Already prepping for the Fourth of July rush, Fat Boy & Slim's Smoke House owner Russell McPeake is ordering plenty of pork to smoke for carryout parties. All orders for the Fourth of July should be called in to the restaurant by June 29, he said.
"To do it right you cook it [pork butts] low and slow for 14 hours," said McPeake, who uses a large smoker to cook six butts at once. "I do every step myself. I make the rub, build the fire, keep it going and pull the pork."
Slow-cooking the meat over hickory in a large smoker at 225 to 250 degrees, McPeake said he aims to perfect the art of pulled pork and achieve the desired tenderness.
"All the flavor is natural with wood hickory flavor," he said. "The only wood I use is hickory that sits for a year before it's used. Every four hours, I put wood on my smoker. You don't cover or wrap your meat, you just keep the fire low and cook it right."
Since his father is from West Tennessee, where McPeake said people are serious about slow-cooked sweet barbecue, McPeake began smoking barbecue pork in his youth by buying small smokers and slowly upgrading to large ones.
Once he moved to the Chickamauga area 18 years ago, he began making barbecue plates for the Rossville Masonic Lodge and traveling to a children's home in Macon to smoke pork for the residents.
"I started cooking for more and more people, so I decided to open my own business," said McPeake, adding that his goal is to keep prices reasonable while using only good-quality products.
Aside from his hickory-smoked pork, McPeake said he also sells a lot of his loaded fries topped with pork, jalapenos and cheese, as well as his loaded potatoes. Top sellers for dessert are homemade coconut pie, chocolate pie and banana pudding.
The majority of menu items are McPeake family recipes that have been passed down, he said. Even the potato salad and onion rings are family recipes.
The restaurant sells barbecue or buffalo chicken wings and even barbecue nachos.
"I had a gentleman in here that sells garden seed to feed stores all over Tennessee and North Georgia," said McPeake. "He's from Middle Tennessee and he came here and ordered barbecue. He said, 'Man, that's some good barbecue. It tastes like Scotts Hill, Tenn. barbecue.' That's a big compliment because that's where my dad's from and the town has great barbecue."