Wine & Food

Snooth User: Mike Madaio

Carolina BBQ

Original post by Mike Madaio, Jun 1, 2012.

It's that time of year. Beer is probably the best bet, but I'm wondering what wine others like to drink with Carolina-style pulled pork and/or ribs.


Reply by GregT, Jun 29, 2012.

You covered the fire itself loosely with metal?  Interesting.

So I was just going to fire up the grill for a piece of salmon and I opened a new bag of charcoal someone brought over one day. 


Damn! I suppose for many people they're fine but they don't burn hot enough, they're full of binders and glue, and they're hard to start, at least the way I start them which is with a blowtorch.

Pickles are a personal thing - I like them in my chicken salad for example, but my wife hates them. I'm more curious about your sauce - you made it or is it Open Pit?

Reply by EMark, Jun 29, 2012.

Y'know, I'd noticed the sauce, also.  Is that really NC?

Reply by D9sus4, Jul 1, 2012.

GregT, Stubb's Charcoal briquettes are 95% hardwood, 5% vegetable binder. I just grilled a fresh caught Copper River Salmon over some this weekend and they were very  hot. I waited 40 minutes for them to settle down to a nice glow, but I still had to reduce my cooktime a bit. Stubb's  is a well respected BBQ establishment in Austin, TX where I grew up, so I can guarantee they're the real deal.

As for my choice of wine to drink with BBQ, either a hearty Zin or Syrah with red meats. An unoaked Chardonnay or Grenache Blanc, or a good sparkling Brut like Sigura Viudas with poultry or seafood.

Reply by AdamJefferson, Jul 2, 2012.

EMark, you caught me on the sauce too; not authentic Carolina style.  It is bottled in connection with the Kansas City restaurant of Gates and Sons BBQ.  It is more viscous than a Carolina sauce (i.e., it dosn't drain into the meat immediately), but not at all sweet and has the punch of celery seed added to it.  Try some; it should be available in a supermarket somewhere nearby if you live in the US. 

As for the briquettes, D9, if you've found a brand of briquettes and a method that works for you I'm not suggesting change.  I've just never had the success with briquettes that I have with lump.  I suspect letting the coals go as long as you did also has something to do with it because the fire is ready and you've burned off some of the binding materials.           

Reply by EMark, Jul 2, 2012.

Adam, thanks for the tip on the sauce.  I generally avoid all the KC/Texas style BBQ sauces because I do not enjoy the sweetness.  I'll look for Gates and Sons.

Reply by D9sus4, Jul 3, 2012.

AdamJeff,  I only use the briquettes for grilling, not for smoking, so I have no need for a sustained burn. I mentioned the briquettes only for GregT's benefit, not because I think they are better than lump. I prefer briquettes for grilling because they are ready to use sooner than lump.

When I slow smoke meats (Texas style BBQ), I use real wood logs that are burned in a separate chamber from the meat. Only smoke and minimal heat (200-250 Deg.) pass through the meat chamber for 6-12 hours depending on the meat.  And I don't use BBQ sauce, strictly dry rubs or marinades before smoking.

Reply by AdamJefferson, Jul 10, 2012.

D9, you have a good set-up.  I don't sauce during the cooking process, just after, if at all, except sometimes with chicken or burgers.  I go a little light on the split hardwood and use lump charcoal because the charcoal starts easier and gets to a ready faster than split wood, and because I prefer a bit lighter of a smoke flavor than I get with 100% wood.  I'm not sure it makes much difference but if the wood isn't properly aged, green smoke produces some overpowering flavors.   

Reply by GregT, Jul 10, 2012.

So D9 - interesting that you say the briquettes are ready to use sooner than lump.  I've tried the Stubbs and those are actually OK. What I have now is a 1/2 bag of Trader Joe, which seem to take forever to light, and Kingsford, which are essentially sawdust and glue and leave a pile of ash.

