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."


newtoast said...

Well I'm sure his daring and innovative barbecue is at least priced sensibly, right sku?

sam k said...

You must have ingested too much lead-based paint as a child or else you couldn't extrapolate this stuff into the obtuse yet humorous results we see here on Recent Eats.

Either that or you just drink all day, every day like I do!

sku said...

newtoast, yes, it's only $40 to $60 per plate. Sure it's more than the typical $6 plate, but you're paying for all of that innovation.

sam k, I don't know what you're talking about. This is just an article about trends in barbecue.

Anonymous said...

Successful craft movements have no interest in customer defections. It's all about the short con--the sprint to profit! Joe Pitts has to focus on getting rich and getting out... quick. They're not "customers", they're "marks". He's wasted valuable time and money taking note of others. Joe clearly doesn't understand the craft business.

Anonymous said...

Almost had me fooled - screw 'craft' if it's high and dry, I'll stick with low and slow (just wish they weren't getting faster, too, darn it!).

Anonymous said...

What I do not get are all these micro-smokers popping up all over the country. Sure, their product can be good, however, being able to smoke just one rack of ribs or one brisket at a time what kind of impact can they truly have on the market? And as for quality, they have a tendency to vary from batch-to-batch.

Happyhour24x7 said...

I don't know you, but I think I love you in a totally platonic manly way. Great post!