Even though it’s four hours away from my house, I made a trip to Paulie’s Pig-Out, in Afton, VA., to experience some BBQ that wasn’t my own and wasn’t from one of my normal spots.
I try to avoid the corporate BBQ spots such as Mission BBQ and Famous Dave’s. No offense to these places, but I am looking for the remote, mom and pop places that could be a hidden gem…or could be a total disappointment!
So, we hit the road for Afton, Virginia, and hoped for the best. (To my surprise Afton, located in Nelson County, is also a mecca for wineries, breweries, and distilleries. I discovered my new favorite place for spirits, The Silverback Distillery. But, that’s a post for another non-BBQ day! )
We arrived at Paulie’s Pig-Out and were immediately pleased with the appearance of the place. A rustic building houses the business. Out front, the delicious smell of the burning wood wafts from the smokers. Paulie’s smokers, the heart of any BBQ business, are two hot and sleek oil tanks converted into BBQ producing machines!
Entering Paulie’s Pig-Out you immediately know you are in a customer friendly environment. The sign above the counter says, “Enter as Strangers Leave As Friends” and Paulie himself lived up to that slogan as he jotted down our order on old school handwritten forms and thanked us for coming such a long way just to try his BBQ. Paulie’s dedication to creating a memorable experience includes inviting his customers to sign their names all over his walls!
Paulie’s menu offers everything I require from a quality BBQ spot: Pork, Chicken, Sides, and Drinks. I contemplated the ribs, but I always revert to old habits and order pulled pork. Of all the BBQ options, I enjoy pulled pork above all the rest and can review it with more authority than I can ribs or chicken. So, after reviewing the menu, I ordered a pulled pork sandwich, baked beans, mac-n-cheese, and a MUG Root Beer. After a brief wait and quick conversation with Paulie, I gathered my order and went outside to eat and enjoy the beautiful Afton afternoon.
I went outside and picked out one of the many picnic tables available for the customers to enjoy. I had the pleasure of sitting beside some awesome old car as I prepared to dig into my food.
I was optimistic that the BBQ taste would match the overall excellence of the smells and ambiance I had experienced up to this point and I readied myself for a feast.
My first taste of the meal, the baked beans. I am not usually a fan of this dish, but I wanted to get a full BBQ experience and baked beans are a staple of any afternoon BBQ. I wasn’t expecting much from the beans, but I was pleasantly surprised! They weren’t bland and they weren’t too sweet with excessive brown sugar. (I have had beans sweeter than Boston Baked Beans candy!) They had a “tangy” taste to them that I couldn’t identify, but it was delicious. After a few bites of these excellent beans, I moved on to the Macaroni and Cheese.
I am a mac-n-cheese snob. I have access to some of the most delicious mac-n-cheese in the entire USA. I will delve into this more in a future post, but trust me, you’ve never tasted better. So, whenever I try a new mac-n-cheese, I am forced to temper my palate and remember that although I’ve had the best, I need to judge each mac-n-cheese on its own merits. So, I dug into the mac-n-cheese and am very happy to report that it passed the test! It was warm and very cheesy and baked to just the right degree of doneness….not too crunchy or burnt on the bottom, which is frowned upon in my mac-n-cheese world!
Now that we have tasted and approved the sides, it was time to meet the star of the show, the pulled pork sandwich. When I ordered my sandwich I had to decline the cole slaw. I am not sure if Paulie offered the slaw as a side or, I shudder at the thought, ON MY SANDWICH. I am anti cole slaw no matter the delivery option.
( I know this sentiment may offend a few! I had a bad slaw moment many years ago…. )
When I opened the sandwich, I noticed the massive size in comparison to the sandwiches I am usually purchasing. This was a definite plus because I love to eat! The next thing I noticed was that the meat was pre-sauced. I wrote about saucing meat in my ebook and although I prefer to be given the meat un-sauced and then sauce as I see fit, I am not 100% opposed if a pit boss wants to serve the meat thoroughly sauced and on the bun.
Once the visual inspection of the sandwich passed the smell test, it was time to finally taste the BBQ. I prefer my pulled pork very smoky…..this meat is not VERY smoky….but underneath the sauce, you get a hint of the smoke that is subtle enough to let you know it’s there without overpowering the whole sandwich. The sauce seems to be a tomato-based sauce, but I am no sauce scientist. If it ain’t vinegar based or mustard based, I assume a tomato-based product! Whatever the base, the combination of meat, sauce, and smoke melded together to deliver one helluva pulled pork experience.
It was a long drive to Paulie’s Pig-Out and I am thankful that the BBQ, the scenery, and the discovery of distilleries, made the trip enjoyable and a worthy time investment. Visit Afton, visit Silverback Distilleries, and visit Paulie’s Pig-Out for one delicious BBQ meal as part of a day to remember in a quiet and peaceful corner of America!
A couple of Links from today:
Don’t forget that if you have a smoker and are unsure how to prepare your own pulled pork, buy my ebook for a mere 99 cents!! You will receive the most basic guide to pulled pork preparation that you can use to achieve delicious results!!