Best that I've found so far are Cowboy - half the time it's oak flooring - you can still see the tongue and groove, or it's logs, some of which are pretty big.  I start them w a blowtorch and they get going fairly quickly and burn hot - they also burn out fast for that reason but they're still my favorite.  Sounds like you have a nice set up too - did you build it or is it a commercial product? 

Adam - do you grill over the hardwood too or is it just for smoking?

Reply by AdamJefferson, Jul 17, 2012.

GregT, I do my grilling exclusively over lump hardwood charcoal, or if I'm out away from my grilling set-up, over a fire made preferably from split and seasoned hardwood.  I live where there are abundant sawmills which make oak lumber, and the scraps and waste slabs make terrific and really hot burning charcoal fires.  If you like a charred rare steak, get your hands on some of that stuff and burn it down to a heap of embers, with your grill as low above the fire as possible.  Make sure your meat is near room temperature when you begin because you can't leave it on the fire too long per side, and wear some serious gloves. 

Reply by GregT, Jul 17, 2012.

Damn Adam - you're getting on my nerves already.

You live near a sawmill and you can get hardwood scraps?  No wonder you BBQ the way you do!  I have a lot of scrap unfinished oak flooring around - it will get me through the summer and then I don't know what I'm going to do.  I like your plan tho.  Was going to try a BBQ last weekend but we had rain warnings and some storms.  If this weekend is OK, I'll try doing the 6 hour thing.  Will report back.


Reply by jtryka, Jul 18, 2012.

I am absolutely convinced that the best wine for bbq is a nice Zinfandel, and tonight I'm enjoying a 2007 Saviez NV Zin, that is the last vintage as unfortunately I heard the maker was forced to close and the vineyard was auctioned off by the bank last year!

Reply by dmcker, Aug 7, 2012.

Excellent thread. Just catching up on it now.

Adam, I've found a place in Tokyo that sells whole pork shoulders--the first I've encountered in all my years over here. Yet to have the time this summer to do pulled pork, though. Just some slow braises a la provencal, and the like. Lower-maintenance than BBQing and this summer requires low maintenance on most everything.

Greg, how did your BBQ go?

Reply by outthere, Aug 7, 2012.

Welcome back dmcker!


Reply by JonDerry, Aug 7, 2012.

Gotta love the nonchalance.

Reply by GregT, Aug 7, 2012.

So I've been obsessed with this for the past few weekends. 

Did pork ribs, pork spareribs, beef ribs, beef spareribs, some random pieces of meat.  I'm out of town this weekend, but next on the agenda is marinating the pork in some kind of maple syrup concoction and then really slow cooking.  My wife pointed out that the pork ribs tasted like bacon (I used hickory on that batch) so that just seems the next logical move.

Still want to do a brisket.  The problem has been keeping the temperature constant, but things have been turning out pretty well as long as I keep an eye on things.  Sunday I went to the gym and when I came back, the fire had died really low.  Been taking somewhere around 6 hours or so and that was already at four or five, so things weren't hopeless.

Next is going to be just smoking and first on the list is lamb - I used to buy it already smoked but WTH, I can do it.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 8, 2012.

Welcome back, D!

GregT, nice to find someone else who is a fan of Cowboy lump charcoal.  I usually use a mixture of briquets (unfortunately my wife bought Kingsford, which I don't like, esp when you can get decent hardwood briqs at TJs and elsewhere) and lump because the lump is hotter and faster.  Then the briqs kick in and the temp stays evenly hot longer.  I grill, however, not smoke/bbq.  I'm doing more indirect grilling (like chicken legs for my younger daughter) these days and bought a second small Walkabout grill so I could run two fires at a time.  I've also adapted a recipe for doing fingerling potatoes on the grill without any pre-cooking and overcame much skepticism from my wife.

My friends who do smoking/low and slow barbecue wouldn't dream of going to the gym while the meat is cooking.

Late to this thread, but I like the Carmenere idea.  In general, I find it's not something I drink a lot of in summer--it's pretty big and rich IMO--but it would work well with marinated and grilled or 'cued meats for the reasons stated.  And any reason to drink more Carmenere is appreciated by me.

