We all know the old adage, “timing is everything.” If you ask Stuart Brugh, proprietor of Stuart's Hot Dawgs & Smokehouse, it was definitely about timing… and location when he bought his property bordering the Greenbrier River over a decade ago. Located on the Highland Trail, several miles in either direction of Ronceverte and Alderson, you’ll find his roadside respite marked by an inventive use of corrugated pipe and a retired canoe -- now repurposed into a massive, 15-foot hot-dog-on-a-bun.
It was that first summer in business that his well-laid plans took a right turn. His idea for a riverside camp quickly became a convenient stop for hungry kayakers, tubers, fisherman and those just passing through. In just 3 months, he sold 8,000 hot dogs! Of course, hot dogs were a good business, but he knew he was on the cusp of a real opportunity. “I thought I was setting up a place to camp, but I guess my customers thought I should be in the restaurant business,” Stuart smiled.
Within a few years, “Stuart’s Hot Dawgs” was established and well on its way to holding its own. Looking for new ways to expand, it was then that our proprietor headed to Missouri and “back to school” to learn the finer techniques of smoking meats. “Barbecue science,” they call it.
Today Stuart’s reputation for mouth-watering smoked brisket spans across Southern West Virginia. You can request it by the pound, stacked on a bun, sandwich-style, or decked out with baked beans, farm fresh corn and a buttery roll.
Stop in during the warmer months, and the decks are open to enjoy the riverside view and regularly scheduled live music. So next time you’re in the area, take exit 161 from I-64. Head south on Route 12, then east on Route 63. You can’t miss the giant “dawg.”
SMOKING BRISKET – Tender and Juicy
Descending on Stuart one very rainy day in December, we were pleased with his willingness to fire up the smoker and share his finely-honed “barbecue science” with us. “Really, the key is using the right charcoal and maintaining a consistent temperature throughout the smoking process. If it’s colder outside, that just means you need a bigger fire inside. From there, you can get pretty creative.”
Ready to further your “king of the grill” skills?
INGREDIENTS (10-14 servings)
Brisket – 5-7 pounds
Rub - not willing to divulge the exact measurements, Stuart’s rub consists of cumin, brown sugar, paprika, black pepper and garlic powder. If experimenting just isn’t in your wheel house, don’t despair. There are a plethora of flavorful recipes online or ready-mades that can be purchased.
Marinade – again, there are several nice marinades you can buy off the shelf. Stuart’s marinade includes soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, fresh lime juice and garlic salt. A key ingredient, the fresh lime helps breakdown and tenderize the meat.