Ed Mitchell @ Big Apple BBQ [moved from Manhattan board]
I spoke to most of the pitmasters and had generally a great time (we drove down from Canada - I think it was the only fastpass sold outside the USA; had to jump through hoops for that and thank you Gina Soldano at the Union Square Hosptality Group for that one! but I digress)
Yeah, too hot, too crowded, and not enough beer drinking space (I think the Bait Shop was the un-official rest area)...
First off, let me say that I enjoyed Ed Mitchell's sandwich immensely. I can appreciate using the whole hog to add various flavor components to the end product, as opposed to using *only* shoulder or butt, etc.
I also understand that his final product is the way it is *because* he uses whole hog.
With that said:
I'm just curious if anyone feels like I do, that its almost a shame to start with such a great, BBQed, smoked, whole hog, and chop it to an almost paste-like consistency and eat it in a sandwich?
I'm not saying its wrong, just that personally, when I cook a whole hog (being inspired after talking to him and seeing his setup, I'll be doing exactly that in 2 weeks), I think I'll first set it on a table and carve it into pieces to eat. I'll make sandwiches later.
BTW, he seems to be a soft spoken, good natured gentleman. He was very proud of a segment in the latest Bon Apetit, pulling a copy out of his pocket, showing me his picture on page 27!
Just curious on your thoughts.
Well, that's the way it's done in eastern North Carolina - some folks don't chop it so finely, (and if we do a hog at the house, it'll definitely be a coarser chop - less work, dontcha know?), but Ed's is typical. By the way, my brother lives in Raleigh, and says that Ed's got his brisket down pat at the Pit.
a few thoughts. i agree with bob, that's the way it is we do it in eastern north carolina. I loved chopped barbecue, and with vinegar/pepper and that mayo slaw (wilson excluded) in the east the combo is just right. a lot of folks eat sliced toward the piedmont. also right, about doing a hog at the house for barbecue, a little coarser chop, but also......a pig pickin' which is really altogether different. pig pickin's are my favorite. but, you know when you go to a barbecue joint, you don't have to get the sandwich.....my favorite is really the barbecue plate.....and make it a combination with fried chicken (dark meat) and slaw and potato salad (or boiled potatoes) for sides. That way you don't have to worry about the bread, you got hushpuppies or maybe even corn sticks anyway..... you get you a forkfull of barbecue and slaw together, or just the barbecue.....mercy.....
as for the pit, i haven't been yet, i keep puttin it off. i know ed mitchell's barbecue from earlier, but something about the fanciness of the joint has got my dander up...... i know it's stupid, and i will go eventually, but i just don't know about the upscale look of things......
but, i will say one thing about barbecue in raleigh....i miss the hell out of murray's on old poole rd. when that place closed a couple of years ago i thought i was going to die. i can't even ride by the place because my heart aches. often ignored, by the barbecue "academics", murray's had one of the top three barbecue, slaw, potato salad plates in eastern nc. i'm a big old boy and i had a hard time getting through the large plate. it was like a mountain. good taste, good texture, and to finish it i believe the best (most like my mama's) banana puddin' i ever had in a restaurant.....the demise is a long story, but from what i understand (i might be wrong, just what i heard), grandfather clauses, changing ownership and dumbass food safety laws closed it down. They had damn good fish too. The old owner died recently. RIP to him and his barbecue joint.
If the building isn't half falling down and there aren't pickups and Cadillacs in the parking lot, just give the place a miss. Was the name Murray's? I can't even remember but we used to go there every time we went to a concert at the Creek. Good eating, but what a dump. I feel the same as you about The Pit. I can't bring myself to pay that much for a cue sandwich, even though I used to drive out to Wilson to eat at Mitchell's. The guy sure knows his pig, though.
Yeah, the place was Murray's, and I miss it a whole bunch.......Raleigh will never be the same again. I know Ed Mitchell can cook his ass off, but I just can't go to the pit until i get my head and heart right, i just a least need to see something of comfort about the place, although clyde coopers ain't in my top ten barbecue wise....., at least the place looks and feels like a barbecue joint.....and you know what was in the Raleigh Nuisance and Disturber paper this week????? Wine pairings for Eastern and Piedmont (I refuse to call Lexington style barbecue west because, by God, Lexington is EAST of Charlotte) barbecue. They also were pairing up wine with nana puddin', pimento cheese, fried chicken and (no i'm not lying) carolina packers all the way red weenie hot dogs......is there anything that is sacred anymore......if they had any decency they would have paired them all with a good gallon jar of homemade wine, some stump hole liquor or richards wild irish rose......anything but.....they paired this stuff with "Terra Andina Carmenere 2007, a red Chilean wine with berry and licorice flavors, $5.50 a glass, $25 a bottle" among others...... if you don't believe me check it out. http://www.newsobserver.com/lifestyles/food_fitness/story/1111759.html
Now..... I will say that I do love some good wine, and I might consider drinking some with a nice piece of pig pickin hog meat, but in respect to my raisen's, i ain't gonna tell nobody about it.....and i sure ain't gonna enlist other's to join me...... Now, that's just me......
As a fellow Canuck waiting to do this exact same road trip, and craving NC BBQ, I have to say that the NC pulled pork sandwich is the classic example of a regional specialty that is best appreciated in the place of origin. You might be able to get a pulled pork sandwich in other places, but they'll never match the quality of the sandwiches you can get in NC. This sandwich is a true original. Something about that blend of vinegar sauce and BBQ pork - so yummy! So special! Haven't found anything similar outside NC! This is one of the few types of sandwich I crave on a regular basis, I normally don't really like sandwiches.
