Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Secret to Great Barbeque

I saw an interview with Mr. Stubbs, the guy who produces the line of Stubbs Barbeque Sauce. The host asked him what the secret to barbeque was, and he replied “The same thing as with a good marriage: Patience and Love.”

He really hit the nail right on the head. Great barbeque requires patience. Anybody who says that you can speed things up with a special marinade or higher heat is probably a Yankee. The barbeque is going to take as long as it’s going to take. You must cook it until it is done. If a recipe says something line “Put the pork butt on the smoker for 8 hours at 210 degrees” then throw the recipe away. It will be done when it’s done.

The love part comes from doing the little things that seem inconsequential but in the end make a huge difference. Just like what you do for your spouse. Spending two hours getting the heat level just right requires love. Getting your ribs to room temperature before you put them on the smoker requires love. Using lump charcoal lit by crumpled up newspaper requires love.

I wish there was a single secret that I could reveal that would explain the difference between the mediocre barbeque to be had in mass production chain restaurants and the truly splendid barbeque to be found in the backyards of aficionados and the best barbeque joints. But the fact is that there are lots of little things that are required to get it right. And in fact, you can produce passable barbeque if you skip a few steps, but the truly sublime plate of barbeque comes from hours of devotion and doing all the little things right.

But I can tell you a few things that won't work. Barbeque cooked in an electric oven with liquid smoke won't be great. Barbeque that goes through a shredding machine because the meat is to temperature but not yet tender won't be great. Barbeque that has to be smoothered in sauce won't be great, no matter how great the sauce. Barbeque bought in a little plastic cup at the grocery store won't be great. In general, if it's mass produced, it won't be great.

It's all about patience and love.

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