Ed Mitchell, Ryan Mitchell, and Zella PalmerMay 26, 2023
Ed Mitchell's Barbeque
Ed Mitchell’s journey in the barbeque business began in 1991 with a lunch for his mama, who was grieving the loss of Ed’s father. Ed drove to the nearby Piggly Wiggly to buy a thirty-five-pound pig—that’s a small one—and fired up the coals. As smoke filled the air and the pork skin started to crackle, the few customers at the family bodega started to inquire about lunch and what smelled so good. More than thirty years later, Ed is known simply as “The Pitmaster” in barbeque circles and is widely considered one of the best at what he does.
From cracklin to hush puppies, fried green tomatoes to deviled eggs, okra poppers, skillet cornbread, potato salad, and pickled pigs’ feet, Ed Mitchell's Barbeque (Ecco, 2023) is filled with delicious and essential recipes honed over decades. And, of course, there is the barbeque—mouth-watering baby back ribs, smoked pork chops, backyard brisket, and barbequed chicken—all paired with lively and warmly told stories from the Mitchell family. Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque is rich with the history of Wilson, North Carolina, and yet promises to bring barbeque to the next level.
Ed’s son Ryan Mitchell, who is a renowned pitmaster in his own right, co-authored the book with his father, along with Zella Palmer.
Ryan talks to New Books Network about the unwritten chapters of the rich and complex history of North Carolina whole-hog barbeque – a method passed down through generations over the course of 125 years and hearkens back even further than that, to his ancestors who were plantation sharecroppers and, before that, enslaved. He shares stories of his father’s journey and his own, discusses the impetus behind the cookbook, and offers his views on the future of barbecue.
Interview by Laura Goldberg, longtime food blogger at Vittlesvamp.com.