Thursday, October 11, 2012

Prove That You DO Know Jack at the World Barbecue Championship in Lynchburg

Posted By on Thu, Oct 11, 2012 at 8:35 AM

Over 25,000 people and 70 competition barbecue teams will descend upon the tiny town of Lynchburg on Saturday, Oct. 27, for the Jack Daniel's World Championship Invitational Barbecue. The event, which is known in 'cue circles as simply "The Jack," draws championship teams from the United States and international teams from as far away as Switzerland, Germany, Australia, Estonia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, Poland, Aruba, Puerto Rico, Norway and Denmark. The teams will compete in seven categories — Pork Ribs, Pork Shoulder/Butts, Beef Brisket, Chicken, Dessert, Cook’s Choice and Jack Daniel’s Sauce, with the overall winner taking home the coveted title of Grand Champion in what many competitors call the world’s most prestigious barbecue competition.

Here are some more official details:

To qualify, domestic teams must have won a state championship with a minimum of 25 teams entered, or a competition with more than 50 teams battling in the categories of Pork Ribs, Pork Butts, Chicken and Beef Brisket. The final competitors are then selected during a blind drawing of all eligible teams in early September. The 2011 Jack Daniel’s Grand Champion, Smokin’ Hoggz, and the current season’s Memphis in May, American Royal Open and Houston World’s Championship Bar-B-Que grand champions receive automatic invitations.

Other activities include original games such as the Country Dog Contest, Butt Bowling, and Bung and Bag Toss competitions. Games begin at 11 a.m. Saturday and continue throughout the day. Free tours of the Jack Daniel Distillery from the Visitor Center will also be available from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Barbecue judging starts at 11:30 a.m., and the awards presentation will take place at 5 p.m.

Admission to the 24th Annual Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue is a voluntary donation to the Moore County schools. For more information, please call (931) 759-6930.

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Win a Copy of Wicked Good Barbecue

Posted By on Thu, Jul 5, 2012 at 5:47 AM

I don't know if I've mentioned it here on Bites, but I have undertaken the enviable task of writing a yearlong series on barbecue for, Marcus Samuelsson's national food blog. In addition to getting to travel around the country eating all that fantastic smoked meat, another nice benefit is that I've been getting some really cool barbecue books in the mail.

One of the best I've encountered is Wicked Good Barbecue, by Andy Husbands and Chris Hart with Andrea Pyenson. I'll admit that it languished on my bookshelf for a couple of months until I saw a recommendation from frequent Bites commenter Ulika BBQ, someone who I trust when it comes to good 'cue. So I cracked open my copy and started reading.

Wicked Good Barbecue is the story of how two self-professed damn Yankees from Boston became the first Northerners to win the prestigious Jack Daniel's World Barbecue Championship in 2009. Along the way, they reveal some of the secrets, tips and recipes that have helped them win hundreds of barbecue ribbons and 30 KCBS championships.

Their recipes include a "25-Step Championship Chicken," a "$100 Meatloaf" and simpler, more prosaic dishes like "Seven Layer Dip of Disbelief" and "Turkey Skin Chips with Blue Cheese Vinaigrette." The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow, and the wit of these two rockin' pitmasters shines through in their prose. The photography is also fabulous and more than a little inspirational.

To accompany the high season of grilling between now and Labor Day, they have graciously allowed me to share a few grilling and smoking tips with you:

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Hearth and Grill Shop Backyard BBQ Challenge Recap

Posted By on Fri, Jun 8, 2012 at 7:49 AM

I know last Saturday was one of the prettiest days of the year so far and that the foodie social calendar was jam-packed with the Riffs Dinner, The Great Food Truck Race in town and the Tour de Fat, but if you weren't one of the hundreds of folks who attended the Hearth and Grill Shop's Backyard BBQ Challenge, you might want to mark it on your calendar for next year.

The event was very well-organized, with free barbecue for attendees and an entertaining bluegrass band to keep the action lively. The amateur pit masters competed in both gas and charcoal categories, cooking ribs and chicken as well as desserts. I was extremely pleased to see Russ and Pat, my two favorite barbecue guys from the dearly departed Jimmy Carl's Lunch Box competing and begged them to get back in the business. (Like I do every time I see them. Pitiful.)

As a judge, I had the awful duty of having to taste almost 30 different chicken thighs and ribs, and let me tell you it was tough work. Out of all those entries, there were only a couple that weren't good. In fact, some of the more experienced judges told me this was the most consistently excellent selection of entries that they had ever judged. Add that to the fact that a record 32 teams competed, and this was the biggest and best Backyard Challenge ever.

This also represented the only day all year where the Hearth and Grill Shop offers any sort of discount on their Big Green Eggs, so that's another reason to make sure you're part of the fun next year. In the end, the grand champion team was 3 Rusty Nails Bar B Q, with Team Manwagon and Mo-Bones About It rounding out the Top 3. You'd think after all the barbecue competitions I've attended as part of this job, I'd finally be over giggling at the punny pig names, but I'm not. Ash Holes ... heh. Smokin' Hot Grill-on-Grill Action ... snicker.

