Barbecue, Long Island City
Jul 01, 2013

North Carolina Whole Hog Barbecue – Tyson Ho’s Hog Days of Summer

We attended a session of Tyson Ho’s Hog Days of Summer, a project of Arrogant Swine focusing on whole hog barbecue in the North Carolina tradition. We ate expertly cooked pork, fresh cracklins, hush puppies, mustard vinegar apple slaw, and Founders Brewery beer. Future events are scheduled, too!

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On Saturday, June 22, I attended the first day of the Hog Days of Summer, a celebration of pork barbecue, led by Tyson Ho, a.k.a Arrogant Swine. Tyson is particularly enamored with traditional North Carolina whole hog barbecue, and that’s exactly what we got – along with some fabulous beer from Founders Brewery (I’m a big fan of their All Day IPA, which is brewed with grapefruit peels), cracklins, hush puppies, and an amazing slaw.

The food was amazing and delicious, and I took a lot of photos of what went on during the event. Big surprise, I know, but I just couldn’t resist.

We arrived for the second session of that day, which took place at an empty lot in LIC – actually this was a pretty sweet empty lot, which had tents and planters, as well as plenty of tables and chairs for the guests. Apparently Josh Bowen of John Brown Barbecue owns the lot and is lending it for this series of events in LIC.

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They stamped our hands with the fun logo before we entered, too. This is my boyfriend’s hand (I’m much paler in comparison).

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We saw Tyson soon after we arrived and he was stoked to be there. He’s about as far away from arrogant as you can get, FYI.

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And then there was this pig’s head.

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We also spied paper trays of curly cracklins, which were pretty freaking delicious.

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They were also preparing the batter for hush puppies soon after we arrived.

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I loved the addition of tangy buttermilk and plenty of cracked pepper in it. They fried up beautifully and were very popular.

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Here are the guys starting to cook the hush puppies. These and the cracklins were cooked in corn oil.

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Here’s the smoker Tyson used to cook the hog.

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They would burn down wood themselves to use in the smoker – this was quite warm even from 5 feet away.

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Another great element of the event was live music – these guys were playing bluegrass music (one of my favorite genres). One day I want to play the banjo.

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It was fun to see them trade off instruments from time to time.

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And then there was the beer – all you could drink. That’s Josh Bowen in the blue shirt.

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I mentioned the slaw earlier – this was seriously delicious stuff to this mustard and vinegar lover. It also had beautiful slices of apples in it, which added a little sweetness.

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Around 6:30 p.m. or so, the hog came out and they brought it to the table to cut up. This is a Tamarack Hollow Farm Gloucestershire Old Spot hog, a heritage breed.

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Tyson started cutting it.

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As he got deeper into the hog, it must have gotten hotter, so he pulled out the big guns of gloves.

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It was interesting to see how easily the meat and skin separated.

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The tub got full of meat at one point. So. Much. Meat.

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The meat was then handed over to the assistants and they chopped it up with their cleavers.

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There was a lot of meat to chop.

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Lots of onlookers on the action.

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It took a long time to process that hog – here it is only halfway chopped up!

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Here is what each serving consisted of – chopped barbecue seasoned with a light vinegar pepper sauce (with cracklins mixed in) and some of that beautiful slaw.

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It was absolutely delicious – the pork was soft and had wonderful porky flavor to it. I liked the spicy tangy sauce lightly mixed with the pork, and the accompanying mustard vinegar slaw was a perfect accompaniment. Everyone I saw seemed to be truly enjoying the food, and drink.

If you’re interested in attending one of these events, you’re in luck – they are happening throughout the summer in various places. Here’s the list with ticketing links (reserved tickets required). Note that there are  2 sessions each day – one at  noon (12 p.m. to 4 p.m.) and one in the evening (5 p.m. to 9 p.m.):

Thanks, Tyson, for a delicious meal! And congrats on this amazing project!

About Meg Cotner

Meg Cotner was trained as a harpsichordist and now works as a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Food Lovers' Guide to Queens," and is a skilled and avid home cook, baker, and preserver.

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