SC BBQ Newsletter from Destination BBQ
Hey <<First Name>>
On the heels of Father’s Day, let me wish all dads (and those with dads) best wishes and as we turn our attention from one grill-focused holiday to the next in early July, I hope you have been enjoying the time with family that the summer months tend to foster.
In addition, I hope that your efforts in the smoke this summer see you learning and improving your tried-and-true recipes and stretching out to try new ones.
Yesterday was also Juneteenth, a national holiday “commemorating emancipation of enslaved African Americans. It is also often observed for celebrating African-American culture,” per Wikipedia.
In respect for that history and at the bidding of Dr. Howard Conyers, I previously published a look at African American contributions to the development of barbecue, an interesting read.
For me, work continues earnestly on the next edition of our SCBBQ cookbook, but there’s still a long way to go. The thing that has taken so long — beyond simply not working on it for long stretches — is the sheer volume of recipes that I have to write intros for.
If it’s not obvious already, I have difficulty with conciseness, a bad trait for a former English teacher. So, I find myself generally writing a story or a history (or both) for each recipe when I am able.
I’ll confess on the fourth or fifth or sixth mac and cheese recipe (yes, there are six different ones currently) it becomes a bit of a challenge. Fortunately, almost all the recipes in the book come with a story to tell, even if I have to search for them.
But it takes time. Take a look at the current table of contents and you’ll see why:
At the moment, I find myself on page 211 of about 260 pages of recipes. So, about 50 or so more intros to write and this stage of the process will be complete. Of course, other stages will follow, but “I think” this will be my biggest hurdle.
Anyway, in this issue of the newsletter, I have what is literally a hot pick for your monthly product recommendation, we learn about some little pigs and a couple of things that were created in SC, see what a few brothers think of two SCBBQ joints, and shine a spotlight on an SCBBQ treasure in New Ellenton.
PS: <<First Name>>, if you’re reading this and see your name beside the word Hey above and beside the PS here, doesn’t it make the email a bit friendlier?
If you don’t see it, you can the next time. Just update your info by clicking here.
Time to feature a “scroll-stopping” image. How about this one from Swig & Swine in Charleston?
This is what “Burger Night” looks like. Horrifying indeed…
By popular request, I will highlight tools or other items worthy of your attention. These products are featured either because I have used them personally or trust those who recommended them.
All of the items recommended here will be added to our Recommended Products page, which will build into a nice library of products over time.
I have to confess that I have never used this product. I am a charcoal chimney guy, as you may recall from previous newsletters.
I do, however, trust and rely on recommendations from the folks at Amazing Ribs, one of the best BBQ sites online. They give this fire starter their Gold rating, the second-highest of all their ratings below Platinum.
On Amazon, the HomeRight Charcoal Starter has over 2000 reviews, averaging 4.5 stars. About 75% of those ratings are 5 stars, for what that’s worth.
Here’s what the product reviewer at Amazing Ribs had to say:
“The HomeRight ElectroLight Fire Starter gets your charcoal, fireplace, or wood stove ignited and ready to use quickly. Up to 1300ºF of hot air lights a piece of wood or a pile of charcoal in about two minutes, and the blower stokes the fire until it’s blazing how you want it. It runs on a standard 120v plug and is reasonably priced. I like that when the unit gets dangerously hot, it will not re-start until it’s safe to do so.”
—Little Pig, Little Pig
From the Upstate to the coast, if you’re a South Carolina resident, odds are that you have seen or enjoyed a Little Pigs BBQ.
Little Pigs, in fact, has a long and interesting history.
Robert Moss, in his book Barbecue: The History of an American Institution, provided a bit of background on the SC staple that began as a Memphis franchise:
The Little Pigs barbecue restaurants in Columbia, Greenville, and Asheville are remnants of the old Little Pigs of America, which sought to be an American barbecue empire. In the early 1960s, the Memphis-based company began selling franchises for barbecue restaurants nationwide.
For a $6,000 up-front investment, Little Pigs promised franchisees a net return of $18,000 per year with no prior barbecue experience required. The company trained franchisees at their Memphis headquarters and helped them engineer the brick pits for their restaurants. A typical Little Pigs of America franchise sold a pork basket for 59 cents, a pork plate for 69 cents, and a rib platter for $1.59.
The company announced a bold goal of opening 1,000 total restaurants, and by 1965 some 200 units had opened in the United States and Canada. Despite its rapid initial growth, the company turned a profit in only one year, 1963, and it filed for bankruptcy before the end of the decade, ending the brief run of what was America’s largest barbecue chain.
Many individual franchisees kept the Little Pigs name on their restaurants long after the parent company was but a faint memory.
Several of those restaurants remain in the Palmetto State. As we learn in an interview with Jason Rogers of Little Pigs BBQ in Surfside.
WMBF News broadcast a segment with Rogers where he touched on that history and gets into their sauces and how they cook their BBQ. Worth a watch.
Hot ‘n Fast
— SC Creations — Newsbreak writer Abby Joseph’s “2 Classic South Carolina Creations” is admittedly your standard clickbait, but it’s always good to see the Palmetto State get a bit of good press, however self-serving.
You can probably guess one of the two since you’re reading this newsletter, but what might the other one be? Hash seems like a good guess, but since Abby hails from the Sunshine State, she’s probably not picking that option. A hint: it’s something a Lowcountry town stakes its claim on.
— New and Old-School — The Barbecue Bros (generally) cover North Carolina BBQ, but they have been known to step outside the borders of the Tarheel State. Charleston has become a popular destination for them.
On a recent trip to the Holy City, they reported on two SCBBQ joints they visited. The first was a new place earning lots of praise locally, and one I have yet to get on our SCBBQ Trail Map.
Palmira BBQ (instagram), named after owner Hector Garate’s grandmother, opened in the Port of Call Food + Brew Hall downtown. “Palmira offers smoked whole hog every day of the week and on the weekends expands its menu to include some combination of beef cheeks, brisket, beef barbacoa, and house-made sausage. The approach is ‘farm-to-pit,’” writes Monk.
Next, they went old-school and dropped in on Dukes Bar-B-Q on Chestnut St. in Orangeburg. These NC boys are still learning a thing or two about the way things are done in the other Carolina, but I appreciate the effort. “New school is something Dukes definitely is not,” Monk wrote in his review, “but that's a feature, not a bug. Sitting four miles off I-26 in Orangeburg, check out Dukes Bar-B-Q for a classic, old-school South Carolina barbecue experience.”
The Smoke Ring
In each edition, we’ll metaphorically spin the SCBBQ globe and randomly select an SC BBQ joint to spotlight.
This time, the globe stopped spinning on Carolina Bar-B-Que in New Ellenton.
“Carolina Bar-B-Que: a legend and simply one of South Carolina’s best and most well-respected BBQ restaurants. That is why it has been in business for over half a century.”
“Heck, even The Washington Post listed Carolina Bar-B-Que among its group of “South Carolina’s Best Barbecue” restaurants. If The Washington Post is writing about you, there must be a pretty good reason.”
Goin’ Whole Hog Cookbook
Our SC BBQ Cookbook gathers together recipes for sauces, meats, hash, and more from today’s top pitmasters and from generations-old family traditions.