Friday, August 31, 2012
Fast & High Makes Better BBQ
To coincide with the Labor Day holiday, I thought I would focus a bit on a good old American tradition, barbecue. Traditionally, the catchphrase among barbecue fans has been "low and slow." Famous barbecue pits across the south smoke their meat for days on end to get the softest, most tender, most smoke infused meat. But there is a new breed of barbecue technicians that thinks differently. Known as the craft barbecue movement, these young innovators are changing the way Americans do barbecue with an innovative cooking technique they call "fast and high".
I caught up with one of the darlings of the craft barbecue movement, Joe Pitts, and asked him about his method.
"Sure the big guys can do low and slow," he says, "they have time. I'm a start-up and I need cash quick. I don't have time to sit around waiting for the meat to get tender so instead, I ramp up the heat and cook it for 20 minutes, then off it goes."
Pitts is confident when confronted with those who are skeptical about his method, "I have a science and engineering background, and I've done numerous studies that show that the chemistry is the same. If you get the meat hot enough, fast enough, it's the exact same impact as cooking it low and slow like those fuddy duddies do. I can show you the research!"
Some barbecue fans have complained that the craft barbecue just doesn't taste as good. Pitts responds, "it's not that it's not as good; it's just different. Does it taste melt-in-your-mouth tender, juicy and smoky? No, but that's not what we're going for. Our barbecue is tough and sort of burnt tasting. It's a totally different flavor that people need to appreciate on its own terms. I'm not trying to do tender and smoky. I'm a rebel, and if you don't like tough and burnt, then you just don't get it."
A major innovator, Pitts also sells plates of completely raw meat with barbecue sauce. "I call it 'white barbecue,' and it's going to be the next big thing."