Arrogant Swine

Beer Hall Carolina Whole Hog BBQ

North Carolina BBQ's secret menu - Outside Brown

Who doesn't love a secret menu? In it lies treasures reserved for the elect. Meals bespoked for regulars rather than the usual hum-drum fare dished out with all the passion that a cog in the machine can muster.

In the Piedmont region of North Carolina where Lexington style BBQ reigns this secret menu item is "Outside brown". Outside Brown refers to the meat that's exposed to the smoke.

The apex of stupid comments on Carolina BBQ is that the meat doesn't get smokey because we use wood coals rather than raw wood in cooking our meat. If you stood next to some glowing wood ember for a few minutes your shirt will smell like smoke for a month. Imagine then a pork shoulder spending almost 12 hours over these cinders?

So where does this reputation for not being very smokey come from in North Carolina BBQ? The first culprit is that the vast majority of Carolina joints cook with gas or electricity while still advertising their baked pork roast as BBQ. The second issue is that even people who do smoke with wood leave the brown stuff to the side!!!

This is largely because many older folk prefer the inside white meat which is leaner and softer. So when you order a plate of BBQ in Lexington or Winston-Salem, you're getting inside meat not the good stuff.

If you want that deep dark meat. The ones where the smoke is embedded it hits the most primal nerve in your brain. You'll order outside brown. This term exists only in North Carolina. The rest of the country refers to it as bark, where the maillard reaction of meat changes the texture of that calls to mind caramel.

Top 10 Hits Whole Hoggin' in 2013

Generally it's a bad idea to do a wrap up of your year on the last day of the year. Realistically there should be a few days of introspection. Clear the co-webs, untangle the strands, sensationalize victories and come up with excuses for failures. Nope none of that here. Been busy fighting down to the wire to get all my goals accomplished for this year. Alas the final goal of signing a lease on a spot alluded me. I expect to get there in a few weeks.

So here's some best hits of Uncle Ho's year in BBQ and what a year it's been.

#1 My hair is gone! 

For those who know me, I've always had a full head of hair. My hair style itself has remained more or less unchanged since college. So when 2013 began I declared that this year will not only be different, it will be RADICALLY different. Now for a budding BBQ guy there isn't much radical revolution one can do the freezing January 5th weather, so I shaved my head. Certainly not the craziest thing one can do but I wanted to start off the year completely different and so my long locks had to go. The theme of making this a dramatically different year, I actually quit my long time job to focus full time on the Swine. Despite years of attempting to get canned it seemed like my employer loved me enough to keep me around and continually promote me. So if I was gonna make a change I was going to take the plunge into the uncertain BBQ waters.

#2 The public gets to know Arrogant Swine - aPORKalypse 2013 

I did my very first public appearance as the Arrogant Swine at Alewife's annual aPORKalypse event where my pork was featured with a whole host of other chefs doing fancy things to pigs along with pours of great American craft beers. Following the Steve Jobs' philosophy to shamelessly steal great ideas, I decided then and there that to best honor the religion of Carolina whole hog BBQ, it must always be a party. Whole hog BBQ has and will always be in the context of partying with those you love. My BBQ will not be a foodie BBQ. It will not be there to serve the short attention spans of those who constantly seek out the latest culinary hit. My BBQ will not be divorced from the assembly of friends and strangers to one place. A place where the beers flow with laughter and the music is only extra sauce you need. This seed was the vision for the Hog Days of Summer.

#3 The SWINE trailer shows up at the Big Apple BBQ Festival 

Like Xmas, our favorite time of year rolls back around when the Big Apple BBQ block party comes back to town. This time however the massive Arrogant Swine trailer cooks with my teacher, the Godfather of North Carolina BBQ - Ed Mitchell. It threatens to rain every single year at the BABBP but this year the storm definitely delivered! Cascading downpours drenched us to to core on the Friday before the big day and the storms delayed the rest of the pit crew and their pits coming in! Good thing we had my smoker there to get things started. Otherwise there wouldn't have been any hog to serve when the doors opened at Team Ed!!

#4 The Hog Days of Summer!! 

Now if you're an intelligent person, you would do small pop-ups. 20/30 person ones where you test your system and see how it holds up. You avoid sticky issues like pouring alcohol and letting folks drink as much as they want. An intelligent person wouldn't try and pull off 14 sessions of beer + BBQ + music events where seatings ranged from 80 to 200 persons! Well we all know where I fell on the intelligence scale. As a full testament to the fact that God watches over children, animals and fools, we managed to pull off some pretty respectable events by taking over construction lots, getting the wonderful folks over at Founder's Brewery to supply us beer, and bring in some awesome musicians like Blind Boy Paxton and Garage Sale. Every session got their own 220-260 pound heritage breed hog from Tamarack Hollow farms. Without the support and love of Josh and Philip of John Brown Smokehouse none of this would have been possible.

#5 Keeping up my duties at John Brown Smokehouse 

While Arrogant Swine is my main shop I still function as the resident Whole Hog guy for John Brown Smokehouse. So if you place an order for hog there, you'll see me pull up with my smoker. Definitely the best catering we've done ever has been this wedding by the beach in July. JBS pitmaster Josh Bowen and I packed up the smoker and drove up to Connecticut for 2 days to cater. In between shoveling hot coals under my hog, I took naps next to the beautiful Long Island Sound. There are worst ways of making a living than getting paid to lounge around listening to calling gulls and breathing in ocean breezes.

#6 Getting some press! 

Seems like some people like what we're doing! We got picked up by one of NYC's largest food sites Serious Eats being named one of the Editor's best bites of 2013. The New York Daily News listed us as one of the best ways to end the summer. We also got a whole lot of blogger love from We Heart Astoria, Tastoria, Chopsticks & Marrow, the Food Network blog, Local Bozo, Harmonious Belly, Fooditka,

Oh if that wasn't fun enough I got my own ARBY'S VIDEO!!!!! Arby's Sandwiches started a national campaign to promote their new BBQ sandwich. As part of that promotion they decided they were going to feature several experts to talk about their regional style. I got to represent Carolina whole hog. I hope I did my faith the justice she deserves.

