Local pit-master receives lofty praise in latest cooking publication

Posted Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Benjamin Franklin once said, “Well done is better than well said.”

For most of his life, that phrase has become a mantra of sorts to Charles Huggins. The 48-year-old, originally from Huntsville, Ala., has been living a life in a cloud of hickory smoke in search of the perfect smoke ring...and others have noticed.

You might have guessed he is a barbecue aficionado. Recently, a book entitled The Prophets of Smoked Meat, written by a writer for Texas Monthly Daniel Vaughn, profiled Huggins smoking style as a “rare hybrid.” At his restaurant Hog’s Heaven, soon to open in Hudson Oaks, the book tells of his indirect cooking method he uses of a smoldering hickory wood fire, rather than hot coals, several feet below the cooking rack.

Huggins learned this method from his father who had always dreamed of having a restaurant of his own.

“People would ask him to smoke turkeys during the holidays and he would smoke them along with ribs and everything else,” Huggins said. “Later, they would come by, pay him for the job done...he always wanted to own a restaurant but never had the opportunity.”

Huggins said he would sit and watch his father for hours, learning the “tricks of the trade.”

“He wouldn’t tell you any of his secrets, you had to stay out there with him and learn by doing,” he said.

The book chronicles his exploits from the 10 years spent running Pete’s Boyz BBQ in Huntsville, to following his brother to Weatherford where he opened Hog’s Heaven on South Main two years ago before closing its doors recently and moving.

At his new location, Huggins signature dish will continue to be pulled pork along with his smoked ribs and chicken, all complete with his southern tangy white barbecue sauce. It’s hard to believe that when he first moved to Texas, the pit master had no desire to cook brisket. In fact, it was six months before he agreed to cook the Texas staple - after all, he didn’t like it. It wasn’t until after an argument with his brother and a few of his loyal customers that he was convinced to add it to the menu.

When asked how he felt about the book, Huggins smiled and said he “loved it.”

He said what really impressed him was the portion of the book that referenced pit-master profiles, his is just a few pages down from Aaron Franklin, owner of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, and arguably one of the best pit-masters in Texas.

“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s pretty good,” Huggins said.

Hog’s Heaven is expected to open soon and will be greeting customers seven days a week serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Lance Winter, 817-594-9902 Twitter: @Lancewinter

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