A Most Frustrating Brooklyn Barbecue: A Tale

The Command Center
The Command Center

 

It was time again for me to host the annual company barbecue. That meant 30 or more people coming over to the apartment in Brooklyn. That meant pounds and pound of meat. It meant bags and bags of charcoal. It meant hours and hours of work.

All of which is to say I was excited! And agitated. And nervous. A lot could go wrong, starting with the annual prediction of 60% chance of rain. I have a back yard just big enough for 30-some-odd people. I have an apartment that is smaller than the back yard. So, you do the math. But the chance of rain diminished throughout the week until the weather on the day of the actual event looked like it was supposed to be sunshine and lollipops. The day of cooking, on the other hand, looked to be a steady fall of rain.

Oh, yes. This is a two-day cooking affair. Three days if you include shopping. But it was all under control. I’ve done this before. Even if I haven’t mastered my brisket (shut up) just yet, I have the process down to a science.

Continue reading “A Most Frustrating Brooklyn Barbecue: A Tale”

Morgan’s Barbecue: Bark Has Bite

Since hearing that Morgan’s had opened on Flatbush and St. Mark’s in Brooklyn, I’d been itching to go. Word on the street (by which I mean one of the managers of Dinosaur: Brooklyn I’d bugged one afternoon) was that one of the guys involved worked at Franklin BBQ in Austin. A couple of news pieces about Morgan’s backed that up.

So, last night, instead of going some place fancy for my birthday, I took a chance and had Cara take me to unproven ‘cue place. We all know how badly that can end in New York.

But I’m happy to report that Morgan’s met and exceeded expectations. It’s a sit-down place–which I’m fine with in New York, because I’d rather not get stuck with a tray of meat and nowhere to sit (Mighty Quinn’s). And the menu isn’t very big–again, this is a good thing.

We ordered brisket, ribs and pulled pork. All three–yes, even the pulled pork–showed that Morgan’s is, at heart, Texas barbecue. The ribs and the brisket had been rubbed down with ample salt and black pepper and had a great bark. This actually might be the spiciest brisket I’ve had in New York. Unlike the ribs at Hill Country, which are large and a little on the tough side for my liking, these were small (baby backs?) and extremely tender. Almost too tender for your barbecue sticklers. The brisket was excellent and, well, what do reviewers say about brisket? It was beefy? I don’t know. It was good. The pulled pork was surprising in that, unlike a lot of places around here, it wasn’t drenched in sauce or overly mushy. It had a strong garlic flavor, too, which I liked.

For sides, we had a loaded baked potato, which was good. And mac and cheese, which wasn’t cheesy enough.

Morgan’s has a solid bourbon and rye selection and the Shiner Bock was served at the perfect temperature.

I recommend it. And yall know how I am about barbecue.

The Great Brisket Experiment: 2013

If there’s one thing I like almost as much as stuffing my face full of smoked brisket, it’s barbecuing it myself.

SpiritAnimalBrisket

Okay, that is a lie. Barbecuing brisket — and pork shoulder for that matter — is one of those things I really, really look forward to doing. And I maintain the kid-on-Christmas-morning glee until one of the following

  • The shopping trip turns into a shit-show of an obstacle course
  • The weather decides not to cooperate
  • Five hours into the proceeding and I’m just trying to stay awake
  • When the food is served and everybody’s all, “THIS IS AWESOME” and I’m thinking “This is shit. It’s crap. It doesn’t taste like Black’s or Franklin’s or Hill Country or Brisketlab. AND OH MY GOD, DID YOU JUST PUT SAUCE ON THAT?!?!”

But this last barbecue? It was going to be different. Because I’d learned something while in Texas with Nick on our Fabulous Brisket Tour. And it was game-changing.

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Things I’ve Eaten Today

Breakfast this morning was a smoked sausage and egg biscuit at Jim Neely’s Interstate Barbecue. In the Memphis airport. Now, of course, you’re thinking, “Airport. Doesn’t count.” Well, let me tell you. Jim Neely his own damn self was in there checking on things, holding court with customers about the Food Network, barbecue, running restaurants and his nephew. Good enough for me. Continue reading “Things I’ve Eaten Today”

The First Annual Bodacious Basinkeepers BBQ

No. I did not change the name of my novel from The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival to The First Annual Bodacious Basinkeepers BBQ. Rather, in a weird bit of coincidence, my good friend Toby Dore–the guy who set up the Facebook Group for my book–is actually part of a gang of guys trying to get their own first festival off the ground. The Basin Cleanup and BBQ will be held Sept. 26 from 6 to 12 p.m. at Whiskey River Landing.

Like I said to Toby, I wish he’d have told me about this. I could have used him for a little research instead of just making up all the details in my book!

I fully expect those of you who live in the area to get out there and go check this out. Invite your friends. Spread the Facebook group around. Go, man. Go.

And for those who don’t live in the area? Well, come a little closer. Let me talk to you about Louisiana festivals.
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First Reading for My First Novel Scheduled

So this afternoon I received an e-mail from my editor at Kensington Books asking me to confirm whether or not I’d be able to do a reading from “The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival” at the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance show in Greenville, S.C., in September.

Um, let me think abou… Hell, yeah! I get to do a reading at a major Southern trade show three months before the book comes out? Most excellent.

Of course, once I agreed, the thought of public speaking got me nervous for something that’s not happening for months. Thankfully, this reading will be in the evening and I’ll presumably be able to knock back two drinks to steady the nerves.

I was in Greenville earlier this year for a conference that involved lots of brilliant people, lots of fancy food and racing BMWs at the BMW Performance Center. The one drawback to that trip was there was no time for barbecue. Not this time around!

Barbecue, booze and book-reading … from my own novel, no less … well, slap my ass and call me fanny. I don’t know if it gets much better than that.

RUB BBQ Chafes A Little

After revisiting RUB last week, I’ve reconsidered my ranking of New York barbecue joints. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Wildwood Barbecue, saying I’d place Wildwood in a three-way tie with Dinosaur and Blue Smoke, all three of them below RUB at No. 2 and Hill Country at a far superior No. 1. That’s going to have to change.
Continue reading “RUB BBQ Chafes A Little”