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A celebration of the history and tradition of whole-hog barbeque from the “most famous” pitmaster in North Carolina
Ed Mitchell’s journey in the barbeque business began in 1991 with a lunch for his mama, who was grieving the loss of Ed’s father. Ed drove to the nearby Piggly Wiggly to buy a thirty-five-pound pig—that’s a small one—and fired up the coals. As smoke filled the air and the pork skin started to crackle, the few customers at the family bodega started to inquire about lunch and what smelled so good. More than thirty years later, Ed is known simply as “The Pitmaster” in barbeque circles and is widely considered one of the best at what he does.
In his first cookbook, a collaboration with his son, Ryan, and written with Zella Palmer, Ed explores the tradition of whole-hog barbeque that has made him famous. It’s a method passed down through generations over the course of 125 years and hearkens back even further than that, to his ancestors who were plantation sharecroppers and, before that, enslaved. Ed is one of the few remaining pitmasters to keep this barbeque tradition alive, and in Ed Mitchell’s BBQ, he will share his methods for the first time and fill in the unwritten chapters of the rich and complex history of North Carolina whole-hog barbeque.
From cracklin to hush puppies, fried green tomatoes to deviled eggs, okra poppers, skillet cornbread, potato salad, and pickled pigs’ feet, Ed Mitchell’s BBQ is filled with delicious and essential recipes honed over decades. And, of course, there is the barbeque—mouth-watering baby back ribs, smoked pork chops, backyard brisket, and barbequed chicken—all paired with lively and warmly told stories from the Mitchell family. Ed Mitchell’s BBQ is rich with the history of Wilson, North Carolina, and yet promises to bring barbeque to the next level.