Smoque BBQ and Bells Porter

I spent a month and a half in Eastern Tennessee this year. I had plenty of BBQ when I was down there. When you think of Tennessee BBQ, you probably think of Memphis style with Tomatoes and Vinegar style sauces.  Tennessee is a long state, and I was about a 6 hour drive from there. The BBQ by me was a mixture of Memphis and North Carolina. Whatever it was, it generally came out of shacks with a smoker next to the shack. It was delicious, but it was the not the best.

The best came when my fiancé was looking through the Check, Please! website for some place to go. Check, Please! is a TV show on the local Chicagoland public TV station WTTW in which 3 local residents pick their favorite restaurant. Then all three – along with the host Alpana Singh – go to the restaurant and critique it in a round-table discussion.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-YDqu_26qPjc/ULbKCDicy-I/AAAAAAAAAwo/947359meMMo/s512/IMG_20121125_181658.jpg

Quite honestly you don’t think very much of a BBQ in Chicago.  It’s generally tasty, but not outstanding or extraordinary. It is semi-known for sweet sauce and ribs. I’m not the biggest fan. From what I read about Smoque before we went, they were really known for their Texas style dry rub brisket, and that is what I went for. I also got the slaw, the fries, and the baked beans.

First the fries. They were good, but nothing outstanding. Next time I will get the mac and cheese, which from my one-bite sample, was outstanding.

The slaw – which comes with all the plates – was very good. It had an acidic bite to it. Really unlike any of the very sweet slaws I usually get and I never enjoy.

The fork tender Texas style brisket was better than anything I ever had in Tennessee. There was a side of  Carolina sauce that was tangy and delicious and made a great pairing with the dry rubbed brisket. It’s funny. The place is supper busy and small, so we got it to go. On the wall of the restaurant you saw all the notoriety the place had, including a little plaque from Check, Please! Prominently displayed was a big signed picture indicating that Diner Drive-In’s and Dives   featured the place on their show. This is a show where the host, Guy Fieri, drives around the country and find’s the title places. While watching the Real Deal BBQ episode we ate the food, because no TV goes better with food, than food TV.

Now the baked Beans. Quite simply the best baked beans I have ever had in my life. They smelled like you put your head inside the smoker, because as I learned in the Diner’s Drive-In’s and Dives, they are actually put in the smoker. It was delicious and actually reminded me of the New Holland’s Charkoota  Rye Doppelbock.

Unfortunately I did not have any of that particular beer at hand, nor any smoked beer at all. I did have Bell’s Porter, which has a decidedly coffee flavor. More so than the Aloha Brewery’s Pipeline Porter I also have, despite being made with Kona Coffee. I think the problem is that the intense smokiness overpowered even the porter, and I quite honestly can’t see a better partner to the BBQ than a smoked beer. Maybe not one that is so smokey as the Charkoota Rye, but a smoked one nonetheless. The sweetness of the dobblebock would work nicely with the tangi-sweetness of the Carolina sauce. Next time I will be more prepared.

Advertisements

Welsh Rarebit and Bells Porter

Imagine a snowy Saturday Morning. It’s the weekend so you don’t have to go to work. You light a fire in your fireplace, break out your camp oven, and set it in the hearth. You make a roue, then through in some heavy cream and porter. Then you slowly melt some fine aged cheddar. You take this  and pour it over some rye toast that you toasted over the fire, and pair it with the same beer you used in the recipe and you have yourself a fine wintery morning indeed.

Of course it is Autumn, and a rather warm day at that. I also don’t have a fireplace or a camp oven (even though it is on my wishlist). I used my heaviest saucepan instead of a camp oven and put it on low heat on my stove top  Doing this gave me Welsh Rarebit. A dish I have only heard of from Alton Brown’s  Good Eats, but a dish that I think more people should try.

The Bell’s Porter has an intense coffee and espresso flavor. It lends a bit of this to the rarebit, although mostly it is a creamy, savory, cheesy taste. The rye is a dark German rye which compliments the savory cheddar flavor immensely. Rye lends a great pepper flavor, and pepper is just so ambiguous with savory flavors. I’m not saying it boring, I’m saying that there is a reason that every steak in America is cooked with at least salt and pepper.

The porter is a decently bitter beer as well, and it helps cut the relative creamy nature of the rarebit. I ended up having it for dinner, but it is really heavy as the sole portion of the meal, and probably should just be a side as it is originally intended. Or of course a great breakfast to keep up your strength on a cold winter’s morn.