The Neely family's dinner secrets

Shelbi's Pig Butter Cookies


  • 3 3/4 cups all- purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cups (31/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Coarse pink decorating sugar (optional)
  1. Sift together the flour and salt onto a sheet of parchment on your work surface.

  2. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and beat on medium- high until fluffy and light, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and the vanilla, and mix until combined. Reduce the speed to low, and slowly add the flour and salt to the butter- and- sugar mixture, mixing until the batter is smooth. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Cut the dough into quarters, and wrap each quarter with the plastic, then chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two 9- x- 13- inch baking sheets with parchment paper.

  3. Using a rolling pin dusted with flour, roll out one of the dough quarters (keeping the others refrigerated until you need them), on a lightly floured work surface, to a 1/4- to- 1/8-inch thickness. Cut cookies into desired shapes, then use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet (the cookies should be about 11/2 inches apart). Sprinkle the cookies with decorating sugar, if desired.

  4. Repeat with remaining dough quarters, and bake the cookies until they are lightly golden, about 8 minutes. Cool briefly in the pan, then use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Pulled Pork Sandwiches

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Slaw Pat: When you think of the defining Memphis sandwich, there is only one that comes to mind: barbecued pulled pork. In the South, someone always has a grill going in the backyard with a pork shoulder or a Boston butt resting over the coals. As far back as I can remember, there were big black drums with charcoal smoke rolling out of the stacks. (We've even gotbumper stickers down here that say, "Honk if you love it pulled.") So it was no wonder that when Neely's opened, our pulled- pork sandwich became the number one seller. Now we have customers who come several times a week and order a supersized pulled pork sandwich with a supersized side of Neely's baked beans. Of course, you can't serve a pulled- pork sandwich without coleslaw. A mound of hickory- smoked pulled pork slathered with our barbecue sauce and topped with coleslaw, on a toasted bun-well, this is arguably not only a Memphis signature, it's one of the world's best sandwiches.

For spectacular results, marinate the pork in the dry rub one day in advance; this allowsthe seasonings to permeate the meat, producing an outstanding flavor.


  • One 10- to 12- pound pork shoulder or Boston butt
  • 3 tablespoons Neely's Barbecue
  • Seasoning (See recipe below)
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 12 soft hamburger buns, split
  • 3 cups Sweet and Spicy Slaw, about
  1. Mix together the Neely's Barbecue Seasoning, pepper, and salt. Rinse the shoulder or butt thoroughly, pat dry with paper towels, and massage the seasoning mixture into the meat. Cover the meat with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 1 day in advance. Following the manufacturer's instructions, and using lump charcoal and 1?2 cup of soaked wood chips for the smoker (or 1 cup for a kettle grill), start a fire, and bring the temperature of the smoker or barbecue grill to 275°F. Place the pork on a rack in the smoker or on the grill. Cover, and cook the meat until a thermometer inserted into the center registers 165°F, turning the pork every hour or so, about 6 hours total. Add more charcoal as needed to maintain the temperature, and more drained wood chips to maintain the smoke level.

  2. Transfer the pork to a rimmed baking sheet (this is important- you'll want to catch all the flavorful juices), and allow it to stand until cool enough to handle. Shred the pork into bitesized pieces, and mound on a platter. Pour any juices from the baking sheet over the pork. At this point, the pork can be served immediately, or covered with foil and refrigerated for a day. If you chill the pork, rewarm it, covered, in a in 350°F oven for about 30 minutes.

  3. To assemble the sandwiches, mound the pork on the buns, paint a little Neely's Barbecue Sauce on the pork, top with coleslaw, and cover with bun top. Insert into mouth, taste. See what I mean? The best sandwich ever!
    SERVES 12
Neely's Barbecue Seasoning
Makes about 2 ½ Cups


  • 1 ½ Cups Paprika
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar
  • 3 ¾ tablespoons onion powder
  1. Stir together the ingredients in a small bowl. Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place, this seasoning will last up to 6 months.
Everyone down South knows that a good grill seasoning (or "dry rub," as it's called in Memphis) begins with paprika. We use the basic paprika that is not labeled "sweet" or "hot." The flavor is subtly sweet, rich, and yet mild, so it blends beautifully with grilled meats. Sugar and onion powder provide a sweet and savory counterpoint. Keep in mind that you will be cooking over charcoal and hickory (or your preferred wood), which will add tremendous flavor to the meat. For that reason, this seasoning blend is fairly simple and straightforward. For the best flavor, marinate the spice-rubbed meats overnight in the refrigerator, so they can absorb and "breathe in" the flavors.

About "Down Home with the Neelys"
Pat and Gina Neely, beloved cooks, homemakers, restaurateurs, and Food Network stars, have finally brought us a cookbook chock-full of their favorite recipes to please any appetite. From 'Behave Yourself' Cupcakes to their famous BBQ ribs, their Southern flair is bound to charm your heart and please your stomach. But their new cookbook is more than just collection of delicious recipes from a husband and wife team whose cooking has earned them accolades from coast to coast: it is the remarkable story of an American family.

Do you remember that scene in Jerry Maguire when Jerry expresses his love in a long-winded speech to Dorothy and she responds, "You had me at 'Hello.'?" That's pretty much how we felt about Pat and Gina Neely on the day we first met. The Neelys had a restaurant and a compelling story to tell, one where years of hard work earns out. They were also, except for barbecue aficionados, undiscovered.

Fast forward three years: the Neelys have become a phenomenon. Millions of viewers watch their daily Food Network show; tour buses line up in front of their Memphis restaurant; and fans around the world are clamoring for a cookbook. Happily, the long wait for the latter is over. DOWN HOME WITH THE NEELYS: A Southern Family Cookbook, encompasses all the great menu items that have made NEELY'S BBQ a destination for bbq aficionados around the world, as well as signature recipes from their history making show. Each night, over 4 million viewers tune in to watch the Neelys cook recipes that have made them so admired and loved, including: Get Yo' Man Chicken, Barbecue Spaghetti, Sock-It-to-Me Cake, and their famous Cheesy Corkscrews with Crunchy Bacon Topping (which can feed a family of four for under ten dollars and was recently featured on NPR's All Things Considered!)

Anyone who loves great-tasting barbecue will tell you: the secret's in the sauce. But for Pat and Gina Neely, the secret to their success is in the familial approach to everything they do. They have raised a family in the kitchen and built a successful business as a husband and wife team and Americans have responded to their story and their food with gusto. So get your grill on and start having FUN with DOWN HOME WITH THE NEELYS.

Links: Neeley's Bar-B-Que Sauce | Down Home With The Neelys

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