UK BBQ Mag Winter 2016/2017 - Page 59

So tell us a bit about yourself and how you fell in love with BBQ?

Howdy! We’re Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn from Hang Fire. We ditched our longstanding careers in 2013 and went on a six-month road trip across America to fuel our enthusiasm for US-style barbecue and love of American folk and bluegrass music. When we got back home, we made barbecue our life. A friend offered us her sofa for a few months as we began a kitchen takeover in a backstreet Cardiff boozer with just enough money left over from buying our smoker to buy the meat to go in it. Now, four years on, we’ve won a BBC Food Award for our barbecue, opened our first restaurant, the Hang Fire Southern Kitchen, which specialises in all sorts Southern style cooking as well as barbecue of course, and we wrote a cookbook which includes tales of our American adventures as well as a ton of recipes.

SE: For me, my obsession with BBQ started in 2009 when on a trip to NYC, a friend took me a BBQ joint in trendy Williamsburg, Brooklyn, called Fette Saue. It was the first time I’d ever eaten barbecue and the communal style eating, coupled with the industrial style vibe of place added to the magic. When we got back from dinner that night, his partner started crowing about how we both smelt like we’d been hanging around a greasy campfire! I think I was hooked from that moment.

SG: Probably the first iteration of Pitt Cue, which was a little airstream trailer on the South Bank in London in 2011, that had me hooked. The pulled pork and asian slaw was a life changing combination of sweet, salty, smokey and spicy. Sam would smoke a pork shoulder at weekends as we tried to recreate what she ate in New York and what Pitt Cue were doing.

You're doing a great job getting the message of real BBQ out there, it must be awesome seeing how much you've achieved?

SE: Ha ha, thanks. We just love what we do and if we can enthuse anyone to go buy or build a smoker and get into to it, then we’re happy. So pleased to see that barbecue isn’t another food trend but is definitely here to stay. Us Brits have really taken to the whole lifestyle, come rain or shine, into our hearts.

SG: In all honesty, It’s been such a whirlwind experience that we haven’t had a lot of time to reflect on what we’ve achieved. We’re both very focussed and determined people. Sam’s dedication to making great barbecue is incredible and all the lessons and tips we picked up on our road trip are still being put into practice everyday. It’s important for us never stop learning, to question everything and grow our business organically together.

How's things going with the smokehouse?

SE: Really well thanks. People seem to really love what we do - thankfully! The restaurant is more of a Southern kitchen & Smokehouse. We never set out to be a pure play BBQ joint. There was so much we loved about the American South, that we really wanted to cook southern-style comfort food too. Louisiana-style cooking is very dear to our hearts and we showcase a lot of amazing dishes from NOLA on our menu.

SG: The buzz around us opening our first restaurant was incredible. We took 1300 bookings in the first 24hrs. By the end of the week, we were booked up for 6 months. An astonishing response and testament to the hard work Sam and I put in to build a loyal customer base of the last 4 years.

The UK BBQ community love the book, it looked a lot of fun to work on?

SE: That’s really great to hear. It was a ton of fun! The book designer, Anita Mangan, is as bonkers as us and loved searching through the thousands of photos from our road trip to bring the book to life. Our publishers, Quadrille, have been amazingly supportive to us. They loved the authenticity of what we do. We firmly believed that we had to try as much BBQ in the States as possible if we were ever going to do a decent job of it ourselves and have loads of fun along the way. Quadrille were very excited to help us to tell our story.

Are you working up any new ideas or recipes for the smokehouse?

SG: All the time. Everyday something is tinkered with, created, improved. Sam and her team of chefs treat the kitchen like food lab and are always trying to innovate. We make everything ourselves and do our own butchery. From grinding our own burgers daily, to sausage making, curing and pickling meats and vegetables. It’s really important that we control every step of the process as it allows us more scope to adjust various elements to improve our cooking.

SE: We’ve been playing around with Gaucho and Asado style cooking over the summer, inspired by Francis Mallman of course. We’d love to do more of that next year. Patagonia in South America is a place dear to all Welsh people. We have a cultural connection there as any Welsh settlers moved there in the mid-1800s and theres still 5000 people that speak Welsh in the Chebut province today - so the place is calling to us to visit!

How are you finding all the equipment you installed at the smokehouse to cook on? any plans for upgrades or improvements?

