When it comes to barbecue obsession, Ed Mitchell goes the whole hog — literally and figuratively. The pitmaster of Raleigh-Durham’s The Pit and the new Ed Mitchell’s Que is revered for using farm-raised pigs and traditional cooking methods. We caught up with the legend at the Big Apple BBQ Block Party to dig into his BBQ secrets.
Cooking Channel: What’s the most common mistake people make when barbecuing at home and what is the one thing a home cook can do to take their barbecue to the next level?
Ed Mitchell: One of the mistakes people do at home is that they’re not experienced knowing how hot to get the grill. The temperature has to be right so the meat will come out perfect. It’s something that I can feel from years of doing it. To take the barbecue up a notch, you need the right selection of meat. If you’re a person who’s not knowledgeable about how to cook beef, then don’t try to cook beef. Cook what you’re very skillful at. It’s the selection of the product.
CC: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever barbecued?
EM: When I went to Australia I had the opportunity to try some kangaroo. That was pretty cool.
CC: What’s the next trend to happen in barbecue?
EM: The trend is people really understanding the true definitions of barbecue. Depending on what part of the country you’re from, it has different meanings. Here up north, when you say barbecuing, you’re really talking about grilling — putting a couple hot dogs or hamburgers on the grill. Barbecuing is really slow-roasting meat over a long period of time with a much higher heat. People now are understanding what the terminology is when they talk to people who aren’t from the same area they’re from.
CC: What makes North Carolina barbecue the best?
EM: We believe in cooking the whole hog. The different parts of the animal have different flavors and textures. When you cook the whole animal, you have the chance to taste all the different parts — the bacon, the ham, pork chops, tenderloin, the snout. When you cook a certain portion of it like the shoulder or the rib, you miss out on about 75 percent of the overall taste.
Get more grilling tips from barbecue greats on Cooking Channel’s 101 Ways to Love Summer.