Where There's Smoke There's BBQ
by J. Alex Knoll
Barbecue is an American original, rooted in the South while stretching back to other lands and other cultures. Chesapeake Country is barbecue country; south of the Mason-Dixon line, we're a crossroads of barbecue cultures.
For many, a barbecue is a weekend get-together, something cooked on a grill or any dish covered with a tangy tomato-based sauce.
But true barbecue is neither any old picnic nor a cooking device waiting to be fired up. And it's much, much more than a sauce to cover up the charred evidence of grilling mistakes.
Barbecue is a way of cooking. More definitively, it's the slow, loving process of cooking meat at low temperatures - between 180 and 220 degrees - for periods of time stretching from hours to days.
Barbecue, though perhaps a world-wide phenomenon by definition, is an American original with roots, styles and dialects mirroring our diverse nation.
In the South, barbecue means pork. The only two ways about it are, first, whether you want ribs or a pork sandwich, and second, whether you prefer a side of cole slaw or a dollop of potato salad, thank you.
In America's heartland, stretching from Kansas City to St. Louis to Memphis, you're talking ribs, big meaty spareribs. Pork, of course. All barbecued ribs are pork. But they're not all equal.
People are a bit different out West around Texas, and they have a different dinner in mind when they get together for a barbecue. Save that swine for the breakfast table. This here's a barbecue, and the "B" is for beef and brisket and BIG!
And if that's not complex enough, regions within regions offer variations on the variations.
Ah, That's the Rib
If you like ribs, you've got still more choices. Are you hankering for a big, meaty spare rib? Or do you prefer a smaller, more lean baby back rib? spareribs are from the underside of the pig, from its rib cage. Baby backs are the ribs projecting from the pig's back.
Traditional barbecue ribs are spareribs, large and marbled with fat and even a little chewy as they come from a lower cut of meat than baby back ribs, which have gained popularity in recent years as barbecue has gone mainstream. Even some full-range barbecue restaurants choose baby backs.
"We use baby back ribs, even though spareribs are a lot cheaper per pound," says Billy Bagdasian, owner of the local chain Adam's the Place for Ribs. Spareribs are meatier than baby back ribs, he explains, but also more fatty.
Rib-eaters must make two further decisions that tell as much about your personality as whether you like Elvis Presley or B.B. King: Wet or dry? Sweet and mild or hot and tangy?
Kansas City-style ribs - the proverbial barbecued rib and a spare rib - start with a spicy dry rub that's left to sit on the ribs for a few hours, even overnight, before they're cooked. After several hours of slow cooking, the final product is served coated in a sweet and tangy sauce that's finger-licking good. Memphis-style ribs go through the same process, but the end result - dry ribs - is served sauceless, with the spices from the rub and the taste of the meat the true base of flavor.
Stacking up Sandwiches
Putting your pork between a bun is no simple task, either, because you'll have to decide whether you want that pork sliced or pulled. Sliced, you'll wind up with a sandwich stacked high with juicy tender layers of pork. Pulled, you're in for a shredded or minced serving that's been soaked in barbecue sauce.
"Women tend to order the pulled pork sandwiches more," says Norma Peel of Pig Pen Barbecue in Mayo. "Men tend to go for the pulled pork. I don't know why, but they do."
Don't think your sandwich choices end there. Pulled pork may soak in a number of sauces, again depending on the region of the regional style. Common here along the Chesapeake is a sweeter, tomato-based sauce, close to the all-purpose stuff you find on supermarket shelves. But in North Carolina, Lexington, in particular - where some claim pulled pork originated - your pork's soaked in a thin vinegar and red pepper sauce. Down the road just a state, in Columbia, South Carolina, folks prefer a yellow mustard sauce!
