UK BBQ Mag Summer 2017 - Page 65


I don't know if you're the same as me, and see smoke as a seasoning the same as salt and pepper? you can use it in so many different ways, so I really look forward to seeing your book

The BBQ book has more heavy smoke, but the Smoke BBQ has a lot of examples of using smoke in subtle ways as a seasoning, so you might only be smoking something for 20 or 30 minutes, and so it's just one of the flavours that's being mixed in,

and it might not just be meat, it might be chicken or seafood or even vegetables, just getting a little underlying flavour of smoke, that's what I was trying to do with that book

That sounds fantastic. Your book out now, The American BBQ book seems to me to be a journey around the different styles that people can learn from, many people here think that BBQ is just one thing, but actually it's all the different styles from around the US, and the book is shouting out about all those amazing styles?

Yeah, well that's the way the book started, when I began writing it I travelled quite a bit to the classic areas, Texas, the Carolinas, Memphis Tennessee, Kansas City, kind of expecting to tell teh story of how those traditions developed, but what I found was a little bit surprising, that there's some of that stuff, but actually even if you go to a place like Texas for instance where beef is considered he number one thing, they look down their noses at Pork and the kinds of BBQ you see in the Carolinas, a lot of BBQ restaurants in Texas are serving pulled pork and spare ribs and all the rest then as you get out of the BBQ joints into the general restaurants, those ribs and those pulled pork sandwiches, the flavours are kind of surprising, people are bringing in asian sauces or S. American sauces, and chefs are really playing a lot with the technique and seasonings, so it still looks a lot like ribs and pork and even brisket, but it also reflects the personal chefs perspective. I profile a lot of those restaurants in the book and then I use that as my inspiration in my own recipe development, what can I do that's new and a little bit different, so that people can try to experience the next wave of Amercican BBQ

It seems like a lot of that is coming from New York as well, where there's a real invention, one of the UK BBQ Mag team John Gower has been working on an article on New York BBQ scene..

New York is a great example, 15 or 20 years ago, if you told someone you were having a BBQ restaurant in New York city they kind of laughed at you that you can't do that, BBQ is the food of the country, and you have to come from Texas or the hills of the Carolinas. New York has all those fancy chefs, and their drops of sauce and whatnot, but a couple of guys went to those Meccas of BBQ and really learnt to do it right, they came back, they had to learn to build real smokers in New York city which is really hard due to the regulations and all that smoke. Some guys with some fairly deep pockets made it happen, Danny Meyer is one of our famous restraunteurs in New York, and he opened a place called Blue Smoke, which elevated BBQ to a fine dining environment, that did well, and led the way for a bunch of other places I profiled a place called Hometown BBQ in Brooklyn, heard of that?

Yeah we hear a lot about Hometown BBQ here in the UK, we feel the ripples from over there, and we feel that excitement, and we feed off it ourselves with what we are doing here in the UK, we've had a clean sheet start with BBQ and it's a massive opportunity to develop something that is our own take on it, and learn from what you guys do in the states and make it our own, we have some great produce here some of our beef is fantastic, world class, to cook that in charcoal and use our own produce, we can look at the things you do in the states and take tastes from Europe as well we're really big on curry flavours here in the UK, and cooking curry on the BBQ, tandoor style is fantastic, so I can see things developing like that, but with our tastes

That sounds brilliant, then what will happen is we'll get inspired by what you're doing in the UK and it will filter over into our BBQ as well

I hope so, I think it's all about sharing and BBQ is very much a family thing, and all about having nice food with your friends and family.. what things do you like to cook at home for your friends and family?

For more traditional style of BBQ I love prok ribs, you can do them in a few hours, and I usually do a couple of different kinds, so that some are better for he kids and some are a little more intense or creative for the adults

and it lets me pull out my smoker and play with that, if time's a bit shorter, then just doing great steaks, but with some smoke usually, even if I'm cooking for 10 minutes, I usually put some wood on the fire

and sometimes I put the meat right in the fire, tomorrow I'm going to an event where I demonstrate one of the books recipes, coal cooked steak where they put it down right on the burning embers

in just a matter of minutes you get a lot of flavour from the wood getting into the meat, and that's fine because people get a little entertainment out of it and it really does taste great

I call that cooking dirty and most of the people reading will know that I'm a big fan of cooking dirty, I had a nice big T-bone steak yesterday and popped it straight in the coals and it's brilliant, so many people are worried about doing it, a nice expensive bit of beef, and they worry about it, but actuall the science behind it

show's there's not much of a better way to cook a steak

Yeah, people imagine that it's just going to light on fire and you'll ruin it but as you know if you have good contact between the coals and the steak, there's no air in between, so you cna't get fire in there, and it doesn't actually burn, it just cooks, and the flavour of the wood gets in there a little bit

sometimes there's a little ash and you can just knock that off, and it does work really well.