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Local Pitmaster Pat Martin Is Firing Up the Grill on Today, So Fire Up Your DVR

Posted By on Tue, Jun 5, 2012 at 5:36 AM

You do NOT want to mess with this man.
  • You do NOT want to mess with this man.
For the fourth year in a row, pitmaster Pat Martin of Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint will be hauling his big pig rig up to Manhattan to represent Middle Tennessee at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party in Madison Square Park this weekend, June 9-10.

Actually, there's more to the story. Now that Martin has reached a bit of a barbecue celebrity status through his appearance on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and by being a member of a BBQ supergroup, Fatback Collective, he is in demand for media appearances prior to the Block Party to help promote the event. So some of his friends will be doing the 18-hour (plus or minus) drive for him this year. (That would include me ... ugh.)

Not that I'm bitter. Actually I'm really looking forward to the trip, and now we can all be a part of the experience just by tuning into the Today show on NBC tomorrow morning (Wednesday, June 6). His segment is set for 8 a.m. Central time, in the latter part of the hour.

That's right, our Pat Martin will be featured on the plaza with Matt, Ann and Al and those other two women who I always get confused. Natalie Guthrie? Savannah Morales?

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Monday, April 30, 2012

Stone House Q Adds Sunday Hours and a Rockin' Smoked Chicken Salad

Posted By on Mon, Apr 30, 2012 at 12:27 PM

There's a new menu item and expanded hours at Stone House Q.

West Nashville's newest barbecue place has added Sunday hours (lunch only), and there's now a more satisfactory parking arrangement — customers are allowed to use the lot of the church across the street. (Maybe the church agreed because Stone House identifies its barbecue as "righteous.")

Current hours are 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday; and 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday. And sometime later this month, Stone House will switch to summer hours, staying open until 8:30 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday and until 9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. They'll also add live music (acoustic and family-friendly) on some nights.

Stone House knows its customer base well — in addition to the Sunday lunch hours, they've added a smoked chicken salad sandwich. West Nashville's profound need for chicken salad is a fact of life here. The Picnic has been in the chicken salad business for almost three decades. The country clubs couldn't exist without it. The 1964 Nashville Seasons cookbook has three recipes for it. Corner Market catering sells vats of chicken salad, served in tiny pastry cups at luncheons, in box lunches and scooped over lettuce.

Stone House's chicken salad features smoked light and dark meat chicken, ground but not finely, and plenty of celery, all lightly bound with mayonnaise. Then they've taken the extra step of folding in sliced almonds rather than grinding them, to preserve their crunch.

Pile it on an artisan bun, and I'd put it up against any chicken salad on the west side.

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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Head to NYC for Good BBQ? You'd Better Believe It

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 7:48 AM

Ordinarily, I wouldn't imagine suggesting to you Bitesters that you should drive to New York City to find some great barbecue. I know, you're probably running that Pace Picante Sauce commercial in your head: "NEW YORK CITY?!"

But the truth is that for one weekend in June, Manhattan is the center of the barbecue universe. The 10th annual Big Apple BBQ Block Party will draw over 100,000 visitors to Madison Square Park to enjoy the wares of 18 of the country's best pitmasters, including four from New York City. Admission is free for the event, which runs June 9 and 10, and plates of 'cue from the vendors will run about $8. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait in line with thousands of Yankees to buy those plates, so eaters in the know invest the $125 to buy a FastPass.

The FastPass entitles you and a friend to cut to the front of the teeming masses and pick up your samples from all the vendors in a special express line. You'll also receive $100 toward food, beverage and merchandise, so it's really only $25 to pig out like a rock star.

Since it's the 10th edition of the block party, they're pulling out all the stops this year. The Southern Foodways Alliance will be shooting one of their excellent food documentaries profiling the pitmasters who have attended all 10. I've also heard a rumor that there might even be an air-conditioned trailer where attendees can screen some of Joe York's previous barbecue films. On a hot June day surrounded by all those people, that might be an excellent respite from the claustroporkaphobia.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Barbecue Worth Driving For: Two Purple Pigs

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 at 2:50 PM

We Nashvillagers are used to taking a drive for our barbecue favorites. Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint in Nolensville can seem like a hundred miles away when you're jonesing for some whole hog. Though, in truth, it's only about 15 miles and 20 minutes from the Scene offices.

So if you're already willing to drive, or you find yourself heading southeast on I-24 on your way to Bonnaroo, Monteagle, Chattanooga or the Atlanta-area Ikea, consider making a detour to visit Two Purple Pigs Barbecue in Manchester, Tenn. Heck, it's not even really a detour, since the restaurant is located about 100 yards off the interstate at Exit 110. There's even a billboard right before the exit to remind you to hit the brakes.

Affable owner Bob George is liable to meet you at the door. He's a native Tullahoman, but learned how to cook in the army and how to cook barbecue, specifically, while living in Memphis. Tell him if it's your first visit, and he'll offer what he gives to all newbies: a free sampler platter of his pulled pork, brisket, smoked ham, potato salad, baked beans and coleslaw. George is not about losing money; after sampling, he's convinced you'll buy. "I guarantee we've got something you like. We just need to find it."

