The author and cook, Heather

BBQ Tasting

Heather Jones

Barbecue (BBQ) is a charged subject in eastern North Carolina. Everyone has their favorite, but they're all based on smoked pork with a vinegar-based sauce. Most often it's chopped, and if you're lucky it will have bits of the crispy skin chopped up in with the meat. At least, I feel lucky when I get those bits.

My husband was gifted with a pound of BBQ from three separate restaurants in the Goldsboro/Wayne County area, so we decided to do a taste test on camera! I have previously tried two of these (my husband has had all three), but it was interesting to taste them next to each other and see what differences we could pick out. Watch and see what we think.

Wilber's Barbecue:

McCalls Bar-B-Q & Seafood:

Grady's BBQ:


[00:00]: [Music]
[00:04]: hello and welcome to cooking the books
[00:06]: with heather
[00:07]: if you can't tell this episode is going
[00:09]: to be kind of different
[00:11]: um we were recently yesterday gifted
[00:14]: with
[00:15]: three different uh barbecue places a
[00:19]: pound of barbecue from each
[00:21]: and these are all available in the
[00:22]: goldsboro north carolina general area
[00:26]: and i'm going to tell you a little bit
[00:27]: about each of the places and we're going
[00:29]: to do a little taste test
[00:30]: i don't know which one is which although
[00:33]: given
[00:34]: uh they prepare them a little bit
[00:36]: differently i might be able to
[00:38]: kind of guess
[00:41]: but what we have here is we have
[00:44]: barbecue
[00:44]: from wilbur's uh it is was opened in
[00:47]: 1962
[00:49]: they cook whole hog over
[00:52]: wood coals in an open pit so much like
[00:55]: we did
[00:56]: in our backyard pit except they have a
[00:58]: much larger operation
[01:00]: and they do it like every day make
[01:04]: probably tons of pigs every month every
[01:07]: week
[01:08]: it's huge uh they were closed for a
[01:11]: while
[01:12]: and i'm not sure if they're under new
[01:14]: management now i think they are
[01:17]: but they're still doing things the way
[01:18]: they always have so
[01:21]: um another one we have is from
[01:25]: grady's now uh wilbur's is on highway 70
[01:28]: very easy to find you'll pass it
[01:32]: anytime you go through goldsboro you
[01:34]: pretty much pass wilbur's
[01:36]: um grady's however is kinda more out in
[01:39]: the country it's a really tiny little
[01:41]: place
[01:41]: i've never been there myself but my
[01:43]: barbecue connoisseur behind the camera
[01:46]: has been and it is his favorite grady's
[01:49]: does
[01:49]: whole whole hog barbecue over wood coals
[01:52]: they opened in 1986.
[01:55]: it is a black-owned business near
[01:57]: goldsboro north carolina i don't know if
[01:59]: it's
[02:00]: technically in goldsboro but it's close
[02:03]: um
[02:04]: and they do something a little bit
[02:05]: different so i'll probably know which
[02:07]: one is theirs they
[02:08]: chop the skins into the barbecue now we
[02:12]: have reheated this
[02:13]: in um in a zip not zip top a
[02:18]: sealed bag a vacuum sealed bag in
[02:21]: boiling water
[02:22]: so we've tried to maintain as much of
[02:24]: the moisture that we can but we have not
[02:26]: added any sauce
[02:28]: but that does have a little bit
[02:31]: of a of an effect on the skins because
[02:34]: when you first get it
[02:35]: they're crispy and they actually tend to
[02:37]: stay crispy pretty long even though
[02:39]: they're
[02:39]: mixed with the you know the the the
[02:42]: juicy pork
[02:43]: and and the sauce
[02:46]: reheating it probably didn't do those
[02:48]: much of a favor but we'll see
[02:50]: [Music]
[02:51]: and this is this is my husband's
[02:53]: favorite and then we have mccall's which
[02:55]: is a little bit more available it is
[02:57]: also
[02:58]: right off of 70 on in goldsboro
[03:01]: and they used to have a location
[03:04]: closer to us but they don't anymore they
[03:07]: do
[03:08]: their barbecue is um just pork shoulders
[03:11]: cooked on gas and charcoal
[03:14]: they opened in 1989. so wilbur's is the
[03:17]: one that's been
[03:19]: opened the longest and everybody in
[03:21]: goldsboro loves them
[03:23]: well everybody that i know in goldsboro
[03:25]: loves them
[03:27]: now mccall's doesn't just do barbecue
[03:29]: most barbecue places
[03:31]: kind of specialize in barbecue but
[03:32]: mccall's does also seafood and they have
[03:35]: a huge
[03:36]: they do fried seafood which is a big
[03:37]: thing in north carolina especially near
[03:39]: the coast
[03:39]: and they also do um like a huge buffet
[03:43]: of vegetables and different dishes that
[03:45]: kind of rotate but they always have the
