On Saturday afternoon, the smoke was a beacon, luring cars and trucks from nearby Beckley Avenue as they drove towards Urban Acres. One truck hit the brakes hard to pull into the lot before passing by as owner Steven Bailey tended the coals that were putting up the thick, white smoke.
"We built it entirely from materials we had on hand," Bailey said, and sure enough the walls of his smoker were fashioned from old cement blocks stacked in a ring. An opening was left in the front so air could drift across the coals, taking the smoke and heat inside. That's where the pig sat, splayed in two halves on a metal table top with pans to collect the pork drippings. All of it was capped off by another piece of steel that held in the heat.
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It was a ramshackle affair, but it got the job done. And the use of reclaimed materials was right in line with Urban Acres' goals for environmental stewardship. Bailey tended those flames till about 9 p.m. before the pig hit his target temperature. And the next day, after packing everything away for the evening, Bailey and his friends threw a party.
Urban Acres always has a few customers milling about, but this past Sunday the Oak Cliff co-op was packed. There were customers all over the deck out front, and there were customers jockeying about inside. There were animals, too, including two turkeys that seemed much more involved with each other than the crowd. And almost everyone clutched a square-shaped, red ticket that was good for one really good pulled pork sandwich.
The pork was shredded and mixed with its own juices before it was heaped on a locally baked bun. Then it was topped with an acidic cabbage salad, and if the customer was inclined, a number of pickled vegetables that brought even more tang. The results were nothing like the pulled pork sandwiched you're used to buying at barbecue restaurants, but instead something distinct to Urban Acres.
If another pork roast is scheduled at the co-op you should make a point to go, but if you're ever driving down North Beckley Street and see wisps of white smoke rising from the Urban Acres parking lot, know it's in your best interest to pull over and find out what's going on. Till then, expect a Turkey fry to be held sometime in November, and a lamb roast in December.