Hog Heaven BBQ (Durham, NC): is the pulled pork worth it?
I see a string of high praise for this place as the best BBQ in Durham, if not the Triangle (ha, like they could beat Allen & Son), but after three years of living here have never given it a try. Once went there for a shrimp burger and sides and both were pretty bad (sides seemed like they were from cans, batter on the shrimp not tasty at all).
Isn't the pork cooked over gas? If so, how can people claim it's the best around?
and in terms of gas-cooked Q, is it any better than Barbeque Joint in Chapel Hill (which has fantastic homemade-from-scratch sides and desserts)?
I held a "blind BBQ tasting" a few weeks ago to "pit" (ugh) two SC BBQs and one GA BBQ against two Durham BBQs -- namely, Hog Heaven and Backyard BBQ. The two from SC were both from Manning (posts about Q along I-95 referenced both as not to be missed) -- they were McCabe's and D&H. The Georgia Q was from Lowcountry BBQ near Atlanta.
All were handled in the same manner so as not to give any one Q an edge -- namely, they were all "food saver" vacuum packed and frozen in individual bags with hole-punch coding to keep them straight; then, the night of the tasting, all were put into a large pot of boiling water and reheated at the same time -- this both saved time, stove space, and, to my delight, kept in the "juices" and re-infused the sauces with the meat. It worked very well.
About 16 of us judged the Qs on appearance, taste/flavor, and tenderness/texture -- the scorecard had an "overall favorite" section with the three categories noted for scoring favorite Q, then an individual BBQ scoring section to get more detail on specific Qs in the three categories. Interestingly, the two from SC had fabulous scores for appearance as they exhibited good "pulled pork" chunks/strands, but scored low in taste/flavor, while the Durham Qs -- both looked similar -- very chopped and "mushy"-- scored best on taste/appearance and tenderness. HOWEVER, overall, Lowcountry BBQ in Georgia won this particular tasting, and deservedly so -- very, very good in all categories. And the bad news? Their Johns Creek, Ga. retail store went out of business in March. Catering business is still running.
It was a very fun evening and we're going to do it again, probably with just Triangle area Qs next time. While this doesn't answer mikeh's question, I thought y'all would find it interesting.