Bring this American favorite to your backyard with tips from Bobby Q's Barbecue & Grill
When it comes to barbecue, many think it's all about the sauce. The main elements, however, are meat, wood, and a rub. The sauce is just the condiment--like mustard is to hot dogs. And although there is debate over the best way to cook a frankfurter, there's no debate on how to cook true barbecue—it’s got to be “low and slow,” cooked at a low temperature for a long time. The trick is indirect heat.
“The indirect cooking process assures the meat properly breaks down and becomes moist,” explains Bob Lerose, owner of Bobby Q’s Barbeque & Grill in Westport. But cooking technique is where the alliance ends. “There’s a lot of war around geographic barbecue—the real difference is the protein used,” says Bob. Pork is more prevalent in the south, while beef is the winner in the west. “Regardless of where you’re from, everyone is using traditional cuts of meat that were originally throw-away pieces.”
Although true barbecue is cooked in a smoker often overnight, there is a way for the home cook with a gas grill to enjoy this all-American dish. First, select what kind of protein you’d like—the Best of Westport Ribs/Barbecue winner recommends you choose based on your time commitment: “You can smoke sausage in 45 minutes, chicken in an hour and a half, and ribs in three to five hours; brisket takes longer.” And don’t get intimidated by the dry rub. “It doesn’t matter if it’s salt and pepper or 12 different spices—it’s a rub.
- Using gas grill, create indirect cooking process. Heat one burner to 275 degrees. The goal is to cook at 225, but the heat lowers once the meat is on. A tip from Bob: if you choose meat with a long cook time, take directly from refrigerator to slow down the process.
- Create smoking pouches. You can find different types of wood chips at the supermarket or hardware store. Soak the wood chips in water for an hour, and place in a few aluminum foil pouches. Poke holes in foil to allow the smoke to escape.
- Remove grate above heat source and place a pouch on the flavor bars. Check on them as you’re cooking—once pouch stops smoking, replace with a new one. Under the other grate, place a shallow pan of water—this will keep the meat moist and add steam.
- Coat meat with a rub and place on the grate above water tray. Close the grill, checking the pouches every so often and replacing when needed. It’s best to use a temperature probe to make sure the meat is cooked through.
Serve with your favorite barbecue sauce. Bob says there’s no need to make your own; if you want an original simply add a few ingredients—like cider vinegar or soy sauce—to store bought.
Bobby Q’s Barbeque & Grill
42 Main St. Westport; (203) 454-7800