Even with beef barbecue - an oxymoron to Southern barbecue lovers - you've got choices. Traditional Texas beef brisket is mopped - the term for basting during the 12 to 16 hours cooking - with a beer, vinegar and jalapelina, folks prefer a yellow mustard atop the meat whether as part of a sandwich or solo. Here along the Bay, however, beef is slow-cooked, often on an open pit, with no mop. The final juicy meat is sliced thin and stacked high, served typically with horseradish or nothing at all. Kansas City - not just rib country, but also the final stop for Western cattle drives - does their beef slow and moist but with the same sweet ketchup-based sauce you'd find on your ribs.
With all these choices and varieties, you could devote a lifetime to chasing down 'the best' barbecue. Some people do.
Tried by Fire
Differences and decisions aside, barbecue requires meat. Just about any meat will do; if you think about it, barbecue chicken is about as American as it gets. You could certainly barbecue lamb or goat or about anything else.
"When we say barbecue, we do the pit beef, the turkey, the ham, the whole pig," says Doug Mayce, owner of Pit Boys in Annapolis.
But make no mistake: veggies are best saved for side dishes and grilling.
From the time that humans first tamed fire, they found that their foods - most noticeably meat - tasted better when cooked over flames. This must have been a clumsy process early on, with the meat - the whole carcass, perhaps - thrown atop the fire to be retrieved when the flames died down or at great risk to the caveman hungry enough to snatch his meal from the blaze.
Without modern refrigeration, meat had to be cooked and eaten quickly after slaughter. What couldn't be consumed went bad and might have been sorely missed before the next meal came around.
As people gained cooking experience through trial by fire, they learned to preserve their kill with either spice or smoke.
Reports from Spanish New World explorers to the Caribbean isles tell of indigenous peoples preserving meats in the sun. If the meats were left untended, bugs would infest them during curing. So the natives draped their meats on drying racks set over small, smoky fires. The smoke not only kept the bugs away, it also added to the food's flavor and aided the curing process, adding a longer shelf life to the food.
"The noun barbecue came from a Haitian word, barbacoa, signifying a frame set up to lift a bed off the ground. But it got the meaning of a frame used for roasting meat soon after it appeared in Spanish, and the derivative word has had its present sense in American since about 1660," wrote Baltimorean H.L Mencken in his definitive The American Language, published in 1919.
From barbacoa, the roots spread.
American as Apple Pie
As a method of cooking meat at low temperatures for long periods of time, barbecue is practiced world wide.
But in the form we know and love it, barbecue is an American original, rooted in the South while stretching back to other lands and other cultures.
Promises of a better life in the New World drew European immigrants. With them, the Europeans brought pigs and cattle, which became the primary meat source in the colonies.
Cattle, needing vast amounts of pasture land, helped push America's westward expansion. Needing less range and less care, pigs provided the meat of choice in the South, where land was prized for other purposes. Plantation agriculture, tending vast amounts of farmland beyond the imagination of Europeans of the time, grew from and spurred the slave trade, bringing Africans in great numbers to the South and later in Texas.
From this convergence of two peoples and two cultures, American barbecue sprung.
Part of barbecue's magic is its ability to change tough, less desirable cuts of meat into tender, flavor-rich delicacies. Slow-cooking meat at low temperatures in early colonial times was adapted of necessity by slaves and the poor. This method breaks down the stubborn connective tissue within the meat, making it juicy and tender. Though labor intensive, barbecue has long been an inexpensive food source throughout the South.
Higher grade, more expensive cuts from the pig - the hams, steaks and bacon, for instance - are already tender and have no need to be cooked in ways that reduce toughness.
"Barbecue was created by slaves," says John Remy, a self-proclaimed barbecue fanatic and owner of Lagoon's Island Grille in Chesapeake Beach and Harbour Island Grille in Rose Haven. "The plantation owner would butcher a hog and keep the hams for himself. He'd give the tough pieces - the ribs and the shoulders - to the slaves, and they had to find ways to cook it."
