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Throwdown with Bobby Flay on Wednesday night had him in Raleigh NC challenging Ed Mitchell. Ed's a legend around here, and unlike many legends, he's also a very, very good BBQ cook. But.....I have to ask, did anyone catch that he cooks his spare ribs for just 20 minutes per side on a grill? No smoking at all, and no boiling that they mentioned.

I had to hit rewind on the Tivo, but that's what he said. And the judges said they were fall off the bone tender!??????? He must be getting some of them Kobe pigs or something, because my ribs sure wouldn't be tender after 40 minutes on the grill.

But he was also going on and on about them being NC ribs(a partially trimmed rack of spares), not St. Louis. I don't even know what a NC rib is. Outside of the chain restaurants, you didn't see ribs in BBQ joints around here until the past few years and even now it's a rarity except for the few Yankee owned BBQ restaurants, and they serve liquor too. Just crazy. And saucing 40 minute ribs with basically just vinegar sounds pretty bad to me, but I'll check out his restaurant and report back shortly.
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Yeah, saw that. I'd never heard of a NC spare either. Exactly what IS a partially trimmed spare, I thought it was St. Louis... LOL

No way those spares were tender in that time, I think someone was mis stating the times or method.

And Bobby Flay is an idiot (on purpose I'm sure) when he goes into a region and tries to change the flavors to something weird. If I want Asian ribs, I'll go to a chinese Restaurant. The judges always say... "I liked these xxxx, but they're not traditional, so I'll vote for the others"
Originally posted by SmokinOkie:
Yeah, saw that. I'd never heard of a NC spare either. Exactly what IS a partially trimmed spare, I thought it was St. Louis... LOL

No way those spares were tender in that time, I think someone was mis stating the times or method.

And Bobby Flay is an idiot (on purpose I'm sure) when he goes into a region and tries to change the flavors to something weird. If I want Asian ribs, I'll go to a chinese Restaurant. The judges always say... "I liked these xxxx, but they're not traditional, so I'll vote for the others"

A lot of the old time pit masters are more masters of self promotion than of cooking good 'Q. Ed can cook, but I guess he wants to claim that he invented NC ribs now too.

And Bobby Flay is original if nothing else. I love when he says something like "we're here in Manhattan at Gloria's Original Wedding Cake Factory and we're bringing it on with our wasabi, tuna, and chipolte wedding cake. Are you ready for a throwdown?" Oh yeah. Wasabi wedding cake. The world has been waiting for that.

Here's Ed Mitchell's place:
The Pit

The male judge on the show has a more traditional, less expensive, and probably better place. It's not fancy, but it's real good, and they are very nice folks. They will be on Man Vs. Food soon. It was filmed on May 20th.:

The kid kneeling in front would be a good prospect for a CS sales call. I've talked to him several times and I don't think he loves to tend the pit all night. When I told him there was a better way where he would smell better AND have time for girls, he seemed real excited.
When W/D closed lots of stores in the South,they sold all their big rib steamers for about $500.

Some of the FoodLion/Kash n' Karry stores used them also.

We were the largest independent distributor for official 76 and BP Racing Fuels in the Southeast to NASCAR,and affiliates.

Got to spend a lot more time around the tracks and vendors than I wished. Roll Eyes

Foodlion would bring in NASCAR cars and maybe a driver,Pepsi would do the drinks at a shopping center,they would steam ribs all night,carry them out of the walkins and glaze them ,until the crowd went home on the weekends.

Lot of the RibBurners/mass vendors used the steamers.

Load them up in 120 qt coolers,have flat grills ,like a Belsen,cases of gallons of Cattlemans[mixed with cheap pancake syrup],about 20 mins to glaze them with four inch paintbrushes, and pump out 3,000 slabs of spares for the race per vendor.

Fine dinin',when ya been drinking beer in the infield for a couple days.

Todd can tell you how much fun it is to work one of those,but if it don't rain,you can about pay for your rigs, after a couple of those.
Hey Todd --

What is the name of the show and which channel? I have heard mixed reviews about The Pit, so havent made a special trip to get there. I do try to make regular trips to the Backyard BBQ Pit. Friendly, hard working folks with pretty good food and a few creative touches -- also like making a trip round back to visit the pit... Last I talked to them, they were opening another restaurant closer to downtown Durham.
Originally posted by uncsmoker:
Hey Todd --

What is the name of the show and which channel? I have heard mixed reviews about The Pit, so havent made a special trip to get there. I do try to make regular trips to the Backyard BBQ Pit. Friendly, hard working folks with pretty good food and a few creative touches -- also like making a trip round back to visit the pit... Last I talked to them, they were opening another restaurant closer to downtown Durham.

