Arrogant Swine

Beer Hall Carolina Whole Hog BBQ

Filtering by Category: Ed Mitchell

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.

aPORKalypse NOW 2013 - Whole Hog BBQ!!

aPORKalypse 2013_056 See ALL the Photos and food porn of aPORKalyspe HERE.

I live in Queens. Now this for a long time marks the complete opposite of hip. Queens doesn’t have the same sex appeal as Williamsburg and definitely doesn't have gentrified air of Park Slope in Brooklyn. What I have found lately is the massive booming food communities of Astoria and Long Island City (LIC). People are extremely passionate about their neighborhood  With Village Voice awarding #1 BBQ status to John Brown Smokehouse and the charcuterie savant Ian Kapitan cooking at Alobar, Queens might just give Brooklyn some competition for coolness.

This year’s aPORKalypse Now was featured at Alewife NYC – voted #1 craft beer bar in NYC by ratebeer.com. I’m no expert on cool but I gotta say, this had to have been one of the coolest bars I have ever been to. The place was MASSIVE! High ceilings would be an understatement. It was like a renaissance chapel built for the devotion to sacred suds. Two floors, thick sofas, AND a patio. Breath taking.

The mission was simple – three 100lb pigs were at my disposal to smoke and produce North Carolina BBQ. John Brown Smokehouse was given the call to provide BBQ and as the joint’s resident whole hog expert, my pit pulled up the night before the event ready go. In order to get 300lbs of meat into my smoker we sectioned 2 of the pigs into 6's – loins, shoulders, hams. This allowed me to jigsaw puzzle them into my pit. The last one I left whole and simply cut in half for show.

4:00 AM me and my partner, Angel Mercado, loaded the hogs into my truck and arrived at Alewife to fire up my pit with charcoal and thick oak logs. This took longer than I liked but as it was really early in the morning I didn’t want to wake up the neighbors with my flamethrower. If you have never heard my flamethrower before, it sounds like a jet exhaust. A perfect recipe for cops being called on me at 5AM. By 5 the hogs were on and the first cigar of the day with a much needed cup of coffee was at hand.

Maintaining the heat was royal chore! First off it was really really cold. So cold I heard the polar bears at Central Park actually called in sick. So I was firing up the pit 3 times my usual rate. Thanks to my trusty burn pit and shovel this wasn’t a problem. The one interesting thing about cooking hog is that more of your equipment actually comes from Home Depot than restaurant supply stores.

By 2:30 we pulled our first half pig off in order to feed the people from Session I. A bit of a miscommunication as I didn’t realized we were cooking for 2 sessions. It would have also been a logistical nightmare as I literally had 2.5 hours worth of sleep just to try and finish this pig for the evening session.

In the meanwhile my massive black pit provided lots of photo foder for my fellow New Yorkers who are not used to seeing a smoker the size of a small car.

By 4 all the hogs were done and we keep the process exactly as my teacher, Ed Mitchell, taught me. Picked the meat off the bones, chopped them, dressed with my vinegar pepper sauce and topped off the with crispy skin. Unlike other BBQ styles, I can’t just slice something and serve it on a plate. Cooking hog requires that you taste a lot of it. Adjusting seasoning as I go. So often times you’ll see me not eat a plate because I’m so full from tasting all that hog. With 3 hogs smoked, that’s a lot of pig I had to taste.

Our line was nonstop! We chopped a half hog at a time to keep feeding the hungry crowd. Most of the people there had never had North Carolina BBQ before. How much the crowd loved it was voting with their wallets. As part of their tickets, guests got a few drink tasting and food tasting vouchers. More tickets to me meant less option to taste someone else’s food. People came back for 3rds and 4ths! One gentleman loved us so much he placed his entire voucher supply on our table saying he didn't care to eat anything else for the evening but our hog!

As part of the gag I browned one of the pig heads in my firebox and placed it on the table as a center piece. I swear my pit and this pig’s head get more loving from the ladies than I could ever hope for. It was passed around, posed for photos, kissed etc. At the end of the evening a guy asked to take it home with I gladly gifted as it meant less cleanup for me. The missing pig head distressed a group of women though. Apparently they wanted to take the head home as well. I gave away the remaining two (raw) pig heads sitting at the back of truck. I never realized that women were so fond of raw pig heads. That’s some wife material right there.

aPORKalypse NOW 2013 was an amazing event. So happy to see so many people enjoy my BBQ and a great way to kick off a 2013 filled with BBQ events.

See all the Photos and food porn of aPORKalyspe HERE.

