Friday, May 2, 2014

Rising From the Ashes - A&R Smokehouse Update

I posted a month ago about the pit fire that devastated the smokehouse behind the South Memphis location of A&R Bar-B-Q on Elvis Presley Boulevard. At the time I was pleased to see that work had already started to rebuild around the foundation and old steel pits salvaged from the fire. When I stopped by yesterday I was impressed by the dramatic amount of progress the construction crew had made in just four weeks. It looks like the old pits will be back in action in no time.

While waiting for the pits in the smokehouse to be back up and running the restaurant has been relying on an assortment of outdoor barrel cookers. Last month I mentioned that while the barbecue coming from the improvised set up was still okay, it wasn't as good as what generally came from the smokehouse. Over the past month it seems like the A&R folks have gotten the barrel cookers completely figured out. I got a pulled pork plate with beans, slaw and a hot tamale for lunch yesterday. The shoulder meat was superb, with a smoke ring that looked two inches deep. I'm glad to see the restaurant bouncing back so quickly from initially looked like a major setback. Having a rural-style smokehouse a few miles south of downtown inside a major city is something truly special.

On a final note, my soon-to-be-released book that I mentioned in the post about the smokehouse fire, Memphis Barbecue: A Succulent History of Smoke, Sauce and Soul, will be out earlier than expected. It will be released June 10. I will be reading from the book and signing copies at the Booksellers at Laurelwood at 6 p.m. June 12. And on Friday, June 27 there will be a release party at the Hi-Tone where pitmaster Richard Forrest will cook a whole hog and local musicians the Dead Soldiers, Switchblade Kid and Clay Otis will all be performing.  

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