Twitter Contest!

SOURCE: BOUSEL.COM

Hi All

I’ve been away from blogging because of my ongoing summer BBQ series the NYC HOG DAYS OF SUMMER.

I’m hoping to get back to posting fairing soon. For now I’m announcing an ongoing twitter contest.

The rules are simple.

#1 Copy this text: Join me for BBQ & unlimited @foundersbrewing BEER! http://bit.ly/17IO8Wf #hogdaysofsummer

#2 Tweet it to all your followers on twitter.

Done!  I will choose one winner on 7/21 who will recieve 2 VIP tickets for the August and September events. Where you will drink unlimited pourings of Founders Brewery beer and my North Carolina BBQ HOG!!!

While you’re at it. Follow me on Twitter at @ArrogantSwine

and like MY PAGE on Facebook

Win some free hog!!

 

 

 

 

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BBQ ROADTRIP!!! : Bum Restaurant – Ayden, NC

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Quick! Name one of the top 3 greatest Heavy-weight boxers in history. You might mention Mike Tyson, or Evander Holyfield, and you’ll definitely mention Muhammad Ali. Especially the latter as he spent most of his career calling himself the greatest. Poor Joe Louis. 12 years reigning as world champion. 25 successful title defenses (Ali had a mere 19). To this day there has not been a similar dominance in any weight division.

Unfortunately for Joe he was neither as well spoken or good looking as Ali.  Hence why none of us know about him. I feel the same way about Bum’s Restaurant in Ayden, NC.

Ayden is a mecca for whole hog lovers. For decades the Skylight Inn has held the platonic ideal of swine cookery. Their familial cousin Lathan “Bum” Dennis cooks hogs in the exact same fashion and fails to get the same cred for no other reason than Skylight Inn exists in the same town. For God’s sake they’re not even on the North Carolina BBQ Society Trail!!! This last part is particularly irksome to me because Bum’s barbecue is really really good and there’s plenty of other joints on the Trail list that taste like ass and are coasting on their reputations.

Aside from my urge to root for the underdog, Bum’s really is very good. The pork is not hacked to a tuna fish consistency, juicy, and lightly smokey with lots of little nuggets of crispy skin. Their side dishes are easily the best in the state. No exaggeration there. This is real country eating here filled with soul feeding vegetables. Eastern Carolina corn sticks and pork rinds are available to add just enough crunch.

And the fried chicken. Oh the FRIED CHICKEN! Eastern Carolina whole hog BBQ is usually paired with fried chicken. Traditional giants like Wilbur’s, Parker’s both serve fried chicken with their hogs. Bum’s chicken beats them both. I’m all down for great whole hog, but when you got great whole hog and finger licking fried chicken – oh my….

A proper banana pudding topped with warm southern meringue finishes off the meal.

As you can see I have a particular affection for Bum’s. As practitioner of the art and as a traveled eater, I find it an utter travesty that Bum’s is never mentioned when talking about top BBQ joints in North Carolina. The NC BBQ Society Trail list is a wonderful tool and there’s other sources which basically name the same big name spots. But do yourself a favor, many of those big names are for tourists – Bum’s is for those in the know.

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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Cook Heritage Breeds for Whole Hog BBQ

Now given that I already wrote why you should cook heritage breed hogs for whole hog BBQ I’m giving you the other side of the story and reasons why you wouldn’t want to use rare breeds.

#1 It’s Expensive.

Hell this might as well be the reason for #1-#4 with #5 being “Did I mention it’s expensive?”.

Cuban cigars are not the best cigars in the world. Some of the best cigars in the world are Cuban and I smoke a decent amount of them. To the average person the difference between a decent Cuban cigar and one from Honduras is indiscernible. This is because people don’t smoke that many cigars.  People also don’t go around tasting different breeds of pigs. So one might argue that unless you had a particularly gifted palate you’re not likely to tell the difference between supermarket pork and heritage pork.