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aPORKalypse 2013 is coming!!!

I will be cooking North Carolina Whole Hog BBQ at this year's aPORKalypse Now event as part of the NYC Craft Beer Week festivities. We're celebrating local craft breweries with 10 chefs cooking 10 heritage pigs!!!! 

Me and my brothers from John Brown Smokehouse, where I proudly serve as resident Hog Expert, will be bringing the taste of Ed Mitchell BBQ to the folks in Queens. This will be done out of Alewife's Bar.

Champions team up with champions!! You can't beat this roster

Alewife Bar - Voted #1 Craft Beer Bar in New York City by Ratebeer.com!!

John Brown - Village Voice's 2012 #1 BBQ Joint in NYC

Me - well I'm not gonna toot my own horn but I smoke a pretty mean pig. A faithful student of the Pitmaster Ed Mitchell.

Hope to see you there!!!

Some press from last year's event from Serious Eats  The Finance Foodie and I Drunk That.

Whole Hog BBQ - It's all in the MIX!!

IMAG1146 A good friend of mine and I met for lunch yesterday and it shocked me that while he has always heard about my work with “Whole Hog BBQ” he didn't quite understand that every whole hog plate had every part of the pig mixed together. This was shocking to hear especially from my buddy, a well-read foodie. I figure if HE had trouble understanding this, others will have trouble as well.

In my particular branch of the American BBQ family – Eastern North Carolina – whole hog BBQ means that an entire pig is slow smoked over hardwood embers before being pulled, chopped, and mixed together. This way you have all the goodness of the pig present in every bite. Kinda like mixing up a “meat salad”.

Now for traditional pig pickings, people basically come by the hog and pick out the portion that they want – loins, hams, bacon, shoulder etc. For commercial purposes and for larger feasts, the hog is mixed together because it makes a better product. This seems counter-intuitive for most people. For example, shoulders are the predominant pork cut for BBQ in the South. For many people there doesn't seem to be a need to add any white meat hams into the meat. If shoulder is superior cut, why dilute it with an inferior one? I’ll list 3 reasons of why it’s better to mix:

  • Mixing lean and fatty meats makes the pork tastes porkier. Take for example pork belly, it’s delicious due to its richness but it’s hard to eat an entire plate of belly because the richness overwhelms the pork flavor. Add some loin to that and you’ll discover why Italians been mixing belly and loin in their “porchetta” roasts for generations.
  • Every piece of the pig has a different flavor. The tenderloins taste different than the loins, the hams markly different than the shoulders. Adding all this goodness together makes for a more complex set of flavors. The reason we all love chocolate is that it contains over a thousand flavors, since we can’t taste 1,000 flavors we all taste what we find the most pleasant. Same with the whole hog, you’re getting hits of pleasure based on your palate and it has the profile to satisfy all.
  • It allows everyone to get a bit of everything. There’s only so much tenderloin on the pig and the precious neck muscle isn’t as large as the belly. Since the spirit of the whole hog is sharing with all, it’s best to mix.

Now the guys over in Western Tennessee actually do pull to order from the hog. So if you went up the counter at some Western Tennessee spot and asked for a “whole hog sandwich”, they’ll probably shoot you a “Which part arsehole?” look. They’re expecting you to order a shoulder sandwich, or a tenderloin (aka catfish) sandwich etc. But since this is a North Carolina BBQ blog, they can get their own blogger to justify why this is a better practice.

Ed Mitchell BBQ featured on Mind of a Chef - Smoke

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My teacher Ed Mitchell was featured in the latest episode of Mind of a Chef starring super-star chef David Chang. The must have shot this video over a year ago as Ed had parted ways with the Pit for a while now. Great to see Ed Mitchell style whole hog BBQ being presented in such a wide forum.

You can watch the FULL VIDEO. Hurry. The free PBS preview expires in February.

Whole Hog BBQ Myths

The BBQ world is filled with myths and tall tales. Fairly ridiculous claims like the 18 hour brisket or the 20 hour pork butt. Heck I've even had some guy tell me he cooked his chickens for no less than 8 hours. A lot of it stems from the "low & slow" target that people aim for, so theoretically Lowest & Slowest should make the best BBQ right? If you believe that. I have some beach front property in Arizona I'd like to show you.

Myth #1 200 Degrees and below cooking temperature

You've heard it before, people claiming that the key to cooking the perfect hog requires you  hit a MAXIMUM cooking temperature of 225 degrees. I've even read about places claiming that they cook the hog at 185 degrees or perhaps just slightly higher just to keep the flies away.