All the side dishes, sauces, salad dressings and even the ranch dip for the chicken wings are made in house. When I asked if the ranch dressing came in a jar, George proudly averred, "It comes in several jars. I mix them together to make it special." And he's not lying.

The coleslaw is mild and not overly creamy, with just a touch of dill. George calls it his "redneck wine" since it's an excellent palate cleanser between bites. The mustardy potato salad was also quite tasty, with a nice light consistency. The baked beans obviously came from a can, but they also benefited from the kitchen's tinkering with the addition of some extra brown sugar to add some sweetness.

But enough about the sides, how's the meat? Quite good, actually. Two Purple Pigs manages to get quite a variety of meats out of their custom smoker behind the restaurant. With his use of a combination of cooking methods to ensure meats with different cooking times manage to arrive hot and fresh on your plate, it's obvious that George has learned a lot in his almost two years of operation.

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Monday, March 19, 2012

First Bite: Papa Turney's Old Fashioned Hickory Smoked BBQ

Posted By on Mon, Mar 19, 2012 at 6:05 AM

When Mike Turney first opened his barbecue business back in 2009, it was little more than a trailer with a smoker behind it parked next to a gas station on Old Hickory Boulevard in Hermitage. His hours were long on the days he was open, but irregular. Lucky diners who found the smoker smoking and the window open at the front of the trailer were rewarded with some of the best barbecue on the east side of town.

You may recognize Papa Turneys's last name from Mama Turney's Pies, a side business that grew out of success of the pies that Turney was selling out of his restaurant's previous location in Whites Creek. A true entrepreneur, Turney has grown the pie company into a million-dollar business supplying stores such as Kroger, Publix, Piggly Wiggly and convenience stores, as well as Robert Orr Sysco and several restaurants like Swett's and Jack's Bar-B-Que.

Papa Turney now spends Thursday through Saturday behind the counter of his new restaurant location at the back of the parking lot where his smoker is still located. The small dining room is next to Shooter's Sports Bar and Grill at 5835 Old Hickory Blvd. With only a few tables available for dining in, Turney is not afraid to juggle a few seats around to accommodate larger parties. Still, much of his business is carry-out, and it's good to call ahead to see what specials are coming off the grill that day and to get your order in before he runs out.

The specials are what really makes Papa Turney's stand out. A whole lot of interesting things percolate in that smoker all day long, limited only by Turney's imagination. The expected pulled pork, ribs and brisket are especially smoky and benefit greatly from the house-made sauces, especially the hot version and the "hottest" sauce that Turney keeps behind the counter for special masochistic requests. Because the meats spend so much time in the smoker soaking up that hickory flavor, the ribs and brisket literally fell apart under our attacking forks. Some diners at the table really loved the tenderness, but I personally like a little more fight in my meat.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

First Bite: Stone House Q

Posted By on Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 7:59 AM

Last month Dana told you about the impending opening of Stone House Q at the corner of 54th Avenue and Charlotte. The venture is a partnership between longtime restaurant veterans Buck Hussung and Scott Moskovitz. Now that it's been open a few weeks, I figured it would be a good time to drop in and check out the scene.

The owners have done a wonderful job fixing up a flood-damaged home into a very attractive dining space. The walls are covered with Hatch Show Prints that venerate everything porkalicious, and there is some sort of a garage/racing theme that manifests itself in the form of the bright red rotisserie smoker and a clever rolling toolbox stocked with napkins, plasticware and condiments. Outside, they have constructed a huge deck that will likely prove popular once the weather warms up a little bit.

Lunch combos are available in the $9 to $12 range and include one side and a drink along with a pork, chicken, smoked link sandwich or a hamburger. Plates cost a couple bucks more and include two sides. Both St. Louis and Baby Back Ribs (when available) can be ordered as plates.

Orders are placed at a counter, and my service was efficient and friendly. My one disappointment was that they did not have any baby back ribs ready when I arrived at 11:45. The staff was apologetic, but I was sorry to miss the ribs since I'd heard good things about them.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival Returns to Nashville

Posted By on Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 8:19 AM

This Saturday, Nov. 5, could literally be the greatest day ever for some Nashvillians. If you're an SEC college football fan, odds are that you've had this date circled on your calendar for a long time, as No. 1-ranked LSU butts heads against No. 2 Alabama in what basically amounts to the SEC (and probable national) championship game. Regardless of whether your blood runs Crimson or your bumper sticker says "Geaux Tigers," there is no better way to prepare yourself for this game than by filling up with beer, bourbon and barbecue.

In a serendipitous event that most probably was not planned, Saturday is also the date of the annual Beer, Bourbon and BBQ Festival at Municipal Auditorium. Although the VIP tickets have already sold out, regular tickets are still available for the regular session from 2 to 6 p.m. The VIPs who jumped early on the tickets will have a two hour head start on you, but there should be plenty of pork and beverages for everyone.

Over 60 beers and 40 bourbons will be available for tasting, and several pitmasters are bringing the hogs to soak up all those delicious "samples." Pace yourself, people. Nobody likes a fan who's sloppy before the game even starts.

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