And the other is Man Vs. Food. It's on the Travel Channel. I think it's on tonight, 5/30 at 8:30.

It looks like Throwdown at The Pit will re-air:

Jun 06, 2009
4:30 PM ET/PT

Jun 07, 2009
11:30 PM ET/PT

Jun 08, 2009
2:30 AM ET/PT

EDIT: Spoke too soon regarding Man Vs. Food. Right city, wrong episode. You might have to wait for the fall.
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I looked on Google / YouTube couldn't find the video of it to show so we could critique, but I did find a few forums talking about ribs having nothing to do with Eastern Carolina Q (now who's being TOO traditional in their definition)

Maybe I can get him to Oklahoma for a Bologna throwdown... LOL

If anyone finds the episode, let us know so we can critique the 30 min ribs...
Maybe I am imagining things but am I the only one who saw Ed smoking his ribs before using the grill for finishing? They even showed where some of the fire had escaped the smoker and melted one of the tires of his mobile smoker.
Flay asked how long he cooked his ribs and Ed replied with "20 minutes a side" or whatever. To me(having seen this twice) this was a "NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS" reply which I am sure at least one of us has used in competition before.
Last edited by raincreek
Yep, many ribburners are set up to move a couple thousand slabs of ribs,finished before the public arrives.

Then 20 mins on the flat top and 5 gal buckets of cheap ,thick sauce ,painted on with a four inch paint brush.

I don't know Ed,so he certainly may not fall into this category.

Like mentioned,he may feel it is no ones business,and he may have heard that Flay oven cooks and then finishes 20 mins on a grill.
Last edited by tom
Raincreek, you might be right, but then again you might not be.

Mobile pig cookers around here get used in ways never imagined by their makers.

While not as hot as a true grill would usually be, they are still used as grills for steaks, burgers, etc anytime there's a bunch of people to feed. Great if you like baked meat. Frowner But they are also used to bake bread, pizza, quiche. Pretty much used more as a mobile oven/grill than a smoker.

It's not uncommon for gas fired "smokers" to have a charcoal tray just to allow for grill use, but it's also not uncommon to see the charcoal tray filled with water and several bushels of oysters thrown on the "smoker" to steam.

Really I have no idea if he smoked them or not, even though I remember the segment you mention. I'm just saying that he could have been using his smoker as a grill. I'll try and get over there in the next few days and sample first hand then get back to you'all.

Also, I kept putting the word smoker in quotes because a pig cooker as built by most in NC is not a smoker. Hogs usually get cooked at about 300-350* in the traditional (not saying correct) NC manner. Not much smoke usually.

Here's a pic showing more smoke than usual for a gas cooker. This guy uses a chip pouch to get this much bark, but still way short of a CS type smoke.

Okay. Inquiring minds wanted to know so I went there for a late lunch. In at ~1:30, out at about 3:00.

Restaurant Review……………..The Pit, Raleigh, N.C.
as seen on Throwdown With Bobby Flay

The Pit

The Pit is located in a formerly industrial section of downtown Raleigh. It is in an area that has been taken over by design firms, antique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. The Pit contributes more by far than any of these other ventures to the ambiance of the area by way of the smells coming from their smoker. The whole block smells great!

The interior of The Pit is hardly pit like at all, being well lighted and modern. Upon entry you’re faced with something unusual for a BBQ restaurant, a hostess. Hmmmmmm……. I’m a big guy, but quick as lightning, and aggressive as a Cayman alligator on crystal meth, so seeing a hostess standing there in front of me really mitigates the advantage that these qualities usually afford me under competitive seating situations. Oh well.

But the inside smells as good as the outside too, which is a plus. Looking beyond the hostess stand, you’ll see a wine wall, and looking further still, you’ll see a handsome dining room with multiple glass dividers and many accent walls painted to provide color to an otherwise open room. I like the look if that matters, but there is nothing that says you’re in a BBQ restaurant, and if you’re from NC like I am, everything pretty much says you’re NOT in a BBQ restaurant, including the full bar. Also, the music; late ‘70’s-early ‘80’s pop, rock, and soul. Aretha Franklin, The Clash, David Bowie, and disco of various descriptions. Not bad music, but do the people that own this place even know where NC is located? No Merle Haggard, Randy Travis, Faith Hill, and not one little bit of Willie Nelson! That’s just crazy.