One key fact people miss is the DENSITY of the hog. Now if you were cooking a little hog fetus, you go right ahead and do real low. My teacher, Ed Mitchell always said that the most important part of the initial temperature was to get "your heat into your meat". Do you know what they call a turkey cooked for 2 hours in a 500 degree oven? Raw. How long do you think it takes an animal the size of 10 Turkeys to get up to temperature. Just because your pit is 200 degrees doesn't mean you hog anywhere NEAR 200. Heck you're luck if its anywhere near 100 degrees. So raw meat in a moist warm environment, you know what that translates to? Yessir, that's some food poisoning bacteria making it's happy home in your dinner.

For many BBQ cooks, 180 - 200 is a HOLDING TEMPERATURE. You don't cook with it at all. This is the period where the BBQ is at the exact doneness that you want her to be at and she's going to hang out at this setting to rest, redistribute juices, and relax wound up protein. No one cooks at this temperature at any legitimate whole hog joint. If they tell you so they're either lying or trying to kill you.

Myth #2 It takes 24-36 hours to cook a hog 

Now this is a pretty sad view of the pitmaster. Poor guy has to hang around a carcass for the entire day 6 days a week. All dating and sleep will take place on Sunday unless they're open on Sunday. So where exactly do they get this number?

The best lies are of course partially true. It's the same as the 18 hour brisket, despite what television tells you, the brisket is not cooking for 18 hours. Same with the hog, the longest a hog should take you is about 14 hours. Most people will get it done much sooner. What happens after it's fully cooked is that the pit has enough residual coals giving off light heat for the pitmaster to go home without having to fire the pit. If you cut off the drafts, your pit should stay warm for hours. Get a good night's sleep, come back and stoke the coals (re fire) and finish off your hog. So the math is pretty simple 14 hours cooking + 2 hours at the bar + 8 hours worth of sleep = 24 hours. The final 10 is a holding temperature where the meat is no longer cooking.

Can the meat be served at the 14 hour mark? Absolutely. It's fully cooked.

 

Whole Hog BBQ - West Tennessee by Joe York

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/1535389 w=500&h=377]

It's been a few years since I last watched this video and it's interesting watching it again. What's striking about the video is the hyper-regionalism of the West Tennessee style. Whole hog is the trademark style of Eastern North Carolina and it's something that translates well into popular culture.

John T Edge noted correctly that just because you have several states that do whole hog bbq over hardwood embers that they are definitely not the same. For most people, the separation is largely the sauce. In Western Tennessee it's the actual parts of the pig themselves. Us Eastern Carolina stylists like to mix the various parts of the pig together so that you get a blend of the lean and the fatty. So in West Tennessee, one does not order a plate of barbecue. They'll ask for either loins, or hams, or shoulders etc. 2 specialty cuts they'll ask for are

  1. Middling - aka bacon
  2. Catfish - the tenderloin

I'd imagine the "catfish" being pretty popular. In North Carolina pig pickings, the ribs, loins, and the catfish are separated out for the pitmasters before everything is chopped together. Got to give the pit crew something for their efforts.

The other difference between Carolina whole hog and Tennessee is that the Carolinia's fire it a bit hotter. The fear of the loins drying out is less pronounced as everything is mixed together. The guys in Tennessee cook it REALLY LOW and REALLY SLOW. This produces a hog which is more tender but it also limits the amount of fat rendering. For Carolina hog you need to have the fat render properly otherwise the meat will boil in the fat and produce a greasy texture.

Incredibly what's causing the tradition in this area to die out is not labor cost or regulations but the simple fact that several meat processing plants have closed in the area. The readily accessible source of whole animals have dwindled.

After so many years since watching this video and several hogs later. It's interesting what you missed the first time around. I've watched this video many many times when it first came out but didn't have the knowledge nor background in order to interpret what I was watching. Gives one a shiver now on what I'm "seeing" in front of me but realistically am seeing nothing.

3 Views of Whole Hog BBQ - Alton Brown, Sam Jones & Rodney Scott

SOURCE: FOOD REPUBLIC

“You can cook a pig over gas. You'll certainly go to hell, but you can do it.” - Alton Brown on Whole Hog BBQ.

Over at the FOOD REPUBLIC, Chris Chamberlain does an amazing summary of what I would consider the highlights of the recent Southern Foodways Symposium - WHOLE HOG. Actually my teacher Ed Mitchell, the grand ambassador of Eastern Carolina whole hog, was there but was asked to something on his family's Brunswick stew. Two whole hog powerhouses Sam Jones and Rodney Scott, representing Eastern North Carolina and Pee Dee South Carolina styles respectively, where on hand to cook massive 280 lb Mangalista Hogs on open concrete pits. And no less than the great TV food science guy alive was there to talk about whole hog bbq. Honestly could this card get any more stacked?

