Hog Wild BBQ. With Raisins.

First, a simple statement.  BBQ is an amazing thing.  It’s such a simple concept – heat, wood and meat – but it has different origins in different cultures and has a different process everywhere you go. Changing the smallest details result in different flavors and textures. My preference is keeping it basic – allow the wood to flavor a quality piece of meat and leave the sauce out of it. My choice of meat? Pork.  Enough so that I have a butcher map of a pig tattooed on my arm in an ode to whole hog BBQ.

With that being said, I’m not your typical BBQ snob. I think the basic cook should always remain the same, heat and wood, but after that as long as you’re not drowning the meat in sauce I’m always up for whatever. The first concept that comes to mind is Ricewood BBQ in Ann Arbor — where they wood smoke various meats, serve them over rice topped with scallion, tomato and a spicy-sour Chamorro sauce. It’s something so basic – again: heat, wood and meat, but shows how BBQ is done in the Western Pacific. It’s a reminder that BBQ is not just an American classic. Meat heated slowly over wood is the most basic form of cooking and is done differently in every state and country around the world.

I’ll admit that’s one of the deeper things I’ve written and is an odd opening to a “review” of a BBQ truck. I just love BBQ, that’s all. So when I found out that someone had a BBQ truck directly across the street from my job — no electric, no gas,.  Just wood and heat — I showed up with money. Two days in a row. Check this place out:

IMG_20170513_134328

Here’s where I love maintaining this site as less of a “food blog” and more of a “here’s some great food with an interesting story behind it” site. Hog Wild BBQ was opened by Dave Price, who was an air conditioning repair man as early as 2012. After doing some back yard pig roasts his friends encouraged him to open a commercial BBQ business. He now owns two BBQ trucks, a restaurant and a catering business.

Upon my first visit, I was told that the pork had been on the smoker since about 2AM and was just being taken off for pulling. Even better, they hadn’t made the cole slaw yet so it was made while I was waiting. They packed it up in a styrofoam container and sent me on me on my way

IMG_20170514_145920

The pork is served naked in sandwich form topped with your spice of regular or sweet/spicy and topped with slaw. Upon opening my styrofoam container, I found something that shocked me. Raisins. This was the first time I have ever seen raisins included as part of BBQ. I wasn’t sure what to think. It adds a little bit of sweetness to the sandwich and a random chewyness to each bite. The pork falls apart, like all good BBQ should and the raisin adds a little chew.  Past that, the spicy sauce tastes like it’s hoisin based — which is typically used as a glaze or stir fry sauce in Chinese cuisine.  #interesting.

Tying this in with my long intro aka John’s ode to BBQ, this is the beauty of BBQ. Someone obviously experimented with different flavors and ingredients and tied in the age old practice of smoked meat with different flavors — even adding dried grapes to the equation. I have to say it works. Adding a dried fruit and an ingredient from a country’s cuisine that is not typically associated with USA BBQ makes this place both delicious and interesting. It’s an ingredient combination you probably won’t find many other places.

Hog Wild BBQ sets up shop at the BP right off the Grand River exit on 96 in Brighton. Check it out.

Ten Pounds of Pork

WrestleMania was this past Sunday so the only appropriate thing to do was smoke ten pounds of pork.  I pulled the trigger on a smoker a few months ago and it has become one of my better culinary purchases. I now drive past BBQ restaurants and chuckle to myself that I can make the same quality meat, if not better, at home.  The best part is if you find a good butcher and spend a little bit of time on prep, the wood and smoker do the rest of the work for you and produce better results than your average smokehouse.  If you’re looking into getting into the smoking game, I highly recommend starting with an electric box smoker.  All you do it add wood chips and monitor the temperature.

To drive home the simplicity of smoking ribs, here is an eight step instructional process, with step eight being the most important.

  1. Buy some ribs.
  2. Cut the membrane off the bottom
  3. Rub with mustard aka rub glue
  4. Rub with rub
  5. Put in smoker for two hours at 225
  6. Wrap in foil.  Two more hours at 225
  7. Brush on sauce.  One more hour at 225
  8. Eat.  Yum.

wp-image-1788049611jpg.jpg

wp-image-1162127644jpg.jpg

wp-image-2026691305jpg.jpg

wp-image-781396456jpg.jpg

How good were these ribs?  So good I didn’t take a picture of the finished product.  I was too busy eating.  Sorry!

