October 11, 2003

Varmint's 1st Annual Pig Pickin'
Raleigh, NC

An eGullet Event

Photos by Varmint & Moi
Click on thumbnails to see the full sized picture

Moving a smokey log from the pig smoker to the burn barrel, where it is reduced to coals to be shovelled back into pit
Pig Pickin "American Gothic" with Guajolote and Maggiethecat
Mummer livens up the night
5:00am - I love the smell of Pig in the morning!
Pits smoking a way early in the morning
9:00am - Varmint (On Right) shows great concentration when flipping pig...
BBQ Implements of Destruction
The Hushpuppy Station with Malawry and Weka (Note "Deluxe" Porta John in the background)
HungryChris and madams77 from Connecticut interviewed by Susan Houston from the Raleigh News & Observer. (Read her Entire Article on the event Here)
Chipotle Marinated Grilled Portabellas
Smoked Spatchcocked* Chicken on the Left, and Lexington style North Carolina barbecue on the Right
Pigpickin' Mascots tasked with guarding the Bourbon. Their mission ultimately fails miserably
Photo evidence of failure to protect bourbon (Lady wearing scarf is tarka, who travelled from England for the BBQ)
Mummer and Al_Dente jammin'
Bro Rich takes a break after a late night of secondhand smoke
The Dessert Table
Pre-eGulleteer faces the consequences of breaking the law (of gravity)
tommy is present in spirit...
Varmint takes a breather late Saturday night

NOUN: A dressed and split chicken for roasting or broiling on a spit.
TRANSITIVE VERB: Inflected forms: spatch·cocked, spatch·cock·ing, spatch·cocks
1. To prepare (a dressed chicken) for grilling by splitting open.

Here is a summary of the type of hog that was featured at this Pig Pickin'. Twas not your standard Oinker!

This was posted by our host, Dean McCord, AKA "Varmint."


I want to bring up the type of pork we were eating. Much of this information comes from a March 12, 2003 article in the Raleigh News and Observer, written by Susan Houston. Ms. Houston led me to the Niman Ranch pig farmer, from whom I purchased the pig.

A professor from North Carolina A&T in Greensboro wanted to help small farmers of North Carolina, particularly those who had lost their tobacco allotments. Using money from the Golden Leaf settlement and inspired by an article in Ed Behr's "The Art of Eating", this professor, Chuck Talbott, contacted a Niman Ranch official and initiated a pilot program for farmers to raise Niman Ranch hogs. In the 90s, NC pig farmers were receiving 10 cents a pound for their hogs. This means that I would have had to pay $20 for the 200 pound pig used in the pig pickin'. Niman Ranch, on the other hand, pays at least 40 cents a pound.

Mr. Wade Cole lives in rural North Carolina and had been raising soybeans, corn and other produce after he stopped growing tobacco. He previously raised hogs, but got out of that business when the market bottomed out. He received 12 Niman Ranch sows and 2 boars. He has plenty more, now. These animals are free range, fed a Niman Ranch-prescribed diet, and are treated humanely (they get to keep their tails)!

Up until last week, Wade Cole had never had the chance to eat one of these pigs. His first chance came several days before I picked up our pig. Ed Mitchell, the famed barbecue master of Wilson, North Carolina, had cooked up one of Mr. Cole's pigs. Mr. Mitchell's reputation is national, having been featured in an episode of Tony Bourdain's Food Network show as well as a thread on eGullet:
Big Apple Barbecue Block Party.

When finalizing the logistics of picking up the pig, Mr. Cole started getting a bit inquisitive regarding how I was going to cook it. He asked when I was going to start it and when I expected it to be done. There was then silence at his end of the line, followed, by a quiet, halting question: "Would you mind if I came to your pig pickin'." Of course, I told him I'd be honored for him to come.

Well, he arrived with his lovely lady Margaret early enough sample a rib. Then some unseasoned pork. He nibbled on the tail. He then sampled the chopped pork. Then some crunchy skin ("pork brittle"). Finally, he tried some chopped pork with cracklins and skin mixed in, along with the sauce. He walked away grinning ear to ear.

About half an hour later, after my frantic chopping had slowed down, he came back to chat with me. He said, "Dean, I've eaten a lot of pig in my life. I had one of my pigs cooked by Ed Mitchell himself. But I've never had any barbecue taste nearly as good as this, and I thank you for letting me come today." The man's eyes were almost filled with tears, and mine are certainly that way just thinking about that moment. There are a lot of great people in this world, and I am proud to have met and to have fed as decent a man as Mr. Wade Cole.

DM McCord Coordinator for eGullet Southeast Forum


Wade Cole, Raiser of pig, and his friend Margaret.

The entire eGullet thread concerning this event, incluting lots more photos and commentary can be found Here. Bear in mind that it started in mid-May 03, and folks have been yammering about it non stop since then, so it's very Looooooonnnng!
=Mark's Place
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