North Carolina Barbecue Pitmasters: Simmons, Henning & Letchworth

Visit a North Carolina barbecue festival, and you’ll quickly learn that in 2023, barbecue comes in all shapes, sizes, and flavors. 

Sure, there’s always a debate over Eastern Whole Hog and vinegar versus Western Pork Shoulder, red slaw, and barbecue dip with ketchupMany people in North Carolina make barbecue in one of those ways. They do so because many people in North Carolina – and all around the world – like it like that. And they always have.

But in the great barbecue state of North Carolina, people like a lot of other barbecue angles, too. The barbecue menu is diversifying even if the barbecue joint isn’t changing too much.

That’s opening the door to new North Carolina barbecue flavors and new low and slow cooking methods that are finding a home alongside those other traditional favorite flavors.

On this Low and Slow Barbecue Show episode, we meet pig masters AND pitmasters who stoke flames of tradition and challenge expectations. We talk to Ronald Simmons from Master Blend Family Farms, a third-generation family farming business specializing in pasture-raised pork. And Ronald and his team make some mean andouille sausage in Kenansville, N.C.

Keith Henning is the Pitmaster at Black Powder Smokehouse in Jamestown and Asheboro – and he isn’t afraid to step outside the traditional NC barbecue box. That’s where they’re following the low and slow barbecue traditions of weekly barbecue specials with smokehouse meats, homestyle sides, and desserts.

Finally, Michael Letchworth joins us from Sam Jones BBQ in Winterville and Raleigh. He’s spent a lifetime working in and around the same barbecue traditions that date back to Pete Jones and the Skylight Inn’s whole hog barbecue, cornbread, and slaw.

Listen to hear all about North Carolina barbecue traditions – and innovations. Then be sure to follow each of these barbecue pitmasters on Instagram. Visit their North Carolina-based businesses and support their unique perspective on low and slow cooking. 

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