But it is what it is, and if you prefer chunks of straight meat, then, yes, this may seem like an overly processed product, something you do to leftover meat rather than waste freshly BBQ'd meat. I would counter with the fact that making a pulled pork sandwich with anything other than excellent fresh BBQ pork would compromise the quality of the sandwich. I hypothesize it is the careful loving seasoning of the still warm meat with vinegar sauce that makes real NC pulled pork sandwiches the joy that they are to eat. So for me, I don't think it is a shame to treat BBQ this way, it is imperative to treat the BBQ this way, to get this unique exceptional regional product.
Now, please understand. I love all forms of BBQ, and I will not try to defend one form of BBQ as being superior to all other types. I still love Texas BBQ, and the forms of BBQ from Western NC and the other southern states, and what I've had of Kansas City BBQ (Although I have yet to taste it at the source - in Kansas - I'll jump at the chance to do so, but for some reason I've never had a chance to go to Kansas). But for me, this is key: I love all forms of BBQ. I love the variety, the regional variations, the constant debate, and the passions behind each BBQ culture. The pulled pork sandwich is part of a spectrum of BBQ meat yumminess that extends all across the U.S. Each product is a sparkling gem of the BBQ firmament - need them all!
As another poster has mentioned, you may have preferred a traditional pig picking, also a fine BBQ tradition. There is nothing like pulling bits of pork off of a freshly cooked hog. Ummmm, pork fat.....
Edit: I am realizing you had your BBQ in NYC. I am assuming that you were at the BBQ festival they have in a park somewhere? I also attended something similar in Manhattan a few years ago, and had a chance to try multiple manifestations of BBQ side by side. Dang that is a fun event!!
We'll be doing a pig-picking (thanks for the proper phrase!).
I've previously cooked milk pigs in my smoker, and slightly larger in a commercial oven.
General plan: make a cinderblock pit and drink beer day before, marinate pig (dressed about 30 lbs) night before, light charcoal brickets in the corners of pit, splay pig and sandwich between two racks, place over pit, cover. Sit around, drink beer, tell stories, some true some not. Turn pig half-way through cooking. Continue with socializing.
Remove pig when cooked, place on table, eat.
Any thoughts? Recommendations?
We, ahhhh, borrowed concrete blocks from behind our municipal town garage for our quasi, homemade pit.
We also did a recon on the abbatoir offering freshly slaughtered pigs (I got a speeding ticket and the place was closed...grrrr). I at least now have their telephone number and they're open Saturday for the pickup.
And we planned out the pig-holder using concrete reinforce mesh and rebar.
Still gotta buy the beer and charcoal...
Having been born and raised in Eastern NC, I have to say that I am not a fan of overly chopped BBQ... I find that some places use that as a way to use up "undesirable" pieces, and find myself dissecting a BBQ sandwich/plate when it's like that.
I prefer pulled pork to chopped... with my own homemade Eastern BBQ vinegar sauce of course. ; )
Now I'm homesick for some real bbq. *sob*
Like I mentioned, I did do some piglets in my smoker as well as in an oven. This was my first whole hawg done in a pit.
It was about 120lbs.
Just a short running commentary:
Picked our hog on the hoof the day before, had it slaughtered and brought it home. It needed some cleaning up and we split the spine to lay it flat.
I simply rubbed salt into the cavity.
Put finishing touches on our cinderblock pit and had the pig in a rack and over the coals at 8:00am (we wanted it done early rather than late). Covered with foil.
It was up to temp at 2:30pm.
Mopped some North Carolina BBQ sauce on the hog & removed.
Put some tin plates of seasoned potatoes and baked beans into the pit. Cooked.
Returned hog to pit and heated with more mop, turned over to crisp the skin for 15 minutes or so.
Moved it over to the 'buffet' table along with potatoes, beans, potato salad, macaroni salad, pickles, slaw, and 2 kinds of sauce.
Quick chop and split the skin into pieces and everyone helped themselves.
I made the NC BBQ sauce a few days before (first time). I was skeptical about it, mostly because of its tartness and lack of consistency.
Quite the epiphany when splashed on the meat! The pork was extremely moist, smokey, and delicious on its own. With some NC BBQ sauce, it took on a whole new dimension... a perfect example of the sum being much greater than the parts...
Heres a few picts.
1. on the pit
2. ready to turn and crisp
3. on the buffet table (miracle how we got that done). Note the homemade sauce.
MOH, you missed a good one!
Porker - your pig look just like the pigs I saw at pig pickin's down in North Carolina! What a perfect brown colour to the skin! I am so glad the weather cooperated for you and that you were able to perfectly cook the pig!
I have to ask, where did you get your recipe for NC BBQ sauce? Oh that glorious tartness...
The weather was only semi-cooperative and we used a tarp over the pit as it drizzled frequently.
We were also jammed on my buddy's porch as it rained that evening, but that hardly spoiled anything.
I found a few recipes on the web for a sauce and chose this site:
1 gallon apple cider vinegar)
1 (28-ounce) bottle ketchup
2 3/4 cups firmly-packed brown sugar
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
(mix and cook for 15 minutes
It seemed to have various interesting flavor components. Although the crowd ('bout 35 or so) was split on their preferences - 1/2 liked the NC sauce, 1/2 liked the sweet/thick Kansas sauce.