Everybody”s heard of pork and beans, but who has heard of pork and bugs? If you haven”t, you will.
The bugs, of course, are mudbugs — crayfish if you live north of Kentucky. Crawdads or crawfish if you live around here. Fat, red, juicy, spiced-up crawfish, in a boiling bath with new potatoes and corn. Mmmmm. Some like them so hot-and-spicy they burn the lips, fingers and hands. The Dooey does ”em just right.
The pork is pulled pork, as in pig meat. (I was wondering if pigs actually know how good they taste.) And if the thought of eating pork turns you off, then don”t read any further. Stop! Go read a book or plant some seeds for your summer garden.
The birth of ”The Dooey”
Steven Carmichael, district manager of the three Little Dooeys in the Golden Triangle, shared with me some background information about this local institution.
The first Little Dooey was founded about 20 years ago in Starkville by Barry Wood, who began cooking pork butts in a gas station.
Wood had been an insurance agent in the Starkville area for about 25 years and had cooked barbecued chickens for area fundraisers. At that time there was really no place that served barbecued ribs and chicken, so the Wood family began tinkering with the idea of starting a business.
Well, the gas station gave way to “the little red house” on Fellowship Street off of University Drive in Starkville, directly across the street from a cemetery. Friends warned them that it might be hard to find, this little red house.
Wood reminded them if the food was good, the location would not be a problem. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Food Network and Southern Living, he was right. Since 1985, local folks have been pouring into the little red house, which has several added-on rooms, nooks and crannies and decks for eating alfresco.
Five years later “The Dooey” made its debut in Columbus on Highway 45, followed by the one in East Columbus, which burned to the ground about two years ago. Last June it reopened at a new site behind McDonald”s in the strip shopping center. It”s a bit more upscale than its counterparts. I like the blackened barbecue chicken salad, which is served on a real salad plate. No plastic. And the homemade barbecue sauce makes a wonderful dressing.
What about the crawfish?
The popularity of crawfish is at an all-time high here in the Southeast. Not so long ago there were just a few places where you could go to suck crawfish heads, but now they abound. The problem this winter, according to a Mississippi Public Broadcasting radio program I heard a few weeks ago, was that Louisiana had an unusually cold winter and the growth of the critters had been stunted.
They need several days of 80-plus degree temperatures before their growth resumes, and that has now happened. When I was cooking with Chef Brian two weeks ago in the Big Easy, I noticed the extremely high price of crawfish at the farmers” market. But fortunately the price is on the way down. Good news … and just in time for the springtime boils.
Current owner, Bart Wood, son of Barry and Margaret Ann, has begun weekly crawfish boils. Friday nights are the big boil nights for “The Dooey” in East Columbus. The Dooey in Starkville boils their bugs outside on the week-ends.
“We have a truck that goes to Houma, La., once a week,” said Carmichael, and brings back crawfish in bulk. It is guaranteed the freshest that you can get here. We buy only from certified farmers.
“It”s less than a day from the farm when they arrive at your table,” he said.
“And May will be a transition month, when crawfish will be on the way out and shrimp on the way in. We plan to continue to have the crawfish boils on Friday nights and add the shrimp boils on Saturday nights in East Columbus and Starkville,” said Carmichael.
The boils start at 5 p.m. and last until the crawfish are gone. I saw a sign in the front window at Dooey East which said 3 pounds of boiled crawfish with sides for $11.75. Not bad.
What about pork, chicken and fish?
The Dooey became an institution because of its fish, chicken and pork, which is served on sandwiches, pulled on a plate with sides, as slabs, however you want it. The sides are noteworthy as well.
Margaret Ann”s family recipes include the corn salad, baked beans, slaw and everything else. The Dooey also serves huge salads, fish and a daily special, which includes the small combo: a small pork sandwich, one basic side and a drink for $4.95. Feel like a hamburger? Well, you can have that, too. A hamburger with real meat, a basic side and drink for $5.95.
The Starkville Dooey is located at 100 Fellowship St., and their hours are Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
The first Columbus Dooey location is at 701 Highway 45, and the newest member of the group, in East Columbus, is located at 809 Alabama St.
John Dorroh is a semi-retired high school science teacher, who writes a business column for The Dispatch. E-mail John with your business news or column ideas at email@example.com.
John Dorroh is a semi-retired high school science teacher, who writes a business column for The Dispatch.
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