Saturday, August 13, 2011

Smokin' Swine BBQ

Smokin' Swine BBQ is a BBQ food cart located on Silverton Road in Salem, Oregon. It's one of the few food carts in the city.

Ken's smoker just produced a ton of smoked pulled pork
It was a Tuesday, and the chicken tenders I had just eaten at Hot Seat Sports Bar were spicy, but failed to fill me up. A couple of friends told me to check out Smokin' Swine for some good food, so off I went. I arrived around 4:30 p.m. Ken, one of Smokin' Swine's owners and the pitmaster of this establishment, had just finished getting some smoked pulled pork out of his smoker. He even let me have a sample of the pork.

All I need is a fork and some sriracha...seriously.
I wish I could have eaten the whole damn tray.
Fresh smoked pulled pork
The pork was very nice. It had a mild smokiness, not very overpowering there. Not much flavor when it comes out of the smoker, though. I'll confess to this: I'm not sure how long the pork stays in the smoker, but it did look and smell good. While I feel the pork could have been just a bit more tender, if I had a fork, the entire tub of pulled pork, and a bottle of sriracha, you wouldn't see me for a couple days.

Regardless, I came for their pulled pork sandwich ($5). A healthy amount of smoked pulled pork is mixed with some vinegar-based Carolina BBQ sauce, served with some homemade cole slaw and a sesame seed bun. Because I asked for the order to go, Ken smartly kept all the components separate.

Components of Smokin' Swine BBQ's pulled pork sandwich.
In the back left is the KC BBQ sauce and the slaw.
As seen in the photo above, I also got a container of Ken's Kansas City-inspired BBQ sauce on the side. KC BBQ sauce is sweeter, using brown sugar and molasses,

The pulled pork, when mixed with the Carolina BBQ sauce, was good, but not mind-blowing. There was not much popping flavor here. I did get the slightest hint of vinegar in there, but it really was hardly noticeable. The pulled pork also still seemed to lack flavor; something was clearly missing in that to make the pork pop.

However, I will say that when I combined everything with the KC BBQ sauce, I enjoyed the sandwich a heck of a lot more. The KC sauce just bursts with flavor and hits more than one part of your taste buds. If Ken had just mixed the pulled pork with the KC sauce, I know my whole experience would have been different. The KC BBQ sauce -- the most flavorful of the two sauces -- was the optional condiment when I feel it should have been incorporated with the pulled pork from the start. Because the pulled pork was combined instead with the Carolina sauce, I have to judge my pulled pork experience with that sauce instead.

The cole slaw was OK here. It has a sweetness to it, so there's obviously sugar or some other sweetener in there, as well as a little acidity (perhaps lemon juice). I wasn't a big fan of the diced cabbage; I prefer the shredded cabbage look. Furthermore, the slaw was just too runny for my liking. Less liquid, more veggies, please!

Also, it would have been better for the bun to be toasted before serving. I just got a sesame seed bun straight out of the package. Heck, anyone can do that. Do something with the bun to give it at least a little more identity!

Another joint where a condiment (the KC BBQ sauce) is the star. To me, that's almost never a good sign. Ken provides great service and is clearly passionate about BBQ. I've just had better pulled pork sandwiches elsewhere. I do appreciate the slow, low, smoky pulled pork, but let's face it: the KC sauce is pretty much the only reason why this place is not any lower on my list. 3.5/10

No comments:

Post a Comment