Thursday, June 28, 2007

In Search of the Perfect Brisket

I still haven't found it. My brisket is pretty darn close, but I'm still working on it. But I'll give you a few tips.

Rubs are a religious decision. There are lots to choose from, and most are about as good as any other. The key is to avoid black pepper, since that will burn and produce a nasty taste over the hours required to cook a brisket. Many people rub the night before -- frankly, since the meat spends several hours cooking I don't see the point. I usually rub the briskette right before I start the fire. Let it sit at room temperature until the fire is perfect (this can take some time if you're doing it right), and then put it on the fire. You want to avoid shocking the meat by going from 40 degrees to a hot fire, so let it pass briefly through the danger zone on its way to the fire. No bad critters are going to survive several hours of 225 anyway.

The fire is critical. Use a chimney starter. The taste of lighter fluid is not what you're looking for. A brisket will stand up to a lot of strong smoke, so I use hickory or mesquite if a fruit wood isn't available. Some of my best briskets have been smoked with the pear wood from a friend's tree that fell over in a storm. Come to think of it, there's a cherry tree in my yard that might be a hazard and will require some chainsaw work....Just make sure you've got all smoke and no flame. Flames produce creosote, which isn't very tasty.

Many people wrap their brisket in foil for the length of the cook. Yes, that will keep the juices in when the fire is too hot, but it's not barbeque. Barbeque requires smoke, and armoring the brisket so that no air can get in and the steam can't escape keeps the smoke away. Yes, it will come out tender, but you'd get better results in a crock pot with some liquid smoke.

There is a lot of controversy over whether to put the fat side down or up. Proponents of fat side down claim that it keeps the brisket from drying out. If your brisket is drying out, the fire is probably too hot. I put the fat side up with a chamber temperature of 225. As the fat renders it bastes the meat. If the fat side is down, it bastes nothing. The flavoring you put on the fat side travels through the meat nicely.

Mopping depends upon the flavor I'm going for. A nice chili encrusted brisket can be done without a mop sauce. But if you're looking for a more traditional barbeque flavor a good thick mopping sauce is a wonderful thing. Just stay without something thick enough to not run right off the brisket as soon as you mop it, and it should be able to stand up to the heat -- so nothing sweet at the sugar/honey/corn syrup will burn. Once an hour seems to be the magic number, but you mop it as much as it's needed.

How long to cook? How many hours per pound? Sorry, no answers. You must cook it until it is done. You should be able to stick a grill fork into it and twist easily. The internal temp should reach 180, but you'll still have some time to go until it passes the twist test. If your brisket has a tip that finishes first, cut it off and set aside. You can use this for a great sandwich while you're waiting for the rest of the brisket to finish.

When it's done (or very nearly done because carry over will be operating), mop it one last time, take it off the smoker, and wrap tightly in foil. Let it sit for at least an hour to cool down and let the juices redistribute. If it's going to be hours until the festivities start, put it into a crock pot with some of the sauce in the bottom and the heat at very low. This will keep it out of the danger zone for contamination without drying it out. I've cooked briskets the day before and left them in the crock pot until the next afternoon, and if anything they taste even better the next day.

Cut the brisket against the grain in slices thick enough for them not to fall apart. Many people chop their briskets and mix with sauce, but I think that's just an attempt to cover up tough and flavorless meat. You'll see that method employed in assembly line restaurants. They've got a lot of people to feed and they're not looking for perfection.

Serve on a plate or with a bun. And since I'm in North Carolina, I'll plop a nice helping of cole slaw on a sandwich or on the plate.

Enjoy. Even a mediocre outcome from a brisket that gets this treatment will be better than the better restaurants.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Remote Thermometer

Here's a secret to great barbeque. Get a remote thermometer. The are multiple advantages:

1) You don't have to open the cooker in order to check temps. The act of opening the cooker will change your temps. Leave it closed.

2) You can be 100 feet away instead of slaving over a hot cooker all day.

3) You don't have to worry about forgetting to check. It will beep when the meat hits the right temperature.

This is another of those "how did I ever get along without this?" items. I use a Redi-Chek Remote Cooking Thermometer.

I'm still waiting for one that's wifi aware and will send email to my phone when the temperature goes out of range.

Cash Only Restaurants

What is it with restaurants that don't take plastic? It's time to look at a calendar. Business owners should be looking for as many ways to make it easy for their customers to do business with them as they can. I'm still waiting to find a place that will accept Paypal or an SMS payment. Why not?