#2 It’s Inconsistent 

There is basically no industry standards for heritage breeding. Much of it is self policing and many of the animal traders have to deal with rampant fraud. While people like to look down on “Factory Farming”, there is a distinct advantage to factories – everything is uniform. Any chef working with grass fed cattle will tell you that one steak might be the most glorious piece of meat you’ve ever stuffed in your maws and the next one will taste like gym sneakers. All from the same farm too!

#3 Sourcing is a pain in the ARSE. 

When I want a plain regular hog for a client, I place an order with the same commerical butcher I have used for the past 3 years. I tell him how big and when I need to pick it up and I pay less than what most NYC restaurants pay for pig. When sourcing from a farm on the other hand, you need to call up an entire network of farms to see who might have your size ready at that moment. Pigs are not products that can be made on the spot. Thus because there’s much less of the animal on these small farms, it’s a pain to fill my order on size. If I’m too late to their slaughter season only a larger animal is available. If too early I might be stuck with two 60lbers when I really wanted one 140lb animal. Oh and yes, I have to pay more for this inconvenience.

#4 It can be a fire hazard 

What makes heritage breeds so tasty? Because they’re largely bacon or lard hogs. All that fat keeps the meat juicy and gives your a nice succulent end product. Much of your flavor profile in Carolina BBQ is that grease dripping on the hardwood embers creating smoke.

But it also brings you the added risk of grease fire. Grease fires are no joke. Down in West Tennessee, insurance companies will not insure smokehouses because these grease fires have consumed entire buildings. They cooked a 280lb Mangalista pig, a particularly fatty breed, at last year’s Southern Foodways Symposium and I felt for the 2 poor pitmasters. They basically had to get that beast cooked by a deadline without creating the greatest pyro-technic display in history. I don’t care how many hogs you’ve cooked in your life, if you are dealing with that much grease and live fire, it makes you breathe just a bit more shallower. I did a 260lb Gloucestershire a few weeks back and that alone gave me missed heart beat moments.

#5 None of the best Hog masters use it.

Sam Jones, Dexter Sherrod, Rodney Scott, Ed Mitchell etc, all the biggest names in whole hog cooking. All who have made dramatic life altering BBQ have done so with commodity pork. Now you might argue that they might produce better BBQ with better pigs and I happen to agree with that sentiment. But at the core of the art of hog cookery is the techniques of fire management that brings about nirvanic flavors.

 

 

 

5 Reasons Why You Should Cook Heritage Breeds for Whole Hog BBQ

Now there’s a fairly zealous group calling for raising heritage breed produce. Calls for sustainable eating, old world farming etc. I wouldn’t say I’m deeply in that camp. Do heritage variety of tomatoes raised without pesticides taste better? Yes they do. But I like my generic tomatoes just fine and quite frankly the heritage stuff looks pretty ugly.

I do have a soft spot for preserving old world breed pigs though. They cost a whole lot more but I will outline 5 reasons why people doing whole hog BBQ should cook with heritage breed hogs.

#1 They taste better.

You really can’t beat the flavor of an old-school pig. Anyone’s whose had to choke down a dry pork loin will tell you something is amiss here. The term “eating high on the hog” comes from the fact that when hogs were cooked for barbecues pre civil war, the white masters got the loins sitting on of the back of the pig whereas the slaves got to eat everything else. Well if we were to go by our supermarket pork loins you might get the impressions that the folks down south didn’t really know jack about eating. To add insult to injury, the only way one can enjoy loins is to brine them. That’s right, the prize cut of meat on the pig needs to be bombed by a sodium solution to be palpable with all the flavor complexities cheap deli meat could provide.

When you get an old school heritage pig and your pull out the loins of a hog like the Gloucestershire Old Spot, it makes your heart skip a beat. It’s dripping with moisture slowly confit in it’s own backfat. I’ve had plenty of people who have eaten both my barbecues with heritage pigs and with regular commercial pigs who have told me I did a better job with the heritage pig. It’s not my technique being any different. The pig really does taste that much better!

#2 The Carolina dressings FINALLY make sense.