A blowtorch to start your charcoal?  Are we talking the real thing or one of those creme brulee/methamphetamine torches?  That's crazy.  Post a picture of this thing.  I do use welding gloves when grilling because you can pick up hot stuff for a short time with little effect--like the basked the charcoal starts it before I spread it. But I'm not putting on my welding helmet (yes, I have one from my old days) to light a fire.

My big cheat is that we have a Weber Performer, so we use 3 minutes of propane to fire it up, then go all charcoal.

Reply by GregT, Aug 9, 2012.

It's a plumber's propane torch, the kind you use for small scale soldering. Same thing they adopted for use in the kitchen. It takes about as much time as starting with a chimney and I don't have to carry hot coals around.  They stay exactly where they're going to burn.

Interesting comment about the Kingsford - I have a bag of that and a bag of TJ briquettes, both which were given to me and I do exactly what you do - mix it with the hardwood for use while grilling.  It's hard as hell to start on its own and it leaves a mountain of ash. When it's done, I'll not buy any more.  The other stuff is hotter and cleaner. 

I love the idea of doing the potatoes on the grill - don't they dry out or do you cover them somehow?

Reply by Gregory Dal Piaz, Aug 9, 2012.

Is there something other than lump?

I don't think i've used anything other than hardwood or lump charcoal for decades.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Aug 9, 2012.

Okay, that's the torch we mean.  Makes more sense now.  Not really much different from the Weber Performer starter, except I have to spill the briqs.

Here's the deal with the potatoes: I took this recipe and added one tweak:  I put the parchment envelope inside a foil envelope.  You could probably use an aluminum pie plate if you wanted to, either fold it in half or put the parchment into it flat.  The idea is just to keep the parchment from catching fire, although I did actually have that happen at the end one time when I moved the envelope and the foil came undone.  They were still great and the char was actually kind of nice. Any small potato works, but I buy little bags of fingerlings at the farmer's market. Tender and delicious.

GregT, you must know the history of Kingsford as an ex-Michigander.  Henry Ford built a plant to make wooden autobodies there, and started making charcoal as an off-shoot.  (Yes, Ford made Kingsford charcoal.)  Long story short, methane has made its way up out of the ground (hey, this is a great practice run for when the permafrost is all gone next year and all the trapped methane under it come up!) and into groundwater and so on.  Years ago, a neighbor of ours was the Assistant General Counsel for Clorox, which had purchased Kingsford after the damage occurred, but they stayed involved. He told me about it, so that's how I know. Not a reason not to use the charcoal, there are other reasons not to.  Like just not liking it.

GDP, you're no wine snob, but you're a charcoal snob.  Lots of folks use briquets--just pressed wood that is very convenient for some folks.  But there's briqs and there's briqs, IMO--some ain't wood, or ain't much wood.  Good briqs to extend the life of my fire works for me.

Reply by GregT, Aug 9, 2012.

Yeah - I was telling someone else the story of Kingsford recently.  He never knew it.  Actually, they used to build scale models of cars out of wood before going into production, so they could get the design just right and then do the measurements for the production lines.  The people who did that work were extremely skilled woodworkers.  My grandfather was one of them.  He'd apprenticed in Austria as a young guy and was simply phenomenal.  Actually built some furniture for old man Ford too.  Ford himself was a hands-on tinkerer - that's how he came up with the car in the first place. But he liked the guys who could make things.  Then saw all the wasted wood and figured he could make some money out of it.  Voila!  Kingsford.

Methane is something that comes up from landfills and all kinds of places we dump stuff. Rikers Island is built on landfill and they jam poles way down and then light torches on the end to burn off the methane. I wondered why they couldn't power a good part of the jail with the stuff, but apparently there's good methane and  bad methane and this stuff is pretty dirty.  But I'm with Greg about the lump hardwood tho. 

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