Putting up a sign that says "cash only" tells me a few things:

1) You think your customers should have to jump through hoops to eat at your restaurant.

2) You want "left pocket" money -- cash that won't show up in reports so you can fudge on your taxes.

3) You're running on such a thin margin that you're likely to go out of business at any second.

Any of those reasons is enough for me not to become a loyal customer.

And how do so many places get away with charging minimum amounts or adding a fee for credit card purchases? It's a violation of their merchant agreement to require a minimum purchase or a fee to use a credit card. Offering a discount for cash purchases doesn't cut it -- the merchant agreed to not treat customers any differently when using the card.

I've been asked for my driver's license when using a credit card. This too is a violation of their merchant agreement. Giving your driver's license and your credit card to a vendor is just asking for identity theft. There's enough information between the two of them to get an identity thief well on their way to making your life miserable.

You can report violators to Mastercard.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More Restaurant Establishment vs Bloggers

There's a great article over at BlogSoop called Food Blogger’s Wear a Scarlet Letter. They cover the establishment vs the bloggers issue of who really is qualified to do restaurant reviews. Here's a great thought:
Our dining icons - the Bruni’s, the Bauer’s and the Gold’s - have ruled for decades. The monopoly enjoyed by print media has escalated the restaurant critic to demigod - their voices reign down in regular intervals as if from heaven. These titans of traditional media reach millions; rarely have we appealed so strongly or regularly to the voice of experts. If food is our God, they are our clergy.

Before the internet, as in early Christendom, there was no dialogue with the Almighty, except that which was sanctioned by their divine grace. In the past several years, however, new communication mediums have enabled the individual to participate in the conversation. A concept begun in print - the Zagat’s guide, which uses user generated content for its reviews - quickly found its way to the web. A Reformation, focusing on the individual’s relationship with Food, had begun.
While I'm not sure that food blogging will have the same impact as The Reformation, it definitely is rattling the cage of the establishment. Established food critics don't like the bloggers because it takes away their monopoly. And restaurateurs aren't too happy with it because it eliminates the "old boys" network that they're so used to dealing with.

There's a saying in sales that everyone has 10 friends. If you make them angry, they'll tell all 10. If you make them happy they'll tell 2. People tend to communicate in small chunks, so a bad experience will get more play, but mostly it's limited to the small group of friends that everyone has. It used to be that to get buzz all a Chef had to do was get a good review in the local paper. Impress one person and you've got it made. And you can anger quite a few people and word won't get out.

The blogosphere has changed that. A small blog can have 1,000 hits in a day. While that's nothing like the readership of the local newspaper, it's still a sizable number. Instead of 10 friends to tell about a bad experience, now it's 1,000. The converse is that a good experience also gets 1,000 hits. And frankly, most people online these days don't get their hobby specific information from the local paper -- they read the blogs and forums of topics they're interested in. So while their readership isn't as vast as a newspaper, it's a lot more targeted. And as anyone who sells to the public can tell you, targeted marketing is always more effective.

Google sees everything -- so when a potential customer is interested in your restaurant they can enter a search term and get back a list of articles on your restaurant. And like it or not, the blog entries have the same credibility when presented on the screen as an NYT food critic. And it's there for all posterity.

The argument by Mario and others that food bloggers are less qualified than established restaurant critics is totally beside the point. Bloggers aren't going anywhere. It's a force that has to be dealt with. Instead of complaining about comments from a few idiots, they should be actively embracing the blogging community and improving their relationships with their customers.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Chimney Starter

If you're not using a Charcoal Chimney Starter to light your charcoal, you need to stop everything and buy one right now.

Never again will you have to experience the petroleum overtones of lighter fluid in your hamburgers. The chimney starter produces red hot, uniform coals in about 15 minutes instead of waiting forever to get a pyramid of coals to light and the roasting your knuckles as your redistribute the coals. Just dump the chimney into the firebox and they pretty much spread themselves out.

You can use newspaper as a starter -- a little bit of olive oil on the newspaper will keep things burning longer -- or you can put the side burner on your gas grill to good use and place the chimney right on the burner. That's the fastest way to start a fire.

Why use both charcoal and gas? For one thing, in many situations charcoal produces better flavor. And unless you've got one of those newfangled IR gas grills, a hot charcoal fire will give you better heat for searing. My rig consists of several grills -- I keep a charcoal grill next to the gas grill. Use the charcoal for a hot sear and nice flavor, then move it to a medium/low gas grill to finish.