Now think about this for a second. Who in their right minds drowns their food in vinegar or mustard? Hardly subtle flavors are they? We tend to like the acidity or acridity of vinegar and mustard, respectively, when things are either very fatty or very salty. We like malt vinegars with French fries. We like mustard on salty pretzels. A poached chicken breast with vinegar or mustard sounds absolutely atrocious. There’s no counter balance for the weighty flavors of vinegar or mustard.

There are many who hate the vinegar pepper sauce. The mustard sauce on BBQ seems to make as much sense as round square. Most people “fix” these sauces by introducing a high level of sweetness to the sauce. This however was not the intention of Carolina pitmasters. The reason they used these seasonings were because of the fatty pigs they used. When you do a pig picking with a heritage breed hog and you see all that golden clear running fat, the vinegar or mustard just makes a whole world of sense.

#3 You can incubate hog farmers.

Most heritage breed hog farmers can’t supply restaurants. The reason for this is that restaurants order cuts, not animals. They place orders 50lbs at a time of chops, loins, and belly. Well this leaves the other four corners of the hog to get rid up. Even farmers who do fill these orders have to then end up grinding up the hams and shoulders for sausage meat, lowering their overall profit margins per pound. By ordering the whole animal, it keeps the farmers producing hogs for orders they can fill at a good return.

#4 It helps bring the price down for everyone

Let’s be perfectly honest. People will put up with sub-par food if the price is right. Is Taco Bell great food? Absolutely not. But at 10:30pm when I’m home late from work it’s quick, cheap, and does the job just fine. Plus I look forward to their churro dessert.

I believe there’s some campaign where people are encouraging others to eat less meat but better meat like pasture pork, grass feed beef, free range chickens etc. This is a very admirable and an ethically proper way of thinking; it’s also inefficient and will not produce widespread consumption of heritage breeds. It is like the morality that prevents condom distribution in high schools in favor of abstinence to reduce teen pregnancies. We simply cannot moralize our way out of a problem.

By getting more people to like and love the flavor of heritage breeds we can drive enough demand that farmers can safely begin increasing supply. Simple economics – increasing the supply in the market makes it cheaper for us all. Starbucks is wildly more expensive than regular deli coffee, but deli coffee tastes like ass and Starbucks is not prohibitively expensive. This is why we are willing to put up with the premiums that Starbucks charges and is a fantastic model of where heritage pork needs to be.

#5 It makes for the greatest secret ingredient ever

Well not that secret given that if you’re paying that much for heritage pork you might as well like everyone know about it. But everyone looks for a signature edge. From a professional cooking background the secrets in BBQ are both silly and useless. Professional kitchens hold what are known as “Stages”.

In these, the stagire cook works for free doing the most menial tasks for the opportunity to learn another chef’s recipes. I’ve done several myself at big name places like Le Bernardin, Payard, and La Caravelle in New York City years ago. In them I peeled carrots, mixed pastries, prepped raviolis, basically any and everything that the other cook on the station didn’t want to do. In exchange recipes were freely offered. Nothing was ever held back. People would take out their own notepads and let me copy down their notes and then show me live how that restaurant did things.

So rather than hunt around for some special ingredient by walking down the supermarket isle and getting inspired. It makes more sense to have a very poignant ingredient up front and person. You can mix in obscure Indonesian spices all you like, nothing will beat just having a better hog.

John Brown Day!!! 260lb Gloucestershire Whole Hog BBQ

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See all the Event Photos HERE

John Brown Smokehouse brings LIC the best in good times. Who else in New York throws an event involving Harvard Professors, Blues Legends, and their own in-house Hog expert? As far as I know, John Brown is the only BBQ joint in New York with a person on hand whose sole job is to smoke entire pigs. Along with the festivities we had a congressman proclaim April 7th as John Brown Day with the smokehouse getting a large framed copy of the proclamation.

My mission was to smoke a 260lb pasture raised Gloucestershire Hog. That’s right. I had to cook a beast  who weighed more than the average NFL linebacker. The head alone weighed close to 50 and was larger than my chest. Now I don’t get that intimidated by large animals but this was pretty ridiculous. I approached this challenge with the biggest grin on my face ever.

