Veggie Plate
  • Veggie Plate
Old Rip Van Winkle, courtesy of Julian Van Winkle
  • Old Rip Van Winkle, courtesy of Julian Van Winkle
Pork Platter
  • Pork Platter
BBQ-grilled bologna
  • BBQ-grilled bologna

Saturday night, Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q teamed up with the Southern Foodways Alliance to crown legendary barbecue pitmaster Helen Turner as the reigning Queen of Pig and Smoke. Two honorees from previous years, Sam Jones of the Skylight Inn in Ayden, North Carolina, and our own Rodney Scott from up in Hemingway, were on hand to pass on the crown and help Turner cook the barbecue.

Julian Van Winkle provided a stash of 10-year-old, 107 proof Old Rip Van Winkle bourbon for the event, and mixologist Miles Macquarrie came in from Atlanta and put the rare brown water to good use in a pair of splendid cocktails.

Yes, there was a slab of splendid grilled bologna and little jars of pimento cheese, butterbean hummus, and pork rillettes to get things started. Somewhere along the line they tried to slip a plate of beets and peas in front of us. But, things really got rolling when Rodney Scott and Sam Jones burst through the front door bearing an enormous wooden tray over their heads, piled high with pork fresh off the pit.

They’d spent the day out in the alley with Helen Turner, cooking whole pork shoulders over real wood following the technique she perfected at Helen’s Barbecue in Brownsville, Tennessee. The result: some of the most tender and most intensely smoky pulled pork I’ve ever tasted—a platter of barbecue truly fit for a queen.

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