#7 Keeping up with the events circuit 

I like being part of events and got to cook for several including the 2013 NYC Hot Sauce ExpoQueens Summerbeat in Sunnyside Gardens with Edible Queens, QueensTech Bash at PS 1 MoMA. Chief among this was my collaboration with THE authority on Mexican cuisine - Zarela Martinez when we cooked for this year's PIG ISLAND event. I even threw in a fun Jewish pork dinner called Sacred & Profane

#8  Starting my catering business 

It's fun to have a hobby but it's even more fun to get paid for it! I got to do a fair bit of catering all around town this year. Included with this were corporate clients including Crossfit Queens, real estate giant Jamestown LP, national accounting firm McGladrey & Co, and the Bronx Zoo.

#9 Making new friends 

Along with a whole host of fun food business friends I made over the year I got to make friends with local pitmasters Bill Durney (Hometown BBQ), Matt Fisher (Fletcher's BBQ), and Frank Davis (Beast of Bourbon). That they count me as a peer is an honor indeed.

#10 The SWINE is coming!

I still haven't got a lease signed yet. That's the one really crappy part about real estate hunting, you fall in love with a space and the landlord flakes on you. A space we put in a ton of work doing environmental research for the landlord in Greenpoint just died on the vine. Turns out the landlord got cold feet on having a food business tenant and won't say yes. Also turns out the jack off isn't getting any bids for his potential superfund site so he's holding on to us just in case. We have to bids now on some very exciting spaces even more exciting than my original target so fingers crossed. Either way, the Arrogant Swine is coming and we're hoping to finally have a permanent home to fly the flag of Carolina whole Hog BBQ here in NYC.

The year started with no more detailed plan than "this year is gonna be dramatically different" and well I went for broke. I left behind all that was familiar and comfortable. I tossed slow and steady for the tumultuous chaos of entrepreneurship. A college mentor gave me the greatest life attitude which has been good to me - Constantly imagine yourself climbing up a forbidding mountain. It looks like you'll never get to the top but looking down you realize you're farther along than when you first started and you're higher up than you ever imagined you could have gone when the adventure first started.

I have much planned for 2014 I hope you'll like it. Hope to feed you some swine soon.

North Carolina Whole Hog BBQ video

I've always wanted to make some videos. What I've never dreamed up was making videos with me on camera. So this was a fun way for me to tip my toes in the water. The black & white photos are from the North Carolina State Archives of an old school pig picking. Midway thru the video I added some of the work that we've been doing to bring North Carolina whole hog to New York. So the video is an attempt tie the past of our great tradition with our current work. Hope you enjoy! [youtube=http://youtu.be/jlpltoGi_vQ]

North Carolina Corn Pone

Carolina BBQ NYC - Skylight Inn  

All over world there's people trying bring traditional Italian country fare to the public. Much of it is romanticized farce. Are you imagining duck egg yolk pastas handmade with a shower of graden vegetables? Long simmered meats heartily piled on a family platters? Nope didn't exist. They might have existed for Counts and Papal vassals but for the most part life for country folk sucked. In fact, what's very striking is that a core staple of country life - the chestnut polenta - has completely disappeared from menus. Now you might have an oddball here or there that will roid the dish up with rich ragus, perhaps some aged cheeses or even truffles. The fundamental fact is the dish sucks. It's dry, chalky, and looks like explosive diarrhea. Hence why no one really serves it anymore.

Like the much discarded chestnut polenta, cornpone really isn't found anywhere anymore. It's caveman primitive in its construction. Grind a grain, add water and lube it up with grease so that we don't break our teeth on it. There's no leavening agent to make it nice and fluffy, no yeasty aromas to trigger our brain's ancient lust for bread.

Cornpone is not the same as hot water cornbread. A dish universally reviled by Northerners and used by Southerners as a credo of culinary orthodoxy.

As you can see above from my photo at the Skylight Inn, it really isn't that attractive either.

So why a post on the dull antiquated cornpone? Well for one, there's a possibility at the joint I'm opening featuring North Carolina BBQ, there won't be any access to a kitchen hood - hence no frying. No frying = no hushpuppies/cornsticks. To not have a corn bread element would be to eliminate 1/3 of the glorious Carolina triad - Hog + Slaw + Puppies.

So my mind back to the humble cornpone. How can we make this utilitarian dish into something worth serving at the finest of breadbaskets?

The cornpone does have something going for it - LARD. Yes indeed, when you're cooking that much hog you're bound to be left with a lot of extra lard. Because modern pigs are a bit leaner, pitmasters have had to supplement commercial lard. This helps contribute to it's blandness. There's a difference between lard which have been boiled out of meats to one that's been roasted out of hogs. It's the same as why clarified butter is fairly bland but brown butter offers that deep toasty butter goodness we all love.

So step one is to use long cooked rendered pigs fat and perhaps even chop some of resulting cracklin' into the mix. This will enhance the meaty flavor that this bread is supposed to have.

Step two is figure out a way to throw in a few more contrast flavor notes to offset the uniform blandness. I have two items in mind which I'm still working on. More to come later.

Step 3 is to hold fast to tradition i.e. no sugar. It's strong temptation to appease a Northern's palate by offering a cake-like corn bread. Now for most other styles of BBQ I don't see a contradiction. If we're going to be faithful to the Carolina profile, a sweet baked corn bread just doesn't seem right with hog.

It's too bad we might not be able to offer hush puppies. But with some tweaks, going back to roasted fats, rendered crackings, and textural contrasts, this long discarded old maid of hog cooking can become the hot sexy slut we all crave. Stay tuned.

 

North Carolina Banana Pudding

Banana pudding is North Carolina's most iconic dessert. Unfortunately of us Carolina stylists it's also one of the world's dullest looking dessert. It also happens to be the very best way you can end a hog picking meal. When she's at her best it's warm vanilla pudding, flecked with vanilla seeds, coating slices of banana and vanilla wafers topped with a fluffy meringue.

