Monday, June 23, 2014

Smoke Signals Bar-B-Q

This past weekend I got the rare opportunity to serve up some of the best brisket I've had outside of Texas. I was helping out Smoke Signals Bar-B-Q as they catered a 200+ person party for NXNE. Nick isn't easy on himself; he's up all night jumping between episodes of Game of Thrones and stoking the fire. He's a man who doesn't sleep - and thank god for that because he'd be wasting his talent counting sheep. No surprise he made BlogTO's Top 10 BBQ Caterers in Toronto.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Aaron Franklin on Brisket

 A long time ago I started this blog with the intention of sharing my love of barbecue. Then I let it rot on the vine. My love hasn't waned but I've not had much time or interest in writing about how much I love the Southerner's take on elevating the shit cuts to a higher level. Honestly, I doubt anyone really ever read this anyway. But, here's a great cook on his greatest offering. I hope to try it when I'm in Austin again.

A summarization:
-buy an offset smoker
-use oak (it burns clean)
-buy a 12-15lb. brisket
-trim the fat to 1/4-1/2"
-rub with kosher salt and sprinkle a bit of vegetable oil
-place on a 225-250ºF grill
-fat end towards the fire
-don't turn it
-195-203ºF internal temperature and it's done
-rest 20-30min.
-slice it fat side up

Sunday, January 22, 2012


They say Texas barbecue is some of the best, and according to Eric Lolis Elie author of Smokestack Lightning - the best. No kidding.

On our way down to Austin my wife and I had Uncle Dan's Barbecue in Waco. Faced with two options, Rudy's or Uncle Dan's, we decided to try the latter. It wasn't great. I thought I'd missed Rudy's for good because the odds of me rolling through Waco again are about as good as a snowball's chance in hell. To say I was surprised to hear there was a Rudy's in Laredo is an understatement. I had no idea Rudy's was a chain - a rather large chain apparently. And to have one here, in my temporary new home was a dream. Today I made that dream come true.

Not particularly hankering for barbecue, not any more than usual anyway, I thought what the hell why not? It's Sunday, a nice sunny day off from boot camp. Brandon and I walked in and lined up beside the trough of ice cold beer. You order barbecue by the 1/2, 1/3 or 1/4lb. You have a choice of the staples; sliced, chopped, moist or lean brisket, pulled pork, turkey breast, ribs and sausage. All the usual sides and deserts too. I settled on 1/4lb. of sliced brisket, 1/4lb. of pulled pork and coleslaw. Free white bread, jalapeños, pickles, onions and barbecue sause. Yes, sause.

Oh, what exceptional barbecue they sling down there at Rudy's! The brisket is salty, very smokey and fork tender. The fat melts in your mouth and the sweet, spicy rub stands along - but why not squart somma that thar sause on thar? It's also pretty damn good. The pulled pork was tender but I'd happily skip it to have a bit more brisket next time. The coleslaw was creamy, a little watery and not as nice as The Stockyards back home in Toronto. Again, come for the brisket and stay for the brisket.

If Rudy's is any indication of what good work is done in the business of barbecue down here I'm in for a long, delicious couple of months.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Serious Eats: Ribs & Beer

Here's a handy little article about beer & ribs. I personally think the crisp flavour-backward PBR goes pretty well with any barbecue, but hey - I'm all for new beer pairings. The logic is certainly there, I'll have to try a few of these (provided they're available in the LCBO.)

Read it here: Serious Eats: What to Drink with Ribs

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Grid: Phil Nyman talks about Toronto's BBQ scene

Toronto's newest street paper interviews Phil of Phil's Original BBQ. The article ain't much but he's kinda like the grandfather of barbecue in Toronto. It's a quick read.