SE: We’re pretty happy with what we have for now. We mainly cook on FEC120s and our own smoker that we built ourselves, BB King (see pic). He’s can sometimes be found out the back of the restaurant taking care of smaller smokes such as chicken and sausage and he’s what we use when experiment with new cuts of meat, vegetables and rubs. We see FECs as solid, reliable machines that only use woodsmoke, which is important to us. As with all smokers, you have to learn how to use them. We picked up some great tips from FEC users in the States that turn these from ‘press button and leave’ smokers to actually producing barbecue that tastes like it’s been smoked in a 50yr old cinder block pit. When we do our street food and festivals, we take BB King with us plus a whole host of ProQ Elites, which we love to cook on.

SG: Lemmy, our custom built Parilla Grill is proving a big hit too (We call him Lemmy as he’s 940kg of heavy metal!). The taste of our steaks and burgers off that grill is incredible and we love cooking with live fires.

So with all this cooking commercially, do you still find time to cook BBQ at home? and if so what do you like to eat?

SE: Cooking at home usually involves adding hot water to something dehydrated at 1am! We’re workaholics so are rarely home these days except to sleep. It’s fun for us to do all our experimentation in our restaurant with the team. It’s great having people to bounce ideas off. As we mentioned earlier, we’re inquisitive people, so we’re always questioning what we do and look to improve our cooking through learning together.

What next for Hang Fire?

SE: We’ve been fortunate enough to meet so many great chefs and cooks since starting this little business. Next year we’re going looking to take the restaurant back to our roots and holding more ‘pop-ups’ and kitchen takeovers there. We’re going to be working with some big names in both the restaurant and barbecue world to develop some unique cooking styles and flavours - all fused together with a smokey twist of course.

SG: Also, ‘more restaurants’ are always a discussion on the table. I’m not sure we’d want to ever create versions of the Southern Kitchen, so we’d look at creating something different but with Hang Fire DNA. We have a ton of ideas up our sleeve, nailing down one is always our problem! We’re also looking forward to plenty of festival appearances next year. Our lively outdoor cooking demo’s went down a storm this summer, and have been invited back to do more next year. Sam and I will also hopefully find time plan our Patagonian adventure to immerse ourselves in some Welsh-Gaucho cooking and connect with her ancestors in South America.

Since this is a BBQ magazine, read by BBQ fans, we’ve included one our more unusual recipes for you guys. We hope you enjoy it.

Hot Pig Wings with Blue Cheese Buttermilk Dip

Pig wings are technically from the fore shank of the pig, it’s basically a mini ham hock using the closet and smallest, cluster of muscles to the bone. Your butcher should be able to get you some of these but make sure you give them advance notice and you’ll probably have to talk them through it - prepare for ‘pigs don’t fly’ jokes.

Pig Wings not only taste great, they look impressive like Jurassic chicken wings! You can serve two or three as a main meal portion, or we like to make a big plate of them and serve them as appetisers before a barbecue dinner. In this recipe, we give the pig wings a little heat with both the rub and the glaze, and go the ‘whole hog’ by making a tasty blue cheese dip on the side.


SERVES

10-12 as an appetiser or 4-5 as a main course

SMOKING WOOD

Hickory

10–12 bone-in pork shanks (around 300g each)

10-12 tbl of groundnut oil

For the 4-3-2-1 hot rub

4 tbl fine sea salt

3 tbl soft light brown sugar

2 tbl cayenne pepper

1 tbl paprika

150ml Your favourite Barbecue Sauce

Mix together the ingredients of the rub together in a bowl. Make sure your pig wings have about 6cm of exposed bone at the top. Rub your pig wings in oil and coat lightly and evenly with the rub. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 2hrs before cooking. Allow the pig wings to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before smoking.Wrap the exposed hock bone in tin foil. Set your grill up for indirect heat and regulate to 108°C/225°F, add in your wood and place the pig wings on the grates and close the lid. They’ll take around 4-5 hours to smoke and you’re looking to hit a fairly high internal temperature of 91ºC/195ºF. When the Pig Wings have reached this temperature, remove the foil and glaze all over with warmed BBQ sauce, return to the smoker for a further 15 minutes then repeat once more. Allow the Pig Wings to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

For the blue cheese buttermilk dip

100ml soured cream

100ml mayonnaise

50ml buttermilk

85g blue cheese, crumbled

2tbl finely chopped parsley

1 garlic clove, finely chopped
or grated

¼ tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Fine Sea salt to taste

pinch of paprika, to sprinkle on top

Mix all the ingredients of the blue cheese dressing in a bowl, cover and refrigerate until serving.
Bon apetité!

LINKS: Buy The Hang Fire Cookbook at Amazon

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hang-Fire-Cookbook-Adventures-American/dp/1849497656

Follow us on Instagram & Twitter: hangfirebbq

And the Restaurant on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TheHangFire/

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