'Nana puddin' suffers due to it's simplicity. Desserts which are simple are often victims to indifference. Take for example strudels, flaky rolled pastries found in Germany & Austria. There's nothing fancy about them. They're basically thin dough wrapping a fruit filling served with side of whipped cream. But when done right, strudels possess a dignity unrivaled by any confection in the world. Too bad cuz most of them suck. Even when I was traveling in Vienna, the strudels weren't just bad, they were awful. Most looked like soggy rags and had a texture that came pretty close to their aesthetics.

The same goes for the humble banana pudding down in tarheel country. Now I haven't had any that tasted bad in my travels. But many of them came with shock that someone who have the audacity to charge me money for what was basically instant pudding mix.

Even in the authoritative North Carolina BBQ book Holy Smokeout of like 5 generations old recipes for banana pudding only one didn't require an instant mix. Even the legendary Mama Dip uses a packaged mix!

Now I'm not one of those folk who believe that you need to make everything from scratch. I think people making their own in-house ketchup just got too much time on their hands. But for something that's so stupidly simple it seems absurdly lazy to just use a prepacked mix. What's even dumber is that this crap is actually quoted as part of people's "secret family recipe". That's equivalent to me holding with pride that my grandma's legendary lasagna was made with Prego pasta sauce.

The second problem we encounter is the meringue itself. Many people don't even bother with the meringue - appalling. Some folk actually substitute the meringue for whipping cream/whipped "topping". The latter being just as sacrilegious as substituting Coors Light for the wine at a Catholic Mass.

Along with serving the dish warm, the meringue is what makes banana pudding a distinctly Southern dessert. To either omit or substitute it we might as well call it Yankee Pudding. In the war of custards the 1865 white flag is waved every time this humble dessert is served either naked or with whipped cream.

I wouldn't go as far as Alton Brown and make the vanilla wafers (recipe below). His rationale being that manufacturers have started cutting corners with the cookies themselves and have started making artificial "nilla wafers" which contain no vanilla. I think they're just fine. And rather than put in that extra effort just spend a bit more money and use REAL VANILLA PODS in the custard itself. It will add both explosive flavor as well beautifully contrast the yellow.

The custard is essentially a traditional Creme Patissierie. Making your own custard is slower than the box mix BUT you get jazz her up a lot more. By boiling the milk with the scrapped vanilla pods you get a deeper layer of flavor that you simply can't do with the mix. You can cheeky with the custard and add either a rum-based banana liqueur like BOLS or just your favorite rum. Rum trading being very historically significant in Southern BBQ history as well.

For the meringue I substituted the traditional baked meringue for an Italian meringue. This gives you the added benefit of not having to pop the pudding into a stove to brown it. Italian meringues are made by beating hot syrups into egg whites which a pinch of constarch. They are silkier, more stable, freeze nicely, just all around more awesome. All it took was a few seconds with my trusty blow torch and we got the effect you see at the shot above.

In tray you see above I also added layers of peanut butter crumble over half the pudding. So half traditional half peanut butter. Peanut butter and banana being such perfect partners.

Banana pudding - Nilla wafers, Custard, Bananas, Meringue. Simple. Better to adorn a beautiful woman with the finest of lipsticks than to mar her face with the entire cheap makeup kit from Walgreens.

Alton Brown's Vanilla Wafers 

Ingredients 7 ounces all-purpose flour 3/4 teaspoon aluminum free baking powder 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature 3 1/2 ounces vanilla sugar 1 large egg 4 teaspoons vanilla extract 1 tablespoon whole milk

Directions Position 1 oven rack in the top third of the oven and another in the bottom third. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and vanilla sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl after 1 minute. Add the egg and incorporate on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl. Add the vanilla extract and milk and blend on low speed for 15 seconds. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just to incorporate. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least 10 minutes before scooping.

Scoop the batter in teaspoon-sized balls and arrange them on 2 parchment paper-lined half sheet pans, approximately 35 cookies per pan. Use the heel of your hand to slightly flatten each ball. Bake, 2 pans at a time, rotating the pans halfway through the baking, until golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pans to a cooling rack to cool completely before removing the cookies from the pan.

I'm in an Arby's Video!!!

So ARBY's, the awesome roast beef sandwich shop, came up with a new BBQ sandwich - The SMOKEHOUSE BRISKET sandwich.

To promote their new offering they partnered up the national food site Serious Eats to create an interactive BBQ "Map" where they got the expert pitmasters of every stylistic region to talk about how they smoke their meat.

I got tapped to do South Carolina whole hog. Now too bad I didn't get to rep North Carolina but the cooking for North & South Carolina whole hog is the same. In the eastern part of South Carolina they use vinegar pepper just the same as the rest of us. For the shoot however, they wanted to highlight the distinctive mustard sauce of the Central Carolina region. Good thing I had plenty of mustard sauce on hand! Check the video out!

btw- couldn't resist any chance to add a fat man GIF

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=62FSZWcqfWo]

 

BBQ ROADTRIP!!! : Hursey's BBQ – Burlington, NC

20130516_145910 More Photos Below!!

Back in the spring I took some friends down to North Carolina on a mini-food tour. As I was out to pick up my new smoker anyway I figured some company and gas aid would be beneficial. I've long used the NCBS Historical Barbecue Trail map to find my next destination. Now to find new places to eat keeps getting harder and harder as I’ve eaten at over 50% of the list so the places are getting more and more obscure.

Thus we made our first stop after a solid 9 hour drive from NYC to Hursey’s Barbecue. Being that Hursey’s was the unknown joint, I planned for us to hit the legendary Allen & Son’s immediately afterwards where I knew the BBQ to be amazing. Good thing too as we might not have left my guests with as great of an impression of NC BBQ at stop #1.

I’ve always said that the “Triangle” area of North Carolina (Durham, Raleigh, Chapel Hill) was a good divider of the Eastern and Western BBQ styles of the State. Hursey’s is like Allen’s in that they combine features of East & West. Whereas Allen’s leans East, Hursey’s definitely leans West.

The one good thing about Hursey’s is that it still cooks over wood, a laud worthy characteristic in a region that long forsaken its BBQ heritage.  According to  the trail map they cook a mixture of shoulders (80%) and hams (20%). The sauce is a tomato based Western sauce but the pork is paired with an Eastern style creamy slaw. I didn’t find the pork all that flavorful as it was lacking in both smoke and moisture.

