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.