’ It in Georgia

As many of you probably already know, barbecue is not just a food but a cooking method that takes place all over the world.  And just like the spelling, which is spelled a handful of ways (BBQ, Bar-b-que, barbeque, etc.), barbecue can be prepared a dozen different ways.

In England, barbecuing is done over direct high heat; however, grilling done under a direct heat source is known in America as broiling.  In Hong Kong, everyone gathers around the fire and cooks their own meat on long forks or skewers like cooking hotdogs at a campfire.  In America, barbecuing is done over an indirect heat source referred to as “low and slow.”  And in Georgia, we do it “low and slow” over a pit.

Pit cooking originated from early settlers who then adopted the grilling and smoking methods from Native Americans.  The pit can either be dug in the ground or built up with cinder blocks.  If cooking a whole hog, it is usually laid flat, butterflied-style on a grate, placed over the pit, and then usually covered with a piece of tin or sheet metal in order to keep heat from escaping.

While the heat can be generated with coals or charcoal, Georgians traditionally use wood.  Pecan or apple tree wood are believed to give flavor to the meat.  While whole hogs are very popular, whole chickens, ribs and hams are common as well.  Closer to the coast, you will find fish, oysters, and shrimp being barbecued as well.  No matter what is roasting over the pit, barbecuing is an essential part of many Georgia gatherings including the annual Georgia General Assembly’s whole hog supper before the legislative session begins.

While barbecue is different all over the world, the act of bringing family and friends together to celebrate and converse is the common link.  Even in Georgia, the best sides and ways to cook are debated constantly.  At the end of the day, an event bringing an intimacy only a few meals can accomplish is commended.

Almost as important as the meat itself – the sauce that accompanies it.  Georgia gets its influence of barbecue sauce from all around the region including the Carolinas, Tennessee, and even Texas and melds the best of all of them into a glorious vinegar, ketchup and mustard based sauce, sometimes with a little heat and sometimes with tang from a little lemon slices.  As you can tell, Georgians are pretty open when it comes to barbecue sauce as long as we have some!

Below is a recipe that uses most of the classic ingredients you would find in a Georgia vinegar sauce but with a little twist (of lemon that is!): Continue reading

Dizzy, Smokey and the Gang

This weekend I spent some time doing something I rarely do: actually cooking barbecue instead of just eating it and writing about it.  Who was my muse for this barbecue session?  Although she remains nameless thus far, my muse was without a doubt my new Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, which I purchased a few weeks ago.  Some BBQ rub that fell into my hands was another motivator.

I can’t say enough good things about the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, despite the needless “e” in the name (it’s the Smoky Mountains, folks!).  At any rate, the WSM is well built, affordable, and holds heat well.  I cooked during a rainy, 70-some degree day and used just one batch of charcoal, which lasted me from 10:45 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. with plenty of charcoal left at the end. Better yet, temperature control was quite simple and I stayed between 225 and 275 degrees with minimal tinkering.

If you’re looking to upgrade from a basic charcoal grill or, gasp, gas grill to something better for the relatively low, steady temprature preferred for barbecue then this cooker is a terrific choice.  Also, you can educate yourself on the ins and outs of the cooker at The Virtual Weber Bullet, a terrific instructional website that features everything from recipes to ways to customize your cooker. ( is not focused on the Weber Smokey Mountain, but is also a tremendous resource, and includes a buyer’s guide, which is where I found out about the WSM in the first place.)

Aside from wanting to give my new WSM a test ride, my other motivation for cooking barbecue yesterday was found in the spices I’d recently received in the mail.  As I’ve mentioned before, one of the benefits of being a barbecue blogger is the ability to get ahold of free samples of barbecue-related products.  The good folks at The Dizzy Pig Barbecue Company in Manassas, Virginia sent me a sampler pack of their fresh-ground rubs–11 types in all, including traditional rubs like Dizzy Dust all-purpose BBQ seasoning and more exotic ones like Pineapple Head, which is sweet and spicy and meant for grilling fruit.

I tried out several of the rubs while cooking and was impressed.  Honestly, I think it is easy and fun to make rubs at home, so rarely purchase pre-made products, but next time I do I will certainly consider Dizzy Pig.  The product tasted very fresh and the blends of spices worked well.  Check out the Dizzy Pig online or send them an email at info at if you want to learn more.