UK BBQ Mag Winter 2016/2017 - Page 98


What makes great BBQ you might ask. In the UK it used to be all about sausages, chicken drumsticks and burgers. Often burnt and raw at the same time. But as the Nobel prize winner once wrote, the times they are a changing...

As a BBQ judge, I have been fortunate to try some of the best BBQ Europe and the US has to offer; judging brisket, Pork, ribs and chicken at almost 20 major competitions. Teams pursue the ultimate one bite winning entry. Often to a very prescribed, formulaic flavour profile. Its great. But not like home BBQ.

Low and slow has taken a firm foothold in the UK’s backyards too. Plenty of people now own smokers of all shapes and sizes and are turning out some amazing smoked, juicy goodness.

There are vibrant social media groups exchanging ideas, recipes and advice with specialist butchers couriering bespoke cuts to your door. Some of the award winning competition teams run courses that have helped raise the standards too.

Also the restaurant scene is changing. There are increasing numbers of specialist BBQ joints turning out great food. In the interests of commercial viability though, many of them tune their Q to appeal to the masses. It's not always as smoky as the true BBQ Geek would like or can achieve in their gardens. Sometimes it's over sauced. Under seasoned. And so much fake pulled pork is turned out at every pub and supermarket!

Grillstock, The Hangfire Smokehouse, Pig and Pallet, Spitfire and the Blues Smokehouse chain have all helped change the publics perception of BBQ and are turning out some amazing food.

A recent newcomer – VooDooQ set up business in a pub East of Bristol, serving low and slow out of a container in a pub car park. Using a charcoal fired smoker, their food was of a high standard and tasted more like home cooked BBQ. Only open at weekend, you could never be sure of what they had available but it was always good.

A few weeks ago they announced they were re-locating to a pub in the centre of Cirencester. Now open 7 days a week with an expanded menu it sounded intriguing.

Unfairly perhaps, I gave them a few days after opening to get their act together and then headed over to the Hare in Cirencester to see what they were up to. Matt proudly showed me around the place. Its an old style building in historic Cirencester complete with open fireplace and arched stone windows. A large beer garden now houses their ProQ GCF smoker. It was fully loaded and chugging away.

The menu featured all the things we BBQ’ers love, Burnt Ends. Brisket, Ribs. Puller Pork, Smoked sausage. Wings. We couldn’t decide so asked Matt to make us up a platter.

It was delicious. All of it. The ribs started out a bit plain. But the sweet pork soon gave way to a lovely smoky twist followed by a little heat from their house made rub. Thankfully, nothing is served dripping with sauce. They serve that separately. All house made – hot ketchup, BBQ, Carolina style mustard and a lovely blue cheese dip for the smoked wings. Pulled pork was excellent – again not too sauced but smoky and flavoursome. The brisket was delicious and still had a bit of bite. Its how I like it, preferring it over the crumbling competition brisket that often borders on pot roast. The burnt ends were amazing – I suspect these will become hard to track down as they gain in popularity. Our favourite was some thick cut slices of hand cut smoked bacon. And really reminiscent of home cooked BBQ. The BBQ wings actually tasted of BBQ. And chicken. And I’m not normally a fan of wings.

Their menu extends to interesting dogs, burgers, sandwiches and other classics too. I’m sure they will reflect the high standards of the BBQ we had. Its supplemented by a fabulous cocktail menu including Mike’s gin based adventures.

Ill definitely be back!

VoodooQ at the Hare

By Andy Williams