For years, Matthew Register, the owner and pitmaster of Southern Smoke Barbecue, has been obsessed with the history of southern recipes. Armed with a massive collection of cookbooks from the 1900s and overflowing boxes of recipe cards from his grandmother, he hits the kitchen. Over weeks, sometimes months, he forges updated versions of timeworn classics. Locals and tourists alike flock to his restaurant in Garland, North Carolina (population 700), to try these unique dishes.
In this book, Matthew teaches the basics of smoking with a grill or smoker. He outlines how to manage the fire for long smoking sessions and shares pitmaster tips for common struggles (like overcoming “the stall” on large pieces of meat). He then explores iconic barbecue regions and traditions:
- Start off in North Carolina, the home of slow-smoked pork and tangy vinegar sauce. Other highlights include chicken quarters with church sauce, barbecue potatoes, collard chowder, and pork belly hash.
- Travel the Lowcountry, where seafood meets barbecue. Go all out with frogmore stew, pickled shrimp, and fire-roasted oysters, or sample unique recipes like funeral grits, likker pudding, and James Island shrimp pie.
- Then take a trip to Memphis and the Delta, a longtime barbecue hub known for dry-rubbed ribs. Other standouts might surprise you! Learn the secrets behind Delta tamales, Merigold tomatoes, okra fries with comeback sauce, and country-style duck.
And, of course, what barbecue spread is complete without baked goods? The final chapter includes everything from skillet cornbread and benne seed biscuits to chocolate chess pie and pecan-studded bread pudding.
Whether you’ve long been a fan of barbecue or are just starting your own barbecue journey, Southern Smoke offers a unique collection of recipes and stories for today’s home cook.
Chocolate Fudge and Sea Salt Pie
Makes one 9-inch (23 cm) pie
I come from a family that loves chocolate—I mean really loves the stuff. When you go with us to a family reunion, the dessert table will be full of all kinds of pies and cakes—nearly all with some form of chocolate. Because there is nothing worse than driving to a family reunion thinking about chocolate pie only to have it disappear before you get your slice, I eventually had to learn to make my own. In this pie, I added fresh sea salt from our friends at Sea Love Sea Salt Co. to cut through the richness of the fudge. This is definitely a pie for those who love the intersection of sweet and salty.
¾ cup (170 g) butter
¾ cup (130 g) semisweet chocolate morsels
2 eggs½ cup (100 g) sugar
3 tablespoons (25 g) flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ tablespoons (27 g) sea salt, divided
¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream
1 Pie Crust (page 177), blind baked per recipe instructions
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325°F (170°C).
Add water to a double boiler and place it on the stove over medium heat. Once it’s warm, add the butter and chocolate morsels to the upper bowl of the boiler.
While your butter and chocolate begin to melt, beat the eggs in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar, flour, vanilla, and ½ tablespoon (9 g) sea salt to the eggs and mix until well combined.
When the butter and chocolate are almost fully melted, add the heavy cream and stir until the mixture is completely combined and smooth.
Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and stir together until well combined.
Pour the mixture into the blind-baked pie crust and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the pie has set (it should still have a slight jiggle).
After the pie has cooled to room temperature, sprinkle the remaining 1 tablespoon (18 g) sea salt evenly across the top of the pie. Serve each slice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Makes 1 pie crust
Pie crust can be finicky, like many other elements of baking. This recipe is one I’ve settled on over the years because I find it to be both easier than most pie crusts yet also quite reliable. I know I’m not perfectly consistent, yet it produces a buttery, flaky crust every time. This pie crust can be made a few days ahead and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it. You can also make a few and freeze them once they’re rolled out and laid flat.
1½ cups (190 g) flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons (38 g) vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
5 tablespoons (70 g) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch (0.5 cm) cubes
6 to 8 tablespoons (90 to 120 ml) ice-cold water
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the shortening, working it in with a pastry cutter or by hand until the mixture is combined but crumbly.
Add the butter to the flour mixture, working it in with a pastry cutter or by hand. Don’t stress out if the mixture isn’t evenly mixed; you should have big and small chunks of butter in the mixture.
Add 3 tablespoons of the water and mix with a fork until well combined. Gradually add additional water to the mixture until it becomes chunky. The goal is a dough that will barely hold together if you squeeze it.
Scoop the mixture out of the bowl and onto a piece of parchment paper. Flatten it out a bit by hand. If there are dry parts of the dough, add a small amount of water to your hands and wipe it over the top of the dry areas. Try not to overwet the dough.
Fold the dough over on itself from left to right, then top to bottom. Through this process, the dry crumbs will begin to incorporate themselves into the dough. If there are still parts of the dough that appear to be dry, add a small amount of water by hand. Repeat the folding process several times until all of the crumbs are combined and the dough is fully formed with a claylike consistency.
Shape the dough into a disk about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick, wrap it in plastic wrap, and place it in the refrigerator for 45 minutes. About 10 to 15 minutes before you are ready to roll your pie crust, remove it from the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature to allow the butter to soften.
Roll the pie dough out with a rolling pin, keeping it on the parchment paper. Cut the dough to the desired size. In this book, we’ll use a 12-inch (30 cm) round of dough for a 9-inch (23 cm) pie. Transfer the dough to the pie pan, then place it back in the refrigerator while you prepare your pie recipe (see pages 181 to 197) or proceed to the next step.
For the recipes in this book, and most likely for any of your own recipes, you’ll want to blind bake the pie shell before filling it. To do this, preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C). Make a few small pricks in the bottom and sides of the dough with a fork. Use pastry weights or fill the bottom of the pie with dry beans. Bake the pie shell for 5 minutes. Let it cool to room temperature before using one of the recipes that follow.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Harvard Common Press.