Anyway, on to the menu. You can check out the attached link for menu specifics. In general they offer what an upscale BBQ restaurant should offer, and the prices are reasonable in my opinion. Their apps are a little pricey, but that helps to keep the costs down on their plates and sandwiches I’m sure. I ordered the onion rings because I’ve been in the mood for onion rings lately. These weren’t bad, but they were of the battered variety and I would have preferred the lightly breaded type personally. Onion rings soaked in buttermilk and tossed in flour then fried to crispy perfection define the product for me, so battered rings will always come in second due to my bias. The rings were served with Oak Island sauce, whatever that is. I’ve been to Oak Island and I’ve never seen a sauce like this served there on anything, but it did remind me of the stone crab mustard sauce you get in Florida. Also, it took close to 30 minutes to get the rings even though I ordered after the lunch rush. Not great marks for timing.

I tried to order the NC spare ribs, but was told they were out at the time. I did however confirm, at least according to the waitress, that the ribs are smoked and/or baked before being finished on the grill, so there goes the 20 minutes per side claim from Throwdown. Speaking of the show, the cooker(s) from the show were sitting outside the building. For those of you that like to think the secret of good Q’ is in the equipment, a feeling promoted by folks that like to sell equipment, let me describe the cookers: one was a moderately rusted 250 gallon oil tank modified, as so many are in NC, to hold a cooking grate and charcoal. No big deal. As to the other “specially designed” cooker Ed Mitchell spoke about on the show, it was typical in every way to any other purpose built cooker. Nothing unique at all. If the pig is good, it’s because someone knew how to cook it, not because the cooker was “custom”. Oh, and the melted wheel on the cooker has been replaced for those of you that were worried.

On to the meal that arrived about 15 minutes after the onion rings. I ordered smoked meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and slaw. Meal also came with 2 quarter sized hushpuppies and a single 1.5” diameter biscuit. It was all good. Meatloaf was reheated on grill and had the grill marks to prove it, then topped with an extraordinarily average brown sauce. Potatoes were good also, topped with same sauce (gravy), but nothing exceptional even though they were claimed to be organic. I would usually take non organic Yukon golds mashed with a bunch of butter and buttermilk most days over these, but they weren’t bad. Slaw was above average mayo based. Biscuit was better than most, but likely made with Southern Biscuit Formula L mix, which is some darned good mix for those of you that can get it down south. No problems there. The hushpuppies were smaller than I like, but tasted good anyway. But only two?

So I didn’t even try the ribs or the pulled pork, but I saw plenty of it going out. Looked good, smelled good, and I’m sure tasted good. They cook it in the kitchen over charcoal with some hickory wood thrown on or flavor. The side effect of this cooking arangement is that the fire alarm went off 3 times during my visit almost blasting you out of your seat. The bartender said it happens several times a day. Nice! There were two sauces on the table, an eastern NC sauce, very similar to the one I make where I’ve been accused of not being traditional because I add a little brown sugar and hot sauce. But mine tastes good, and not just like plain vinegar. This one tastes good as well. Good for them! The other sauce was like a modified Lexington style sauce, but with quite a bit of brown sugar and worstershire sauce added. Quite tasty, and very similar to another NC restaurant, Short Sugars BBQ in Reidsville, NC.

So, in summary, pros and cons:

Smell, reasonable prices, good service, pretty waitresses, good food, great iced tea!!, nice but non-BBQ specific décor.

Slow kitchen (bordering on very slow), music and décor, that while appealing, caused disorientation and confusion as to my exact whereabouts, waitresses too young to call me “sugar” and “honey” and not make me feel slightly dirty for letting them, and lastly, maybe a little too much hype. Oh, and they also charged me dinner prices instead of lunch prices, adding about $2.50 to my order. Probably an accident.....

The company that owns The Pit owns several restaurants in the area. I don't know, but I suspect, that Ed Mitchell's presence and involvement is limited to when the camera's are rolling. And to be honest, the footage they showed on Throwdown of Ed kind of doing a two step tableside, took me back to the not so good ole days of the South. I hope he doesn't really do that type of thing when he's there.

This isn’t one of those places where you take bets on how long they’ll be in business, it could be here for a long time, but it is one of those that if you came back in a year you wouldn’t be surprised to see a new name, a French menu, and the same décor and staff. Overall score on scale 1-10 piggys: 7.5-8 piggys
Last edited by Former Member
Thanks.enjoyed it.

