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Beer Hall Carolina Whole Hog BBQ

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News from around the BBQ Blogsphere

The Village Voice named John Brown's Smokehouse as 2012's Best BBQ in NYC. I'm proudly serving as their Resident Whole Hog Expert.

A jug of BBQ sauce named after Michael Jordan sold for $10,000

Full Custom BBQ reviews Sam's Bar-B-Q and wasn't too fond of being served 3 day old brisket.

Obsessive Compulsive BBQ makes a California Tri-Tip with Virginia flair!

Marie Lets Eat reviews Daddy D'z in Atlanta, GA and discovers that BBQ pork and chimichangas can come together in an unholy alliance.

Jesse Black, maker of the thermapen, talks about his experience at this year's American Royal Competition.

The Meatwave celebrates his final gluttonous cook out of the season and because one rasher of bacon is for sissies, he roasts an entire side of porkbelly in a porchetta.

Serious Eats examines the exotic Appalachian style BBQ found in Bluff City, TN. Notes -- The hams at Ridgewood come from nearby Bristol, Tennessee. When they arrive at the restaurant, they're smoked for nine hours, then rubbed with spices and chilled overnight. The next morning, they are shaved into thin, white slices. As customers arrive for lunch and dinner, the kitchen warms piles of shaved ham on a flat-top grill out front. Handfuls of ham are coated with barbecue sauce and piled on sandwiches or plates for customers.

Secrets of the McRib

McDonald’s Corp is the world’s largest fast food franchise. It is located in 119 countries and has a market cap of close to 94 billion dollars. In 1940, the company began as barbecue restaurant featuring all you can drink orange juice. It was California after all. They had over 40 items on their barbecue menu. Today obviously there’s no barbecue left on the menu save the strange metallic tasting BBQ sauce they offer with their chicken McNuggets.

One oddball menu item that not only has a cult following, it even has its own Simpson’s episode! The McRib. It’s not even that great of a sandwich, but the quirk of the McRib is its ephemeral nature. It graces our shores in Messianic fashion and poof! It’s gone. Mcdonald’s chief ad man Peter McGuinness explains why.

"It's not a mass play year-round," McGuinness says.

Thus McD's deploys the McRib strategically, when the calendar leaves the company without a natural hook for its products — like at Christmas time. "We don't really do polar bears," McGuinness says.

Instead, the McRib functions as "a great piece of buzzy news that surprises and delights, late in the year on the marketing calendar." The McRib is a sandwich for those of us who never grew up. People like me are completely indifferent to the woes of manufactured foods. The fact that it’s processed pork meat of unknown parts, liquidated and reformatted into the shape of ribs, do not bother me. Taking our foods and pressing into funny shapes is as old as childhood. Why are our chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs?  Why do vegetarians make fake meat products like the Tofurkey?

Some McRib FACTS 

  1. There are 70 different ingredients, the least innocuous of which are “pig bits like tripe, heart, and scalded stomach.”
  2. The sandwich was inspired by McDonald’s Executive chef’s (who also fathered the McNugget) trip to Charleston, South Carolina.
  3. The original intention of the McRib was to try and shift some demand from the overly popular chicken McNugget.
  4. A (fake) petition to save the McRib was featured on the McDonald’s site in 2005, sponsored by the Boneless Pig Farmers of America.
  5. It takes 45 minutes of processing pig parts to make the “rib” shape.

I argue that the McRib is actually good for artesianal barbecue. How so? The main reason that McDonald's shifted from doing smoked meats to hamburgers is simple economics. Even to this day you see many people across the country expecting to pay the same for a pulled pork sandwich as they do a hamburger. Now as much as anyone would like preserve lost dying arts, I'm not going to sit around for 12 hours cooking something that will cost the same as something that took 12 minutes. This is the key ingredient in why so many barbecue joints across the South are spit out bland boring meat baked in gas powered ovens.

In the revival of US demand for barbecue, the art of smoking meat for 12 hours or more using live fuel - charcoal/wood, people will begin paying a premium for what truly is a premium product.