Definitely worth reading in it's entirety. I'm simply going to post some of my thoughts on what's said.

The first interesting thing was the stylists picked. For those in the know, Jones and Scott are big names. They're also basically the same in style on paper. The South Carolina Pee Dee region uses a vinegar pepper sauce that's more or less the same as Eastern Carolina. I figured it would have been interesting to bring someone like the folks from Sweatman's cooking their mustard sauced whole hog to bring extreme contrast. Even thought they're fundamentally the same you can really notice the difference in styles.

Scott is really big on seasoning the mean on the grill. So when the pig is flipped, the aim is just as much to blister the meat as it is to boil the sauce mopped on the meat to season the whole thing. Jones is concerned about blistering the skin because that gets chopped up and mixed into the pork as is the tradition of Eastern Carolina BBQ.

One of the very interesting challenges was the makeshift cinder block pits that was made for them. Both men probably have a nice ash pile back at home at the bottom of their pits. This helps absorb the grease as it drips to reduce the chances of sudden pig bonfires. In addition, both men are probably more used to cooking the leaner pigs which again drips less fat. It would have been fun to watch them deal with all the lard that would have been gushing out of the Mangalista.

In Alton Brown's presentation of the science of whole hog cooking he notes these several points

  • Think of a whole hog as a big cauldron of water. You could simmer it or boil it. Better to simmer.
  • Samller pigs 90 - 100 lbs are better because they're more tender and are easier to handle.
  • There are 500 flavor compounds in smoldering hardwood.
  • It's critical not to let the meat get too hot other wise the moisture will just boil off
  • Brown mops his pig frequently to keep the heat down
  • He also flips the pig 3-4 times during the process so that it cooks evenly

The cauldron of water idea is interesting. I've never really thought about it that way but it makes sense. He takes it a bit far by saying you need to mop the pig to keep it at the optimal temperature of 170-180. Most cooks will know this as the famous "stall" in meats when you smoke them. Your temperature will basically hit 160 and kinda hang out there for a good while because the moisture dripping from  the meats actually cools down the barbecue. In fact many of us will actually stoke the fire at this point and heat it up to break past the stall period. I still think the boil vs simmer idea is worth exploring. I actually prefer to cook pigs north of 120 as there's a lot more fat at that point and the animal has a matured a bit more to develop a deeper flavor. Many whole hog guys I know are willing to sacrifice that little bit of tenderness for more flavorsome pig.

Again I would encourage all to read the whole thing HERE.

Gloucestershire Old Spot Pig

Last week I had the privilege and oppurtunity to cook a 200 pound Gloucestershire hybrid pig. It's better known as the "Old Spot" or GOS. Truly the finest animal which has ever graced my pit. While I have certainly smoked larger pigs, this was the single most expensive pig I have ever cooked.

I'm no expert on hog breeds but just working with the raw product you see an amazing difference. This is a rare breed. Breed to be a lard hog. I think the one thing that needs to be done in this country is to find new uses for lard. If we increase lard demand, farmers will start to breed lard hogs again and our pork chops will cease to be the dry doggie chew toys they are now. The buffer of fat against the loins was just simply amazing. When I pulled the loins out, normally dry, they were simply DRIPPING with juice and moisture. The hams pulled into soaking strands of moist tender flesh. The shoulders are as shoulder go - de rigour for whole hog BBQ. First thing you noticed was how red the flesh was, THIS is what pork should look like. I'm not a big eater of sashimi (bit bland) but this pig could be served sliced raw with some wasabi!

My cooking method for the day is the standard fire banking style taught to me by Ed Mitchell and his brothers Audrey and Steve. What I found was that there was a whole lot more fat dripping out during the cooking process that raised the temperature quite a bit. Something I've never seen when cooking our standard commodity pigs.

There are lots of cool information out there on the GOS. Despite the fact they are mainly the domain of heritage farmers, they were once the dependable commodity pig. They were easy to raise, went out and dug their own food, had strong maternal instincts towards their young, Did we already mention they're delicious?

