Arrogant Swine

Beer Hall Carolina Whole Hog BBQ

Filtering by Tag: Whole Hog BBQ


Hog Days of Summer!!!!


John Brown Smokehouse & Arrogant Swine Presents


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

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.

Whole Hog BBQ - Tools of the Trade II

Rammstein is a metal band based in Germany and one of my favorite forms of musical entertainment. I like them for their tongue-in-cheek lyrics, storyline rich music videos, heavy jams and their insane feats of pyrotechnics. It is further proof that adding a flamethrower to any situation makes it all that much cooler. I’m confident that if the US Federal government would mandate the use of flame throwers in our children’s math classes, we’re probably have the highest math scores in the world – we’d also need to hold math classes outdoors which wouldn’t be too bad of an idea.

The very first time I ever smoked a pig, I had a secret weapon. I found a massive bottle of Zippo lighter fluid which, due to its utility, has very little in terms of scent. People don’t like smoking anything that tastes like gasoline. I was a GENIUS! I had all the power of lighter fluid with none of the smell!! Well turns out I was an absolute MORON as we hosed down over 80lbs of charcoal with Zippo fluid, had a big poofy fire which lasted as long as a jelly donut at fat kids camp.

So we gave in and rushed to the deli for a jug of regular charcoal lighter fluid. Lighter fluid isn’t necessary a bad thing. I know it’s BBQ orthodoxy to hate on it, but plenty of the top cookers in the world use it to start their coal. I guarantee if I had you taste their food you wouldn’t taste the fluid. Plus I like the smell of burning lighter fluid on a small scale – reminds me of childhood summers (along with burnt chicken).

But burning that much coal with that much lighter fluid is not pleasant at all. Someone suggested one time I use chimney starters. Have you ever had to start 80lbs of charcoal with chimney starters? We’d probably spend the next 3 hours just lighting coal!

So in comes the solution – a baby FLAMETHROWER!!

More specifically it’s a Lincoln Electric Inferno Propane Torch.

Like everything with whole hog BBQ it’s a great crowd pleaser. The most popular photos people take are

#1 Them standing in front of my smoker

#2 Them holding a pig’s head

#3 Them shooting flames out of my baby flamethrower.

In the annuals of badassness, this tool ranks pretty high up there. When fired up it shoots out a jet stream of fire and will get your coal lit in almost no time. It’s actually kinda disappointing sometimes how effective it is as I’d love to just burn some more stuff. It even sounds like a jet! Make no mistake, it’s loud. The first time I had my buddy work it, he darn near wet himself. And my buddy’s a tough guy! Tatted up, big muscles, bald head – scary. I swear when that fire busted out he was ready run home to his mommy. You've been warned.

Breaking some Rules in BBQ for Success!

Recently a sport commentator remarked that the best thing you can learn from a sport is what’s illegal, specifically in combat sports. For example, we don’t let boxers hit each other while hugging because quite frankly it would be dull and it would sacrifice the development of beautiful crisp punches for the more effective “dirty boxing”. In high school wrestling, you were not allowed to lock your hands in certain positions because it gave an unfair advantage. The list of techniques banned in combat sports e.g. kickboxing, Judo, boxing, taekwondo etc, is filled with really effective moves. No amount of punching power will beat out a good ole “kick in the jimmy”.

So what does this have anything to do with BBQ? Contests are highly artificial. You will never find the world’s best chef in a contest. BBQ is no different. Take the top 5 best BBQ joints in the country by popular informed consensus and you won’t see a single big contest winner on there. They are solid and talented cooks but they’re not destination restaurants.

So what are the “illegal” moves in competition BBQ that would be effective for us to make superior BBQ? No too much is prohibited in BBQ contests but there’s plenty of implicit penalties for certain actions. So here’s a few.

Oil-based injections

Tony Chachere’s Injections are strange, slimy and very delicious. They’re also highly popular for one reason – they add great flavor to dry meats like turkey and pork loins. They’re also oil based. Oil based injections taste better because the vast majority of seasonings are fat soluble!!

Try this at home. Warm up some garlic powder in some water vs some oil. Which one would you rather slather on bread? The water will smell like a broth but the oil will smell delicious!

Pitmasters are not ignorant of this fact and yet inject their meats with liquids instead of lipids. Why is that? Why bother with the apple juice when some olive oil would throw in a nice garlic punch with little effort? In fact, liquid injections are highly inefficient for flavoring due to the fact that the muscles naturally just squeeze them back out.