As salt was unknown in their world, the slaves soaked their meats in vinegar, which provided a natural bactericide while also breaking down the tougher tissue and begin the cure. Next, they rubbed a red pepper-based mix of spices into the meat. Not only did this allow the flavors to steep and build; the peppers - several times richer in vitamin C than citrus fruit and more readily available - prevented scurvy.
Finally, over a hardwood fire, they slow-cooked the meats, keeping the temperature below 220 degrees and allowing the smoke to do its work.
Gather 'Round the Fire
From these humble beginnings, barbecue has withstood the advances of time to earn its place in American cuisine. Industrialized ranching has made meat more prevalent and cheaper than in our ancestors' time. Refrigeration and transportation make the need for smoke curing all but obsolete.
Yet here in Chesapeake Country, and across America, every time you sit down at a restaurant and every time you drive by a community hall or firehouse over the weekend, there's barbecue cookin'.
Why all the hoopla?
Barbecue is more than a meal. It's an event that draws people together over the proverbial fire to eat, drink and be merry. And for the cook tending the barbecue, it's a sort of magic performed through long, rigorous rites the results of which can baffle the casual observer.
"I think of barbecue as a way of eating," says Pit Boy's Doug Macey. "It's a happy thing. People enjoy it, they like to see it cooked, and it lends itself to a festive atmosphere."
Perhaps barbecue's party feel stems from its roots among slaves and the poor. The slaughter of a pig was a special event, and every piece of the animal was put to use and cooked to last - ensuring a bounty worth sharing and celebrating.
Macey, who got his start with pit beef - a regional variation of beef brisket - knows first hand how a good barbecue can draw a crowd and make a party.
"I was coaching football at St. Mary's High School. We had to pay for all the uniforms and equipment," Macey recalls. A member of the athletic association suggested holding a bull roast to raise funds.
"What the hell's a bull roast?" Macey remembers saying. And that's how the coach got into barbecue, almost 30 years ago, with a catering job. Since then, St. Mary's covers its teams' expenses, but Macey's affair with barbecue has never faded. "I love it," he said.
As well as tenderizing the meat, barbecue's long cooking period offers ample time for family, friends and fun, perhaps accounting for the well-worn picnic association.
"It's a comfort food, a fun food," says Bagdasian, of Adam's. "Any time you can pick up food with your hands, it's fun."
Whether you're eating a stacked beef or pulled pork sandwich or a tasty rib or barbecued chicken, you won't get far without your hands and fingers, and you may get a little messy. But that's part of the fun.
If you're hankering to try your own hand at whippin' up some 'cue, you'd better not be hungry right now. Not that it's that difficult - provided that you have the right equipment and that you start with the right ingredients. But you had better be prepared to invest some time, because initial preparation combined with the many hours cooking and tending your 'cue can gobble up a weekend quicker than you'll gobble up that first finished rib.
For starters, remember, you're not grilling, you're barbecuing.
When grilling, your object is to quickly sear the outside of the meat over the direct heat of a fire. This locks the inside and makes for a great burger, chop or steak. But remember, these meats are tender to begin with.
Barbecuing is the anathema to grilling. Here, you're starting with the toughest of meats, and so the cooking process must be slow - the slower the better - to ensure that the meat becomes tender. Rather than charring the meat, you want to keep it as moist as possible, basting it regularly to add to the tenderizing effect.
Ideally, you have a smoker, like Webber's Smokey Mountain Cooker, which has a section for coals and wood chips. Another compartment for water keeps the temperature low and the heat moist. If you're working with a traditional grill like a Webber kettle, you'll have to improvise. On the charcoal shelf, set your coals to one side and a baking pan with water to the other. Keep your meats over the pan of water. Don't waste your time trying to barbecue with gas.
You'll be barbecuing for four, six, even 12 hours. So unless you want to chew on a charred fossil, low temperatures are a must. Temperatures above 220 degrees are a no-no. Ideally, aim for 200 degrees and no lower than 180.
