Tuesday, October 4, 2011

An Old Master - Fat Larry's

After a five-day seafood eating binge in Destin, FL, I returned to my barbecue quest today with a visit to Fat Larry’s on Highway 70 in Bartlett. Fat Larry was the pitmaster at the excellence-defining Jack's Rib Shack on Old Summer for years and has taken home the big first-place trophy for barbecued whole hog from the Memphis in May Barbecue Contest.

 Old first and second place trophies for whole hog from the Memphis in May 
Barbecue Contest. There is no higher level of barbecue cred that a restaurant 
can have on display.

The Fat Larry’s restaurant is located in what was once Lipscomb’s Country Ham, a breakfast placed that smoked their own ham, cured their own sausage and made some of the most amazing breakfast sandwiches I’ve ever encountered. They were a frequent morning stop back when I worked on a lawn crew during high school in the mid-90s. After the owner of Lipscomb’s retired he couldn’t find anyone willing to buy the business and work the crazy hours necessary to start cranking out homemade breakfast food before dawn. Several other restaurants tried the location but none were successful until Fat Larry. I miss Lipscomb’s, but at least someone is smoking pork in the building again.

The man knows how to cook a pig. The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Contest brings out the best of the best from around the world and you don’t take home a first place trophy without some serious skill, so it is no surprise that the pulled pork at Fat Larry’s is awesome. They also offer a rotating list of meat-and-three plate lunches during the day and I’m a big fan of their barbecued bologna.

And back on the subject of the Destin trip I mentioned at the beginning; while we were there I was staying with a friend who used to live in Memphis, so I brought him a barbecued butt for us to snack on. The butt and the sauce to go with it came from a former co-worker who has perfected the art of barbecuing and sauce making. As good as the barbecue in local restaurants is, it still can’t compare to some of the stuff that is being made in backyards by local hobbyists who work with smaller, limited batches where they can pay meticulous attention to detail.

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