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Pit pioneer Carolyn Huggins Simmons bags burgers to open barbecue joint in Shreveport
Carolyn Huggins Simmons, chef and owner of Flying Pig BBQ in Shreveport, is a fierce pioneer in the world of barbecue pit masters, a role she is asked about frequently.
“As a female pit master customers are always asking me, ‘Where is your pit master?’” she says. “‘Where’s the guy who smokes your meat?’”
Though Simmons may not match the traditional vision of a barbecue master, the chef uses that to her advantage.
“I was raised in a very conservative family where girls don’t grill, so I am completely self-taught,” says Simmons. “This worked in my favor because I developed my own techniques.”
Those techniques were developed and honed through years of travel and experiences Simmons gained throughout her early life.
“I was raised in a military family and as a child I would sit in the kitchens of military wives from countries like Germany, Thailand and Japan,” she says. “I was fascinated with the flavors and smells. These amazing women gave me my first cooking lessons.”
Slow-cooked meats are the main feature of Flying Pig’s menu. Eager diners load up on sweet tea brined chicken, pulled pork, coffee-cured brisket and homemade barbecue sauces and pickles.
“I focus on simple foods made with high-quality ingredients and use local whenever it’s available,” she says. “People eat with their eyes, so I make sure that every plate is colorful and looks like a work of art.”
No stranger to the classic Southern culinary world, Simmons won the 2015 Better Burger Project, a national competition hosted by the James Beard Foundation. That win solidified her place as a chef, and may have prompted the move to open Flying Pig BBQ.
“I recently closed my restaurant Blue Southern Comfort because I made this great burger topped with candied bacon and it was all people would order,” she says. “I had to reopen under the new name Flying Pig BBQ to get the burger off the menu. It’s been six months and I still have PTSD from the thousands of burgers I have cooked in the past five years.”
Smoked Brisket Recipe
Trim one 10-12 pound whole beef brisket of excess fat, but leave ½ of fat layer.
Mix ¹⁄3 cup instant espresso coffee, ¼ cup salt, 3 teaspoon granulated garlic and coat all sides of brisket.
Put brisket in 250 F smoker. Cook until meat reaches 145 to 150 F internal temperature.
Remove meat from smoker and completely wrap in 2 layers of foil.
Return brisket to smoker and smoke until the internal temperature reaches 190 F.
Remove and let rest at least 1 hour.