Your First Sushi

Yet another food you don't grill. Many of my uncultured friends refer to it as bait. But once you take the time to learn about it, it's a wonderful experience. It can also be a bit expensive, but it's one of the finer things in life.

To get started, check out The Sushi FAQ. It answers every question you could have.

Aside from the image of sushi restaurants that laugh at people that are not "in the know," most places are pleased to get new customers and will suggest dishes to try out. Don't be afraid to ask. Good starter dishes are Philly Rolls, Unagi, and Tuna Roll. I've picked the Philly roll because it will remind you of lox and cream cheese, a taste many are familiar with and enjoy. Unagi is a cooked dish, which is another good one for beginners And a tuna roll is just a slightly more rare version of seared ahi tuna, which most people enjoy. The various vegetable rolls are good bets too.

You may be tempted to try the sushi on your local Chinese buffet -- I'd steer away from that as your first try because the quality can vary wildly. Most of the buffets I've seen didn't look very good. Go to a real sushi bar and let the chef take care of you.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Reason #42 I won't open a Restaurant

I've often thought it would be exciting to open a restaurant. At one point I looked at it very closely. I'm sooo glad I didn't get into that business. has a poster's story about "questionable tipping practices" at a restaurant they work for. Here's the story:
I've been there a week since it opened (mid-april) All of our tips are given to us in a paycheck after we submit all our paperwork AND cash tips to the finance office. This wouldn't be a huge issue however, the tip out procedure changes week to week. I never know what I'm actually making. Legal? yes no? Secondly, which I found out today, on all of our large party events we are charging a 22% service charge. However, a staggering 7 percent is given to the house. Is this legal?
This question reflects such an obvious misunderstanding of how businesses work that it's mind numbing.

First, just because you get a cash tip doesn't mean you don't have to pay taxes. It's income. Putting it in your pocket and taking it home without declaring it is tax evasion. If you don't pay your taxes on it, the IRS will come after your employer for not withholding enough. Worse yet for the employer, they still have to pay FICA, worker's comp, and Social Security on your tips. When you add it all up, about 10% of what you make comes out of the employer's pocket as additional tax. So the employer can hardly be blamed for trying to have an accurate accounting of what their employees are receiving in tips. And yes, I would expect a new business to change its procedures for a while until they get all the kinks worked out.

You're only getting 15% on large parties when the company charges 22%? What's your problem? 15% is customary for large parties. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. What a shame that you'll actually have to pay taxes on it like the rest of us.

This just reinforces for me my theory that it's much better to be a customer at a restaurant than an owner.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Junior's Long Island Pizza

Ok, it's not a barbeque joint, but it's a new restaurant that is definitely worth a try if you're in Durham.

Junior's is located at 3019 Auto Drive, off Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd. It's in the space that was Damon's then the Varsity Ale House. It has the same owners -- the people that are behind Spartacus. I've been a regular at Spartacus since they opened, so when one of the owners told me about an authentic New York place with pizza, subs, burgers, and steaks I was pretty excited. As a point of disclosure, I have no personal or business affiliation with any of those establishments. I'm just a loyal customer.

The TVs and sports bar layout is the same as when it was the Varsity Ale House. This would be a great place to watch a game. I wonder if they'll have the buffet for the ACC Tournament?

My wife and I tried the pizza buffet for lunch today. This is hands down the very best pizza buffet anywhere in the Triangle. Think Randy's Pizza, but with a buffet. It's the 495 Buffet, after I-495 in NY, and of course the cost is a mere $4.95. Of course the quality of the pie isn't as good as one of Randy's right out of the oven, but for buffet pizza this is as good as it gets.

These pizzas taste as though they're cooked on a stone instead of in a pan, which is as it should be. Manhattan pizza lovers might object that it's not cooked in an olive oil smeared pan, but that's the way they do it on Long Island.

The salad bar is quite good for a pizza buffet. If you like the salad bar at Spartacus, you'll recognize a number of the items. The wonderful greek dressing anchors the salad bar. Everything was very fresh and turnover seems high.

They have just about every topping on a pizza you can imagine. Old standbys like Pepperoni and Sausage / Sausage and Mushroom were excellent, as well as plain cheese, vegetable, etc. We were stuffed by the time the started bringing out more exotic pies such as what appeared to be barbeque chicken. They had both traditional thin crust and Sicilian. The three cheese pizza was the best. The Parmesan, Mozzarella, and Ricotta blend together wonderfully.