As was the practice throughout our entire BBQ tour we basically ordered everything on the menu so that we can all get a little sample of what the joint has to offer. One of the regrettable choices was to get the babyback ribs. Almost without fail in North Carolina, it’s a really really bad idea to order the ribs. Whereas traditional BBQ guys in the State are very stringent on their cooking methods for whole hog or shoulder, ribs are not considered BBQ are therefore are fair game for short cuts. The one exception to that rule might be 12 Bones in Asheville, a favorite of President Barack Obama.

As I should have expected, the ribs were boiled and then painted with sauce. Now normally this doesn’t work out all that badly as the Chili’s babyback ribs are boiled and sauced with little issue. The problem is that the “sauce” used for North Carolina BBQ is very thin and doesn’t really adhere to boiled ribs. Caveat Emptor on ribs in North Carolina!!

Other items on the menu were wonderful. We had some juicy broasted chicken. Broasted chicken, for the uninitiated, is chicken that’s fried in a pressure cooker. We finished off our meal with a fantastic peach cobbler and a properly done banana pudding.

I wouldn’t place Hursey’s on a must try category. But if you’re ever in the area it’s worth a stop in. It’s the only BBQ joint for a few miles I believe.

20130516_142643 20130516_142657 20130516_142904 20130516_143836

BBQ ROADTRIP!!! : B's Barbecue - Greenville, NC

B's_Barbecue_01[1]  

More photos below!!

Complimenting a barbecue joint's chicken is akin to trying to pair a smoking hot girl with your ugly friend by telling her "he got a great personality".

As far as I know there's only only two major joints in the country whose chicken shares place of pride - Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur, AL & B's Barbecue in Greenville, NC. Big Bob's largely because of it's unique practice of dunking the entire finished bird in their trademark white sauce.

B's is a well known fixture in the whole hog world. They clear through an average of 40 hogs a week cooking all night over charcoal. They make a very tasty hog. But interesting enough many many people have high praises for their chicken!

So what is the deal with this chicken? I wasn't even planning on ordering it because, quite frankly, who cares about chicken?? My gluttonous friends on the other hand had to have it, so we got a spread of corn sticks, hog, slaw, and chicken.

Taking a bite I finally got what people were saying about the chicken. It was crispy, toasted, juicy and very very well seasoned. But there's something else there. A secret ingredient. An edge. I took another bite and didn't sense anything unusual in terms of spices. But then I sniffed the bird. AAAAAAH. That's it! The secret. The single reason why everyone loves B's chicken. That little extra something that no one could articulate. It's HOG FAT!!!!!!!

You see, the chicken goes on in the morning after the hogs come off the pits. These hog have been sitting over glowing coal all night dripping juice and grease into the ashes. So when they fire up new coal to cook the chicken, they're smoking up the residual hog grease back up into the birds giving them a porky aroma!!

Well there you go. I just gave you the secret recipe to B's chicken. Step 1 smoke a few hogs.... Anyone want to steal that?

B's cornsticks are the single best in North Carolina. I'm not normally a fan of corn sticks as they're normally dense and hard. These were fried to flaky shattering work of art. I still won't order cornsticks when I visit other BBQ joints but if you don't get them here at B's you're missing out.

B's Barbecue 04 B's Barbecue 05 B's Barbecue 06 B's Barbecue 07 B's Barbecue 08 B's Barbecue 09 B's Barbecue 10 B's Barbecue 11 B's Barbecue 12 B's Barbecue 13

Reflections on the Hog Days of Summer

See all the photos HERE

Thus far we have completed three Hog Days of Summer events. And with the craziness relatively contained I figure it’d be a good time to write some reflections.

First off, it’s an otherworldly feeling to see “your” event. I’ve been part of many other people’s events as my own table. Whether it be the Hot Sauce Expo or aPORKalypse 2013, I was part of the show and not the producer. So to see a massive banner produced by the award winning Founder’s Brewery bearing the words “Arrogant Swine Presents” – otherworldly.

One of the things that surprised me was that I actually have repeat guests. My picture was that people would come to the events and make it one of many different fun things they’d would be doing this summer. It’s extremely flattering that not only people like the event; they actually keep coming back for more!

It’s still an oddity when someone comes up to me afterwards and thanks ME for putting the events together. People are spending their hard earned dollars and their free time to join me for a Saturday afternoon or evening. If anything I’m the one who should be thanking THEM!! And indeed I am extremely thankful that people are willing to share in my craziness.

Cooking hogs once in a while and doing it for several events and caterings in a row is night and day. I’ve been able to pick up lots of new tricks this summer - Everything from how to transport the animal to modifying the preparation for line service.

Our hogs seem to be a hit all summer with people coming back on line for 3 or more servings! It’s also a confirmation that people of New York do indeed appreciate traditional North Carolina BBQ the way it was intended to be served. Many “Carolina-style” places seem ashamed of the traditions and seek to doctor them up with sugar and thickeners.

Founder’s selection of craft beer continues to be a hit all summer and we are most definitely blessed that a brewer of their caliber agreed to partner up with us for these events. Their All Day IPA is unquestionably THE BEER of the summer. Full of flavor yet perfect for a hot summer’s afternoon.

Twitter Contest!!!

SOURCE: BOUSEL.COM

Hi All

I've been away from blogging because of my ongoing summer BBQ series the NYC HOG DAYS OF SUMMER.

I'm hoping to get back to posting fairing soon. For now I'm announcing an ongoing twitter contest.

The rules are simple.

#1 Copy this text: Join me for BBQ & unlimited @foundersbrewing BEER! http://bit.ly/17IO8Wf #hogdaysofsummer

#2 Tweet it to all your followers on twitter.

Done!  I will choose one winner on 7/21 who will recieve 2 VIP tickets for the August and September events. Where you will drink unlimited pourings of Founders Brewery beer and my North Carolina BBQ HOG!!!

While you're at it. Follow me on Twitter at @ArrogantSwine

and like MY PAGE on Facebook

Win some free hog!!