Looks like we'd stop.

We try to find at least something to like about most places that have a following.

Even if John and Barbara just liked the desserts. Roll Eyes

Altough, on the circuit we tend to eat a lot of fried fish,Tex-Mex,meat n' threes.

You can only haul and stand next to a cooker so many straight days. Big Grin

If ya get to Ok City,Smokin',has a place that is only fried chicken,rings,fries and beer.

It is worth the drive out there. Cool
One thing I failed to mention is that I was sitting where I could see people coming in the door. The customers didn't look like working people, they looked like folks on vacation. I asked the waitress where their business came from, and she said "all over". I asked her about regulars and she said they didn't really have any, but that it had been real busy since the Throwdown episode aired with people traveling. So I don't know if the business I saw will be transient in nature or not.

There was a lot to like about this place. The owners are professional restaurant managers, and they tend to be on the trendy side of things, hence my thinking that something else could end up in the same space if the buzz dies down at some point. It's kind of scary when you don't have regulars.
I ate at the Backyard BBQ Pit last week, the restaurant where the male judge came from, and I asked them if Ed Mitchell cooked his ribs for just 30-40 minutes. He said that was correct. He saw them go on the grill raw and came off just a little while later. I guess I'll have to go try the ribs for myself, but everyone I've asked has said they've never been able to get the ribs because they're always out. Always. As in maybe they don't even sell them???????????
Ok, watched it again last night.

I'll give Ed and A for showmanship and a F for consistency of what he said. This whole 'north carolina style rib' has more meat for example. He called his ribs NC style and his beans NC style.

Is there a style to NC beans (new term for me), but it had 3, 4 or 5 different beans (kidney, black, pinto and others)... huh? You NC guys, are all your beans that way? Must be, the one judge said that's just how he makes his.

He said to Bobby he only cooks his ribs 20 min, but that's now how it happens, I think he was just spinning his words. But, in the early part of the episode, he didn't cook them in 20 min and didn't even mention that.

So, Todd, go find Ed and ask him...

Interesting thing, looking at the ribs he server at the end, there was something he did, they were past the point of fall of the bone, to me, they look like they'd been steaming in a pan (or holding a long time) then a little Eastern style sauce.

It was fun to watch, Ed reminds me of the pit guys at Memphis in May who spin such an beautiful tale of BBQ. I like guys like that, but won't necessarily eat his food.
I am going back down there to try those ribs. Some places(the male judge's restaurant for instance) smokes the ribs and then holds them for service in a pan filled with vinegar basically, with a little sugar thrown in to cut the acid. When they pick them up to plate the bones fall out. They won't serve them until they've been in the pan for a couple of hours.

The whole NC style ribs and beans thing has me smelling a rat. That both judges mentioned this is odd to me, since most NC BBQ joints do not, and have not ever, served ribs. Beans were almost as rare until just recently. Collard greens, sweet potatoes, boiled BBQ potatoes, and mac & cheese were much more common. The judges acted like they both knew what NC ribs were, but I'd never heard of them until this show aired the first time a few months ago. Of all the BBQ joints in and around Raleigh, I'd say 85% don't do any ribs, 14.999% only do BB's, and just Ed Mitchell and the judge's restaurant do untrimmed spares cooked in vinegar. Odd how they both cook the same way? I'm thinking there might be some mentoring going on here. I sense a scandal in the making. There has been a cover-up! The show is fixed!

As to the mixed beans, I thought I started that. Seriously. I had beans made that way for the first time at a restaurant in Atlanta GA called Tanner's Rotisserie Chicken in 1987. I loved them and started to make mine that way. Until this show I'd never seen anyone else in NC do the same, and people at my catering jobs comment frequently that they have never had beans like mine before, so if they're NC style, it's news to a lot of native NC'ers. So I don't know again. Maybe I had to move to GA to learn how to make NC style beans? Eeker

I try to remember that this show exists to promote the people on it. The show tries to build them up to a point that looks kind of silly if you have some background info. The bit they did about Ed's special pigs for instance. Well, A) I know where he gets his meat, I've bought some there myself, and the pigs are nothing unusual for NC. B) The metro Raleigh area is about 750K-1M people. Just east of Raleigh 20 miles or so is pig and tobacco country. In 2001 when Hurricane Floyd(?) hit, 400,000 hogs drowned within a 30 minute drive from me. We've got lots of pigs around here, but this show made it sound like Ed's pigs were the pork version of Kobe beef.

