Locally Sourced Barbecue
The centerpiece for New Year’s celebrations
By Ray Linville » Photos by John Patota
Getting ready to celebrate the New Year? Time to source the ‘cue to go along with the collards, black-eyed peas, cornbread and hush puppies. Pork has long been a symbol of progress and prosperity in the new year, not only because it’s good eating but because historically the way pigs were observed rooting for food in the dirt with their snouts in a forward motion became emblematic of not looking backwards in life but towards the future.
Southerners have long served barbecue on New Year’s because it’s yet another reason to serve this celebrated style of cooking pork that seems to be an elixir for making any atmosphere feel festive yet with a lingering, casual vibe. Slow-cooking pork dates back to the shores of the Caribbean in the 1500s when Christopher Columbus abandoned his ship’s wheel to cook the meat over green wood, which his exploration crew dubbed “barbacoa”, the derivative of the word barbecue. Centuries later barbecue is an iconic comfort food with many distinct styles all across the United States, with North Carolina boasting two distinct approaches, Eastern-style and Lexington-style (sometimes referred to as Piedmont-style). Whatever your preference, enjoy some on New Year’s to get your 2023 off to a prosperous beginning.
Here are a few ideas on who to call when you’re planning to order as much barbecue as your family will want for the
Stubbs & Sons BBQ
stubbsandsonbbq.com | 910-947-4800
You want barbecue for New Year’s? Why not follow our readers who have beaten a well-worn path to Stubbs & Sons since it opened in 2017 in the small white wood-frame building in Carthage once occupied by Two Scoops. The winner in this magazine’s Best of the Best contest in the category of barbecue, Stubbs & Sons is well-known for catering as well as serving large orders of its famous barbecue.
If your guests come hungry, they will go home satisfied if you serve Stubbs. Its eastern N.C. style chopped barbecue is the real deal. Enjoy it with the homemade coleslaw, made fresh every morning, that has a sweet and slightly spicy flavor and adds the perfect taste to the barbecue. Be careful: The delicious, golden-brown, sweet-tasting hushpuppies, made fresh as you order, are addictive.
You’ll be amazed what you can order in bulk besides pounds of barbecue. Try a pint, quart, or gallon of cole slaw, Brunswick stew, collards greens, potato salad, baked beans, or mac ‘n’ cheese. These fixin’s will adorn your dinner table and make every bite of barbecue even better. Make sure that you do order coleslaw because its sweet and slightly spicy flavor adds the perfect taste and texture to the barbecue.
Located in the old Broad Street Bakery in downtown Southern Pines, Embers BBQ has brought in new fans to traditional N.C. barbecue. The birth of a new barbecue restaurant always creates excitement, and this has been the case with Embers for locals and tourists. Anticipation for its opening increased rapidly after it conducted a test run of its smoker last April and announced that it would open in late May, but opening day was delayed two weeks.
For a New Year’s celebration, almost everything on the menu is also available by the pound from barbecue to sides such as slaw, baked beans, and okra. The menu includes just about everything a traditional barbecue fan would want.
Meal packages for families from three to 12 people are other options. Even larger is the tailgating special with three pounds of pulled pork, two racks of spareribs, two large sides of cole slaw, and two large sides of mac ‘n’ cheese.
Don’t worry about having a silver spoon on New Year’s Day. With a motto of “You Don’t Need a Silver Spoon to Eat Good Food,” Embers knows that sometimes the best barbecue is enjoyed with the fingers. Order online (no calls).
pik-n-pig.com | 910-947-7591
Nothing is more impressive than watching small planes land and take off on an active runway next to where you are enjoying hickory-smoked barbecue. When you serve barbecue from Pik-n-Pig, located at Gilliam-McConnell Airport, you can still enthrall your guests with stories of how Santa Claus has landed by plane in Carthage as they savor slowly smoked meat cooked over hot coals in the traditional way. Its pulled pork is smoked for up to 10 hours.
Although fire destroyed this family-run business over a year ago, the spirit of the owners and loyal customers remains unbroken. The rebuilding is almost complete, so get ready for a special reopening. At press time, we cannot confirm that online ordering will be available for the holidays. However, we (and Santa Claus) remain hopeful.
Even though Pik-n-Pig was closed during this magazine’s Best of the Best contest, it still won in the category of family restaurant, which shows how the dedication of its fan base. That base incidentally has grown across the state because Pik-n-Pig had a rousing performance at the N.C. State Fair just a few weeks ago.
When Pik-n-Pig does return to keep us happy, we expect all regular menu items, including pulled pork and brisket, to be on the takeout menu with whole racks of ribs. The Pig-Pen Special of one pound of pork, one pint of slaw, and one pint of baked beans with four buns or corn muffins is a guaranteed winner. The meat is served naturally moist, but you can enhance the flavor with a homemade hot-spicy (vinegar-based) sauce or a sweet honey sauce (that is tomato-based).
Pinehurst Brewing Co.
pinehurstbrewing.com | 910-235-8218
The smokehouse at Pinehurst Brewing Co. serves up pulled pork, beef brisket, and ribs along with the chef’s own sides made from scratch. If you want finger-lickin’ barbecue to start the New Year, the brewery can fill your order.
Don’t be disheartened by its website that indicates it does not offer takeout. Manager Matt Holt confirms, “We do sell protein by the pound and sides by the quarter (meaning a quantity of four) … with at least a day’s notice.”
The pulled pork shoulder, Texas-style beef brisket, and railroad ribs are exceptional with one of the signature barbecue sauces: Eastern N.C., blueberry habanero, IPA beer mustard, or hickory house. The meats are smoked on site with high-quality local oak and hickory wood.
roastnc.com | 910-725-7026
Although Roast may be better known for sandwiches and soups, its barbecue can be ordered by the pound for family gatherings.
The cherry-smoked pulled pork shoulder comes with spicey caramelized bark. Consider one of the sauces: Eastern Carolina vinegar, sweet morello black cherry, or smokey hot chipotle. Add a side of maple apple slaw as a perfect complement.
Another option is its steakhouse black Angus brisket with A1 horseradish crema. Roasted red peppers and pepperoncini can also be ordered as sides.
Of course, chains such as Dickey’s and Smithfield’s are also available.
And don’t forget to order dessert: Banana pudding, apple pie, and pig pickin’ cake are always crowd favorites.
Yes, for the poultry fans, smoked chicken can also usually be ordered, but pork barbecue, ribs, and brisket are much more noteworthy ways to start the New Year.
Fair warning: Don’t expect any place to fill your order on short notice. For each one, call well in advance.