Read it here: The Grid: Phil Nyman talks about Toronto's BBQ scene

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Competition Barbecue: There ain't no such thing as a free lunch

I found my way into this by the promise of a free lunch, or really a series of free lunches. After a trip down to sunny Syracuse, NY, home of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, I found myself wondering how the hell their barbecue was so good. So good I couldn't stop thinking about it. Where do I find some more of this? Do they even have barbecue like that in Toronto? Google: Barbecue Competition Canada. Turns out there was a competition in Barrie, ON and they were looking for 'qualified' judges. No prob.

Chosen by the clandestine committee who-knows-who I would be one of these judges! Along side of many other qualified ladies and gentlemen I filled my boots - three times a day, every two hours for two days straight. I even went out for wings after the first night (mistake.) One of the oldest judges mused on this idea of the free lunch: "We spend about $6,000 a year traveling around the country to barbecue competitions for about $300 worth of free meat. I should have chosen a cheaper hobby." Clearly he and his wife love it, so no harm no foul. But, free it ain't.

After my first year judging I was pretty stoked and thought I might try my hand at it. $50 later I was signed up for the next year's amateur competition up there in Barrie. I placed 8th out of 13, it poured rain nearly all day and I cooked the living shit out of my ribs. Think bone-in jerky. I was fortunate enough to share drink with the youngest member of Team Cedar Grilling, the overall champs. I got a few good tips* but remained pretty dejected and didn't compete or even judge the next year. If I was going to compete ever again, I'd better get my shit together.

By the summer of 2010 the competition had changed names, moved venues and become what is now the Beach BBQ and Brews Festival in Toronto. I paid my $50 with that near complete failure in the back of my mind. But hey, this was my 'hood and I wasn't about to take this lying down, right? I bought a new smoker, tried out different woods, new rubs and all sorts of sauces and honed my craft. No more failures. (Spoiler alert: No more wins either.)

The event had become smaller by at least half and there was no longer a pro competition. The am comp was a small group of probably 12 or so, set up off to the side of the much larger rib fest. I set up my sawhorse and my smoker behind one of the vendors who swore by peach wood. His name escapes me. He has a peach wood guy. Secret contact. If I wanted some, I'd have to get it through him, you know how it is. He was kind enough to share a styrofoam takeout tray of his stellar ribs (esp. considering they were from the night before!) and a nice chunk of peach wood for my fire. I have no idea if the peach wood did anything for me at all, but who can say for sure?

My ribs turned out about 1,000 times better than my previous attempt. Maybe my best ever, but again - who can say for sure? I turned 'em in along with my friend Dave Laing who'd never competed, or even really made real barbecue ribs before. He dragged a friend's propane grill from a good kilometre away and set it up for indirect cooking. Well, his ribs were pretty damn good! So good he took 4th place - no prize but a great showing for his first time out. I took 3rd, another no prize placing but better than my first time. Confidence somewhat restored, I will compete again this year and god damn it I'll do my best to take home the big prize - a brand new grill I probably don't need or have room for.

There's something about competition barbecue, something about doing your best and making those five or six perfect ribs for the judges. I know they're just regular people with regular palates, likes and dislikes, but on competition day they're more. They sit in the great pantheon of barbecue and critically inspect the offerings. Elevated, if only for an afternoon. Win or lose, a barbecue competition is a great place to meet like-minded folk, people who obsess about barbecue and shoot the shit with 'em. It's a great time and I'd recommend it to anyone who's tasted real barbecue because if you're lookin' to find it, that's where it's going to be.

*If you're looking for that fall-off-the-bone rib (or if you've overcooked them as I had) you can foil your ribs. Just before they're done, pour a bit of beer, or whiskey and apple juice (they were sponsored by Forty Creek) in the foil packet. Give 'em 20 min. or so. Take them out of the foil, sauce 'em and toss 'em on high heat just long enough to caramelize that sauce. I reckon this saved me from a last place finish.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Economist: Fire in the hole

A great man, an appreciator of good barbecue and and friend of mine sent me this link. It's nothing short of an excellent treatise on barbecue in America today. It's worth a read, so educate yourself. Thanks Jer, and thank you whoever wrote it.

Read it here: Barbecue navigates the twin perils of mass appeal and nostalgia