[03:47]: barbecue and seafood
[03:50]: so let me get to tasting and we're going
[03:52]: to see i don't know which one's which
[03:54]: we have numbers on the bottoms and
[03:56]: correspond with the numbers on the
[03:58]: containers so we will be able to tell at
[03:60]: the end but
[04:01]: i'm going to try this one that's where
[04:03]: my fork was
[04:05]: and we're all going to taste it it's
[04:06]: enough for all of us to have a little
[04:08]: snack
[04:09]: so i'm going to taste this one
[04:18]: this one is a more finely chopped one
[04:21]: um different places chop their meat a
[04:24]: little bit differently
[04:29]: it's not super smoky
[04:32]: but there is a little bit of smoke we
[04:33]: have a fly problem i'm really sorry
[04:35]: um and
[04:39]: the sauce does have a little bit of heat
[04:42]: to it
[04:45]: it's not super vinegary but it does have
[04:48]: a little bit of heat and a little bit of
[04:49]: that you know north carolina eastern
[04:50]: north carolina vinegar barbecue sauce
[05:02]: it's very good but you know
[05:05]: pig
[05:09]: cooked over smoke is usually delicious
[05:13]: i have my palate cleansers here these
[05:16]: are
[05:16]: pork skins or pork rinds you can buy
[05:19]: them at the grocery store but you'll
[05:20]: often get
[05:21]: really good fresh ones when you go to a
[05:24]: barbecue place that's sort of a snack at
[05:26]: the table
[05:27]: so i'm going to use this sort of cleanse
[05:28]: my palette in between
[05:34]: i'm going to try this one again i'm
[05:36]: fairly certain this is greaties because
[05:37]: i can see
[05:38]: the skins in it i don't know if you can
[05:40]: but you see this is a rather large
[05:42]: piece of the skins but some of them are
[05:44]: smaller
[05:51]: hmm
[06:02]: the skins are not as good reheated or a
[06:05]: little bit chewy
[06:06]: instead of crispy
[06:13]: the sauce on this one is a little
[06:15]: sweeter
[06:19]: um
[06:20]: and doesn't have quite as much of the
[06:23]: the heat from like red pepper flakes
[06:25]: there's some in there but it's not quite
[06:26]: as
[06:27]: spicy as the first one i tried
[06:30]: smoky it's also chopped
[06:35]: relatively finely but not super finely
[06:37]: you'll see
[06:38]: a few larger pieces of meat in there
[06:42]: really good i really wish the i had it
[06:46]: fresh when those skins are nice and
[06:48]: crispy because
[06:50]: um sam jones who owns
[06:53]: or who i think he's part of skylight in
[06:56]: and he owns sam jones barbecue which
[06:57]: there's now one in raleigh
[06:59]: original one in winterville north
[07:01]: carolina
[07:02]: they also chop their skins into the
[07:05]: barbecue which is absolutely
[07:06]: delicious all right oh i need to have a
[07:09]: little palette cleanser
[07:16]: this one is the smokiest one um
[07:20]: to my palette
[07:24]: it's a little more felt like it's a
[07:27]: little more coarsely chopped there's a
[07:28]: lot more
[07:29]: larger pieces in this one we've got some
[07:32]: of the
[07:34]: more bark um i feel like there's a
[07:37]: little more sauce on this one the sauce
[07:39]: is pretty sweet
[07:41]: but you definitely get the vinegar as
[07:42]: well and
[07:45]: a little bit probably in between the
[07:47]: other two as far as the
[07:49]: spice level of the um
[07:53]: of the the sauce the so this one's a
[07:56]: little bit spicy this one's a little bit
[07:57]: spicier this
[07:58]: one's less spicy if that makes sense
[08:02]: so and this one is very moist i reheated
[08:05]: them all exactly the same
[08:07]: and they all came exactly the same sort
[08:09]: of packed into a little plastic tub
[08:12]: i'm going to do another little round
[08:16]: they all work retain their moistness
[08:19]: really really well
[08:21]: with reheating that reheating them in
[08:24]: a zip top in a vacuum sealed bag
[08:28]: in boiling water about five minutes and
[08:30]: then we just sort of let them sit until
[08:31]: we were ready
[08:34]: they're all pretty moist um
[08:38]: but my preference is this one because i
[08:41]: can
[08:41]: i can really taste the smoke
[08:45]: a little bit better on this one than the
[08:47]: other two
[08:48]: so that's my favorite we're gonna go
[08:51]: away for a little bit and let the rest
[08:53]: of the family have their own little
[08:54]: taste tests
[08:56]: and i'll be back to let you know which
[08:57]: one was my favorite and which one the
[08:59]: rest of the family preferred
[09:01]: okay we had a little bit of a problem
[09:05]: because the person who i gave the job of
[09:09]: putting the right numbers on the right
[09:11]: plates
[09:12]: and the person behind the camera had a
