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The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke


D.I.Y. A Validation

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There is an old saying: “If you want something done right you should do it yourself.” While I don’t always agree with that, there seems to be something to it when it comes to barbecue. On a recent out of town business trip I went to a Barbecue joint owned by a very famous person on the professional barbecue circuit. I’m going to leave things anonymous because I don’t want to make it look like I’m singling out this one person. In fact I have a cookbook by him and enjoy the recipes very much. What I’m trying to do here is encourage you to try your hand at low and slow barbecue. This is also not intended to come off as me tooting my own horn. Anyone reading this can go out and get a good barbecue cookbook and duplicate my results at home. My point is to encourage you to do just that.
There was a short wait to get into the restaurant, during which time I selected my dinner choices. I wanted to makes sure I got something from each leg of the BBQ holy trinity: Ribs, Pulled Pork and Brisket. Plus I noticed smoked pastrami which I just had to try.
When the meal arrived I was in for a bit of a shock. The food ranged from acceptable to excellent. Starting with acceptable there was the North Carolina styled Pulled Pork. N.C. style uses a vinegar-based sauce and this sauce was much too strong on the vinegar flavor. The meat had a nice smoke flavor when it wasn’t being drowned out by the vinegar sauce. This was a no contest. The pulled pork I’ve done at home has always come out better than this.
Next up was the brisket. The brisket was still quite moist which told me it was still reasonably fresh. What it wasn’t, was very tasty. It didn’t even have much smoke flavor. Once again any of the briskets I’ve made using two different recipes from Steven Raichlen’s books have been much more flavorful.
The ribs were interesting. These were obviously not fresh out of the smoker. They had amazing potential. They had great smoke flavor and all the subtle flavors going on. I think if they were fresh and hot off the smoker they would blow any of my humble offerings right out of the water. The problem was they weren’t fresh. I think if you gave people my ribs hot and these ribs as they were served to me, 9 out of 10 people would take my ribs. In this case fresher trumped better.
The smoked pastrami was absolutely amazing. I love pastrami and I order it all the time. I’d have to say this was the best pastrami I’ve ever tasted. I need to see if there is a recipe for this in one of my barbecue books, I gotta have more of this.
Now to sum this up, let’s see what happened here: I’ve been doing low and slow barbecue for less than a year. I don’t have any particular talent, I’m using good recipes but I’m no expert, I never will be able to come close to the efforts of the masters. But every weekend I’m able to turn out FRESH hot off the grille BBQ that is equal or better than most of what I can get out at a restaurant. This makes it well worth the effort. Plus I don’t have to drive 30 mile to the city. So unless you plan on being a BBQ circuit groupie or learning to time when the food is fresh at your local BBQ joint: DO try this at home.

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