The fires glow bright in the Carolinas. Roger Mooking visits Skylight Inn, a family-run restaurant in North Carolina that has been serving whole hog-style barbecue for 65 years. In South Carolina, five friends create an extravagant two-day, meat-filled feast called "Bovinova, Barn Yard Burn." Six hundred hungry barbecue lovers come for the surf and turf paella, roasted chickens, roasted lamb, pigs and the main attraction, a whole roasted cow!
Roger Mooking takes a trip to Charleston, S.C., to visit the Big Red Rig, a bright red, double-decker, 30-foot trailer tricked out with two massive smokers cooking traditional pulled pork, ribs and chicken for barbecue competitions across the country. Then, Bone-in Artisan BBQ in Columbia, S.C., is a hugely popular food truck pushing the limits on taste and technique, as well as the definition of South Carolina-style barbecue.
Roger Mooking visits two chefs from Texas who love to play with smoke and fire in their restaurants and in their backyards. By day, Tom Spaulding serves classic Texas-style barbecue at his Austin restaurant Live Oak. But for special occasions, Tom builds a grill out of cinder blocks and a metal sheet and grate for a South American parilla-style spread. At Chicken Scratch restaurant in Dallas, Tim Byres spins spice-rubbed chickens from his unique wood-burning rotisserie. But in the middle of his vegetable garden, Tim has dug a deep hole and lined it with bricks to make delicious Mexican Lamb Barbacoa inside and Pork Carnitas on top.
Roger Mooking explores cowboy cooking deep in the heart of Texas, where Sandra Julian preserves the tradition of cowboy cuisine in her rustic chuck wagon. She cooks up her famous chicken fried steak over an open fire and bakes peach cobbler in a cast iron Dutch oven. In California, the Righetti family continues to fan the flames of Santa Maria-style barbecue in their restaurant and in their backyard. Metal skewers lined with 30 pounds of spice-rubbed top sirloins are grilled to juicy perfection and served with traditional pinquito bean salad and strawberry pies.
In Lexington, Texas, folks line up early on Saturday mornings for Snow's BBQ. 77-year-old Tootsie Tomanetz is a custodian worker at a local school during the week, but a serious pit master on Friday nights. Roger Mooking clocks in a night shift to help this pitmaster, her son and the owner prepare hundreds of pounds of brisket, ribs, pork and chicken. In Pacifica, Calif., Hawaiian-style barbecue is prepared right on the coast. Roger helps pit master Darin Petersen wrap a whole pig in taro and ti leaves and lowers it into a deep pit to cook low and slow over a bed of hot lava rocks.
Smokers and grills come in all shapes and sizes, but Roger Mooking has found two extreme examples. In Grain Valley, Miss., mechanic Bill Rousseau transformed a retired Cessna airplane into a smoker and transports this impressive rig to a local airport and smokes pork butts and ribs and serves them with grilled chicken for guests, including skydivers who "drop in." In Ridgecrest, Calif., Ed McBride Sr. and Ed McBride Jr. weld salvaged metal into pieces of art, including dragons that are working barbecues. They cook up juicy rib eye roasts in the belly of this metal beast.
Roger Mooking is going coast to coast for his cookouts, starting with Seattle chef Renee Erickson, who celebrates summer by smoking meats and seafood in wine barrels that have been transformed into smokers. Fresh lamb, Pacific oysters, spot prawns and Dungeness crabs are quickly cooked in these unique wine barrel smokers for a summertime feast at a beautiful farm just outside the city. In New England, nothing screams summer more than a traditional seafood boil prepared right on the beach. Roger visits Island Creek Oysters in Duxbury, Mass., and digs for the tastiest oysters and clams from the beach and builds the perfect pit for a delicious outdoor seafood boil.
At Ned Ludd in Portland, Ore., chef Jason French loves to prepare food in his wood-fired oven and outdoor smoker so much that he doesn't even have a gas stove. Jason takes Roger Mooking to Big Table Farm in Gaston where his friends built a smoker out of a sea buoy. Chickens and pork belly are smoked for a sunset feast in the middle of the farm. In Iowa City, chef Kurt Friese hosts "Lambapalooza" with whole lamb cooked on a rotisserie he built in his backyard. Lamb from a local farm is stuffed with aromatics and cooked throughout the day, and potatoes harvested that morning are baked directly in the coals.
The best place to celebrate the foods of summer is The Place Restaurant, located in Guilford, Conn. The kitchen for this roadside eatery is an outdoor grill, fueled by slabs of local wood. Brothers Vaughn and Gary Knowles take Roger Mooking to the lumberyard for wood and the docks for fresh-caught lobsters and clams for a breathtaking wood-fired New England seafood feast. In Olympia, Wash., the Nisqually Tribe teaches Roger two traditional ways of preparing seafood.
Three times a year, Mark Skudlarek fires his three-chamber kiln at Cambridge Pottery in Cambridge, Wis., borrowing some of the kiln's coals to place them in an outdoor wood-fired oven and in the grill for a celebratory feast, and Roger Mooking is there to taste the goods from the custom-designed earthenware bakers. In Deadwood, Ore., a couple turned a metal barrel into an everyday, outside oven. They invite Roger to pick produce from their bountiful garden and help prepare their favorite family recipes.