Pig Pen Trail – Day 7

Well I started our really excited about going to see my old buddy and fraternity brother Fred Nelson, better know as Fuzzy of the famed “Fuzzy’s BBQ” in Madison NC.  Fuzzy now runs the BBQ wholesale business in the building directly behind the restaurant  and leases the restaurant to someone else.  He still however owns the business, trade name, recipes, etc.. and I am glad of that for him.

Fuzzy’s is the namesake of Fred’s father, who after having his hat shot on a hunting trip leaving it tore up and fuzzy received the name after putting it back on his head.  Big Fuzzy opened the restaurant in 1954, using the tried and true methods of hickory and oak pit cooked BBQ shoulders, western style.  They also smoke whole hams for slicing.  The restaurant has been in the family ever since.  All of the recipes are the ones developed and created by big Fuzzy himself, with I am sure help from young Fuzz.

Original Fuzzy's

Original Fuzzy's

Fuzzy was cooking Boston butts in the wholesale operation when I arrived just before 8 am and just beginning to take them out to process.  Fuzzy has received a lot of press by selling NC pork BBQ in the Big Apple.  Fuzzy was working on a new BBQ sauce when we went through the kitchens and he gave me a taste.  I told  Fuzzy I thought it was very good and asked what was in it – as chefs normally do.  Fuzzy looked at me a little crazy and said, “I can’t tell you that Jimma,” which is what Fuzzy calls me.  He put some of the sauce on the fresh pulled Q from the kitchen and gave me a 1 pound tube, and let me tell you that it was “outta here” good.

Fuzzy took me for a tour of the restaurant and particularly the pits and it was like looking into history.  The current restaurant was built to replace the original in 1974.  What a legend.

Look out for Fuzzy for he’s itching to do more, and he has my vote.

Fuzzy's Today

Fuzzy's Today

Thanks for the great info, teaching and insight Fuzzy!  And the next time I am in Madison, I’m gonna call Fuzzy on the way and have him put together some more Q with his special sauce from the wholesale operation.

Goobie, Goobie Fuzz!

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Pig Pen Trails Day 6

Heading to Noble’s Grille in Winston-Salem and detoured to Greensboro to visit Stamey’s BBQ.  Actually I had to meet Pam, our CFO once again and Stamey’s seemed like the perfect meeting place.  She feels like if I keep this up, she will have to roll me into the new Q joint we are working on.  Stamey’s is one of the old pioneers in the wood fired BBQ business.  According to Bob Garner in “North Carolina Barbecue” C. Warner Stamey as a high school student began to work the pits for Jess Swicegood around 1927.  Jess Swicegood put up a BBQ tent outside the courthouse in Lexington not long after Sid Weaver had done the same in 1919. They were in head to head competition.  These were no sit down BBQ restaurants, just permanent tents selling Q.  Weaver reportedly replaced his tent some time later with a small building.  In 1930 Stamey went to Shelby and opened his first BBQ place in a tent much like Swicegood’s with sawdust on the floor.  He taught his BBQ techniques to his wife’s brother Alston Bridges and to Red Bridges (now known as Bridges Barbecue Lodge and he’s no kin to Alston) who continue to this day.  Stamey moved back to Lexington in the mid 30’s and bought from Swicegood the place he originally learned the trade in 1938.  Early in the 50’s he taught the trade to Wayne Monk – owner, founder and operator of Lexington #1.  Stamey moved to Greensboro and opened his landmark site in 1953 where they operate today across from the Greensboro Coliseum.

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We had a great lunch with sliced BBQ, barbecue chicken and a BBQ sandwich.  We also enjoyed the hushpuppies.  Serving hushpuppies with BBQ is a tradition that Stamey started when he moved and opened his BBQ store in Greensboro.  Before that time, most BBQ was served with rolls.  Now, it would be hard to imagine BBQ not served with hushpuppies or some type of cornbread (that was for you Bill and Catherine – I wouldn’t hear the end if I didn’t mention the eastern tradition.)  Thanks Stamey for a being part of the NC BBQ tradition and bringing great BBQ to the western part of the state for nearly 83 years.

Sid Weaver early BBQ pioneer on left

Sid Weaver early BBQ pioneer on left

Next stop on the next leg will be at my old friend and fraternity brother’s longtime family restaurant in Madison, Fuzzy’s BBQ – named after his father who founded the store in 1954.

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Pig Pen Trails Day 5

Olivia and I detoured our drive from Holden Beach to Winston-Salem Noble’s Grille by way of Wilmington to hit I-40.  Our goal was to make our way to Grady’s BBQ in Dudley, NC just south of Goldsboro.  But we found out from Jim Early (http://ncbbqsociety.com) that they are only open from Wednesday through Saturday, so we headed to Stephenson’s in McGee’s crossroads instead.

Stephenson’s

Stephenson'sStephenson’s was wonderful.  It was like a warm, old fashioned family styled restaurant where Olivia and I had a great lunch.  She had, as always whenever possible, the barbecued chicken.  It came with two sides, cabbage and mashed potatoes.  I must say, as a chef, that the mashed potatoes were as good as I have ever had out in a restaurant.   They were very good and I was pleasantly surprised.  I had the chopped BBQ sandwich and it was very moist and had great flavor.  One of the best so far.  The hushpuppies were also very good.  Our bill was only $10.  What a great deal.  The sandwich was only 2.65.  This place makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.

