This was one of those wild weekends. I hit the road right from work rather than backtrack and went to the North Carolina barbecue championship sponsored by the NC Pork Council. It was in Mount Airy, NC which is about an hour and half from work and little further from home. This was Mayberry Days weekend, and the state barbecue cook off was sheduled for the little mountain town for 2010.
With papers to grade and articles to write plus covering a big barbecue event, I stayed until around midnight but headed on home. I thought about getting a hotel room but figured they were full on Mayberry Days weekend and also wasn't so keen on getting up at 5 a.m. or so to "purty up" to get back to the barbecue lot.
As luck would have it, I met Fred Parker on Friday night. He's from the area, and he sent me photos of the morning after the early morning judging took place. Gotta love locals who help a girl out. Thanks Fred!
Now this is one pretty smoked pig if I must say so myself, and since I didn't smoke it, then I can. I can't speak to the taste, but I can sure picture eating this one. Yum!
North Carolina barbecue is chopped, so that's another big job on top of the all night smoking. If you get slow smoked NC barbecue, you are getting a labor of love. No one would do all that work if they did not really care about old fashioned slow barbecue smoking.
The pitmasters work with crews. It would be close to impossible to smoke whole hog without some help. Each pig in this contest ran a little over 120 pounds. I do pork shoulders and butts myself (Lexington style barbecue), because I frankly can't lift a whole pig and don't need that much meat smoked up at once usually.
Barbecue is not just a guys' game, although the bulk of the pitmasters are male. Good guys they are! But, many of the teams have female partners, and the winner this year for the 2010 North Carolina barbecue championship title was the lone female pitmaster - Carla Sweet. That's not her in the photo above, but I have an earlier post about Carla taking the NC BBQ champ title.
Here is some North Carolina chopped barbecue. Actually this is an early chop. They keep working the meat with knives until it's cut fine. This is not pulled pork country. It's chopped barbecue and usually served on a white bread bun with slaw and vinegar based barbecue sauce. It's unique to North Carolina, and if you ever visit the state, you ought to check it out. It's quite different from barbecue in other parts of the country, and it's really yummy.