The reason is largely cosmetic. Judges at contests will penalize a cook because the oil based injections will leave a streaky mark. There’s nothing in the rule book on this but still you’re getting marked down. If you are interested in boosting some flavor try injecting with fats.

Use less sugar use more tart

In the first season of BBQ pitmasters, newbie cook Harry Soo discovers that one of the keys to winning was to make their meats cavity-inducingly sweet. You will not win any contests serving tart BBQ. However this is not true in the general market place. Tart is big amongst consumers. Stubb’s BBQ Sauce is thin and tangy. It is also the #6 best selling sauce in the country grossing over $20 million in revenue a year.

It’s pretty clear that Stubb’s BBQ sauce being used to glaze ribs at a contest would lose and lose badly. Again there’s no rule against tangy sauces but the contests in general prefer it sweet and sticky. It’s worth going back to the original tangy sauces of the South. They’re a natural partner to BBQ .

Bring on the Mustard

Mustard sauces get absolutely no love from BBQ contests (unless it’s sauce contest). If you took 10 random turn in boxes from 10 contests, I guarantee you that you’ll get 10 boxes full of red glazed meats. Any of the yellow stuff would get your entry fed to the dog.

Mustard sauce is popular in central South Carolina and parts of border towns in Georgia. They’re a great compliment to greasy meat. Given that everyone’s secret sauce is more or less composed of ketchup and molasses, give mustard a try. I think you’ll like what you find.

Some BBQ Poetry

The Pitmaster's Dilemma  The alarm failed to ring, it’s a quarter past eight!

And our dear poor pitmaster was dreadfully late.

We are way behind schedule, we are way past dawn.

The wood must be fired, the hog must go on!

Well the pig has been load, the coals have been lit,

the smell of pork smoke surrounds me as I felt free to sit.

Dear Lord what happened? How could this happen to me?

I lit up my cigar and sipped from a brew. It then became all clear! I was beginning to see!

A poetry reading my wife told me! It would be fun and a date!

If you keep ignoring me for BBQ, we’re getting divorced at this rate.

So I put on a tie and shined up my shoes. Ready for readings on floral and fawn.

I prayed the good Lord to kill me as I fought off a yawn.

There were readings on zen and faith and overcoming our fears

If the reader’s bosom weren’t so huge, poems would have bored me to tears.

Then PETA came up and plead the rights of chickens! So passionate So bold!

Oh dear Jesus that was so boring, it knocked me out cold.

It’s not that I hate poetry. I love it I do!

No I’m not joking, I swear that it’s true.

Well my pig is done smoking and we’re ready to eat.

Glad my friends aren’t vegan cuz there’s a whole crapload of meat.

We chop and season and mix up our hog

A couple brought a salad! Which we fed to the dog.

The beer flows freely, the air thick with song and play

Disaster averted, the pitmaster saved the day.

So the morale of the story O reader, write this down too!

Avoid all poetry readings, they’re dangerous for you.

Whole Hog BBQ - Tools of the Trade I

I guess if there was one definite difference between North Carolina BBQ and our cousins in Texas and Kansas city, it's our tools.

When I used to cook fancier cuisine, your tools would come from pricey culinary outfitters or restaurant supply shops. My straight carbon steel knives were forged in France and German. We used a mess of different tools from Japan to make plants look like little footballs, chocolate look like snowmen, etc. I even have a pair of scissors whose sole job is to snip the top off a quail egg - to garnish a jewel-like plate of tuna tartar of course.

The funniest part of the Carolina tool kit is that most of it comes from hardware stores! So I'll be writing a series of various different tools you can pick up for whole hog cooking.

THIS is no good

The most intimidating thing about cooking a whole hog is getting it prepped for cooking. Even the smallest pig I have ever cooked is larger than most people's ovens. Even highly  trained French chefs have difficulty handling the entire animal as my highly talented friends will attest

To prep a whole hog for smoking you need to get the back split, the collar bone removed, and the breast bone cut off. Now this will be a completely separate post where I'll explain how to do that. You essentially want your pig looking like this



As you can see the top half is cleanly split, the collar covering the shoulders are removed and there's no breastbone. After this we split the lower half a little just flatten the hog out.

Now the tool of choice here is the reciprocating saw. I use a Sawzall which is made by Milwaukee Tools. If you never seen a bunch of grown men try and split the hog's backbone without the saw, you're in for all manner of funny. The use of the tool was taught to me by some good ole southern folks down in Georgia and it has made my life INFINITY better.

