Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Making barbecue for 500 - My first adventure with a smoker

The mission is to make barbecue for 500 attendees at a Scout event at a Scout camp. My buddy Jim does this as a regular thing, so I helped him out, to find out how it was done.

Jim started up the smokers at 5 am. He had brought his own smoker and the camp had one. We smoked a dozen pork shoulders in each smoker for a pre-cooking weight of 500 pounds of shoulder. You lose about half in grease, bone and skin, giving one half pound per person.

Of course, Jim had problems all morning with the camp's smoker. It flared up, giving some of the shoulders a nice charred look. Controlling the heat was a pain, so the shoulders cooked slower. But this worked well when we started chopping the pork. We started with the ones that were done first and let the others smoke ( in Jim's smoker ) while we chopped.

All morning, we tended the smokers, sitting out in the shade of the camp dining hall and shooting the bull. We all joked that we were missing the vital ingredient for smoking, the beer can sitting next to the smoker, but it was a Boy Scout camp.

At about noon, Jim pulled the bone out of the first shoulder to be done and passed around chunks of the pork. Now, that was ambrosia. No sauce, just fresh smoked pork. Heavenly. It made the hamburgers at lunch seem tasteless.

For two hours we chopped pork. Jim had a old chopping box and stainless steel chopper that did the job nicely. We had a couple of guys skinning and slicing the meat off the bones and one guy chopping. Once we had about a leg chopped, we'd mix a couple of cups of Jim's barbecue sauce ( I did not get the recipe ) and filled a large stainless steel pan, covered it with foil and put it back on the smoker, turned down low.

I was late for dinner, so I ended up with a plate of barbecue, but no extra sauce. It was good cue, but the sauce would have made it better. It was not as good as the samples at noon.

It turned out that the turnout was not as high as expected for the dinner, so we sold the remaining barbecue as a fund raiser.

Monday, January 05, 2004

On the list to try

Don Murray's - Raleigh 

Stopped in once for lunch, but it was a buffet. The only buffet on this list is A Taste of Country, which is a special case. I cannot judge a BBQ place by its buffet. It looks like it is not going to make my list.

Allen and Son's North - Chapel Hill

Good Barbecue from Non-barbecue Restaurants and Others

Cook-Out - Durham
Known for its hamburgers. They make a decent BBQ sandwich.

Refreshment Stands at the Smith Center - Chapel Hill
When I worked at the refreshment stands, supper would be a paper cup of barbecue and slaw. It was amazing.

Acceptable BBQ Restaurants

Hog Heaven - Durham
Just a step above mediocre, but uniformly so.

Barbecue Lodge - Raleigh
Decent fried chicken. Adequate barbecue. Good sides.

Short Sugar's - Reidsville
I know there are people who rave about this place, but I am not one of them. Good, not great.

Introduction to BBQ in the Triangle

These are my own personal opinions of different barbecue places in the triangle and elsewhere in NC.

When I was new to North Carolina, my company had a picnic catered by a down East pig picking' place. I have forgotten which one. It was the best pig I have ever eaten. I have been trying different barbecue and pig picking' restaurants over the years to try to repeat that experience. A Taste of Country has good pulled pork, but not spiced quite right. Hursey's has the right spices, but the pork itself isn't as good.