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World BBQ Tour

Houston “Where the Chefs Eat” Culinary Tours are offered by the Houston Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

Sunday, February 26, 2012: World BBQ with Chef Chris Shepherd and Robb Walsh

Underbelly’s Chef Chris Shepherd and Cookbook Author Robb Walsh team up to showcase the best—and culturally-inspired—BBQ Houston has to offer. Of course you’d expect a stop at a Houston barbecue joint for some East Texas style pork ribs and sliced brisket with barbecue sauce and all the pickles, onions and condiments to make savory sandwiches.

But have you tried the magnificent smoked duck and whole roasted pork with crunchy skin that found in the Chinese BBQ cases at stores and restaurants in Chinatown?

And when’s the last time you had Korean BBQ, the grilled bulgogi and short ribs lovingly prepared at hole-in-the-wall Korean restaurants?

There’s also Mexican-style lamb barbacoa and cabrito al pastor cooked in an indoor pit at a Mexican BBQ joint.

Click here for tickets or more info.

UPDATE: Event Cancelled Due to Weather

Sorry! If the Black Cowboy BBQ Cook-Off gets rescheduled, we’ll let you know!

Pride & Joy: SFA’s New Movie

The Southern Foodways Alliance filmmaker, Joe York,  has been working on a big project for the last few years. The feature length project formerly titled “Southern Food, The Movie” and now called “Pride & Joy” is nearing release. Looks like its going to be shown first on Public Television stations across the South. Here’s a teaser:

PRIDE & JOY: A Southern Foodways Alliance Film Project from Southern Foodways on Vimeo.

East Carolina: Wilber’s Barbecue

At Wilber’s Barbecue in Goldsboro, North Carolina they cook whole hogs over wood coals in the pit house out back behind the restaurant. The pit house actually has a built-in fireplace, but it is no longer used. “It feels like 400 degrees in there with all the pits cooking and the fireplace burning,” Wilber Shirley told me. So we just started burning the wood down outside in this hole in the ground.

I noticed that some of the wood on the fire was hissing and I realized it was green wood. Using green wood is a major mistake in Texas barbecue since you are cooking with the wood smoke. Green wood imparts a nasty flavor and some Texas barbecue men say it will make people sick. I asked the pit man at Wilber’s about it. “Green wood, seasoned wood, it doesn’t matter when you are burning it down to coals before you cook with it. In fact, some folks think green wood coals burn better,” he said.

“Excuse me,” I told him, “I am learning on the job.”

The place was called Hill’s Barbecue when it opened in 1962. “Fred Hill was an older man when he built the place. It was going to be his retirement hobby, but then he had a heart attack before it opened and he never got a chance to run it.  I bought it from him with a partner,” Wilber Shirley remembers. Shirley and his partner called it the Hwy. 70 Barbecue, when it reopened on July 24th 1962. Within the year, the partner sold out and the name was changed to Wilber’s Barbecue.

Pig Pickin’

Despite my advice to the contrary, my daughter Katie has been pursuing food writing as a career track lately. As much as I wish she would find something better to do for a living, I am very proud of her efforts. Here’s a recent blog post from her regular gig at Whisked Foodie:

A Happy Birthday Pig Pickin’ Party
by Katie Walsh | Jan 6, 2012

I was at my dad’s house in Houston last weekend to celebrate his birthday when he told me to come outside and bring my camera. I was intrigued.

He lifted the lid of his smoker to reveal two big ol’ hunks of beautifully barbecued meat, a whole pork shoulder, and a ham, which he’d had cooking low and slow for 26 hours.

It came off the heat and onto the cutting board, where he pulled back the skin and separated the fat from the crispy edges from the tender, fatty midlands, all of which got pulled apart and thrown into a big bowl. We all gathered round and pitched in for a regular pig pickin’ party.

My sister Julia and Joey, her chef-in-training boyfriend, took a little video reel as Dad demonstrated the process and chatted a little about his strategy. He explained that he’d picked those two cuts of pork to bring in the flavors and textures of meat from all over the animal, giving his pulled pork a whole hog taste without having to actually fuss with one.

read more Pig Pickin’ »

BBQ Products: B&B Charcoal

I learned about B&B Charcoal from the old-timers at the Washington Lodge of the Sons of Hermann. These guys have been barbecueing on an open pit since the 1950s and their lodge has been holding barbecues since the late 1800s, so maybe they know a thing or two.

The modern Texas barbecue smoker burns hardwood and imparts a strong smoky flavor to the meat. Old-fashioned Southern barbecue is cooked over coals and doesn’t have much of smoky taste. In the old days, barbecuers burned seasoned hardwood in a fireplace and shoveled the hot coals into the barbecue pit. But for the last 20 years or so, the barbecue crew at the Sons of Hermann Lodge in Washington has been starting their fire with lump charcoal. “But you can’t use just any charcoal,” veteran BBQ man Bubba Roese confided.

B&B Charcoal company in Weimar sells lump charcoal made from oak and brags that their curing method removes acid and resins that cause inferior charcoal to impart bad flavors to the meat. I found B&B Lump Oak Charcoal at my local HEB grocery store in Houston. You can call them at 1-855-BBQCOAL to find out where to buy their charcoal near you.

Barbecue Time Machine

At dawn on the morning of Sunday October 16, I drove into the parking lot of the Washington Lodge of the Sons of Hermann. As I described in an earlier post, a handful of old fraternal organizations in this part of Texas have preserved the pit barbecue style that was once common all across the South. This Sons of Hermann Lodge was established in 1898 and the members claim that their barbecue tradition goes back that far too.
read more Barbecue Time Machine »

Texas BBQ Pork: The Brown Pig

The “Brown Beef” (top), “Brown Pig” (center) and “Little Pig Ham” (bottom) are the three most popular sandwiches at Neely’s Sandwich Shop on East Grand Avenue in Marshall, Texas. The first is made with chopped barbecued brisket and sells for $2.85, the last is made with sliced barbecued ham and sells for $3.25. But the $2.85 chopped barbecued pork sandwich outsells both of the other two by a wide margin–it’s become so iconic that most people mistakenly call the restaurant “Neely’s Brown Pig.”
read more Texas BBQ Pork: The Brown Pig »

2012 Foodways Texas BBQ Summer Camp

Foodways Texas announces BBQ Summer Camp dates and details:
From Foodways Texas: “Mark your calendars for June 8-10, 2012, for the Foodways Texas Barbecue Summer Camp held in partnership with the Texas A&M University Meat Science Center in College Station, Texas. Tickets for the camp will go on sale sometime in November and we hope to announce a preliminary schedule of panels, pitmasters and events at that time. We will also expand the camp slightly to include a full day Friday and Saturday, as well as a half-day on Sunday. We expect you’ll be covered in at least four different types of wood smoke and have brine stains all over your clothes by the time you leave.

If hanging around in meat lockers sounds like fun...

Last summer’s camp was a huge success so we anticipate high demand for a limited amount of tickets. We allow Foodways Texas members to buy tickets at a discounted rate for two weeks before we open up sales to the general public, so we suggest you become a member September 1st, when we open up 2012 membership in order to secure the best chance to attend. If you have questions regarding the camp please address them to our director, Marvin Bendele, at or call our office at 512-232-8560.”

BBQ Road Trip: Going Whole Hog

BBQ Capital of the World?

After defeating South Carolina in a barbecue contest held in Washington DC back in the 1980s, Skylight Inn declared that tiny Ayden NC was the Barbecue Capital of the World.
read more BBQ Road Trip: Going Whole Hog »