The Skylight Inn in Ayden, North Carolina is on my bucket list of BBQ joints to visit. They only do pork (whole hog) and do it with precision. I liken them to the same care for detail that Lexington BBQ #1 has. If you’re like me and haven’t been (or you have and want to remember how great it was), here’s a great BBQ video from Pitt County Government that makes you feel like you’re actually there.
For a little background into The Skylight Inn, here’s a review by Michael Stern from Roadfood.com. If you don’t check out Roadfood often you really are missing out.
“Eastern North Carolina barbecue is sauceless. “Granddaddy always said, ‘Sauce has absolutely nothing to do with making good barbecue,’” Samuel Jones is happy to tell you, referring to Pete Jones, who started the Skylight Inn back in 1947. This restaurant continues the family tradition of whole hog barbecue that began in the early 19th century and hasn’t changed much at all. The ritual starts late in the afternoon, when the pitmaster burns oak wood logs until they turn to charcoal. The coals are pushed from the chimney into the adjoining pit, where halved hogs are arrayed on a grate above the heat. At midnight, then again at dawn, more coals are moved to the pit. There are no thermometers at the Skylight Inn. Doneness is checked by feel.
Photo courtesy of Michael Stern from Roadfood.com
At 9am, the meat is fully tender and ready for the chopping block, which you can see behind the counter of the restaurant. Here stands James Howell with a cleaver in each hand. He starts hacking up the meat. Periodically, he puts the blades down and reaches back for a bottle of vinegar or Texas hot sauce to splash onto the pork and he shakes on salt and pepper straight from the carton. Nothing is measured out and there are no secret ingredients. When he’s got a moist, steaming heap of five or six pounds that are the texture of coarse hash, he uses both cleavers to shovel it forward through the window onto an adjoining butcher block in the preparation area towards the counter. Here servers assemble trays and sandwiches. Sandwiches, which include cole slaw, are wrapped in wax paper. Trays full of meat are topped with a square of unrisen corn bread.”
Read the rest of the write up HERE
Have you been to The Skylight Inn? What are your thoughts?