Friday night we dragged my smoker over to JBS to get her situated. The plan was for the pig to go on at 9pm Saturday evening for over 18 hours of cooking.

Then at 3pm Saturday afternoon I get a call from my buddy Josh that the smoker was missing!

So aside from the fact that it really really royally blows to have someone jack your smoker. It doesn’t help that it’s compounded with the fact that I really needed to use it in 6 hours!!!  The mission then was to find a smoker with the capacity to handle my porcine leviathan. I could have driven up to Bridgeport, CT to grab my monster trailer but the logistics just were not there. We did have one offer to borrow two PR60 hog smokers but they were not on trailers and weighed over 300lbs each. This would require us trying to lift and fit these smokers on the back of my truck. Hernia and possible roadside accident awaited us.

Then we got word that Matt Fisher, one of the biggest wigs in the NYC BBQ pantheon, was willing to lend us his large reverse-flow smoker.

So it was a mad rush to get to Staten Island to pick up this smoker and get it to Long Island City. It was already 6pm by the time we started rolling. My chief logistics guy, Matt, darn near gave me a heart attack getting there. You have never seen a quarter ton pickup truck weave thru traffic that fast.

There seemed to have been some miscommunication in what ball size the trailer hitch was supposed to use and the smoker actually came OFF THE TRUCK!!! Thank Jesus we actually chained it in otherwise we might have made the 8PM news. Heck that would have been the first newspaper report about me ever. “Giant smoker smashes into BMW on Hwy 287”.

So after indeed having an heart attack, we reattached the smoker and wrapped the trailer ball with every cord, string, paper clip we had on us. Keep in mind that we are on the freakin’ HIGHWAY!!

I’m a decently religious guy but I’m fairly confident I have never prayed so hard in my life the whole 35mph trip back to Queens. Every bump and rattle made me die just a little more inside. Ever been on adrenaline for 40mins straight? Yeah no fun. I was more wound up than a cat left at the dog pound.

So now 11:30pm we finally got the hog prepped and thrown on to the smoker. Because it wasn’t a Carolina style hog cooker we needed to cut the animal straight down the spine and put her on 2 tiers.

Reverse flow cooking isn’t my favorite for hog. Fantastic for almost every other BBQ cut. But beggars can’t be choosers right? The one issue was after 9 hours of cooking the ash build up was keeping me from holding temp the way I wanted to. Essentially all that ash was choking off the airflow to my coals. Removing the ash was painful as the metal expanded making it almost impossible to pull out. We had 3 guys get it out and then push it back in.

By 4pm Sunday afternoon the hog was done and I actually had a chance to do some artistic arranging of the animal as you see in the photos.

As our Carolina custom, we pulled the meat, chopped it up with some of the crispy skin and seasoned it with my vinegar pepper sauce. The one GREAT thing about heritage breed hogs is the fat. All the lovely rendered pig lipid was just gushing out as we pulled the swine. This is was helps balance out the vinegar and mustard sauces that the Carolinas are so well known for. The issue people have with that isn’t due to the sauce; it’s due to our lean produced modern pigs.

The crowd loved the BBQ especially one of my bigger fans whose birthday it was. You’ll see her and her boyfriend in the photos. I figured what a better birthday gift than a Hog Drumstick? Seems like everyone got a big chomp out of it.

A gentleman from South Carolina told me the pork reminded him of home. All the affirmation I needed.

So despite our harrowing journey to the goal, we hit the finish line. A shout out to my crew not the least being fellow blogger WDM, will be coming tomorrow. Despite working with a new smoker and an bigger animal than I have ever cooked, we were able to produce amazing BBQ. Lots of big name pitmasters in New York were on hand to sample my pork and offer moral support. It was an amazing night.

The guests of John Brown Smokehouse were MORE than generous in tossing money into a collection bucket to help me get a new smoker. We collected over $300 that evening. While I might have been impressed with the size of my massive heritage breed hog, the hearts of our guests were far larger.

See all the Event Photos HERE

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