A pig is a powerful animal. It has lots of predators out there looking to eat it and it's hell bent on not becoming chow. Hence the tusks and tightly compact body. So if you're looking to butcher a hog for BBQ, it would be worth your while to stop by the local Lowes or Home Depot. Trust me, nothing will get your more frustrated than trying to split bone.

It's also great in removing the forearms and feet as well. Again if you're really into seeing a hilariously macabre show, give a 240lb strong dude a cleaver and ask him to chop off the feet. You'd be surprise how little strength will help you here. Those tendons and sinew do their job really well. There is indeed a trick to cutting all 4 of them off in less than 3 mins but it requires a lot of practice. Unless you're looking to cook as many pigs as I do, it's not likely you'll get too much practice - stick with the saw.

Tomorrow we'll talk about shovels.

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 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.

aPORKalypse 2013_055

aPORKalypse 2013_046

aPORKalypse 2013_042

Us, We, They, Them

In my most recent craft beer event cooking North Carolina whole hog BBQ, one of the more popular questions was where in North Carolina I came from. Many NC expats who attended the event told me my hog was exactly like how they ate back home and asked when was I returning to New York. For native New Yorkers I was part of “them” – folks living in the State of North Carolina, for NC natives I was part of the “us”.

This actually becomes more clearly funny once you realize that I’m ethnically Asian. It’s also significant to me given the implication of the question. Asian Americans do not really get associated with America. If a black man said he was from Texas or a white woman said she was from Montana, no further inquiry is needed. They quite clearly are American, we simply need to drill down and figure out what flavor of American are they. No one thinks about ancestries tracing back to Ghana or Western Bavaria. They are quite plainly American – red, white & blue no qualifiers needed. Being Black or White means you could basically be from anywhere in the US.

With Asians this basically never happens. You can’t just be from New York, or California, or Texas. The ever looming question of “where you are really from” is always the follow up. You basically aren’t just really American, you’re American-lite. Not one of us, just some folks we allowed in. The child of British immigrants to this country will receive the “American nod” immediately, while 3rd generation Koreans will still be questioned on their true heritage.

I have spent so much time researching North Carolina BBQ – techniques, seasonings, history, tradition – and apply it in my whole hog smoking, that I’ll tend to talk about “we” when referring to the Carolina-  style. What I do is no different than what some guy in Wilson, NC is doing in his backyard. Given the amount of practice I’ve had, I might even beat him. So the weekend was interesting. Through the world of BBQ, people asked not of where in Asia my grandfather’s from, but where in North Carolina I’m from. I’m not. But it’s nice for a moment to hear that I’m from my slice of the American pie.

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!!

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.

How Many People Will My Whole Hog Feed?

Hog26 One of the more frequent questions I get asked is how many people will a X pound pig feed? So to continue our discussion from yesterday I will share with you “swine equation” for calculating yield.

Most important tip is HEAD OFF. It’s a waste of money and you’ll occasionally freak out a guest. Not worth it.

The equation breaks down into two divisions – Normal people & Gluttons.

Normal = X pounds of pig * 1.2 = # of people fed

Gluttons = X pounds of pig * 0.8 = # of people fed

For normal people a 1/3lb sandwich is pretty big. Add behind that your slaws and hush puppies, mac & cheese, beer etc. It’s a nap inducing meal.

For the mega eating gluttons you can give them a monster half pound sandwich. Now think about this for a second. The double quarter pounder at McDonald’s is a retarded amount of food. And that weight is PRE-COOKED. We are talking about already cooked ½ pound of meat here.

In any pig picking you’ll have your bird eaters and your mega eaters so if you calculate the 2 equations you’ll be somewhere in the middle.

So let’s say you had a 100lb pig. That will feed 120 normal people or 80 mega eaters. It’s not likely you’ll find 80 mega eaters.

My tips for making sure you have enough for all especially if you’re a worry wart like me that you’ll run out.

  • Pre-chop and sauce and have people serve themselves. Us BBQ people are overly generous by nature, you’ll be surprised how small portions will look. They’re not really “small”, they’re “reasonable”. Whole hog guys tend to go overboard, I know I do.
  • Slaw ON the sandwich. This is proper Carolina BBQ. The slaw is not a side salad; it is an intricate part of the whole hog BBQ experience. Plus it makes the sandwich look bigger.
  • Have lots of sides and dessert. Not only will people enjoy the variety, you won’t have to worry if your hog is big enough. Plus what makes for a better pig picking than home-made pie?