The slices past the drip test. You can hold a slice of pepperoni and sausage by the crust vertically and grease does not run onto the plate. The pizza is not at all greasy -- a vital component of good pizza that many places miss.

I can't wait to get back to this place and try the rest of the menu. I can't imagine why anyone would ever go to Cici's or Pizza Inn for lunch now that this is open. And it looks very promising as a dinner destination when you want to watch the game and have some good eats.

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

Actually, this isn't a recipe, it's a story.

A few months ago the wife was away and I was on my own for dinner, and without much time to cook. I put a sweet potato in the oven, plated it when it was done, split it open, a little fake butter and a healthy dose of cinnamon. Yum. I was ready to eat.

One of the features of living with a spouse in the sauce business is that she often has samples in the kitchen. And a large, clear container of a powdered brown substance is not necessarily cinnamon.

In this case, it was habanero powder. With a healthy dose.

Really. A lot of it.

I like my food very spicy, so it wasn't too hot to eat, but what a surprise!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Molto Mario Doesn't Like Bloggers gave Mario Batali a chance to vent in his article "Why I Hate Food Bloggers".

Hi Mario. Welcome to the internet.

It's a bit amusing that Mario is just finding out that the internet is full of anonymous and annoying people that will says things on blogs and forums that they wouldn't consider uttering in public.

Here's a hint: Everybody gets an equal voice. If you want to engage the internet, you have to speak up. You can't just sit in your kitchen and complain about bloggers. Do what you just did -- tell your side of the story. Your voice will be pretty loud because of who you are, so you've got a leg up on the competition. In fact, I had never heard the other side of the story that has him so exercised.

Yes, the internet is full of idiots. So is the mainstream media. The difference is that the bloggers aren't part of the old boys network that controls the food world. Why is the food editor of the Durham Herald Sun any more qualified to judge a new barbeque restaurant than I am? Does the "credentialed" media really have superior taste? Should I trust one of the chosen few to tell me where to eat and not another foodie that shares my interests?

I won't let a negative online review dissuade me from trying a restaurant. There's always somebody who is impossible to please or just wasn't in the right frame of mind for the experience. I've seen people bash The Skylight Inn in Ayden, which frankly should get them burned at the stake as a heretic. You just have to let that stuff slide. On the other hand, several bad reviews of a place with nothing on the other side will tell me that the place isn't worth investing the time.

You should treat information on the internet the same way you would treat a story from somebody sitting next to you in a restaurant. It's useful for context, but do your own research.

Is it rude to split dishes at a Restaurant?

Helena Echlin asks this question on Chow in their article "We'll Just Split".

Evidently some restaurants have an issue with their patrons splitting dishes. While I can sympathize with the frustration of a waiter getting stuck with a table with an undersized bill, they would do well to remember that the customer is always right. And if you provide excellent service, the size of your tip may not necessarily reflect the price of the meal.

I can see where a kitchen might have difficulty splitting plates, and frankly I wouldn't ask them to do it. You've got to give the chef the opportunity to make the presentation -- when you ask to split the plate in the kitchen you lose an important part of the meal. But if the table wants to divide things up, then that's up to us. The customer is always right.

And likewise, if you're going to grab a table during the peak rush on a Friday night just to have an intimate dessert, you would do well to leave a tip that is commensurate with the table space you took and not the size of the meal.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Finish Your Ribs on the Grill

Timing your ribs for a party is tough. Ribs will be done when they're done. And many times the party isn't ready for the ribs, or the ribs aren't ready for the party.

I've come up with a solution. Smoke the ribs until they're almost done, but not quite. The meat should be just starting to pull back from the bone, and the ribs should mostly stay together through a twisting. Another 30 minutes and they'd be done. Wrap those in tin foil and put them in the chill chest. When it's time for the party, brush with the finishing sauce while on a 300 degree grill. They'll glaze nicely and come out perfect every time.

This method works quite well with Greg's Hot 'n Bothered Sauce, which caramelizes nicely during the last phase.

Leave Off the Pepper Until the End

A lot of people miss this one. Don't put black pepper on something you're going to go a long time with in the heat. Black pepper burns easily -- it's best to add it towards the end.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Deer Slaw

No, this isn't ground up venison.