BBQ ROADTRIP!!! : Bum Restaurant - Ayden, NC

Bum's_BBQ_02[1] Quick! Name one of the top 3 greatest Heavy-weight boxers in history. You might mention Mike Tyson, or Evander Holyfield, and you'll definitely mention Muhammad Ali. Especially the latter as he spent most of his career calling himself the greatest. Poor Joe Louis. 12 years reigning as world champion. 25 successful title defenses (Ali had a mere 19). To this day there has not been a similar dominance in any weight division.

Unfortunately for Joe he was neither as well spoken or good looking as Ali.  Hence why none of us know about him. I feel the same way about Bum's Restaurant in Ayden, NC.

Ayden is a mecca for whole hog lovers. For decades the Skylight Inn has held the platonic ideal of swine cookery. Their familial cousin Lathan "Bum" Dennis cooks hogs in the exact same fashion and fails to get the same cred for no other reason than Skylight Inn exists in the same town. For God's sake they're not even on the North Carolina BBQ Society Trail!!! This last part is particularly irksome to me because Bum's barbecue is really really good and there's plenty of other joints on the Trail list that taste like ass and are coasting on their reputations.

Aside from my urge to root for the underdog, Bum's really is very good. The pork is not hacked to a tuna fish consistency, juicy, and lightly smokey with lots of little nuggets of crispy skin. Their side dishes are easily the best in the state. No exaggeration there. This is real country eating here filled with soul feeding vegetables. Eastern Carolina corn sticks and pork rinds are available to add just enough crunch.

And the fried chicken. Oh the FRIED CHICKEN! Eastern Carolina whole hog BBQ is usually paired with fried chicken. Traditional giants like Wilbur's, Parker's both serve fried chicken with their hogs. Bum's chicken beats them both. I'm all down for great whole hog, but when you got great whole hog and finger licking fried chicken - oh my....

A proper banana pudding topped with warm southern meringue finishes off the meal.

As you can see I have a particular affection for Bum's. As practitioner of the art and as a traveled eater, I find it an utter travesty that Bum's is never mentioned when talking about top BBQ joints in North Carolina. The NC BBQ Society Trail list is a wonderful tool and there's other sources which basically name the same big name spots. But do yourself a favor, many of those big names are for tourists - Bum's is for those in the know.

Bum's_BBQ_01[1] Bum's_BBQ_03[1] Bum's_BBQ_04[1] Bum's_BBQ_11[1] Bum's_BBQ_12[1]

 

Meet My New Smoker!!

20130518_104651 As you all remember, my long time smoker was stolen while prepping for a whole hog event. If you're a Carolina whole hog stylist, your smoker is very specific. I've cooked on a whole variety of smokers but none of them will do a proper Carolina whole hog. To do Carolina BBQ you need a specialized Carolina PIT.

My new smoker is designed to take hardwood embers and slowly smoke the meats til tender. While it's direct heat, the coals are very far away from the meat leaving the cooking temperature still very low.

We gave her a test run by getting my buddies to bring over a massive amount of meat as I burn down logs to fire the pit. We had 4 pork shoulders, 2 slabs of ribs, 6 slabs of beef short ribs and 2 chickens! Oh and a handful of rib tips to snack on.

She burned beautifully. Came to temperature with very little effort and held steady between refirings. I had mine specially customized with bar AND diamond grates to make the ultimate Carolina crackling on the pork. If your pit can't make crackling, it might be a good smoker but it ain't North Carolina BBQ.

I'm so happy to have my new member of the BBQ family. My wife and friends named her Fat Sally. Say hi Fat Sally!

20130518_090453

IMG_20130518_141408

20130517_235356 20130517_191923 20130517_154115

20130518_171454_20130520113001436

 

IMG_20130518_220048

News from around the BBQ Blogsphere

Remember the HOG DAYS OF SUMMER!!

BBQ Jew comments on Stephen Colbert's latest mockery of North Carolina BBQ.

Big Wayner BBQ reviews the Shizzle Jerk Marinade. Make sure to smoke something appropriately Jamaican while using this sauce!

The MEATWAVE brings us a little bit regional grilling. Behold the CORNELL Chicken. I'm always a sucker for food with a story. "Cornell chicken was born in the 1940s when a request was made by the governor of Pennsylvanian to food scientist and Cornell professor Dr. Bob Baker to develop a new chicken recipe. What Dr. Baker came up with was then brought to his home state of New York, where it has been used as a means to cook a lot of chicken quickly at Baker's Chicken Coop at the New York State Fair for over half a century."

BBQ Sauce Reviews takes a look at the "Buttula". "The BBQ Buttula is a spatula designed for moving, flipping, and handling of large chunks of meat such as pork butts, briskets and ribs."

Marie, let's eat reviews Hog Wild Barbecue in Douglasville, GA. This is one of the few places serving a Georgian regional dressing called "Hudson's Sauce". I'm down for some right now!

Texas BBQ Posse comments on the new top 50 BBQ joint list release by Texas Monthly Magazine.

Patrons of the Pit smokes up some sloppy joes on the grill. No you did not read that wrong! " Ever had a hickory smoked Sloppy Joe? If not, well, you’re missing out.  And you probably should finish reading this too , lest your Sloppy Joe’s reign ever smokeless. A sad plight indeed."

Man Up Texas BBQ visits his first lechonera in Puerto Rico. Ah how I love spinning pigs over fires so.....

Cowgirl Country Life documents the epic battle between a Red Angus and a Black Angus steer for burger dominance!

 

The HOG DAYS OF SUMMER!!!

Hog Days of Summer!!!!

JBS

John Brown Smokehouse & Arrogant Swine Presents

cropped-hds.png

An NYC Summer Celebration of Traditional North Carolina Whole Hog BBQ, Craft Beer Brewing & Heritage Pig Farming

  • Tamarack Hollow Farm Gloucestershire Old Spot slow-smoked over hardwood embers
  • All the Proper Carolina Pig Pickin’ Garnishes 
  • All You Can Drink Craft Beer
  • Live Bluegrass Band!!!

