Brooklyn Barbecue Files: Appearances Can Be Deceiving

Behold, the brisket. A beefy beauty, but not the easiest cut of meat to tame. That one there is moist, succulent. It is sporting a sexy little smoke ring and a glossy black bark. But appearances can be deceiving. I’m not going to complain (too much). The brisket was perhaps the juiciest one I’ve ever done. But it wasn’t smoky enough. Neither was it seasoned enough for my liking.

The amount of smoke — or lack thereof — wasn’t a surprise. I was experimenting. I use charcoal plus wood chunks. Even if I wanted to use logs, the practicalities of New York living would make it prohibitively expensive (though I did order some sticks from Smoak). I used a lot less wood this time around to see what would happen — and what happened was perfectly fine barbecue that I wish had gotten a little more wood smoke on it. I also expected it might be on the milder side since the turkey and chops I’d pulled off earlier didn’t get very much smoke on them.

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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.

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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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Flew the Coop

The things you see in Brooklyn. Like this poster for a missing pigeon. “Dennis” was last seen crossing Atlantic Ave. by Court Street, which is exactly where this photo was taken. Maybe Dennis was going to Trader Joe’s or Sahadi’s. Obviously this either a joke or “art” or both. While taking the photo this morning, some guy pushing a stroller asked me if I’d put the poster up. I did not take credit for this bit of genius. (And neither did I call the phone number. )

A very unique individual

Listen to me!

Can you hear me, now? Good. Now listen to me. I did a podcast interview with the fine folks at Hey Brooklyn! You can hear me prattle on about The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival, blogging, work and lord knows what else. I even attempt to read a passage from the book at one point. It was a cold read on a passage I hadn’t read out loud before, so, well, it’s not my usual effort worthy of a Grammy. Anyway, go check it out.

When Cadman Plaza Looked Like Queens

As a resident of the Cobble Hill/Brooklyn Heights area, I have a love-hate relationship with Cadman Plaza. I love the open space and the soft-easy-on-the-knees cinder track. I hate that it looks like the Wolverines from Red Dawn failed and the Commies built half the stuff in and around the park. That said, this video reveals what it was like “back in the day.” It was a cluster-farg of elevated train tracks and NOISE and … well, it’s funny to think the plaza would not be a plaza had historical preservation groups been around back then. No, instead it would look like the lovely Roosevelt Ave. area of Jackson Heights. (Then again, maybe real estate would be cheaper in the area.) This comes from The Brooklyn Heights Blog.