Lastly, this is the first installment in a series of posts on me and my smoker.  This is my fourth smoke and I’m thinking about graduating to smoking with wood only.  Wherever I go, you will see it here.

Whole Hog BBQ – North Carolina

Most people take vacations to see new things, like the beach or historical landmarks. Some go to Disney World. Others go overseas to experience culture outside of our great, great coutry. When it came time for me to spend a week away from work, the only logical thing to do was to drive ten hours to Eastern North Carolina for some whole hog BBQ.  I’m here to say the next time you have some time off and can’t figure out a place to go – drive somewhere far away and plan a couple of places to eat that you can’t get locally.  Not only does the traveling make the food taste better, but you get to experience another region’s culture that, in this case, has taken hundreds of years to perfect.

If you’re not familiar with Carolina BBQ, or BBQ in general, there are arguments on the proper ways to cook, season and sauce the pig depending on where you’re at.  If you’re in Eastern North Carolina they cook a whole hog over wood coals, meaning an entire pig is placed on top of burning wood embers for a long, long period of time and then chopped and mixed together.  Their choice for sauce is a simple mixture of vinegar and spices.  The Western part of North Carolina uses only the shoulder, which is mainly dark meat, cooked over wood topped with a vinegar sauce combined with different amounts of tomato.

Once you get into South Carolina, you get different cuts and the addition of mustard into the sauce.  I didn’t get to South Carolina on this trip so that will have to be another day.

I’m here to say, without question, Eastern Carolina style is the winner in this region. Whole hog style gives you a mixture of different flavors, from both white and dark meat, and every bite can be different.  The vinegar adds a little tang but GOOD whole hog BBQ shouldn’t require any additional sauce. Finally, what makes whole hog BBQ really shine are crispy pig skins mixed into the BBQ.  My god.  This gives you salty, crispy little bits mixed into the pork adding yet another flavor and another texture.  I would say there are no words, but the whole point of this is putting things into words.  Moving on.

I will be doing a lot of material on smoked pork in the future, so I’ll save you time some time today from the smoked meat education and get to the point of this post.

The first place I went was Skylight Inn BBQ.  If you want some more info on them, use Google. There is more information than you could ever ask for.  This is the best BBQ I have ever had. Hands down, from a man that has a pig tattooed on his arm. If you have never had whole hog BBQ, you should immediately drive to Aiden, NC in the middle of absolute nowhere and try this.  

wp-image-456735126jpg.jpg

I was sitting at the Skylight Inn thinking “What should I do next?” and the only thing that made any sense was to do a Bang-Bang.  Before you think that my idea was to do something innapropirate, let me educate you for a second. A proper Bang-Bang is where you go out to eat, and then you immediately go to a different place to eat.  It could be two lunches, or two dinners, and is absolutely essential when you’re eating in an area that you will not be returning to in the near future.  I got into my rented Doge Dart, which is a fine choice for a compact vehicle (I don’t care what anyone says), and headed to Dudley, NC, which is somehow even more in the middle of nowhere than Aiden, NC, but is also home to Grady’s BBQ.

wp-image-106755344jpg.jpg

You probably can’t find much information on Google about Grady’s.  It’s old school and you can tell before you walk in that the food is going to be a combination of both authentic and legit.  Before you question why I would risk my health eating at a hole in the wall place like this that CLEARLY doesn’t focus on appearance or cleanliness, Grady’s has a posted 99.5 out of 100 health inspection score.  That’s right, North Carolina requires all restaurants to post their scores within their building to the public. Why doesn’t every state do that?

Anyways, same story here.  Whole hog BBQ and the best collared greens I ever had.

wp-image-1249195750jpg.jpg

I then retreated and spent the rest of the day recovering until my next altercation with Carolina BBQ in the form of Allen and Son BBQ in Chapel Hill which does not, in fact, cook whole hog.  They use only the shoulder but do use the Eastern Carolina sauce.  I realize this post is called “Whole Hog BBQ” and this is not “Whole Hog BBQ” but I don’t care.  Allen and Son was my first experience with Carolina style non-tomato sauce so I feel it is only right to include them.

wp-image-1379172356jpg.jpg

The lessons you should take from this post:

  1. If you’ve been eating pulled pork your whole life you owe it to yourself to go and try whole hog BBQ.  It’s life changing.
  2. When traveling in an area you do not frequent and that has good food, a Bang-Bang is essential.
  3. Go on a food vacation.