The 2018 Meat Sweats Tour: Few Things Finer Than Carolina (and Barbecue)

As the first two plates of chopped and sliced pork were placed on the table in front of us, accompanied by sides of Ore-Ida-looking French fries and an entire basket of hush puppies, my first thought was, “I hope I can handle a whole week of Carolina barbecue.”

My son Nick and I were at Lexington Barbecue in Lexington, North Carolina, the first stop on one of our somewhat annual barbecue tours. Our first trip, the Barrage of Brisket Tour back in 2013, took us to the Austin area, where we made five stops. The next tour was 2015’s Madness in Memphis , where we hit six barbecue places (and one fried chicken joint).  In 2016, it was Kicking It in Kansas, for seven stops.

That last name is pretty damn awful, and I admit I’m retroactively naming some of these because I dubbed this year’s trip The Meat Sweats Tour.

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Barbecue Trials: No. 1

After receiving a charcoal basket and two new digital thermometers, I’d finally reached the breaking point. I’d intended to wait until the convection plate I’d ordered arrived, but I couldn’t take it any longer. Yesterday, I fired up the smoker.

Initially, I’d planned to just throw charcoal and chips into the fire box and get a feel for how the basket affected things, learn the heat zones and heat differentials. While in the grocery store yesterday morning, I told myself if I could find a cheap, trimmed brisket, I’d toss that on, as I also wanted to experiment with temps higher than 250 and try out the so-called Texas Crutch. But no luck on the brisket. So I picked up a 5.6 pound piece of pork shoulder.
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