JIM CARTER is a true Southerner who divides his time between Texas, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Virginia. He is an avid outdoorsman who enjoys cooking wild game. He is the chairman of the board of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum.
Recently we tried two of the newest restaurants on the South Carolina Barbeque Association’s 100 Mile list – Cannons and Ronnie’s Ribs.
Cannons, like many of the best South Carolina barbeque restaurants, is out of the way. You have to know where they are and don’t rely on your GPS to get you there. Cannons is in Little Mountain, South Carolina, self-proclaimed as the heart of the “Dutch Fork.” It is small- only a handful of tables in a trailer. However, they prepare barbeque in the most traditional South Carolina way. They split their own wood. They make coals from the wood in a separate vessel (okay, an old barrel). Then they put the coals under the meat to cook the barbeque and the result is delectable.
I was passing through on Thursday morning just after they opened for the weekend. The owner’s brother brought out my “to go” BBQ sandwich with slaw (how else to have a South Carolina barbeque sandwich?). He said, “I’m giving you a fork, because you’re going to need it.” If you notice the picture below of the typical Cannons sandwich, they didn’t make this for a photograph. And it tastes even better than it looks.
The next day Melinda and I visited Ronnie’s Ribs in Elgin, South Carolina. The Barbeque Association says Ronnie’s may have the best ribs in the State. We ordered the “to go” special with ribs, pulled pork and all the sides. We were impressed, all good. They are especially proud of their baby-back ribs and sauce.
Ronnie’s brother, Nathaniel Timmons, says only his brother knows what is in the sauce. I named off the typical ingredients in a South Carolina mustard sauce and he said, “yes, but, it is the proportions that matter”; so true. They cook the ribs at about 300 degrees Fahrenheit. They don’t time the cooking process. Keith Anderson, the pit master, judges when they are finished by touch.
So, to all you magazines that ignore South Carolina mustard sauce style barbeque, get with it. Come on to South Carolina and write about one of the pillars of the barbeque culture in the United States. Barbeque is taken seriously here and has been for a very long time.
1903 Nursery Road
Little Mountain, SC 29075
2435 Main St. Elgin, SC 29045