Free Book Friday: Holy Smoke edition

Free Book Friday

Update 3:05 pm 7/13/2012: We had commenters joining in on the blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter this time around. We’ve just drawn Facebook commenter Fred C. Fussell’s name as our winner of this month’s giveaway! Congratulations, Fred! (Does Fred’s name ring a bell for you? He is author of a great guidebook to live music in the Blue Ridge mountains, Blue Ridge Music Trails: Finding a Place in the Circle, which we published in 2003.) Here’s how Fred described his favorite bbq:

Softball-sized hunks of pork butts cooked very slowly over blackjack oak coals until crusty, chopped into bite-sized pieces, smothered with a mustard-based spicy with cayenne bbq sauce, dressed with cole slaw, and served in a toasted bun.

For this month’s Free Book Friday, we’re giving away a copy of Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed with William McKinney—plus a handsome and handy Holy Smoke chef’s apron!


North Carolina is home to the longest continuous barbecue tradition on the North American mainland. Authoritative, spirited, and opinionated (in the best way), Holy Smoke is a passionate exploration of the lore, recipes, traditions, and people who have helped shape North Carolina’s signature slow-food dish.

Three barbecue devotees, John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and William McKinney, trace the origins of North Carolina ‘cue and the emergence of the heated rivalry between Eastern and Piedmont styles. They provide detailed instructions for cooking barbecue at home, along with recipes for the traditional array of side dishes that should accompany it. The final section of the book presents some of the people who cook barbecue for a living, recording firsthand what experts say about the past and future of North Carolina barbecue.

Filled with historic and contemporary photographs showing centuries of North Carolina’s “barbeculture,” as the authors call it, Holy Smoke is one of a kind, offering a comprehensive exploration of the Tar Heel barbecue tradition.

To learn more about the book, visit the Holy Smoke website, which includes sample recipes and excerpts.

Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue, by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg ReedPraise for Holy Smoke

“Brimming with factoids, field intelligence, received wisdom, and fine art, Holy Smoke is a harmonic convergence that resonates with good-natured humor. It is as entertaining as it is informative.”—John Egerton, author of Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History

“Even if it didn’t taste so good, we would like North Carolina barbecue for its inspirational nature. Like chile in New Mexico and cheese curds in Wisconsin, its rituals and lore stir passionate symposia, infusing Holy Smoke with a sense of purpose that is biblical.”—Jane and Michael Stern,

Holy Smoke apron
How to Win

To enter to win this month’s book/apron combo, tell us about your favorite kind of barbecue: vinegar or mustard based, shoulder or ribs, home smoked or from your favorite restaurant. Leave a comment here on the blog, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter using the hashtag #UNCFreeBookFriday.

On Friday, July 13, we’ll put everyone’s names in a hat and draw one winner who’ll have a lucky Friday the 13th. We’ll update this post to announce the winner.

The fine print: Must be a U.S. resident. UNC Press and Longleaf Services employees are not eligible.

Happy 4th of July!

p.s. If you missed Rose’s great piece on this blog back in the day, go check out “Barbecue…It’s a Noun, Not a Verb, Y’all!”


  1. Love to win the book and apron. I’ve traveled across the state trying BBQ from the coast to the mountains. I grew up with Western NC-style, fond of the Lexington offerings, but with my favorite being the sliced Q at a bbq shack in Chimney Rock. But, having lived in eastern NC for decades I’ve acquired a taste for the vinegar-based type as well, often dining at landmark Stephenson’s BBQ in Johnston Co. Nearby is another favorite, Charlie’s Barbecue, offering a hybrid of the three types.

  2. I’m on the other side of the United States, but Southern through and through – many generations in Greenville eating BBQ!!!!
    Have eaten many a plate of BBQ, red potatoes, Brunswick stew, and bread sticks. Would love the book so I can introduce these silly yankees to real food!!!!

  3. We recently went to Allen and Son after going BBQ-less for a while. SO amazing and definitely reminded us to eat more BBQ! I’d love this book so I could explore the world of barbecue and try out some recipes myself!

  4. I was raised in a city noted for eastern NC BBQ, Rocky Mount. My father learned the trade working at Bob Melton’s for 20 years. Other notable Rocky Mount BBQ joints were Josh Bullock’s and Buck Overton’s. All served good wood cooked BBQ. Sadly none of these are around today. While I like all types of BBQ (even Texas), I’m partial to the eastern NC style.

  5. I love nearly all types of barbecue, but my heart belongs to the tangy, bright, smoky, wood-fired Eastern-style ‘cue. No ketchup. White/green slaw. Hush puppies for me, though I enjoy the occasional corn stick or corn cake. Follow it up with (meringue) banana pudding. If I could pick my last meal on earth, that’d be it.

    I also like to think I make a pretty mean sauce, inspired by and adapted from repeated guesswork and extrapolation from the best of the best. It makes you realize why the sauce is so closely guarded a secret. Sheer magic, when it hits that pork.

  6. I’m an eastern NC girl and love mine with a vinegar base! The guys in our high school learned how to make pig cookers in shop and then how to cook the best BBQ as a fundraiser for the PTO every year! Pig Pickings were/are a standard for all the major events in life – engagement parties, birthday parties, anniversaries, rehearsal dinners, just because we were hungry parties, and funerals….

  7. I have found the holy grail of BBQ and it was at a UNC fundraiser to benefit the Center for the Study of the American South. John T. Edge invited the pit master of Scott’s BBQ in Hemingway, SC, to be the maestro for a Chapel Hill incarnation of the true cross. Mr. Scott’s combo of real wood, whole hog, overnight cooking, and the sweet-tangy tart sauce (including tomato products) was the consummate BBQ experience for this dear eater. Mr. Scott served a separate dish of crunchy pig skin on the side, so no need for dessert! Although there was banana pudding also.

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