2 Sessions Per Event Noon (12pm – 4pm) & Evening Sessions (5pm – 9pm)

July 21st in Long Island City, QUEENS – Purchase Tickets HERE

August 17th in Long Island City, QUEENS – Purchase Tickets HERE

August 24th in Greenpoint, BROOKLYN – Purchase Tickets HERE

September 14th in Long Island City, QUEENS – Purchase Tickets HERE 

September 21st in Greenpoint, BROOKLYN – Purchase Tickets HERE 

A Portion of all Proceeds donated to support Just Food NYC

News from around the BBQ Blogsphere

Obsessive Compulsive BBQ found a 1906 ad for BBQ sold by the bucket. Colonel Sanders wasn't as pioneering as we thought.

Texas BBQ Posse knows that everyone is tired of hearing about Austin BBQ over and over again. Good thing for us, there's plenty of exciting things happening in Dallas right now which is giving Austin a run for its money.

Blue Ribbon BBQ shares a recipe for a hoppin' John Salad. Celebrate the new year right!

Patrons of the Pit makes some Country Rib BBQ Sandwiches! As you all know country ribs are not actually ribs and have no bones in them. But POP here gives us the greatest idea ever!! "This sandwich is something of an expedient pulled pork affair, for when you’re in the mood for a savory pulled pork sandwich, but you lack the time and fancy to smoke the big Boston butts for half the day long. In some ways, they are better even. A fraction of the time, and because the pieces are small to start with, you get an elevated smoke-to-meat-ratio. Every bite is not unlike the outer, most savory sections of a traditional butt, loaded with seasoning, bark, and smoke. Oh buddy!"

The MEATWAVE shares a recipe for Chorizo stuffed Poblano peppers. Oh man.... Happy Cinco de Mayo!!

Memphis Que finds a BBQ pulled pork empanada at a food truck!! "It was basically the classier cousin of the fried barbecue pie I tried recently at the A&R Bar-B-Q on Elvis Presley Boulevard. Having cole slaw inside the crust added a nice extra element of texture and I liked that the sauce was served on the side so that I was able to decide how much to use instead of having a large quantity of it included in the filling the way it was at A&R. It was cheap, convenient and portable comfort food; perfect for a quick snack while strolling through an outdoor festival."

Man Up Texas BBQ shares a video tour of Austin's LA Barbecue's pit. Word has it that there are engineering secrets involved with this pit. Watch closely!

SFA's  Joe York remembers Ricky Parker who passed this week. A massive loss to the whole hog cookery world. "I paused over him and noticed that in his right hand someone had placed a single cigar between his index and bird fingers. His thumb rested, anticipatory, on the business end of the Swisher Sweet and in that moment I couldn’t help but imagine a scene in which Ricky saunters up to St. Peter, looks him up and down and says, “Well, Pete, you got a light for me or what?”"

OUR STATE reports on Sims Country BBQ in Granite Falls, NC. The joint features the best in bluegrass and BBQ. "With a smirk on his face, Keith shares one more story, about a reporter who came to write a piece on the restaurant when it opened.“The lady said, ‘I’m going to give you 10 reasons why you’ll never make it: You’re on a dirt road, you don’t allow any alcoholic beverages,’ and this, that, and the other. And I said, ‘Well, that’s fine. If I won’t make it because of that, I don’t want to make it.’ ”Two years later, Keith says, the same reporter came back for another story and apologized.

Big Wayner BBQ reviews Southern Spicy Sweet Shed Spread by THE SHED. "This sauce works very nicely as a finishing sauce on chicken, and I suspect it would do the same on pork chops and ribs as well.  The sauce thickened up very nicely when used as a finishing sauce, giving the chicken a great color.  The heat was definitely more noticeable when the sauce was used as a dipping sauce, and the heat level toned down a bit when the sauce was used as a finishing sauce.  I could use this as my ketchup replacement for French fries.  It’s that tasty!"

Whole Hog Pitmaster Ricky Parker has passed

The Southern Foodways Alliance alerted us to the passing of Whole Hog BBQ legend Ricky Parker.

Mr Parker was taken far too soon from us. At 51 years of age he was still relatively young gentleman. With our country seeing a resurgence in interest and passion for BBQ, there was hope that he would be able to see a revival of a tradition he loved so dearly.

I wrote a bit about Parker HERE concerning his specific style of cooking and his preferred hog breeds.

Parker definitely wasn't a celebrity pitmaster. He wasn't particularly known save for a few foodies and even amongst those, very few understood exactly what he was doing and what he was preserving. When I was in college, my linguistics professor was collector of rare and dying languages. A brilliant man, he noted that we can collect data for future generations to study and make contributions to Linguistic Theory. However, any attempts to preserve dying languages are sadly futile. Regional barbecue styles are like languages. Even in its limitation of expression it can sometimes most clearly describe who we are.

Barbecue has become more popular now than ever before. Television shows, forums, Youtube videos, all point to the fact that people really care. Not only do they care they're opening their wallets for good BBQ. Real BBQ. Parker sadly is no longer with us to see the next chapter. Hopefully he will have inspired the next generation in Western Tennessee to continue the art of whole hog cookery. Express to us the public and to themselves their heritage in the living language of smoke.

Rest in Peace Mr. Parker.

NYC Hot Sauce Expo 2013 !!!

See all the photos HERE

In Homer’s epic poem the Odyssey, King Ulysses understands clearly the dangers of listening to the Sirens’ song. Not interested in following his drowning predecessors’ footsteps, he took the precaution of having his men tie him to a mast so that he could have a sample. Mankind has continued to enjoy tasting danger in safe samples ever since.

This of course brings us to the first Annual NYC Hot Sauce expo. 2 days and several dozen of the country’s most cutting edge producers of hot sauce ready for a mob of New Yorkers begging for some palate flogging. When the ingredients themselves are named after scorpions and poltergeist, it’s very clear cut that this is gonna hurt.