This is an only family recipe that got its name from its origins at a hunting camp. Like most hunt camp food, it's very easy to make, delicious, and will feed a lot of people. Ingredients:

2 Heads of Cabbage
2 Large Carrots, diced
1 Bottle Ceasar Salad Dressing (Not creamy)
1/4 tbsp Black Pepper

Put the carrots into a steamer until they get al dente. Slice cabbage into thick strips. Steam the cabbage with the carrots until it becomes soft and pliable.

Fold in the ceasar salad dressing and black pepper. Serve hot.

Absolutely wonderful.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Secret to Great Barbeque

I saw an interview with Mr. Stubbs, the guy who produces the line of Stubbs Barbeque Sauce. The host asked him what the secret to barbeque was, and he replied “The same thing as with a good marriage: Patience and Love.”

He really hit the nail right on the head. Great barbeque requires patience. Anybody who says that you can speed things up with a special marinade or higher heat is probably a Yankee. The barbeque is going to take as long as it’s going to take. You must cook it until it is done. If a recipe says something line “Put the pork butt on the smoker for 8 hours at 210 degrees” then throw the recipe away. It will be done when it’s done.

The love part comes from doing the little things that seem inconsequential but in the end make a huge difference. Just like what you do for your spouse. Spending two hours getting the heat level just right requires love. Getting your ribs to room temperature before you put them on the smoker requires love. Using lump charcoal lit by crumpled up newspaper requires love.

I wish there was a single secret that I could reveal that would explain the difference between the mediocre barbeque to be had in mass production chain restaurants and the truly splendid barbeque to be found in the backyards of aficionados and the best barbeque joints. But the fact is that there are lots of little things that are required to get it right. And in fact, you can produce passable barbeque if you skip a few steps, but the truly sublime plate of barbeque comes from hours of devotion and doing all the little things right.

But I can tell you a few things that won't work. Barbeque cooked in an electric oven with liquid smoke won't be great. Barbeque that goes through a shredding machine because the meat is to temperature but not yet tender won't be great. Barbeque that has to be smoothered in sauce won't be great, no matter how great the sauce. Barbeque bought in a little plastic cup at the grocery store won't be great. In general, if it's mass produced, it won't be great.

It's all about patience and love.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Backwards Spatchcocked Chicken

Last weekend I tried making chicken with the back down and breast up. Yes, a proper spatchcocked chicken will have the backbone cut out, but I decided to try it with the breast split, thus creating a reservoir for barbeque sauce during the cook.

It's sort of like "beer can chicken," but without the aluminum taste and an evenly cooked chicken with a crispy skin. I am not a big fan of beer can chicken or roasting holders. I love gadgets, but these holders just seem like a solution without a problem.

A lot of "experts" will tell you to grill chicken skin side up. I'm not sure what that accomplishes other than making sure that as much moisture is drawn out of the chicken as possible during the cooking process. And I absolutely hate rubbery skin!

The real trick for moist chicken is brining, but that's for another post. Suffice it to say if you're not brining your chicken, you have no idea what great chicken can taste like.

I basted the insides of the bird with a little Jim's Homestyle Bar-B-Que Sauce, and dribbled some on top as I plated it. I prefer the Hot version, but since we had a spice wimp in the crowd I used the Mild.

The meal generated thunderous applause!

Sunday, June 3, 2007


Once in a while a product comes along that you wonder how you lived without. If you don't already have a vacuum sealer, go get one right now!

Cooking barbeque usually requires pretty large quantities of food. You can't cook just 1/8th of a pork butt. So unless you've got a lot of people coming to the house, you're stuck with leftovers for the rest of the week.

Don't get me wrong, I could live on just ribs and pulled pork. But my doctor doesn't think that's the case, so these treats are better left to a once every few weeks experience.

That's where the FoodSaver 2860 comes in. I bought one of these jewels last fall and I don't know how I lived without it.

Instead of dealing with heaping mounds of leftovers, I just wait until the food has cooled enough to handle, put some on a serving platter, and the rest into meal sized portions in the vacuum bags. Use the rolls, not the pre-made bags since each portion is going to be a little different in size. The meals go directly into the freezer, where they can emerge months later without the slightest hint of freezer burn. Slit open the bag, place it on a plate and into the microwave. A few minutes later you've got a dish that tastes like it just came off the smoker/grill!

I also use it to preserve large quantity items such as cheese. Intead of having a huge block of premium cheddar go moldy because we've only eaten 1/3 of it in a month, I cut the block into thirds and vacuum seal two of them. It's a better seal than when it came from the store.

