Food & Drink

From Pit to Plate: A Day in the Life of a Pit Master

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Bryan Furman starts the day at a pile of logs. He buys hickory from his neighbor, Ricky, and often gets cherry from his parents in North Carolina.

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

Logs burn down to coals in a repurposed smoker, parked out back.

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

Furman begins most weeks with a whole hog, boiling the head for hash.

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

Furman parcels the rest of the hog into primal cuts, which he seasons generously.

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

To make hash, he simmers meat from the head with pork shoulder and seasonings. He serves it over rice, as cooks do in his hometown, Camden, South Carolina.

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

Chopped and mixed into the batter, crisp skins add crunch to hoecakes.

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

Furman knows when his meats are done from experience. He checks on them as they cook, flipping and basting them occasionally with a vinegar-based sauce.

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

While the meat renders over the coals, he stews locally grown collard greens with turkey drumsticks, and bakes barbecue-sauced beans and macaronie and cheese.

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

Ribs begin to develop a thick, smoky bark after a few hours.

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

By the time the first customers show up, most of the cooking is done. Furman isn’t: he still has to chop pork, griddle hoecakes, and dish out sides until he closes.

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

Every now and then, the pit master has time for a quick break between customers. It’s no surprise that the man guzzles coffee. Energy drinks, too.

photo: Andrew Thomas Lee