Kentucky BBQ Restaurant Ranked One of the Best in America by Southern Living Magazine
Good barbecue is an art. One that takes hours to create and years to master. It requires patience and focus, neither of which I have. Fortunately, there are many people around the country who do, and I am more than happy to enjoy the fruits of their labor. According to a journalist with Southern Living Magazine, one of the families who does do it right is located in western Kentucky.
There are few things better in this world than a slab of beef brisket with a nice, pink smoke ring that's still tender and juicy after 12 to 14 hours on the smoker. I also won't turn away some smoked chicken with a healthy dose of a barbecue rub slathered all over the skin, or a few links of smoked sausage where the casing makes that snap sound when you bite into it. Frankly, if you barbecue anything just right, I'll probably eat it.
Southern Living Ranks Owensboro, Kentucky BBQ Restaurant Among the 50 Best
Robert J. Moss, Contributing Barbecue Editor for Southern Living and the author of five books on food culture and culinary history, recently put out his annual list of The South's Top 50 Barbecue Joints Of 2023, and smack dab in the middle of the list which mostly features restaurants in Texas, South Carolina, and Tennessee, sits Old Hickory Bar-B-Q in Owensboro, Kentucky at #24
The restaurant has been run by the Foreman family since opening its doors in 1918 and has become famous around the area for its take on barbecue chicken, turkey, pork, beef, and ribs, all of which will have you coming back for more after one bite. But, according to Moss, it's the mutton that is the star of the show.
Owensboro is the barbecued mutton capital of the world, and the best place to sample this distinctive Kentucky delicacy is at Old Hickory...After a judicious dunk in thin Worcestershire-laced “dip”, the long, tender strands of smoked mutton are chewy, smoky, and sublimely delicious.
What is Mutton?
When people hear the word, "mutton," they think lamb meat. Which is both kind of right and kind of not, according to Food Network. The difference between the two is the age of the animal. A sheep younger than one-year-old is lamb, and anything over the age of one is mutton. Another distinct difference is in the meat itself. Lamb meat is generally more tender and can be cooked similar to the way beef or pork is cooked, while mutton has more fat, is a little less tender than lamb, and requires a slower cooking process making it perfect for the low and slow cooking process of barbecuing and smoking.
This isn't the first time (and certainly won't be the last) Old Hickory has been recognized for its take on barbecue. It's been featured on Kentucky Tourism's YouTube channel, and the web series, America's Best Restaurants.
Ready to try it for yourself (assuming you haven't already)? You can find Old Hickory at 338 Washington Avenue in Owensboro.