[09:15]: disagreement
[09:16]: and two of them got switched
[09:19]: we're fairly certain
[09:23]: we are fairly certain we know which ones
[09:25]: which
[09:27]: after a further taste test against
[09:28]: what's in the containers
[09:32]: it was a whole thing we're having a
[09:35]: great day
[09:36]: here anyway
[09:39]: so what is interesting is
[09:43]: well first off i thought this was
[09:45]: grady's
[09:46]: we're pretty sure this is grady's um
[09:49]: definitely because of when i
[09:51]: when i took it out of the container
[09:54]: which
[09:54]: yeah now has the wrong fit on it
[09:56]: apparently uh when i took it out of the
[09:58]: container i saw all of the big skins
[10:00]: that went into there so
[10:02]: that's that's greaties um
[10:05]: i think this one was my son's favorite
[10:09]: of the ones we tried but he liked both
[10:11]: of these
[10:12]: um better than this one um
[10:17]: so um this one
[10:20]: is from wilbur's we were all
[10:23]: pretty sure that this one was from
[10:25]: wilbur's but it turns out
[10:27]: this one is from mccall's now after some
[10:31]: discussion and taste testing my husband
[10:34]: feels like this one was a little
[10:35]: heavily sauced which by the way we
[10:37]: prefer
[10:38]: we usually add sauce to our barbecue
[10:40]: after we get it in a restaurant
[10:42]: just because we like a kind of heavily
[10:44]: sauced barbecue
[10:47]: we taste it first usually so
[10:50]: we really thought this was going to be
[10:51]: wilbur's in fact my husband tasty was
[10:53]: like yeah that's wilber sauce
[10:56]: but it turns out it's mccall's this one
[10:59]: was my favorite
[11:00]: um which really shocked me honestly
[11:04]: because i
[11:04]: i whenever we go to mccall's i don't
[11:08]: usually eat the barbecue i like barbecue
[11:10]: but
[11:10]: i you know generally go for fried
[11:13]: chicken or
[11:14]: fried shrimp or fish instead but it's
[11:17]: nice to know i really like their
[11:18]: barbecue
[11:20]: i also i mean i liked gradies as well i
[11:22]: really wish i could get it with those
[11:24]: skins a little crispy
[11:26]: somehow sam jones barbecue manages to
[11:30]: or manages to keep those skins crispy a
[11:34]: little bit longer
[11:35]: and also they chop them up smaller so
[11:38]: that i guess they're a little bit less
[11:39]: off-putting if they
[11:40]: are kind of limp
[11:44]: and rubbery so but this was my
[11:47]: my son's favorite and then i think
[11:50]: this was also my husband's favorite he
[11:53]: felt like
[11:55]: this one was too heavily sauced this one
[11:58]: was too lightly sauced
[12:01]: perhaps but again we like a lot of sauce
[12:03]: on ours
[12:04]: um and this one i guess was just right
[12:08]: uh so although surprisingly
[12:12]: lightly sauced but a little spicier
[12:15]: so there you have it we've done a little
[12:17]: taste test this is by
[12:18]: by no means all of the barbecue that you
[12:22]: can get
[12:23]: in eastern north carolina there are tons
[12:26]: and tons of restaurants and small places
[12:29]: that serve barbecue or barbecue and
[12:31]: other things i meant to
[12:32]: to say that wilbur's also had sort of a
[12:35]: rotating
[12:36]: schedule or did the last time we were
[12:38]: there we haven't been there in a while
[12:41]: due to circumstances um they have a
[12:43]: rotating
[12:44]: list of other entrees that they serve
[12:47]: not just barbecue and they have a larger
[12:50]: menu of sides than some barbecue places
[12:52]: do
[12:53]: so you really can't go wrong with
[12:57]: any of these three and so it really just
[12:60]: depends
[13:00]: what you like in your barbecue and uh
[13:04]: sort of what your time schedule is
[13:06]: because grady's is a little
[13:08]: more difficult to get to um and and may
[13:11]: have different
[13:12]: hours whereas wilbur's and mccall's are
[13:15]: open more on a set schedule
[13:18]: and for both um lunch and dinner
[13:21]: generally so gradies is a little more
[13:25]: difficult
[13:25]: i don't know their schedule i'm sure
[13:27]: they have some sort of presence
[13:28]: um where you can you can find that out
[13:31]: or at least call them to see if they're
[13:32]: gonna be open if you happen to be
[13:34]: passing through the area
[13:36]: but uh yeah i hope you enjoyed
[13:39]: watching me do this unusual taste test
[13:42]: and i hope that if you manage to
[13:45]: come to eastern north carolina you try
[13:48]: all the barbecue and see what you like
[13:50]: the best
[13:51]: if you enjoyed watching me try this give
[13:53]: me a thumbs up
[13:55]: hit the subscribe button and come back
[13:56]: and watch me actually cook something