Back in the car, Olivia and I headed to Chapel Hill for great Q at Allen and Son on Highway 86, just north of I-40.  Instead of heading towards Chapel Hill on 86 off of 40, head the other way.  It’s about 1 1/2 miles on your left, right before you cross the railroad track.  I ordered Q to go, coarse chopped/pulled and for Olivia, a coconut chess pie.  The Q was wonderful, with a good smokey flavor and a nice sauce.  I was only going to taste, so I hid it from myself in the back seat floorboard, but I found myself reaching around to get more.  The coconut pie was really fine and Olivia wouldn’t hardly give me one bite.  I don’t blame her however, judging from the miniscule taste she gave me.  The girl loves sweets and this pie was spot on.

Allen & Sons

Allen & Sons

We hit Noble’s Grille in Winston-Salem soon after and shared the rest of the Q with the staff who found it to be wonderful as well.  This Q gives inspirations to a well heeled chef, Phil Barnes, the new exec chef at the Grille.

That was all for this trip.  Will be back out soon.

I did have cardiological stress test and my arteries were in great shape.

Bon Cue Appetit!

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Pig Pen Trails Days 1-4

We are searching all of North and South Carolina for the best BBQ we can find.  After four days on the road, we have had good BBQ and we are looking at Eastern NC and Western NC.  The dividing line seems to be around Raleigh.  Most BBQ cooked in the east is whole hog.  The predominant BBQ in the western part of the state is cooked from shoulders – and the debate between the two (not to mention the different sauces) if fierce.  We hopped in Skipper’s plane and flew to Raleigh, where “The Pit” has taken residence in what was once Nana’s Chop House, the restaurant that had a great reputation on Davie Street in downtown Raleigh.  Nana’s Chop House was pioneered by Scott Howell, my friend who has operated wonderfully and masterfully over the last 15-20 years Nana’s in Durham.  We enjoyed the upscale look of “The Pit” whichis being run and operated by Ed Mitchell and the Q was good, especially the spare ribs.

Our next leg was to fly into Greenville, NC where we had the best BBQ on this 3 stop day trip at Skylight in Ayden, just 10 miles from Greenville.  For all of you NC BBQ fans, and especially those of the eastern persuasion, this is probably not news to you.  The BBQ served was chopped in a tray under wax paper, under a tray of fine chopped slaw, under wax paper, under thin baked cornbread – all handed to you in a stack.  Wonderful.  I understand that when they break downt he Q, the fat is pushed to the side, chopped as well and then added back in just the right proportion to keep the pork moist – and they did that perfectly.  Maybe some of the best chopped Q I have had, or particularly the best whole hog Q.  Brewed ice tea was available and good. Knowing we were “supposed” to be eating some more Q on our trip, with still SC in our flight plans, we ate only a few bites and headed to B’s, on B’s BBQ Road in Greenville.  However,  B’s was out of food (we cried).

Back to the plane and on the SC where we landed in Conway.  Weather was not so good and couldn’t land in Kingstree and Conway was closer to Hemingway where Scott’s is located.  Much to my dismay and from henceforth my source of ridicule, Scott’s was not open – I’ll never hear the end from my buddy Skipper.  Fortunately Skipper was heading out of town soon for several weeks and I did escape much “Smack” but I know on his return, it will be brutal. Furthermore, Brown’s in Kingstree was closed as well.

Day two brought us Lexington #1, and Monk is still King!  Pam, our CFO met me for business meeting and she arrives at 2:15.  Still jamming!  We sat at a table so we could spread out some papers, I usually eat at the counter.  Pam and I both had the coarse chopped, brown tray – slap somebody, will ya’?  It has got to be so far my absolute favorite for western styled Q.  The hushpuppies are great and after I finish my Q I usually dip the remaining pups in the sauce left in the tray, even if I have to add more.  Thanks Monk.  My Dad traveled NC for 40+ years and this was definitely one of his favorites.  I loved having Q with Big Jim.  We sure miss you and so do the NC Q joints!

Day Three was R.O.’s in Gastonia and it was a tribute to Gastonia.

Day 4, as I headed out to look for Jim Early’s book on BBQ, I headed to Bubba’s BBQ on Sunset Road in Charlotte and I enjoyed his chopped BBQ sandwich.  This place has a heart for my buddy “The Packman.”

I ended the day back at Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen with our house cured speck ham at with Mas Donis Capcanes Rose.  Very nice.  Salty, peppered cure ham with the weather tempered Capcanes Rose from the Montsant region of Sapin was a great match.  Too many days of pork, eased and balanced with Spanish rose – not your Daddy’s White Zin.  Rose is okay.

Next leg coming soon on “The Hog Blog – Jimmy’s Pig Pen Chronicles” (The True Cue School)

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Carolina wood-smoked BBQ

Welcome to Jimmy’s Pig Pen Chronicles.  We are taking a journey across  North and South Carolina to visit every wood-smoked BBQ joint to find the best Carolina Q.  It is amazing what we are already learning.  The history and lore of Carolina BBQ has a rich heritage and I will share what I find with you.

Did you know that there are less than 50 BBQ joints still in operation that cook with wood?  At Jim Noble Restaurants, we have been cooking with wood for over 25 years.  I could not imagine cooking without wood, much less roasting whole hogs or pork shoulders (Boston Butts) without using natural wood fires, consisting mainly of hickory and oak.

Did you know that hickory was a by product of the wood and furniture industry here in Carolina (and when I refer to Carolina I mean North and South Carolina.  Henceforth I will refer to North and South Carolina as “Carolina”).  When land was cleared and the wood was brought to the saw mills, most all of the wood was processed, but hickory was rejected and pushed to the side.  Hickory is such a hard wood, that it would break the saw teeth of the early saw mills.  Therefore, hickory wood was a by product of the logging industry and was readily available to anxious pit cooked hog aficionados.  What a story!

We will begin our journey in detail on our next posting.

I look forward to bringing you the best of NC cue-sine.

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