The perfect weight for Whole Hog BBQ

IMAG1145 The largest hog I've ever cooked weighed 220lbs. Hogs I cook at home tend to be within the 125lb ball park. I wouldn't really bother with pigs that weigh under 75lbs, believing those to be better suited for spit roasting rather than slow smoking.

Now most people are not going to determine how big of a hog they're gonna buy based off optimal results. It's more a function of how many people you're gonna feed. But it is pretty well noted that some pitmasters have a preference for what size hog they're gonna use.

In North Carolina, hog joints tend to prefer to cook in the 150lb range.They'll go south of that range if it's exceptionally busy. At this size the pitmasters get a bit more sleep and have to worry less about grease fires.

Here's 2 opinions on how big your pig should be :

Danny Hurdle the pitmaster over at Carolina Pit Barbecue in Ashburn, VA, a manwhose opinion I deeply respect, says

The pig can’t weigh an ounce over 140 pounds. Any bigger than that, and he’s not a pig, he’s a hog, and all you’re cooking is grease.

Myron Mixon who has won multiple championships in Whole hog notes in his book

I like cooking the big ones the best (North of 180-200lbs), because they've got the most amount of meat on them   and can serve a huge crowd. Now some 'cue cookers may tell you that smaller is better because it's easier to handle, but I don't truck with that. The quality of the meat on a smaller hog is no different than on a bigger one, and if you're going to go to all the trouble to smoke a whole hog, then you might as well get as much as you can for your efforts.

Taste itself is subjective. Me personally I like to cook the biggest hog I can because the larger fatback protects the backloins better. Logistics-wise it's better to cook a hog that's an even 100lbs (+/- 20lbs). When you get hogs that are larger than 150lbs, there's an increase risk of grease fires as the larger beast drips more fat. A proper drainage system will help but the threat is always there.

If it's your first hog I'd recommend starting at 75 lbs. There's really no reason to smoke a hog smaller than that. There's not much flavor developed and expect your pig to shrink by 60%. And please please do not smoke a 20-30lb pig. That's just tragic. You will literally get less meat out of the animal than a turkey. Plus butchers hate you. Pigs at this size are a pain to source and they charge you accordingly. I've seen prices almost double for someone looking to order a sub-50lb pig.

Sausagefest 2013!!!!

Sausagefest 2013_1' See all the Food Porn HERE

If you've been following my series on how to throw a Sausagefest you'll already know I throw this party every year. The premise is simple. Everyone brings some sausages to share. They can be any sausage just so long as it's not the generic sweet Italian. Our turnout?

  • Over 60 lbs of Sausages from over a dozen different nationalities 
  • A Keg of Beer
  • A Bonfire.

Now if that's not a party I don't know what is. Any frat boy will tell you that a Keg and Bonfire automatically spells great party. This is a feast of excess. There was absolutely no way we were going to even remotely put a dent in all the sausages. Every year you'll always get people who don't get it. Why have an entire table of sausages? Can they bring a salad? or perhaps a delicate dessert? Absolutely NOT!! It's a Sausagefest after all.

When you see the looks of people's eyes when they see the spread, and the uncontrollable smile, you'll understand. The show is a critical component of feasting. I came from the world of fine dining, where the maxim of "you eat with your eyes first" is an intransgressible creed. To this end we used squirt bottles, ring molds, tweezers and all manners of nonsense to make the plate look pretty. Ironically we will also say that we're seeking for the food to speak for itself.

When you live in this environment, it's quite easy to delude yourself to thinking about how much value you really are adding to the food. Take any 3 Michelin star and place it on a paper plate. Only a tiny tiny fraction of the dishes currently billed at $300 a person would look appetizing. Even fewer would come with the illusion of genius.

Sausagefest like all BBQ is the extension of a philosophy. The philosophy of whole hog BBQ. When people see a whole hog, it matters little if you've grew up in the South or in the big city of New York, it's simply a sight to behold. People can't help but stop and stare. This reaction is visceral and primal. This is truly allowing food to speak for itself. You can easily place whole hog on a paper plate and it will look and taste like what it is - food of the gods.

This philosophy of feasting is what sausagefest seeks to capture. It is not beholden to the tyranny of balance nor futile search for the perfect dinner. A bit of silly, a blue jeans crowd, and an evening where food truly reigns and pretension is cast aside.

