A smokin’ new cookbook from famous North Carolina pitmaster Ed Mitchell and his son, Ryan, celebrates the storied tradition of whole-hog BBQ.
Here in the South, BBQ is a lifestyle—and no one has perfected it quite like Ed Mitchell. Raised in Wilson, NC, the culinary legend widely known as “The Pitmaster” has dedicated the past 35 years to the art of whole-hog barbecue, a cooking tradition passed down through his family for generations.
Now, Ed’s mouthwatering recipes and the rich history of his craft are being shared in Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque: Celebrating the Eastern North Carolina Whole Hog Barbeque of My African American Ancestors, a collab between the star pitmaster and his son, Ryan, and written with Zella Palmer. The stunning tome not only features a slew of delicious recipes honed over decades—think everything from baby back ribs and backyard brisket to hush puppies, fried green tomatoes and skillet cornbread—but also reveals Ed’s unique methods interspersed with stories from the Mitchell family.
“To see this all come together in this beautiful book means everything to us,” says Ryan, who has long served as the business brain behind his father’s brand. “This project provides the opportunity to give a voice to the generations of family and pitmasters who came before us. We cover four generations of the past, present and future of barbecue in this project. It’s an American dream come true.”
Indeed, the cookbook is bigger than just ’cue. “It’s moving our history for the world to see and understand the roots of BBQ and moving families back to the kitchen table,” Ryan explains. “The culinary influence, hospitality and history in the world of BBQ is often overlooked for our state. We wanted to share with the world a historical inside view from Eastern NC.” With that goal in mind, Ryan notes that he and his father became the first African American pitmasters to ink a literary deal in this space. “It was a unique opportunity to make history and write history simultaneously,” he says.
The cookbook hits shelves in June, just in time for Juneteenth, Father’s Day, and those long glorious summer days best spent with a cold bev and a plate of crispy pork crackling. The book’s release also comes ahead of the opening of local ’cue joint The Preserve this fall, a concept that will unite the Mitchells with another prominent culinary clan, the Moshakos family (stay tuned). “Permits are moving forward in a positive way with The Preserve project, so we’re excited to have an announcement soon,” Ryan reveals.
Until then, we’ll have Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque to sate our appetite. “My greatest hope is that readers will be inspired to bring families back to the dinner table through BBQ,” says Ryan. “The recipes are amazing, but we also hope to highlight the bond of family business for our culture. Nourishment comes in multiple ways.” thepitmasteredmitchell.com
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