I started cooking like this years ago, and just dropped something in, and thought oo that's fantastic and worked really well, then I researched it, I've seen lot of other people doing it as well, people like Adam Perry Lang who's a big fan of this technique, and I thought, how can I use more Mediterranean flavours, so I came up with a Dirty baste, a herb baste with rosemary, thyme, flat leaf parsley, garlic, olive oil, anchovy, sea alt and lemon

and brushed on a steak.

That reminds me, I did another recipe for a pork chop, with a smoked butter, I marinate the pork chop and grill in the traditional way, and put a compound flavoured butter on top, and then take a hot ember out of the fire, and drop it right on the slab of butter, and it creates this big plume of smoke and melts the butter, and flavours it as well

I like the sound of that, there is a bit of theatre I think about BBQ isn't there, you've got a group of friends around and you want to bring out the nice big pork butt or brisket, but it's nice to have something like the dirty steak that really blows their minds, I really like the sound of the coal on the butter, I'll have to try that one

What's your hometown style of BBQ (San Fransisco area)?

Well there isn't a defined style in the San Fransisco area, it's a town waiting for a BBQ style to develop, you see a lot of really nice restaurants bringing smoked items into the place

but you wouldn't call them really BBQ restaurants at this point, so we'll see how that develops, a few hours south of me in California, we have the Santa Maria style, tri tips etc. which has been around

200-300 years, and that's pretty well entrenched, it's surprising to me that such a great food area doesn't have a signature style, it'sa very mixed demographic, there's no predominant European, or Asian, or South American, it's everything mixed all together

there's no one taking the lead on a particular style in San Fransisco yet

It sounds the same as the UK I guess, it's got possibilities and is a melting pot, you don't know what can come out of it yet, people are seeing BBQ and it could go in lots of different ways, and that's pretty exciting,

what's your favourite smoking wood? does it depend on what you're cooking, or do you have an all purpose favourite? I saw in the book you had beech in there, beech isn't a common wood to smoke with, it's more common here in the UK, but you don't see it so much in American BBQ?

In the American version, it says Oak instead of Beech, but it's not commonly available in the stores, so we have a lot more oak, particularly in California where I live, that's kind of the middle of the road all-purpose smoking wood, that's what Santa Maria BBQ is based upon, they have a particular style called red oak, but it's not too strong and not too light, and everyone kind of likes it

However saying that I grew up on hickory, I grew up on the Eastern coast near New York, we had a lot of hickory around there, and that was classic southern style BBQ, I think with this kind of food although we like to try new variations of it

we still want some sort of connection to what's familiar, what we grew up with, that's part of the comforting factor, so for me I have a little piece of hickory in the fire, I tend to throw a little bit of everything in there, like seasonings on a steak

let's try some hickory, some apple, some oak

I'm a big fan of blending woods together as well, I love hickory, it's got that nice traditional bacony smell that is amazing I liek pecan as well with vanilla and hazlenut flavoursm we use a lot of American woods over here, but I try to encourage people to explore some of the British woods as well, fruitwoods, apple, and a big fan of cherry, I always put in a little dash of cherry wood into the mix, and one that I don't know if you have in the states

is SIlver birch, it's quite similar to maple and I love it, it's a flavour we could make our own here in the UK

Yeah I'd love to try it, it's like beech, we don't have birch in the stores, we have birch trees in the Northern states, fruitwoods are very popular, particularly appla nd cherry, we have a really big competition scene going on in the US, I think you do too

Cherry is considered the one you have to use for the colour, it really creates a deeper mahogany colour which is really important for good scores and the flavour too

I love cherry it's got a nice sweetness...your books are associated with Weber, do you cook solely on weber, or do you have any other bits of kit you use as well?

Do you think the kit you cook on is important or it doesn't really matter?

It's all a matter of controlling the fire and the smoke, and I grew up with a weber, it's what my dad had, then for the past 20 years I've been working with the company, so I'm spoilt, they send me new ones all the time, it would be ridiculous for me to go out and buy another brand at this point, I just got

used to it, I know that there are other great grils out there, but for me I'm just very comfortable with the webers, I recently started to cook on the new charcoal summit, I think you might have that in the UK, it's an expensive piece of equipment but if you're really into BBQ, I think this would be a fantastic choice

because it holds the temperature better than any other product that I've cooked on, you can use one chimney of charcoal and it'll last 4 or 5 hours easily, it's a really high quality grill

at this point I only use webers, unless I'm going to the park and they have those public grills, but I'm a weber guy

I recently went to the local recycling centre and found a little weber go anywhere, it looked like it had been used once and left, it was £3, in the original box with a beautiful manual in it

I looked at the sate from that, 1981 it was in perfect condiiton apart from the grate, real traditional old school pictures and techniques but it was still relevant with some good recipes in, I love it that bit of kit had survived, it was almost as old as I am, which is a testament to weber kit, and it's good to shout about it

Thank you Jamie, really appreciate having a chat with you.