Sid's Catering & BBQ in Beulaville, NC

Sids Catering BBQ

I found an episode of NC Weekend which featured Sid's BBQ in Beulaville, NC. This is the South Eastern portion of the state so whole hog BBQ is still gospel. They cook with charcoal here (no gas or electricity) so it's definitely worth adding it on your BBQ roadtrip.

Now Beulaville isn't the most popular city around, it has a population of just over a thousand people. The town was originally known for its " alcoholism and frequent street brawls." Charming isn't it?

So I added a map above which will take your on a whole hog eating tour on your way to the beach! And who doesn't love a beach? Beaufort is the third oldest town in North Carolina is a well loved vacation spot. So my map will have you start with a meal at Wilbur's in Goldsboro, down to Dudley for a meal with the Grady's and hitting Sid's before enjoying the scenic drive through the Croatian National Forest to the beach!

Keep in mind that Sid's only opens on Saturday and will likely run out before noon.


Eastern North Carolina Cornsticks

A day or so ago I finally hit 10,000 views. The view that took me from 9,999 to 10K came from a search for Eastern North Carolina Cornsticks. In the Eastern part of the state, whole hog BBQ rules and cornsticks are traditionally served. Historically significant places like Parker's in Wilson and B's in Greenville still serve them today as an appropriate pairing with hog.

Cornstick recipes is a popular search and it's how many people seem to find my site. So to thank my readers I'll share with you the cornstick recipe listed in Holy Smoke, the most significant book on North Carolina BBQ to date.

Eastern North Carolina Cornsticks

Makes 1 dozen

  • 2 cups water-ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 rounded teaspoon lard, melted

Preheat oven to 450F and grease a cornstick pan. Mix the dry ingredients before adding the eggs, milk and fat. Pour the batter into the molds and bake til brown - about 20 mins.

Many people who have never had Carolina cornsticks before are not prepared for how hard they are. If you're serving guests I recommend warning them first. The crust is an acquired taste but the deep corn flavor is very much appreciated. To eat you're supposed to take a bite of hog and creamy slaw and then bite into a corn stick to round out the flavor.

Ed Mitchell BBQ featured on Mind of a Chef - Smoke


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.

News from around the BBQ Blogsphere

OUR STATE magazine profiles Grady's Barbecue, a historical North Carolina Whole Hog joint in Dudley. This is old school hog cooking with charcoal, hickory, and oak woods. Interesting enough, he actually gives details on how he cooks through the night and how much time it actually takes to cook it as I profiled on my "Whole Hog Myths". Definitely worth a read.

Grilling with Rich announces Operation BBQ Relief as barbecue "person" of the year for 2012! "Operation Barbecue Relief a 501 (c) 3 was founded in May of 2011 by Jeff Stith, Will Cleaver and Stan Hays in response to the need for relief efforts in tornado-stricken Joplin, Missouri. In the wake of this nearly unprecedented destruction, competition barbecue teams from eight states answered the call to help feed displaced families and police, fire, National Guard and other emergency personnel.  The group served over 120,000 barbecue meals in less than two weeks now that is a lot of “Que.” "

The Washington Post says that 2012 was the year that BBQ took the nation by storm. Lots of great highlights and given the progress I've made in my own BBQ journey it seems that the tide really does bring up all boats. No less of a geo-political highlight is mentioned than our President giving the Prime Minister of England a BBQ grill.

Man Up Texas BBQ gives a run down of their latest BBQ tour group. A bunch of crazy Northerns hopping into Central Texas eating at 7 BBQ joints in TWO DAYS!!! Sounds like my kind of people.

No Excuses BBQ smokes up a Xmas Ham for New Years Eve. We all know ham is good all year round!

Cowgirl's Country Life cooks up some Central European Goulash in her drum smoker. Just when you thought you could only cook pork butts in there.

Don O's Texas BBQ provides more details about Slow Bone, a new BBQ joint opening up in Dallas, Texas.

Chopsticks and Marrow visits Chicago's Uncle John's Barbecue and gets a massive plate of rib-tips. "I’ve eaten more than my share of ‘’cue, but I’ve never been much of a rib tip man. I’ve always thought that bigger meant better when it came to pork ribs. Mack’s meaty nuggets—smokey with a mahogany bark—changed my mind. I wish had a half pound of them right now."