With smoker from Miss., MrSippy BBQ looks to carry on family tradition

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Cecil Abels III says in Mississippi it's a spiritual thing to adorn trees, or in this case, a smoker with bottles, which catch bad spirits as they arise from the ground. (Rochester Voice photo)

ROCHESTER - To hear Cecil Abels III talk about barbecue is to hear him talk about his life.

"I first got into it when my dad retired in the late 1990s from the Navy," he said. "After a retirement ceremony on the USS Constitution, we came back to Strafford and he smoked six pork butts for a bunch of folks who came over."

Then after his grandfather's passing his dad, Cecil Jr., a renowned bluegrass musician, moved back to Mississippi to take care of his mom and opened a barbecue restaurant in their home town of Carrollton, population about 400.

"My dad wanted a place where he could play bluegrass music, and he knew a lot of bluegrass musicians from all over the state," Cecil II said. "I ran the smoker."

That smoker was bought in 2004, and it's the same smoker he'll be using when MrSippy BBQ opens next month in the space formerly occupied by Benedict's Grill on South Main Street.

By the way, MrSippy is Cecil Jr.'s nickname, started after he began saying he was from MrSippy instead of Mississippi (Misses-sippi)!

The smoker, itself, is parked outside on its own trailer.

"It's the engine for everything," Cecil III said proudly looking at it.

And the fuel for the engine is all oak and maple with a hint of hickory for flavor.

The original concept of the restaurant was to be almost entirely pork barbecue, but beef was added after he made several trips to Austin, Texas, where his girlfriend lived.

"After a couple of trips there I saw they had a lot of barbecue beef brisket, and I liked it, so I watched a bunch of YouTube videos, so we'll be having some brisket, too," he added.

Abels defines the barbecue he'll be serving as a Carolina-Memphis mix.

"It'll combine the tangy vinegar-based Carolina style with the tomato-base, more sweeter style that is Memphis," he said. "Mississippi is kind of a melting pot for barbecue."

Along with the beef brisket, he'll be selling a lot of baby back ribs, pulled pork and pulled chicken with some tofu for vegetarians.

There will also be a short list of his favorite sides including collared greens, which he says a lot of New Englanders don't like because "maybe they didn't do 'em right."

"They are a super food and we make them taste good," he said. "They're braised and cooked down some five hours and the juice is so tasty."

He'll also have smoked mac 'n cheese, a vinegar-based cole slaw, "which makes for a cleaner flavor profile;" baked beans and buttermilk and maple cornbread.

He said they'll also have gluten free buns and hopefully some gluten free mac n' cheese not too long after they open.

Right now he is hoping to be open the first or second week of August.

He's also looking for help, so anyone who's interested can message him on the MrSippy BBQ Facebook page.

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