Choose your meat. Pulled pork: six pounds untrimmed Boston butt. Beef brisket: one 712-pound untrimmed whole brisket. Ribs: nine pounds (three racks) spareribs. For added tenderness, try parboiling ribs for three minutes. This also removes some of the fat. You can also soak your meat in vinegar for a few hours.
Next, you'll need a dry rub; elaborate as you see fit. 12 C paprika; 12 C brown sugar; 3T coarse salt, 3T black pepper; 1t cayenne or red pepper. Mix the ingredients and then rub the meat down with the mixture, working it into the meat. Now comes your first test in delayed gratification: cover your meat with plastic wrap and refrigerate a minimum of two hours and ideally overnight.
At this point, set four cups of hickory, apple, cherry or even oak chips soaking, the longer the better. Overnight is good.
Fire up your grill or smoker and let the coals burn until grey. Open wide the bottom holes of your smoker or grill. If you have a thermometer, adjust the heat toward 200 degrees, opening and closing the top vent holes. If you don't have a thermometer, let the heat drop until you could almost rest your hand upon the grill. A small metal pan works well to hold the soaked wood chips. Otherwise, wrap your chips in aluminum foil. Using the pan or the foil, set your chips on or beside the coals.
Place your meats on the racks of your smoker or grill, and start watching the clock. After forty minutes you're going to need to baste the meat, and then again every 40 minutes until done.
Next head back into the kitchen and whip up your basting sauce - called the "mop" among barbecue afficionados. Start with 1C cider vinegar, 1C beer, 12 C water, 2T Worcestershire sauce, 1T salt, 1T black pepper, 1T red pepper. Elaborate as desired. Remember, every 40 minutes, mop that 'cue with a basting brush.
A center temperature of 185 degrees will render a delicious barbecue. A meat thermometer helps you know when to say when. But don't be too anxious. Ribs need four to six hours. The Boston butt for pulled pork needs six to eight hours. As for beef brisket, you should be prepared to leave that baby on for 10 to 12 hours! With cooking times like this, be prepared to add charcoal to your grill or smoker as you go, but not so much that your heat gets out of hand. You'll also need to add woodchips as you go along.
All you'll need now is a sauce. A basic Carolina sauce calls for 2C cider vinegar, 34C ketchup, 2T brown sugar, 1T red pepper flakes and 1t salt. For a standard barbecue sauce, try 3C ketchup, 14C cider vinegar, 2T Worcestershire sauce, 1t tabasco, 1T salt and 1T pepper.
'Cue on the Hoof
With so many styles and choices, you could devote a lifetime to chasing down 'the best' barbecue. Some people do.
Sitting south of the Mason-Dixon line, Chesapeake Country is barbecue country. Season geography with the mass popularity of barbecue in recent years, and you can find about any sort of barbecue you want in these parts.
Unless you're the rare barbecue eater fixated on one particular style of barbecue - worse yet, one of the few who will eat barbecue from but one rib joint: "Nothing else measures up," you might whimper - you'll never bore of eating barbecue out.
Whether you pull over at a roadside barbecue stand or whether your choose a family-style barbecue restaurant, the final product is going to be different than anything you've had anywhere else. Even a chain where ribs are on the menu might offer the true connoisseur a worthwhile experience, although you're on your own in this terrain.
Here is a run-down - and granted, it's an incomplete listing - of the barbecue joints in Chesapeake Country. Because everyone's tastes are different, and because you now have a general understanding of the vast array of styles from which to choose, rating the eating is in your hands - or, more appropriately, in your taste buds.
Adam's the Place for Ribs
Owner and founder Billy Bagdasian got into the barbecue business in Edgewater in 1981. Today, 18 years and six restaurants later (Prince Frederick, Eastport, Severna Park, Columbia and Salisbury in addition to the original location), he's still cookin.'