My role in all this was to cook up some Mangalista pork shoulders, kindly supplied by Mosefund Farms, for the VIP section. For the event I stuck with my classic Brunswick County rub recipe and slow smoked these beautifully marbled pork shoulders with oak for over 12 hours til meltingly tender. Mangalista is the PRIME-grade of pork. It’s heavily marbled and full of luscious porcine flavor that stands out even with the heavy smoking.

To pair it off I decided to change up my normal slaw for something a bit more interesting. So balance out the most expensive heritage pork in the country, I ended up creating the priciest slaw I’ve ever made. Now no one really thinks about the slaw, at least no Pitmaster I know thinks thru their slaw. On any given menu, the slaw recipe had as much time invested in it as the picking of which paper napkin to offer. Possibly less as paper napkins add up so choose wisely!

Many people for events will simply buy some slaw mix. This is to not to say the thought did come into my head once, twice or 40 times during the night. I’ve been working all week and the cabbage was gonna be given away for free anyway. There I was standing at the wholesale market ready to grab 2 cases of coleslaw mix and finally couldn’t bring myself to do it. Off I went to buy an entire box of fresh cabbage and 30lbs of 4 different varieties of apples. Late into the evening I prepared the dressing for my offering of the day – Sweet Apple-Mustard Slaw. A proper garnish for my pricey pig.

Slaw in North Carolina has to be sweet. This is a counter point to the spicy tangy vinegar sauce that dresses my pork. And it seemed that people enjoyed it quite a bit. The best reaction I got out of the day was this woman who claimed to only sample tiny nibbles of various samples in order to not be filled up my any one vendor. Well she took a bite; pupils dilated; and exclaimed “Ohmygawd”, before inhaling the entire sample. She then took two more. Seems like our BBQ pork found the perfect partner.

Being in the VIP area sounded like the best gig ever. After all, it’s VIP! Unfortunately for me, my tardy entry into the schedule meant I was planted next to the entrance facing the water. In any other worlds this would have been the most glorious spot to be. Refreshing breeze, glittering water, and being the last thing VIPs saw before they headed out to the crowd. Alas this was done during an NYC Spring.

The wind coming from the waters were absolutely frigid! Being next to entrance effectively put me at the beginning of a wind tunnel. All my stuff was being blow away – my tiny 2oz serving cups, my banner, my napkins, etc. Not the coziest serving space. I think they might still be attempting to scrap some of my slaw off the ceiling.

Overall we had a very positive reception from the crowd, with people coming back many times for more pork. The Jarlsberg grilled cheese people were kind enough to keep us fed while the folks from Manhattan beers kept my crew well lubricated with brews. Clearly people were having a great time. WDM & I even got to escape for a bit an sample some of the hot sauces. My favorite being A&B their use of a carrot puree is absolutely genius and really got me to start thinking through what else I can do on my mustard sauces. My other favorite was Evil Seed, if for no other reason than their artwork and marketing being utterly inspired. They had these fantastic devil looking koozies for your sauce bottles and a “Big Evil” BBQ sauce seasoned with, get this, BACON BITS… mind blown. I really wanted to try the offerings from Empire Biscuits but I think they ran out before I could get to them. I smelled their food all afternoon but couldn’t escape my table. I also enjoyed the Chocolate Ghost Chili Salsa from Chesterville Pepper Co – this one fooled me twice (1) there’s no chocolate in it, it’s a TYPE of ghost chili (2) it seems pretty tame but the heat comes slowly, slowly, slowly, Oh dear Jesus it hurts, it hurts, why? why? why did I just do that?

My least favorite hot sauce person wasn’t even a vendor there! Some woman from Men Pa’w hot sauce was too cheap to pay for a table and was too cheap to bring in crackers or spoons for people to try her sauce. So she basically hovered around my table using my food as the “base” for her vile seasoning. There were several adverse reactions from people who she gave my BBQ as a sample with her sauce on top. It wasn’t pretty…. And to make matters worse, some thought we were in it together! So I had to kindly ask her to stop using my samples to sell her hot sauce. Took a few tries to shoo her away and yet she still kept coming back! You’d think she’d go get some Ritz crackers or something. Very unprofessional. So buy more Evil Seed and A&B and avoid Men Pa’w like the plague!

I also really wished I got to see the eating contests. From all accounts they were the highlights of the day. Not sure what it says about us as a society that we enjoy watching people torment themselves with these uber spicy eating contests, but we do.

It was a great first run at the NYC Hot Sauce Expo. I had a good deal of fun and I hope that it does indeed become an annual event. Perhaps next year I’ll set up a milk vending station. People definitely needed it!

News from around the BBQ Blogsphere

BBQ Sauce Review tests out the new Pit Barrel Cooker from the Pit Barrel Cooker Co. "The Pit Barrel Cooker also known as the PBC, is a drum cooker made from a brand new 30 gallon steel drum that has a very durable high-heat all-weather powder coated finish that is rated for 1,000º. The PBC is an American Made product that’s extremely well-made and can be used for low and slow cooking as well as grilling."

No Excuses BBQ definitely knows how to diversify his BBQ menu. This week he cooks up some Bear stew on his Keg. "The finished product was very similar to the beef stews we’ve cooked up in the past, although there was a definite gamier flavor. The meat was very lean, yet tender. And the dinner conversation was punny; it seems my children have picked up the family tradition of mangling the language at every opportunity."

Fed Man Walking gives you a behind the scenes look at the Austin Food & Wine Fest!

The MEATWAVE reviews Big Bob Gibson's White BBQ Sauce. "White sauce is made to do one thing really well, make chicken taste even better. On the grill, I think that's the best way to use white sauce, but off the grill it can accomplish much more. Beyond being a great dip for light meats like chicken and pork, white sauce would probably serve you well as a dressing for backyard side standards like potato or macaroni salad. I really like this sauce, but at the same time that the vinegar and creaminess are attractive, there's also a slight chemically flavor. It's because of this that it's knocked down a place or two—if you take the time to make your own white sauce, you'll get something better than what comes out of the bottle in my opinion."

Texas BBQ Posse thinks turkey is a may be a new permanent addition to the Texas BBQ canon. Maybe not but time will tell!