The Gloucestershire Old Spots of America guys gave this helpful chart

BREED CHARACTERISTICS

  • Head: Medium length with a slightly dished nose. The ears should be well set apart, dropping forward to the nose.
  • Body: The shoulders should be fine but not raised. A long level back with well sprung ribs and a broad loin are desirable. Deep sides, with a thick, full belly and flank from the ribs to hams are standard.
  • Hams: Large and well filled to the hocks.
  • Legs: Straight and strong.
  • Skin and Coat: Skin should not show coarseness or wrinkles. The hair should be silky and straight.
  • Teats: There should be at least fourteen well placed teats.
  • Objections: Heavy jowl, short elevated ears, a mane of bristles, crooked legs, and serious wrinkles.
  • Coloring: White skin with black spots.

Let's be perfectly clear. I'm not really into over thinking my food. Most organic things are lost on me. Free-range chickens and turkeys are as exciting to me as reading the Wall Street Journal. This pig on the other hand just made me giddy. It really needed no other embellishments than the traditional North Carolina cooking method. Smoked til tender. Pulled chopped and dressed in a light tangy vinegar pepper sauce. Heavenly and quite honestly speaks for itself. I was watching Michel Bras, the 3 Michlen starred French chef, dress a plate of his restaurant garden's organic vegetables. There really isn't anything exciting to look at. They need to cut the vegetables into funny shapes, scatter the plate with edible flowers. Smear the corners of the dish with their sauces like it was some painting at the Louvre. Let's be honest. They NEED to do that. Why? Because it's just a plate of vegetables. If we did the same thing with the some supermarket produce it would likely taste exactly the same unless you really wanted to sit around and think about it. And even with all that fussing it really isn't producing anything that is drool worthy.

If you're a Carolina Whole Hog guy, the only imprimatur you have is the quality of your pig. People are certainly not flocking to taste your sauce. It's kinda like being a sushi chef. No amount of fancy knife tricks or secret sauces are going to help you if you don't have good fish. Carolina seasonings are salt and wood.

Some fun facts about the GOS

  • This is indeed some ROYAL pork! No less than the British Royal Family prefer GOS for their bacon and chop needs.
  • The most expensive pig ever sold in England was a GOS.
  • They were popular with people who owned orchards as they ate up all the dropped apples and reduced the pest problem all while "marinating" themselves with apple flavor. This gave them the nickname "Orchard Pig"
  • The European Union designated the breed with a "protection status" meaning that you can't just call any old pig a GOS. - Traditional Speciality Guaranteed Status
  • In 1914 the Kaiser of Germany heard so much about this tasty pig that he order 2 for himself. But then this annoying little incident called World War I ruined his dinner plans.
  • Old legends thought that the spots on the pigs were caused by the apples falling on them as they were snacking around the orchards.

Cooking Whole Hog with the guys at John Brown Smokehouse

I was asked by the guys at John Brown Smokehouse in Long Island City, NYC to help them with a pig. As a celebration of their joint's anniversary they had a "Harper's Ferry Day". For the event a 200lb Glouchestershire hog was procured. John Brown was named 2012 Best BBQ in NYC by the Village Voice newspaper, a local New York institution.

One of the greatest things about New York is not only our ability to constantly innovate but also our insatiable appetite for experiences around the world. In New York you can have Tibetian style dumplings for lunch and Ghanaese beef foot stew for dinner. John Brown brings the authentic flavors of Kansas City Style BBQ. Their regional specialty are burnt ends and they're justifiably well known for it. They don't do too many whole hogs down where the Chiefs are playing so I the local Eastern Carolina BBQ stylist and my equipment were enlisted to help.

We did a combination of techniques. The hog was injected with apple juice and rubbed with John Brown's award winning seasonings. Eastern Carolina favors simply salt and wood embers to add flavor. Now if you have never watched a 200lb pig being carried up a narrow flight of stairs from the basement, dripping with marinade, and having no natural handles, you're missing out. I fired up my smoker with my coals and 4 logs of oak wood and on she went to smoke for a good 12 hours. We banked the hog Ed Mitchell style.

The hog we cooked as definitely the most expensive swine I've ever thrown in my pit. The Gloucestershire is a rare breed and we had this organic beauty trucked in from Vermont. There will be an upcoming post on the Gloucestershire tomorrow. It was a pleasure to cook. This was the first time I've actually cooked the hog back side down. The Carolinas cook their hogs back side up, we only flip the hogs for the final end of the cooking process.

Overall a great cook. Even my constant regulators the police department and the fire department came by. Scared the living day lights out of me but the police just wanted to take a picture with the pig. The fire trucks actually stopped by and had lunch at the restaurant. Out of the blue the PBS television cameras came by and we had a nice mini-seminar on whole hog BBQ.

You can find more pictures and food porn on my cookout HERE