EatDrinkJax.com interviews Joel Baker, owner of 4 Bones Barbecue.
Pulled Pork Sandwich. Photo courtesy of Monica Lea Imagery
16. What would you recommend to someone who's been a few times and is looking for something a little different?
That's when you can start to explore some of our specialty sandwiches and the more complex flavors on the Latin side of our menu. It's not a heavy influence but one of the things that seems like a match made in heaven is that the Uruguayan culture is really a meat based culture. I joke with my wife all the time that in Uruguay there's 10 cows for every person. When you have that heavy beef culture it blends perfectly with barbecue. That gives us sandwiches like our Sausage al Pan, which is our sausage on a hoagie roll with lettuce, tomato and onion. We also have a brisket cheesesteak sandwich, a sausage and peppers sandwich, and the Chivito. You can really get away from just a plate of brisket if you want to.
Sausage al Pan Sandwich. Photo courtesy of Monica Lea Imagery
17. What's the most popular item on your menu?
So far it's been spread out a bit. People are really loving our brisket. Apparently finding a good brisket is difficult so there's a bit of pent up demand out there. There are also people who are really enjoying what we're doing with our sandwiches. The turkey sandwich is a big, huge hit. I have a secret ingredient in my turkey - it's called "turkey." You know we cook a real turkey. There's no turkey loaf. It's a real bone-in, skin-on turkey breast and we're cooking several of those a day. Then we have some fun stuff like our bacon mac and cheese. We have an awesome, great, homemade mac and cheese we use and basically it's a grown up version of a kid's grilled cheese sandwich. We'll take our macaroni and cheese and put it between a couple of slices of Texas toast with some hickory smoked bacon and a couple of slices of cheese - a mozzarella and a provolone. That's a fun sandwich.
Smoked Turkey, Corn Bread and Green Beans. Photo courtesy of Monica Lea Imagery
18. Can you tell us about your baked beans?
None of our side items are pulled out of a can. Our baked beans are a good example of that. They're made with 4 different beans. We start off with a showboat pork and bean. If you go to any roadside barbecue joint in the South they have probably opened up a can of showboat pork and beans, and that's their bean. We start with that bean and add butter beans, kidney beans and chick peas. We put smoked meat in those beans as well as onions and a little of our barbecue sauce.
19. On your menu you have pulled pork and Carolina chopped pork - what's the difference?
They both start out life the same. Both are the pork shoulder that we have seasoned, rubbed down, and smoked for a very long time until they're nice and tender. And then with the chopped pork we'll take it and break that shoulder apart by running our knife through it to very finely chop it. Then we'll sauce that. It's pretty well the only meat we sauce in the kitchen. It's not a heavy sauce. It's a vinegar sauce and it sits in that a little bit, which tenderizes the meat and gives it a nice vinegar, Carolina pop that people like. It kind of hits you right in the mouth when you first bite it. It makes a really nice sandwich. It's a nice complement to the pulled pork. The flavors are similar. The barbecue purists are going to prefer the pulled pork because you can really see the smoke ring and the bark and the 3 or 4 different colors in it. The chopped pork wipes all that out - but you make up for it with the increased tenderness and flavor that's built into it. I like them both - on Tuesday's I eat chopped pork and on Wednesday's it's pulled pork.
20. Can you tell us about your chorizo sausage?
I should tell you something about our restaurant. My wife is from Uruguay in Latin America. So you'll see some dishes on our menu that are influenced by her food and her culture. The chorizo is an example of that. We didn't want to do the same old sweet Italian sausage or Italian sausage that every barbecue restaurant in town has on its menu. We don't want to do anything that every barbecue restaurant in town does. Our overriding philosophy is: why open up another joint exactly like the 15 down the road? So all of our stuff will be a little bit tweaked. The chorizo is a great example of that. It's made for us by a Latin American company out of Miami and it is an Argentine chorizo and it's not spicy - it just has a nice flavor to it. It's a tough to describe flavor. To me it reminds me of an Italian fennel sausage and a bratwurst having a kid - you have a nice, hearty, earthy, meaty flavor to it without a lot of spice getting in the way.
21. What other menu items reflect your wife's background?
There's one item that is basically the national sandwich of Uruguay. If you think of a Philly steak sandwich in Philadelphia - for Uruguay it's the Chivito. It's a national item of pride. It's a sandwich that starts with a slice of grilled steak. On top of that we put ham, bacon, fried egg, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and sautéed onions and peppers if you want. I mean, it is a chin dripping type sandwich. You gotta be ready for that one. The Chivito is straight from my wife's side of the menu.
…is there a classic, one way, to make a Chivito, or have you added your own twist?
Oh no! There are 3 or 4 different hotels in Uruguay that claim to have invented the Chivito. There are Chivito restaurants that come up with different variations of it. But we use the basic components that everyone does and then build it our way. Some people use a boiled egg, but we use a fried egg. Each Chivito restaurant reflects the personality of the person who made it.