Don't get me started on Ed's custom designed and built cooker. If cutting an oil drum in half and filling it full of charcoal makes it "custom", then Ed's is surely custom. Is there anything he didn't invent?

Ed's maybe trying to solidify his "legend" status. Next he'll be telling us he invented the NC Internet and the Carolina blue sky. I can imagine the picture of Ed Mitchel, Al Gore, and Dean Smith(legendary UNC basketball coach) all sitting around a table circa 1976 laying plans to invent everything. Heck, Ed and Al even had a side bet about smoking and global warming........
Originally posted by Todd G.:
... They won't serve them until they've been in the pan for a couple of hours...

Check this out, here's his recipe.

Note the last portion:

Carolina style rib recipe

Ed Mitchell, The Pit in Raleigh, N.C.


• Spareribs prepped for The Pit
• Pit season
• Pit season with water

Prepping instructions: Working usually a case at a time, remove ribs from packaging and place in a clean bus tub. With a good knife and cutting board, remove "skirt" on the bone side of the rib. Turn rib over and remove approximately 2 to 2 ½ inches along top of rack. Clean both ends of rack if they are ragged. With a small paring knife lift up membrane on bone side, grab with a kitchen towel and remove from rack. Remove large fat deposits on "meat" side and lightly make several "knife scores" along the rack, parallel with the rib bones. Next cut the rack into 5 bone portions. 4 bone or 6 bone portions are OK, but 5 are ideal. Once all the ribs are portioned, sprinkle Pit Season on both sides of rib and neatly place in a bus tub.

Cooking, holding and serving instructions: Once the Pitmaster has his grill pit hot with charcoal and is ready to grill, seasoned spareribs are neatly arranged, meat side down, on grill. Allow this side to cook uninterrupted for approximately 15 minutes. Using tongs, carefully, quickly turn ribs over (bone side down). Allow to cook for another 15 minutes or so. With a clean kitchen towel blot any blood off the meat side of the rib. Repeat turning over ribs at 10 to 15 minute intervals for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour or until just fully cooked. (A properly cooked sparerib will have a nice seasoned browned color.)

Next, add to deep hotel pan water mixed with Pit Season. This step helps keep the ribs moist and imparts additional flavor. Cover hotel pan with aluminum foil,label and date. Some may go directly onto line steam table. Remaining spare ribs will be placed in a low temperature warmer (150 degrees F) and held until needed for service. Ribs are served per chit instructions and lightly brushed with sweet BBQ prior to serving.

Can anyone say STEAMED ribs...
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so who won the throwdown? full disclosure: i am not a fan of bobby flay. i ate at mesa grill and it was so average, so intentionally mediocre that i was just mad at myself. wasting an eating opportunity in new york to eat at a famous chef's restaurant AFTER he has hit the big time, cashed in, and left for hollywood, and then being disappointed in the meal made me feel like what i was that day: a suckered tourist.
anyway, i saw the fish taco episode and the puffy taco episode and he lost both by making silly, fancy versions of classic awesome dishes. did he win the ribs or did the iron chef lose again by dressing the ribs with squash blossoms and truffle oil?
He lost the same way he always does. Trying to put a spin on the recipe that the locals will instantly recognize that it's not local.

Putting SW flavors in everything, then the local judges (like this time) say.... well that's just NOT NC BBQ.

The rules are fixed against him, one criteria is authenticity.

I will say this. Bobby learned his lesson and actually smoked these ribs on a smoke (funny part it showed his assistance standing out at the smoke in the rain) NOT Bobby.
I have enjoyed reading the posts about the Throwdown episode. I saw it the other night on TV and went to bed wanting ribs soooo bad. I was on the net today searching for info about The Pit and also trying to find out what restaurants the judges were from. My husband and I love ribs and we're in search of some good ones.

The ones on Throwdown looked awesome so I hope to try them soon to see if the "hype" is what it seems to be. I also saw on there where he said he ONLY cooks them for 20 mins each side,...he also said something like, not cooking them slow...but really hot and quick. So i was surprised by that, esp. cause they really looked like they fell off the bone. Anyway, I guess it only matters if they actually taste good at the restaurant.

Also, I think one of the judges were from the Backyard BBQ pit, right? I haven't been to that place and would love to hear how it is. I also was searching the Durham area and saw a Hog Heaven BBQ, any reviews for that?!

Would love to hear where the best ribs in the RDU area are from. (We live in VA, right above the NC border.)

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