Bagdasian originally studied to become an attorney, passing Maryland's Bar exam in 1979. The Adam's that he took over from his parents nearly 20 years ago was basically a "rock 'n' roll bar and liquor store," Bagdasian said.
"At the time it was a poor location, and I was looking for a different concept," Bagdasian said. "I wanted a niche that I wouldn't have to rely on just the neighborhood." Bagdasian read an article in a restaurant trade magazine on barbecue ribs. "It said that people would travel for good ribs," Bagdasian said.
Today, "we get senior citizens, kids, empty nesters, young couples," Bagdasian said. "It just shows you the appeal of barbecue."
Adam's is a sit-down family restaurant serving a consistently good product, whether you're looking for ribs, beef and pork sandwiches or even steaks and seafood.
"I have a passion for food and I enjoy barbecue," Bagdasian said. "We buy the best ribs available and pay attention to the cooking process.
"I don't consider myself a purist. I don't smoke the ribs; I roast them in an oven," Bagdasian admits. "But we've sold three million pounds of ribs over the past 18 years [and] if you want a tender, falling-off-the-bone rib with a sweet sauce, you'll like these."
Besides ribs, Adam's also serves a pulled pork sandwich that straddles the barbecue line: you can order it with the traditional sweet, ketchup-based sauce; or you can opt for a side of the vinegar-and-red pepper-based Carolina pig pickin' sauce. With ribs or the pork sandwich, don't be afraid to experiment - order both sauces. Adam's also offers a good barbecue beef sandwich with a Texas-style bourbon sauce as well as barbecue chicken so moist the meat drops from the bone.
Pig Pen Barbecue & Carry-out
Norma and George Peel have been cookin' good barbecue at Pig Pen for 11 years. Over the years, friends and satisfied customers have given them more than 350 pigs - some of which are in the background - from Porky Pig to piggy banks.
Eleven years ago, George and Norma Peel founded Pig Pen "across from the American Legion in beautiful downtown Mayo," as their menu states. You're limited to a few stools and a counter facing out on the parking lot if you're not taking supper home, but the great barbecue makes up for the view.
"A buddy of mine and I used to ride all the way down to Prince Frederick to John's Open Pit," George Peel explained. "We talked and said we ought to do this." And so, a partnership was born.
Since that time, George and Norma have bought out their partner, quit their day jobs - George as a meat man and Norma as a hairdresser - and committed themselves to barbecue full time.
Entering the barbecue business, George already had half the trade down as a butcher managing the meat department at Giant Supermarket.
Using the proper meat is the first step in good barbecue, George says. "We use only the Boston butts for sliced and pulled pork, and only USDA choice top round for the sliced beef."
At Pig Pen, quality meat isn't just for barbecue; it's something for breakfast, lunch or dinner. "We grind our own sausage and make our own hamburger, too," Norma adds.
George had the meat experience; it would fall on Norma to find the right name.
"Every time I would go into my kids' bedrooms, I'd say 'man, this place looks like a pigpen.' And my friends would say the same thing." A light went off and a name was coined. "All wives and mothers say that - 'this looks like a pigpen!' - and when they do, our name stays in their minds."
With quality meats and a catchy name, the Peels were almost there.
But the road to good barbecue doesn't stop so soon. "Everybody can get the meat product," George says. "But we make our own sauce. It's a mild sauce, excellent on beef, pork and chicken."
A smiling and amiable couple, the two bristle when asked the recipe to their barbecue sauce.
"It took me a good year of cooking up sauces - it was an everyday thing," Norma says. "We'd have backyard cookouts and ask our friends, 'would you pay for this?'"
All that George will say is that it's a tomato-based sauce, a little on the sweet side. "We've been offered by a restaurant in Silver Spring to sell them the recipe," Norma admits. "But we won't sell our recipe."
You can buy the sauce itself when you visit Pig Pen, Norma explains, "but we're almost embarrassed to charge two dollars for a half-pint."
