The problem with having a load of food obsessives as buddies is that everyone wants to do the cooking! What’s the solution? A cook-off! And even better if everyone documents the preparation of their dishes so we can recreate them in future. And give you, dear reader, some nice pictures to look at!
Since returning from Nawlins I’ve been craving both creole cooking and Southern BBQ. I still have a strong taste memory of the awesome ribs at The Joint, down in the Bywater. This was a real downhome shack with a scrubby little back garden, a huge-ass smoker and a bunch of very happy punters munching their ribs, pulled pork and brisket – all liberally doused with vinegar sauce. I also can’t quite shake the taste of fresh boudin sausage from Cochon, and those little duck ham sliders. Oh gosh.
So cook-off #1 is gonna be Southern ‘que, Louisianan style. We probably can’t recreate the swamps, the humidity, the flies and the edgy neighbourhoods – but this is Birmingham and we’ve got crap rainy weather, slightly dodgy neighbourhoods (well Quinton is 5 minutes walk) and the occasional moth. And a huge ass smoker. Good enough.
BBQ is in vogue right now. There’s the Pitt Cue pop-up that YSL has been to which sounds pretty good (I like the idea of pickle back shots even better than the pulled pork). The Guardian, guardians of food trends, have done a load of articles recently including Tim Hayward on pulled pork (not a bad guide) and Felicity Cloake on ribs (sacriligous nonsense – we had to get involved in the comments).
Unfortunately with any trend there’s a load of chancers waiting to jump on the wagon, including the crappy sounding Red Dog Saloon that Jay Rayner reviewed and the Adam Perry Lang/Jamie Oliver abomination that is Barbecoa.
Here’s the draft menu. I’ll link up blogs for each dish as they get prepared. I should say my new bible for Cajun cooking is Donald Link’s fabulous book Real Cajun.
Crayfish boudin (Nick) – depending on availability!!
Bruce/Mark/Obama’s Kenyan-Texan chicken wings (Bruce)
Southern-ass baked beans (Gordon)
Wop Salad (YSL)
Hush puppies (Tom)
Buttermilk ice cream (Nick)
Smoked ice cream (Nick)
Cherry bourbon cocktails
Comments welcome as ever.