A Sandwich a Day: Whole Hog Barbecue at the Skylight Inn in Ayden, NC
In this great country of ours, one could eat a different sandwich every day of the year--so that's what we'll do. Here's A Sandwich a Day, our daily look at sandwiches around the country. Got a sandwich we should check out? Let us know. --The Mgmt.
Sandwiches are often ideal partly due to convenience, but there's nothing convenient about making a pilgrimage to Ayden's Skylight Inn. Known locally as Pete Jones' Barbecue, it's a barbecue shrine ensconced in the farm country of eastern North Carolina—and one of the only places in the state (or in the country, for that matter) that still serves wood-smoked, whole hog barbecue.
The Skylight Inn's sandwich consists of chopped whole hog and a light, mayo-based cole slaw on a plain hamburger bun. The meat is served after 14 hours over live wood coals in a brick-and-sand pit. Seasoned with little more than salt and a splash of Texas Pete hot sauce, the barbecue here is a purist's dream: smoky, porky, and slightly creamy, with bits of fat and cracklin' scattered throughout in just the right proportions. The accompanying slaw is delicate, balancing the crunch of fresh cabbage against a hint of sugar and mayonnaise.
The only other item on Skylight Inn's menu, a barbecue tray, constitutes of a sandwich of a different sort. Ayden's pigs have become too lean for the Jones family to use the rendered fat of their smoked hogs to shorten their corn cake, but with the help of lard, these dense, crusty squares of cornmeal do just fine. Taken with a bite of barbecue and slaw, they continue to project a barbecue tradition that dates to the nineteenth century.
The Skylight Inn
4618 Lee Street, Ayden NC 28513 (map); 252-746-4113