I started craving some of the interesting barbecue from Atlanta’s western side that I’ve mentioned in these pages before. This is the barbecue served with what’s called either Hudson’s-style sauce, or juice by its fans, and longtime readers may know all too well that I’ve preached its unique style many times before. What I haven’t done, however, is attempt to provide photographs of what the heck I’m talking about, relying instead on descriptions. So one Friday last month, Marie and I had a day off and decided to give the girlchild a little attention and quality time. We left the baby in daycare and took the teenager out to Austell for lunch at Wallace Barbecue. We covered this restaurant in 2010, but I don’t believe that we did a good job. I certainly no longer advise ordering the meat dry. In order to best experience Hudson’s-style sauce, you need to just get a pork and stew plate as it comes.
While you’re waiting, you can look at the hot mustard sauce on the table.
Like the sauce that will arrive with your food, this is another unique sauce to the area. Each of the Hudson’s-style places serve it, as do Billy Bob’s in Carrollton and Barbecue Street in Kennesaw. Note the color and how you can see the sprinkles of cayenne pepper. This is not like South Carolina Piedmont mustard sauce, nor is it like Columbus/Phenix City/Opelika mustard sauce. Each is very, very different from the other. This stuff is “no kidding” hot.
As an aside, I bought a container of this hot mustard sauce from Billy Bob’s. Marie cooked chicken and we ladled some sauce over it. The result was painful, but we managed it and enjoyed it. Then I put a leftover breast in a container of mustard and let it sit in the fridge for three days, soaking up the mustard. It was so unbelievably hot that I could not finish it. That might have been the hottest thing that I’ve ever tried to eat.
Anyway, here, I tried to capture the presentation of the meat in sauce.
This is a dark red and very thin sauce, and the meat is served completely drowned in it. It is not cooked in the sauce like we frequently see in Middle Georgia, and nor is it served with a single and simple ladle; this meat is drowned so much that Louie the Lifeguard would sing about it. While red, the sauce is not like the frequently-seen northeast Georgia red vinegar-tomato mix. It is considerably thinner than that. It is not like what I understand to be Lexington-style red vinegar sauce. While I have not actually ever visited Lexington and its famous barbecue shacks, the places that claim to serve a Lexington-style sauce (usually termed “North Carolina vinegar”), such as 521 BBQ in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and Swallow at the Hollow in Roswell, Georgia offer up a sauce that is thin and pink. This is very dark red.
I spoke to both our server and the owner, Martha Taylor, who took over the restaurant from her brother, Gerald Wallace, in 1972. Neither would be moved much on the recipe of the sauce, but, separately, they each mentioned a few of the ingredients: vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, a very little amount of ketchup, and a little black pepper. It is called Hudson’s-style sauce after Buford Hudson, owner of Douglasville’s much-loved Hudson’s Hickory House, who first concocted this recipe and brought it to the public when his restaurant opened in 1962.
Some other standards on the menu at Hudson’s-styled places include hand-cut fries and an awesome thick orange Brunswick stew, heavy on the corn and onions.
I hope this chapter makes my interest in this particular style a little more clear, and explains what makes it unique. You can visit the style’s tag to read some more about the restaurants that feature it, although I am afraid that the learning-as-I-go nature of things means there is a lot of recursion and repetition among them. If you happen to know of any others, please get in touch. I would love to expand our knowledge base.
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