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New restaurant adds barbecue flavor to Downtown Auburn

Flying Pig specializes in smoked brisket, ribs, turkey
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Meadow Vista residents George and Diana Miller have delved into their Southern roots to bring the newest eatery in Downtown Auburn. The Millers recently opened Flying Pig BBQ, which features slowed cooked pulled pork, ribs, beef brisket “that’s a little heavy on the black pepper as it should be” and smoked turkey. It’s something that’s been in the planning for a while. “For the past six years, we’ve been getting the recipes down, doing the background work,” George Miller said. Miller describes the food as “a California dream of traditional Southern barbecue.” “Our Texas brisket is very traditional,” he said. “We do a very authentic St. Louis dry style ribs and we start getting a little far afield with pulled pork. It is between North and South Carolina — one uses mustard, the other vinegar sauce. We use a little of each for the pork.” It all gets cooked in a top-of-the-line smoker. “I had it built for me in Houston, Texas,” he said. “It is one of the up-and-coming competition smokers. If you were to take the top 10 big competitions, there will probably be one or two of those there. … It is surprisingly compact for what it can do. It is the size of a fridge but can do 100 pounds of meat at one time.” Miller smokes the meat over mesquite charcoal and hickory. The brisket is in there for eight to 10 hours and the pork for 12 to 14 hours. “I’ve been using mesquite charcoal at home for a long time,” he said. “It gives you a very earthy, savory flavor. Hickory gives a kind of sweetness that adds a lot to the flavor.” It’s all in the family The side dishes are all based on family traditions. “We have a potato salad recipe from my grandmother in Kentucky. It is light and tangy,” he said. Diana Miller’s family bean recipe is on the menu, too — with a little added tweak. “During the last couple of hours, I put it in a shallow plan under the ribs in the smoker to give it more flavor,” he said. The chipotle aioli coleslaw is George Miller’s own invention. And while he was working on that, he came up with his signature barbecue sauce that includes chipotle peppers and raisins. “The pulled pork has sauce on it,” he said. “I make the brisket so it doesn’t need sauce — the sauce is on the side for a little extra zing. It also goes very well with the turkey we cook. Our smoked turkey is turkey breast but moister than any you’ve had. It has flavor from being brined.” It also gets flavor from Miller’s spice rub that goes on all the meats. It’s his own blend of 12 ingredients, he said. He eventually plans to bottle the barbecue sauce and package the spice rub to sell at the restaurant. Barbecue and more Desserts, all made in house, include Texas-style cobbler. “The batter starts on the bottom with the fruit on top,” he explained. “You bake it and the batter (cooks over the) top.” There’s also pineapple upside down cake and banana pudding, another Southern staple. The beverage menu features a variety of soft drinks. Miller plans to add beer and wine eventually. He describes the restaurant, which has a rustic look, as fast–casual dining. Customers order at the counter and then can eat at tables on site or take out the meal. Cold sides and desserts are located in a self-serve display refrigerator. The brisket, ribs and pork are sold by weight and there are also sandwiches. One of the early fans of the barbecue is Eric Nordby, owner of Little Belgian Deli a couple of doors away. “The food is awesome,” Nordby said. “You can really taste the art of the barbecue. You can taste the flavor of the barbecue in the meat and the quality of the meat. … (George Miller) has put himself out here to provide us with something we don’t have in Downtown — a barbecue place. So we need to support it.” The Millers have enlisted family for staffing the restaurant. Nephew Matt Van De Wal moved to the area from across the country to lend a hand. Niece Cara Smith does most of the baking along with other jobs as needed, according to a press release. Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- Flying Pig BBQ Where: 760 Lincoln Way, Downtown Auburn Phone: (530) 830-9196 Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Saturday Facebook: Flying-pig-BBQ Eat-in, take-out and catering Grand opening celebration: Saturday, Jan. 21, that will include samples and free dessert and drinks with any meat order all day.