Full Custom BBQ visits Hammerhead in Louisville, KY. "Hammerheads is a great restaurant with plenty of imagination and mostly spot-on execution. The items I normally judge a joint on are the brisket and pork ribs. Here the brisket was average and the ribs were a bit overcooked. In the end these were the only items on the menu I had any qualms with, and I can't wait to get back to Louisville for another visit to Hammerheads."

BBQ Guy smokes up some meatballs wrapped in bacon, also known as "MOINKs"

DivaQ drops some tips on how to get your grill ready for grilling seasoning. "I BBQ all year round. I understand there are people that put away their BBQ’s at the end of summer –  (We need to talk people – you can BBQ in winter and fall!) You need to perform ongoing maintenance and grill inspection -remember a clean grill is a happy grill."

Man Up Texas BBQ visits Smoke Shack in San Antonio, TX. "Couple of weeks ago, I stopped in for my first visit to Smoke Shack, the San Antonio BBQ trailer that recently won a field-of-32 BBQ tournament for San Antonio. My order: pulled pork, quarter chicken (dark), brisket slider, pulled-chicken slider, two pork ribs."

Patrons of the Pit calls the cheese burger the Pit-master's thumbprint. Tell him how you cook your burger and he'll know the character of the cook. "My eldest brother has long-held to the tactic, when visiting a restaurant for the first time, that the safest, and most efficient stroke you can play there is to try their cheeseburger.  For they are not likely first off to screw it up, but more over, in a gastronomic gumshoe sort of way, you can tell a great deal about the rest of their fare, their cook, and their establishment as a whole, but from the mere details revealed in their humble hamburger. ... Likewise on the grill. It is a pit junkie’s thumb print, the hamburger.  And everybody who has flipped a patty has one. Every finger print is a little different it seems, and like a thumb into an ink pad, it is our most basic impression onto the BBQ arena. Want to get an idea of a pit keeper’s prowess, consider first his cheeseburger."

Big Wayner's BBQ Blog reviews Ubon's Sauce, a 5 generation recipe from Mississippi. "Ubon’s does it all and has done it all for well over 30 years.  Ubon’s Barbeque of Yazoo (and pitmaster Garry Roark) is featured year after year at the Big Apple Barbeque Block Party and has received numerous accolades.  Ubon’s is a regular on the competition circuit (and especially at Memphis in May).  Garry’s daughter Leslie is a partner in the restaurant/catering/sauce business as well as the rib & chicken cook for the competition team.  And having the pleasure of meeting the entire Ubon’s family at Memphis in May last year, I can say with 100% confidence that they are some of the nicest people I know!"

Grilling with Rich share Dave (FAMOUS DAVE'S) Anderson's story on his sauce development as well as his children's suffering from it. "I have endured the wrath of my children when they were younger, still in school, and they would get up early in the morning only to discover a kitchen basically ransacked with my fruit peelings, mashed herbs, seasoning grindings, dirty bowls, sauce splattered kitchen stove…and they had to push everything aside on the kitchen table just to find a place to eat their cereal. They were also mad at me sometimes because they hated going to school smelling like onions, garlic, or smoke!"

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Cook Heritage Breeds for Whole Hog BBQ

Now given that I already wrote why you should cook heritage breed hogs for whole hog BBQ I'm giving you the other side of the story and reasons why you wouldn't want to use rare breeds.

#1 It's Expensive.

Hell this might as well be the reason for #1-#4 with #5 being "Did I mention it's expensive?".

Cuban cigars are not the best cigars in the world. Some of the best cigars in the world are Cuban and I smoke a decent amount of them. To the average person the difference between a decent Cuban cigar and one from Honduras is indiscernible. This is because people don't smoke that many cigars.  People also don't go around tasting different breeds of pigs. So one might argue that unless you had a particularly gifted palate you're not likely to tell the difference between supermarket pork and heritage pork.

#2 It's Inconsistent 

There is basically no industry standards for heritage breeding. Much of it is self policing and many of the animal traders have to deal with rampant fraud. While people like to look down on "Factory Farming", there is a distinct advantage to factories - everything is uniform. Any chef working with grass fed cattle will tell you that one steak might be the most glorious piece of meat you've ever stuffed in your maws and the next one will taste like gym sneakers. All from the same farm too!

#3 Sourcing is a pain in the ARSE. 

When I want a plain regular hog for a client, I place an order with the same commerical butcher I have used for the past 3 years. I tell him how big and when I need to pick it up and I pay less than what most NYC restaurants pay for pig. When sourcing from a farm on the other hand, you need to call up an entire network of farms to see who might have your size ready at that moment. Pigs are not products that can be made on the spot. Thus because there's much less of the animal on these small farms, it's a pain to fill my order on size. If I'm too late to their slaughter season only a larger animal is available. If too early I might be stuck with two 60lbers when I really wanted one 140lb animal. Oh and yes, I have to pay more for this inconvenience.

#4 It can be a fire hazard 

What makes heritage breeds so tasty? Because they're largely bacon or lard hogs. All that fat keeps the meat juicy and gives your a nice succulent end product. Much of your flavor profile in Carolina BBQ is that grease dripping on the hardwood embers creating smoke.

But it also brings you the added risk of grease fire. Grease fires are no joke. Down in West Tennessee, insurance companies will not insure smokehouses because these grease fires have consumed entire buildings. They cooked a 280lb Mangalista pig, a particularly fatty breed, at last year's Southern Foodways Symposium and I felt for the 2 poor pitmasters. They basically had to get that beast cooked by a deadline without creating the greatest pyro-technic display in history. I don't care how many hogs you've cooked in your life, if you are dealing with that much grease and live fire, it makes you breathe just a bit more shallower. I did a 260lb Gloucestershire a few weeks back and that alone gave me missed heart beat moments.

#5 None of the best Hog masters use it.

Sam Jones, Dexter Sherrod, Rodney Scott, Ed Mitchell etc, all the biggest names in whole hog cooking. All who have made dramatic life altering BBQ have done so with commodity pork. Now you might argue that they might produce better BBQ with better pigs and I happen to agree with that sentiment. But at the core of the art of hog cookery is the techniques of fire management that brings about nirvanic flavors.