OUR FOREVER EVOLVING LOVE AFFAIR WITH FIRE AND MEAT

BY MATT ABDOO

The weekend ritual of firing up a smoker in the backyard has taken off. Barbecue is no longer a cuisine dominated by the South; more and more pit enthusiasts are popping up all over the country, both pros and novices.

For many it started with simple idea of wanting to perfect a rack of baby back ribs, or take the more challenging road of staying up for 14 hours to cook the perfect brisket, but the one thing that barbecue has in common across the country is its ability to bring family, friends, and loved ones together.

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One aspect of the cooking method I’ve found interesting is how the regionality or ethnicity of the person who has taken the reigns of the long cook helps evolve the flavors of this once very traditional cuisine.

In Brooklyn, we love taking some of the most iconic city dishes and finding a way to incorporate their flavors into our barbecue. From pastrami brined and smoked beef ribs, to turkey or salmon, to a sausage stuffed with cherry peppers and provolone in place of the traditional jalapeno and cheddar— the ideas become endless when you are able to break the mold of traditional flavors, start having some fun, and put a little of yourself into what you’re cooking.

I’m half Italian and half Lebanese; creating the most perfect brisket ravioli with black truffle butter and barolo wine jelly, or Zaatar spiced ribs, are just a few delicious ways of taking inspiration from my heritage and applying it to the forever evolving art of cooking with open fire.

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Try this recipe for Zaatar spiced baby back ribs the next time you fire up your smoker to give a new twist on a southern classic.

LEBANESE RIBS WITH NYC WHITE SAUCE
2 Racks baby back ribs
1 Cup Lebanese seasoning
1 Cup white sauce
Lebanese Seasoning
¾ cup Zaatar (a mixture of sumac, sesame seeds, and herbs, used throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean)
¼ cup Cavenders Greek Seasoning
Combine ingredients and mix.
Transfer to an airtight container until ready to use.
White Sauce
¾ Cup Hellman’s Mayonnaise
½ Cup Labne (plain Greek yogurt)
2 Tbsp. white distilled vinegar
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 ½ tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. dried dill
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.

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Remove ribs from the packaging and pat dry. Generously season with the Lebanese seasoning mix and allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes. While the ribs are marinating, preheat oven or smoker with two chunks of cherry wood to 250°F. Once it reaches temperature, place ribs on a rack inside and cook for approximately 3½ to 4 hours, or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the meat reaches 198°F. Remove the ribs and wrap in non-waxed butcher paper in a warm place to rest for 20 minutes. Once ribs have rested, remove from the butcher paper, cut into desired size, and generously drizzle with white sauce. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve.
Matt serves as executive chef and owner of both Pig Beach in Brooklyn and Pig Bleecker and has plans to expand the smoke centric brand. He, his wife, Meghan, and their son, Luke, reside in here in the city.

PAIRING Evan Williams Bourbon
Made by the family owned Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky (in a facility that’s been operating since 1783), this remarkable mix of 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% barley is aged in new charred oak casks for a minimum of four years (a two year minimum is required to be classified as “straight” bourbon). Its namesake and founder was a Welsh immigrant who settled in Kentucky.

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Flavor is soft, with caramel and butterscotch sweetness, with a little dark fruit and light woody astringency. It complements the smoky ribs without dominating the palate. It’s also a remarkable buy and is great for cooking, too!

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Pig Beach
480 Union Street / pigbeachnyc.com