The Peels' chagrin aside, their sauce is well worth the cost, hands down better than anything you're likely to have on your refrigerator door. Pig Pen's minced pork is soaked in their secret-recipe sauce. Sauce is an option with the sliced pork, which, tender and juicy, stands on its own. The ribs at Pig Pen - baby backs - are meaty, juicy and served wet, with additional sauce for dippin'. Sliced beef at Pig Pen is cut to order, with true rare an option. You can add sauce; question is, do you want to?
All the meats are cooked fresh each day at Pig Pen. And although - like Adam's - their meats aren't slow-cooked for hours on end over low heat, the finished product will fill the gap in your stomach and leave a smile on your face.
At Beefalo Bob's in Pasadena, there's more barbecu'n than the name implies. You'll find pit beef, the house specialty; ribs - either St. Louis style or baby backs - sliced and pulled pork; barbecue chicken; pit ham; smoked turkey and more.
Begun by Carol and Bob DiMartino 20 years ago as a mobile catering business, Beefalo Bob's settled in on Mountain Road 11 years ago and has been smokin' quality meats seven days a week ever since.
"I worked at a bank as a secretary to the vice president, and he was helping his cousin run a rental car agency," Carol said. "Bob started the mobile business, and I said I wanted to get a set place."
Since that time, barbecue has grown more popular, but Beefalo Bob's remains a true barbecue joint. What sets them apart?
"We don't cut any corners; everything is home made," Carol DiMartino explains. "We designed our own sauce and we start from scratch with everything we make."
The real wood smoke at Beefalo Bob's is the stuff from which barbecue is made.
"We cook only with hickory wood," Carol explains. "Hickory wood has the smoky flavor, it's all natural and people like it. There's no gas or propane."
Carol DiMartino admits that running a seven-day-a-week restaurant while raising a family is grueling. But, she adds, "I love barbecue. Especially the beef. I don't get tired of barbecue."
If you're on the hunt for good barbecue, you may have to rest a while at Beefalo Bob's. The menu is dense with authentic by-definition barbecue. The ribs are meaty and juicy, served wet with a sweetish sauce. Sandwiches are stacked high and the smoke flavor is reminiscent of a campfire.
Pit Boys Barbecue & Catering
A quest for high school football uniforms led Doug Macey into barbecue. Now, 28 years later, he's a master behind the pit with his catering business and takeout restaurant Pit Boys.
Doug Macey began his barbecue career 28 years ago when all he thought he was doing was helping to buy uniforms for the football team at St. Mary's High School in Annapolis.
In the years since, he's learned his craft and the art of true barbecue.
"We pride ourselves on the moistness of our meat," Macey says. "The whole key is to cook it slow. You've got to keep the meat wet with a marinade. That forms a crust on the meat and keeps it moist and tender. And you have to use smoking wood."
Retired from the insurance business, Macey took his barbecuing to the public. What was a catering business for more than two decades now boasts a retail location, opened on Chinquapin Round Road four years ago.
"We don't do ribs," Macey says. "If people come in and ask for ribs, we say go to Adam's."
But, Macey elaborates, "we give a nice sandwich. I think it's a good size, a good value."
If anything, Macey is being modest. The sandwiches at Pit Boys are some of the biggest you're likely to come across. Unless you're famished or looking for leftovers, add a side order of French fries at Pit Boys (only one size, large) and you're going over the top.
Slow-cooked on an open pit with smoke, the meats at Pit Boys are a carnivore's dream. Turkey and ham just add to the choices, but if you're looking for barbecue, stick with the sliced or pulled pork or the pit beef. You'll have your choice of home-made sauces, too: either a traditional tomato-based sauce or the vinegar-based Carolina sauce.
More Barbecue on the Bay
Barbecue on the Bay doesn't end here. In fact, your quest has just begun.
