An Eastern North Carolina tradition, right here in Ann Arbor!
by Nicole Pelto
If you’ve driven down Jackson Road past the Roadhouse, it’s likely you’ve been tempted by the wafting scent of our 13-foot BBQ pit. The scent is even more intoxicating when you join us for a meal!
Our pork BBQ is not only fragrant and delicious, it’s also a labor of love, tradition and thoughtful sourcing, and it has earned a loyal following. One of our guests, after eating our pulled pork sandwich, was so moved by its flavor, he wrote a poem – but that’s a story for another day!
Back to the matter at hand – why, exactly, is our pork so good? Let us count the reasons!
In 2004, we welcomed BBQ pitmaster Ed Mitchell from Raleigh, North Carolina to help us design and build our 13-foot BBQ pit, located just outside the restaurant. Ed taught us the secrets to whole-hog Eastern North Carolina BBQ.The pit work is a craft that has to be adjusted daily depending on outside temperature, humidity, wind, etc. His invaluable training has been passed along to continue in the hands of our current pitmaster, who continues to smoke the tender, full-flavored pork and beef we proudly serve.
The quality of the pork we bring in from Niman Ranch at the Roadhouse matches the traditional style we prepare it with and takes the flavor to a much higher level. Bill Niman and Paul Willis started the pork division of Niman Ranch in 1994 with a mission to raise livestock traditionally, humanely and sustainably to produce the finest tasting meat in the world.
According to Iowa hog farmer Rex Thompson, “[Niman Ranch is] helping the small farmer be able to compete and stay in business. That has a trickle-down effect that keeps kids in a community, and then it helps the community with schools and businesses.”
In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, the Roadhouse collaborated with Bill and Paul to teach some of our local farms the same breeding practices that are used by the Niman Ranch’s collection of farms. One of the small farm owners, David Yoder, has been selling these hogs directly to the Roadhouse for over 12 years from Homer, MI. These pasture-raised Old English breeds are the animals we use exclusively for our whole- hog pit barbecue. Whether they are Berkshire, Duroc or Chester White breeds, the hogs are smoked slowly for 14 hours over oak, giving our pork intense flavor.
There’s several ways to enjoy our pulled pork. Here are a few of our favorite menu items that feature the sought-after, lovingly-crafted pork:
Pit-smoked BBQ Pork Sandwich
Our traditionally smoked pork seasoned with our Eastern North Carolina vinegar sauce, then topped with your choice of BBQ sauce. Served on a Bakehouse brioche bun with a side garnish of yellow mustard slaw.
Pit-Smoked BBQ Pork
Tender pork from locally-raised hogs, pit-smoked for 14 hours, hand-pulled, and chopped. It is seasoned with our Eastern North Carolina vinegar sauce and topped with your choice of barbecue sauce. Served with mashed potatoes and bacon-braised collard greens.
Roadhouse BBQ Plate
Pit-smoked Niman Ranch spare ribs with Red Rage tomato BBQ sauce, pit-smoked beef with Red Rage tomato BBQ sauce, and pit-smoked pork with South Carolina mustard BBQ sauce. Served with mashed potatoes and bacon-braised collard greens.
THURSDAY Blue Plate BBQ
Best of the BBQ world! Eastern North Carolina pit-smoked pork, BBQ beef, BBQ free-range chicken wings, a side of bacon-braised greens and mashed potatoes.
Stop in to taste our pit-smoked pork for yourself!