Saturday, 16 August 2014

Lexington style BBQ and fried chicken tasting session

BBQ Collective does fried chicken
Fried chicken
Well, it did not take us long once we returned from our US BBQ Trail to whip up a good old-fashioned barbecue in London!  We were pretty eager to test some of the recipes we fell in love with on the tour so we wasted no time.

On the menu was:
-- Gus’s Fried Chicken
-- Lexington Chopped Pork Sandwiches
-- Memphis Corn Bread
-- North Carolina Fried Okra
-- Homemade Pickles

We certainly had some successes and a few disappointments but, as always, a learning experience to take into the next barbecue – next weekend!

What did we learn from our test lab with a team of four from the BBQ Collective?

Gus’s Fried Chicken: It is no secret that Gus’s recipe is a well-guarded secret. Several attempts to replicate can be found online using different methods. We soaked the chicken overnight in a buttermilk-based brine and dredged in seasoned flour. After a few attempts and adjustments, we certainly had excellent fried chicken  –  actually, much better than I expected. Was it similar to that at Gus’s? Not really. If it was that easy, Gus wouldn't be Gus! Gus’s had a tighter, thinner crust than we did. In fact, I watched the cooks at Gus’s drop their chicken from a seasoned flour bucket and it looked pretty dry to me. Back to the drawing board.

BBQ Collective does BBQ pork shoulder
BBQ pork shoulder
Lexington Chopped Pork Sandwiches: We certainly had more success here. We rubbed the shoulders overnight in our favourite pork rub and smoked the pork over hickory and apple for 10 hours at about 225 F. Due to time restrictions and a hungry, drunk mob, we did not leave the meat to rest, which resulted in tighter meat than we were looking for. But the flavor we like was there (more smoke and rub than most Lexington barbecue). We think we did a pretty good job on the sauce and the red slaw.

Wifey’s Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread was just about as perfect as it gets: not too dry, not too moist, not crumbly and flavorful and, best of all: she made loads so we had lots of left over’s!

Fried Okra was perhaps the only dish that we could not get right. For some reason the transference from the buttermilk to the dry mix was clumping up and thus not frying individually but as a large mass. We had a small crew in the kitchen, started on the wine bit too early and lost a bit of focus.

But we will try again.

Overall, a great BBQ and great to see friends after a month on the road.

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