Friday, April 27, 2012
Pick your pork
Lake residents are passionate about their style of barbecue; visitors to Saturday's Rockin' Brews & BBQs will get to sample several kinds.
But for others, barbecue is more than that. A Memphis barbecue lover, for example, may turn up his or her nose at Kansas City barbecue, pointing to the cut of meat, the way it’s cooked or the sauce used.
“There’s tremendous differences in barbecue styles,” said Jim Shauberger. “Every part of the country staunchly defends their barbecue.”
Visitors can have a taste of five different styles on Saturday and decide themselves which is best during the second annual Rockin’ Brews & BBQs. The event, hosted by the SML Regional Chamber of commerce, will feature vendors selling Memphis, Kansas City, Virginia, Eastern North Carolina and Lexington, N.C., barbecue styles.
Shauberger, the chamber’s events manager, said the barbecue festival is a little bigger than last year, with seven barbecue vendors instead of six, craft beers in addition to domestic brews, and 20 craft vendors (new this year).
The event also will feature live music and children’s activities, but the main attraction, of course, will be the barbecue. We asked lake residents who have a passion for one style in particular to offer a quick primer on what makes it unique and to give readers a peek at just how seriously some people take barbecue.
If you’re wondering why there isn’t a listing for Virginia-style barbecue, that’s because it isn’t a true style, said Shauberger. Virginia barbecue is a hodgepodge of various styles that varies from restaurant to restaurant. No two combine the same styles the same way.
Eastern North Carolina
Sally Roseveare didn’t think there was anything special about the barbecue she grew up eating. She just knew she loved it. It was her husband, Ron, who went nuts over the Eastern North Carolina style when he moved to Greenville, N.C., from Richmond as a teenager.
Roseveare said she had so much of the pit-cooked pulled pork with a vinegar-base sauce, it was just barbecue to her.
“For our wedding breakfast, my mother and her friends served barbecue,” recalled Roseveare. “I was so disappointed and Ron was thrilled. He said he was glad he married me.”
The Roseveares left North Carolina in 1966 for a five-year stint in Delaware before moving to Virginia. Roseveare, who lives in Huddleston, said she’s since had various barbecue styles, but none stand up to Eastern North Carolina.
Roseveare said she loves it so much, her brother always goes out of his way to pick up barbecue from B’s Barbecue, “a little bitty hole-in-the-wall” in Greenville when he drives up to the lake from Bath, N.C., for a visit. The restaurant has no phone and no set hours; it closes when there’s no barbecue left.
“They have usually sold out of everything by 11 o’clock in the morning. If they want barbecue, even if it’s for the next day, they go there and hope they beat the crowd,” said Roseveare. “You have to really want it. It is very serious business.”
“The most important thing about the Memphis-style barbecue is there are two kinds: dry rub or wet rub,” said Bob Bryden. “Most people I think don’t know about the fact that there’s two ways to cook them.”
For the dry rub, the meat (usually pork) is sprinkled with a blend of herbs, spices, salt and pepper. The wet style, what most people are accustomed to, is smothered in a tomato-based sauce before it’s cooked. Both the wet and dry are smoked for hours.
Bryden, who lives in Moneta with his wife Christi, grew up in Texas where barbecue meant beef brisket covered in sauce. While he said it’s still his favorite, living in Memphis for seven years before moving to the lake gave him a real appreciation for the Memphis style.
“We still order our barbecue from a Memphis place called Corky’s,” said Bryden. “We probably buy from them and have them sent up six or eight times a year.”
The barbecue is pre-cooked and shipped for next-day delivery. Bryden said all they have to do is heat it up for a little taste of Memphis. For parties, the Brydens will order five or six racks of ribs to enjoy with friends and family.
When the Brydens make their own barbecue, they mix it up by making both Memphis styles in one. Bryden said they rub the meat with dry seasoning and then baste it with sauce.
If you’re looking for Kansas City barbecue experts, look no further than Pat and Brenda Norris. The Moneta residents have been running the barbecue circuit for eight years as master judges for the Kansas City Barbecue Society.
Through skill, and maybe a little begging, the Norrises even got to serve as judges last year for the Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, Tenn. It’s the Super Bowl of barbecue competitions.
“We’ve put a lot of miles on cars judging barbecue,” said Pat Norris. “I take it very seriously.”
He said Kansas City barbecue typically is slow-smoked after being coated in a red sauce, but no two cooks blend sauces the same way.
“You can eat five pieces of chicken [at a competition] and they all have a red sauce of some sort,” said Norris. “Some people will do a sauce that’s red, but vinegary. Others will have a sweet red sauce.”
He said it all boils down to personal preference. His own, by the way, is barbecue with no sauce. Norris said he’s had so many different kinds of sauces over the years, many of which mask the taste of the meat, that he just sprinkles the meat with a dry rub before smoking it on a Big Green Egg, his cooker of choice.
“My meat will stand on its own when I’m done cooking,” said Norris. “I think as far as style, I don’t even know where mine would fall. … It’s what works the best for me.”
When people talk about North Carolina barbecue, they’re usually talking about the style with a vinegar-base sauce found in the eastern part of the state. But in the western part of the state, you’ll find a tomato-base sauce that Wayne Burris loves the best.
A Lincolnton, N.C., native who moved to Virginia in 1987, Burris said he grew up eating western North Carolina barbecue (aka: Lexington, N.C.), which was pulled, minced and coated in red sauce.
“I enjoy a sandwich with pickles and slaw and a lot of sauce,” he said. “And make sure the bun is warm; I’m picky.”
Burris’ favorite barbecue spot is The Woodlands Barbecue Restaurant & Catering Service in Blowing Rock, N.C. Whenever he and his wife, Cynthia, make a trip south to visit family, the Burrises will drive as many as 25 miles out of their way to stop at the restaurant.
“Every time we go down there, if I’m even close to The Woodlands, I’ll go there,” said Burris. “We take it and bring it home with us.”
Burris said the barbecue freezes well and it’s nice to have some on hand if his kids, who also got bitten by the barbecue bug, come for a visit.
“You never know if somebody’s gonna have a barbecue attack,” he said.
Burris said he’s eaten at restaurants all over Virginia but, although he likes all kinds of barbecue, he’s never found a place that prepares barbecue the western North Carolina way.
For more information, call 721-1203. visitsmithmountainlake.com