The Foodsaver comes with a DVD that explains how to use it, but it's so simple that a quick flip through the manual is enough to get started. The DVD has lots of ideas for other uses.

Finally, one of the accessories is a quick marinator. Just put your food into the marination tray, add liquid, then run the vacuum pump. You can get about four hours worth of marination in 15 minutes. It's not going to help tenderize the meat in that amount of time, but if you're just looking to impart flavor and you're short on time, this is the ticket.

Saturday, June 2, 2007


A friend of mine told me about the cancellation of the TV show Jericho, which I didn't know about and dissappoints me. The fans have started a Nuts Campaign to send a message to CBS.

So it occurred to me, what can be done with all of those nuts? So I've dug up some of my favorite nuts recipes, just as a suggestion to the CBS execs.

Grilled Nuts

1 Cup of Shelled Peanuts
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp Cayenne Powder
1 splash bourbon

Melt the butter in a pan. When the butter is melted, splash in the bourbon -- don't use the good stuff, we're just looking for a little strong flavor. Add the Cayenne power as well, then mix in the nuts. Please all of this on a tinfoil sheet, crimping the corners to make a "pan." Grill on low heat until done. Sprinkle liberaly with kosher salt.

This recipe also works with pecans, walnuts, or just about anything. And according to the Planter's commercial, you can use barbeque sauce in a similar fashion, but I haven't tried that. I'd use something fairly thick with lots of flavor, like Cool Hawg.

Boiled Peanuts

4 lbs green peanuts in shell
4 quarts water
1 cup plain salt
1/4 cup Cayenne Pepper

This is a pretty easy recipe. To be authentic, you'll cook this over a campfire, but a stove burner does just as well. Wash the peanuts, then let them soak for a half hour. Bring the water to a hard boil, add the salt and stir until it disolves, then dump in the peanuts and cayenne pepper. Cut the heat back to where it's at more of a slow boil, and let it go untouched for 4 hours. At that point, start checking to see if they've reached the right level of doneness. The shell should fall away easily and the peanut should taste cooked.

The cayenne is optional, but I think it's a key ingredient for a little excitement. Boiled peanuts can be a bit bland without the right seasoning. You can also use barbeque rubs, lemon pepper, or about anything that strikes your fancy.

One last note. An aluminum pot on a campfire is a recipe for a hole in the bottom of the pot. They aren't designed to withstand that kind of heat. I saw it happen to a friend, it's not pretty.

This is a great use for the side burner on your gas grill. Boiled peanuts are best eaten while sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck.

Wasabi Peanuts

I wish I had a recipe for these! I've come across several, but I think there's a manufacturing process that goes into making the ones that we find in stores that would be difficult to replicate in my kitchen. So far now, I just buy wasabi peanuts.

Friday, June 1, 2007

NC Barbeque Road Trip

Dave DeWitt and Dr. Barbeque went on a road trip across North Carolina, searching for the best Q to be found:

The plan was this: we would investigate the differences between Eastern and Western (also called “Piedmont” or “Lexington-Style”) barbecue by eating in every restaurant we could find, schmooze with the local BBQ folks, and pick up on any local legend and lore. Because of Ray’s promotional schedule for his second book, we had less than a week to do it. I began the plan by consulting Bob Garner’s book, Guide to North Carolina Barbecue, and I selected the restaurants based on his comments, especially about which ones still cooked over oak or hickory coals, rather than gas or electric cookers.
Read the article, it's worth it.

Here's his top five list:
1. Bill’s Barbecue Wilson 63
2. Barbecue Center Lexington 62
3. Hursey’s Bar-B-Q Burlington 60.5
4. Parker’s Wilson 60.25
5. Log Cabin Bar-B-Que Albemarle 60
Now I appreciate it whenever foreigners visit our state and want to try the local cuisine, but I'm going to have to disagree with his choices a bit.

I haven't eaten at Bill's or the Log Cabin, but I've eaten at the others. Parker's is gas cooked, so I don't see why it's on his list. And by far, the absolute best barbeque to be had anywhere, is located at The Skylight Inn in Ayden, which he ranked a measly 8th.

The Barbecue Center over Lexington #1? Hursey's over Wilbur's?

How could a trip across the state not include RDU stalwarts such as Hog Heaven, Ole NC Barbecue, or Bullock's? Why miss these and visit chain places such as McCalls, Smithfields, and The BBQ & Ribs Co? And how can the White Swan not be on the list of joints in the Hwy-70 corridor?

Oh well, thanks for playing!