Where's the Mutton? - Economics of Kentucky BBQ

Photo Credit Stefan Powell

Kentucky is an interesting barbecue region. It is also home to Owensboro, the self proclaimed BBQ Capital of the World. It's hard to imagine how someone arrived at this conclusion given that most people have never heard of Owensboro. It's pretty similar to boxing where you have half a dozen or so fighters all claiming to be heavy weight champions of the world. There certainly isn't a lot of places around the country doing Kentucky style BBQ. The main distinguishing factor of Kentucky BBQ is it's use of mutton. But even that's not state-wide.

only 18 out of 160 barbecue places I visited between 2009 and 2012 serve it. The “mutton tree,” as I’ll call it, is concentrated in western Kentucky, with Christian Co. and Hopkins Co. forming the trunk, branching out into Union, Henderson, and Daviess counties for the upper foliage. Owensboro is mutton central, with four restaurants serving it, including the famous Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn, which, according to manager Pat Bosley, “semi-trucks it in—5,000 to 6,000 pounds—two times per week.” Outside this area, you can find mutton in Lexington at J.J. McBrewster’s and in Louisville at Ole Hickory Pit (the owners at both these places have roots in western Kentucky).

An interview with Frank Gibson, the owner and operator of Thomason's BBQ in Henderson ,KY he notes

… by the time you pull it, you’ll wind up with twenty-five to thirty pounds out of that 150-pound sheep  is what we cook every day of that.

Seems like most of the animal is bone and fat. So per cook you're getting a whooping 16.7% yield. That's insane! That's like roasting a whole chicken and ending up with a drumstick worth of meat. For comparison purposes, a pork butt gets a 60% yield after cooking. Even with this extreme shrinkage, the price of the mutton plate is only 3% higher than the pork plate. This is the South here so I'd imagine no one's skimping on the portions either.

Here's a nice little video of BBQ Mutton.

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/1423639]

News from around the BBQ Blogsphere

Serious Eats notes that Chicago BBQ Hot Links are vastly different than the Texas version. Whose better is subject to a discussion at dawn with pistols drawn. They're showcasing Uncle John's because - "Perhaps nobody in the city does it better than Uncle John's, where the links are flecked with red pepper flakes and taste deeply of sage and pork fat." Well I'm sold.

The Meatwave posts his recipe for Grilled Figs stuffed with goat cheese. Sound too fancy pantsy for you? Fear not, I can tell you with confidence that this here is 100% redneck certified.

Big Wayne's BBQ Blog recounts his experience competing at this year's American Royal (the Superbowl of BBQ). Lots of cool pictures in this post!

What do you do when a wild animal runs into your house and dies? Why yes. But of course. You BBQ it!

Man Up Texas BBQ thinks people might need to reconsider the traditional Texas aversion for sauce. The prevalent gospel being that if the meat is good, you don't need sauce. He says "The problem is that this is simply not the reality at most BBQ joints. After more than 5 years of eating BBQ in Texas, my list of places whose meats are successful sans sauce (or side or something else to add moisture and/or flavor) is way, way smaller than the list of places whose meats need nothing."

Don O.'s Texas BBQ reviews the upcoming Salt Lick Cookbook. Spoiler! The secret family mustard sauce is not in the book.

Southern Foodway Alliance discovered old proof from 1630 that pirates did indeed BBQ. Seems like the sauce was lime juice, salt, and allspice. Arrrh!

News from around the BBQ blogsphere

Grilling With Rich gives the full results of this year's American Royal BBQ competition. Big Poppa Smokers takes Grand Champion. BBQ Jew explains how BBQ can cure cancer.

Memphis Que is eating through Jackson, TN and reviews Brooksie's Barn. He notes "For a city with a population of just 65,000 people Jackson, TN keeps amazing me with the amount of great barbecue places it has." He recommends Brooksie's, Latham's Meat Company, Backyard Bar-Be-Cue and the Reggi's Bar-B-Q.

BBQ Geek shows you how to order BBQ take out like a Pro! You thought just anyone could order bbq? Amateurs.

No Excuses BBQ grills up another pizza. Food Porn is overwhelming.

Obsessive Compulsive Barbecue digs up an old story on roasting beef with lighting bolts