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Rodney Scott Brings Legendary Barbecue and More to Charleston

Libby Wiersema Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 38 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.
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It's a long way from a rural stretch of Hemingway Highway to the hustle and bustle of Upper King Street in Charleston. Just ask pitmaster Rodney Scott.

Once he made up his mind, it took five years to bring his artisan barbecue from its humble Pee Dee roots to new hip digs in the Lowcountry. More recently, all that goodness has stretched beyond South Carolina's borders into Georgia and Alabama where Scott now operates more barbecue joints for an ever-growing crowd of smoked meat fans.

While you won't find the country store rusticity of the original Scott's BBQ - the iconic foodie stop operated by the Scott family for more than three decades - patrons of Rodney Scott's Whole Hog BBQ in Charleston won't feel they are missing out on that signature whole hog experience.

His Technique

Rodney Scott with mop
Celebrated pitmaster, Rodney Scott, gives whole hogs a sauce mopping at his Charleston restaurant.

Scott's catchphrase is "Cut-Chop-Cook," which also happens to be the title of a Southern Foodways Alliance film about this barbecue legend. It refers to the hog-cooking aesthetic at Scott's: Locally sourced wood is cut and chopped, then fired to scorching embers used to slow-cook the meat, as in 12 hours overnight on the pit.

The finished pig is then mopped (literally so, using a floor mop reserved for the task) with Scott's sauce, a red pepper and vinegar solution that juices the meat and gives it a salty tang. The savory flavor and no-frills, hands-on approach is what put Rodney Scott at the top of the pitmaster totem pole, garnering him accolades nationally and beyond, including the prestigious James Beard Best Chef: Southeast award.

Far removed from the woodsy terrain of the Pee Dee, the Charleston pits also rely upon charcoal to get the job done. Nevertheless, the resulting pulled pork is lightly smoke-infused and moistened with just enough fat and sauce to deliver a swoon factor on par with its Hemingway counterpart.

The Food

Pulled pork sandwich and fries from Rodney Scott BBQ
Meats cooked "low and slow" over wood-burning smoke pits is the signature of Chef Rodney Scott.

Having a larger, more modern kitchen also gives Scott more play with the menu.

In addition to the pork, there are ribs, chicken and crispy fried catfish accompanied by hush puppies, freshly cut fries, potato salad, baked beans and slaw, as well as mac ‘n' cheese and fresh collards to satisfy the Southern appetite. A proper banana pudding, if you have room, makes a sweet finishing touch.

Enjoy your pulled pork piled up in a luscious tangle on a platter or on a bun for a tasty sandwich. Ribs come ready for gnawing, or treat yourself to one of the South's most curious dishes: The rib sandwich, a delicacy in which the bones and all come tucked between two pieces of white bread.

While eating one requires some deconstructing, the bread becomes a rich sop for all that crusty, saucy, greasy goodness you'd be otherwise licking off your fingers.

Come and Get It

Rodney Scott's BBQ
Head to corner of King and Grove to indulge in a South Carolina barbecue tradition.

But perhaps one of the most notable ways the new eatery distinguishes itself from the Hemingway location are the hours of operation. Die-hard fans, barbecue pilgrims and folks working and living in the surrounding area can order up Scott's ‘cue seven days a week.

Just follow the aroma up through Charleston's shopping district on King Street, place your order and dig in to a true South Carolina legacy.

Libby Wiersema
Libby Wiersema lived in California and Alabama before settling in South Carolina 38 years ago, where she's covered the state's best culinary offerings and tells the stories behind the food.