Happy Fork Report Friday!!

Thick, fragrant smoke blurs my vision as I approach the red wagon. Anticipation of what's to come clouds my thoughts as my hunger deepens and cravings dance about my mind.

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As I'm about to succumb to the hunger demons, a figure emerges from the red wagon, holding a disposable container. It's James Lawson, owner of AJ's Smokin' BBQ, and the food gods are about to view me with favor. James knows my proclivity surrounding cuisine, and asks me to try everything and give him feedback. I dive into the plate of pulled pork and sides while flavors of smoke and sweet and tangy sauce make themselves known.

AJ's Smokin' BBQ via Facebook
AJ's Smokin' BBQ via Facebook

As with much cuisine, I'm an avowed BBQ snob. I've chased BBQ in Texas, across the Carolinas, in back alleys in Kansas City, and learned how to create from old pitmasters. BBQ is my jam, and I tend to wax hypercritical in its presence.

AJ's Smokin' BBQ was born in Las Vegas in the early 2000s. It's the classic story. James prepared BBQ delights for friends who sang his praises and urged him to offer his food to the public. Now based in the Otego, NY area, AJ's Smokin' BBQ does just that, and their mobile operation can be found at events all over the region.

Though James is master of the BBQ domain, this is a family affair. You'll see his wife and kids hustling alongside him, singing the BBQ gospel like drunks in a midnight choir. AJ's Smokin' BBQ's offerings are partly what you'd expect, and partly unique to their business.

Any time I've had their ribs, they've fallen off the bone and have a signature smoke ring. They're usually doused in one of James' sauces, he's always tinkering. The pulled pork is as good as I've had in rural South Carolina. But the one dish that's lived in my memory for a bit are their Armadillo Eggs.

AJ's Smokin' BBQ via Facebook
AJ's Smokin' BBQ via Facebook

The basis is simple. Cream cheese is wrapped in jalapeno, then wrapped in sausage, and finally a layer of bacon is added. It's placed in the smoker, and then served at just the right time. Talk about a flavor bomb that's shaped like one. This one is always a perennial favorite at events.

For May 4th, Star Wars day, they will have a themed menu. Porg eggs, pulled Gamorrean, and bantha brisket will be on the menu. They'll also be debuting their blue drinks as seen in the cantina on Mos Eisley, as well as Andor's blue noodles! You can catch them at the Wieting Theatre in Worcester, NY on May 4th as part of their Star Wars Day celebration.

Like and follow AJ's Smokin' BBQ on Facebook to track their appearances, and be sure to get yourself an porg egg. Tell em I sent you!

Oneonta and Otsego County Barbecue Trail


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