Although a national chain, Red, Hot & Blue, located off Route 50 in Annapolis under a landmark windmill, serves barbecue in the true sense of the word. Founded by Tennessean Lee Atwater (a top Republican party strategist and amateur blues musician who has since died of a brain tumor), each Red, Hot & Blue is
a testament to Memphis, to blues and early rock 'n' roll and to good barbecue. Ordering ribs, you'll find the meat pink: Don't panic, it's not rare. That's the sign of true slow-cooked, wood-smoked barbecue. The spareribs are served either dry or wet. If you want to taste test, order half of each.
This past weekend on Central Avenue in Edgewater, lucky barbecue fans witnessed a welcome return - albeit temporary - of Bayside Bull Barbecue, which burnt down in an arson attack some months back. Without a permanent building yet, the barbecuers cannot set up shop on a regular basis because of health department rules. So this weekend, Bayside Bull pitched a tent, stoked up an outdoor grill and served barbecue pit beef, ham and turkey sandwiches as part of customer appreciation days for the nursery next door. It seems they can only do this every six weeks or so without vexing the health department. So the weekend of September 23, look for more barbecue at another customer appreciation days - this time for Edgewater Liquors.
Down in Deale, barbecue must be popular, as there are two barbecue joints within throwing distance of one another. Pig Outs, a sit-down, family-style restaurant, was started by a one-time Adam's worker. The barbecue is similar to Adam's although served with some custom elaborations. The sandwiches, for instance, are served dry. Your pulled pork comes in a Styrofoam cup and your bun wrapped in plastic. This added packaging waste is made up for with more barbecue than would fit on the bun.
Across the street is Nancy's Flaming Pit. Long ago, the Flaming Pit was run by Sid. The walls were dirty from years of smoke - both from the pit and the cigarette dangling from the owner's mouth - but the barbecue was something to crave. Having changed hands a couple times in the past few years, the Flaming Pit is a cleaner place and it still serves a mean sandwich, although the smoky flavor is less pronounced, making you wonder.
In Chesapeake Beach, Smokey Joe's Barbecue sits overlooking the harbor into the Bay with a new deck offering waterside barbecue. Serving baby back ribs advertised with sauce, these are served almost dry, yet nonetheless delicious. If you want more sauce, it's served tableside, a ketchup-based, middle-of-the-road sauce, sure not to offend anyone. Half-chicken dinners as well as pulled pork - tender and delicious, with minimal sauce - and beef brisket sandwiches round out Smokey's barbecue menu.
For a taste of island barbecue, mon, take a trip to either Lagoons Island Grille in Chesapeake Beach or to Harbour Island Grille in Rose Haven. John Remy, who covered a good chunk of the country a few years back in search of good barbecue, serves up Jamaican "jerk" barbecue. Jerk sauce is a rub of herbs and spices used to marinade chicken, fish and beef - "Jamaican Rastafarians don't eat pork," Remy says - although you can order jerk pork at his restaurants. And every now and then, Remy cooks up authentic Kansas City style ribs for the evening's special. "Growing up around Kansas City," Remy explains, "hands down, that's my favorite barbecue."
Farther down the Bay mid-way into Calvert County, you'll find on an old frontage road flanking Route 2/4 John's Open Pit in Huntingtown. Delicious pit beef, tender sliced pork and tangy pulled pork will leave a barbecue lover hard pressed when ordering at the counter. And the ribs are great! These are big, meaty spareribs, smoked and served dry. You can lather up the ribs - or any other barbecue - with either John's homemade hot sauce or mild sauce.
Along the byways of Chesapeake Country, barbecue stands practically litter the roads. Some are long-time fixtures; others gone the next day. But if you're hungry and you see - or smell, for that matter - smoke, pull over. These roadside 'cue stands, less hindered by the demands of a full-scale operation, open a door to the past, a taste of long-handed-down techniques and recipes, a sample of real-smoked barbecue.
| Issue 33 |
Volume VII Number 33
August 19-25, 1999
New Bay Times
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