Lexington Style BBQ: 'Hawking' on Fifth Avenue and back to my roots again!

Zacki Murphy
Zacki Murphy

Daddy’s Hillsborough patients often bartered medical care in exchange for country ham, scuppernong wine, veggies, jams, pickles and home-smoked BBQ. This girl got addicted to the real, hickory-smoked Q during her first visit to Lexington’s BBQ Festival.

Then, in 1987, there I was on 59th Street and Fifth Avenue near the Plaza and a huge golden statue of General Sherman being led by an angel on the way to burn Atlanta.

I had a $25,000 “pig cart,” that “lived” in a cart motel, a 20-minute push uphill. We had to import our hickory- smoked Lexington style Q hand stoked and smoked from Fuzzy’s in Madison, N.C.

Despite consistent stealing of cash by vendors, sugar packs that the addicts loved, Nor'easters to freezing rain, and yellow jacket attacks, every homesick Southerner found us. They came and then, they came back.

And, in 1994 they followed this North Carolina girl to the tiny pig joint known as Zacki’s PBQ way up on 92nd and Second. Diane Sawyer patiently waited in line. Raleigh born Dick Jenrette of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette came. Charlie Rose had to have his Brunswick stew fix every week. The Red Clay Ramblers dined after doing a New York City show.

The New York Rangers, opera singers, every Southerner north of the Mason-Dixon line showed up to “put some taste around their waste” and inhale that addictive BBQ sandwich. And then the embezzler, in the guise of a marketing guru, came and did what any intentional crook would do; steal. Having to close my beloved little joint took the wind out of me.

Twenty-three years later, here I am in Durham, N.C., still smelling a little smoky, but risen from the ashes ... and I make Lexington Style BBQ and teach my personal chef clients “How too.”

Previously in New York, my part-time job as a stylist for Martha Stewart gave me an opportunity to celebrate North Carolina barbecue. We did a chapter in her book “More Entertaining Menus,” and she challenged me to teach the backyard cook how to get the same results in less time. Golden rule? You must use hickory as the main component for a smoke flavor, or it just is NOT Lexington Style Q.

Since then, I have discovered a better way of getting that taste and tenderness. It is called the Cameron’s Grill and is a stainless steel box which can stretch over an open fire or across two burners on your stove top. You put hickory chips into the bottom that emit smoke as the heat increases. Of the local joints I have tried locally, I must say Hillsborough BBQ is a favorite. Backyard BBQ on Highway 55 does pit cooking, and if you want to be a little more into cloth napkins, The Pit is a good place to go.

Want to rent your own smoker and purchase some pork shoulders? Head over to Alston Avenue and Inscoe Tom Wholesale Meat. And, if you really wish a barbecue entertainment night, I can pull in my ole UNC cheerleader friend, Bob Garner. Bob is a TV personality, pit master and connoisseur of North Carolina BBQ. We can offer you an evening of BBQ stories and a memorable feast. Imagine authentic smoked Q, served with my mom’s Brunswick stew, some not over-killed collard greens, little corn muffins to soak up the pot likker, potato salad … and then, for dessert, banana pudding with ginger snaps or a fresh blueberry cobbler.

And, mmmmmm, how yummy is that!

Zacki Murphy of Zacki’s Culinary Creations traveled the world as a Ford model and worked with Martha Stewart as a food stylist offering her knowledge of “The South”: South Vietnam, South America, South Africa, South of France, and most of all, her beloved South of North Carolina.