Smoke It Up BBQ

May 11, 2014 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article talking wood smoked BBQ with Kelham Stephenson of Smoke It Up BBQ.

The Traditional pulled pork sandwich

9. Can you recommend something that’s a little different?

For something different we have a Beet and Sheep’s Cheese Salad as a side dish. It’s made with a French sheep’s cheese and diced, steamed beets that are tossed in a light, house made balsamic vinaigrette. We use the sheep’s cheese to make it a little different. A lot of people use goat’s cheese. I like the sheep’s cheese because it’s a little softer with a nicer mouth feel that goes with the beet. It’s also more gamey, which imparts a farm-y undertone of flavor. The salad is topped with a little chiffonade of mint to brighten it up and give it a little freshness.

Beet and Sheep’s Cheese Salad

10. Do you have a personal favorite on the menu?

My favorite menu item is the Baby Back Ribs, or any of the ribs. I use a paprika based dry rub on the ribs. They’re smoked for between 4 1/2 and 5 1/2 hours, depending on the size of the rack. The ribs are one of our specialties - they have that melt in your mouth texture. There’s still a little bite to them, but not too much. I don’t sauce the ribs directly but do have sauces on the side for those who want them. I like to let the smoke and the spices do the talking on the meat. That way people can add their own sauces as they like. I make a vinegar based, North Carolina barbecue sauce and a sweet barbecue sauce, which is a Kansas City style sweet sauce.

Baby Back Ribs on the smoker

11. Do you make your own sauces?

Yes. I make the North Carolina style Vinegar BBQ Sauce and the Kansas City style Sweet BBQ Sauce. I also make a house made mustard - it’s not a mustard sauce, it’s a grain Dijon mustard. We make the mustard ourselves. It’s a 7 to 10 day process. We like to partner with local companies whenever possible, and I’ve got a good relationship with Preben at Aardwolf and I’ve been using his Eastbound & Brown beer in my mustard recently.

We’ve also been making a few new things like our smoked apple butters and smoked garlic butters to complement other items on our menu.

12. What will you use the smoked butters for?

I’m going to add our smoked garlic butter to our chicken wings. I do a brined chicken wing. I soak the wings in a mixture of water, sugar, salts, bay leaf, peppercorn, spices and seasonings for 12 to 24 hours, just like I do for all my chicken. When the wings come out of the brine, they go into the smoker for about an hour and a half. After smoking, they’re cooled all the way down before they’re put onto the truck. Before serving the wings we put them in the deep fryer and toss them in our paprika based rub. That produces a dry-rubbed chicken wing that’s been deep fried and smoked. We serve that with our Chili Lime sauce and will be adding the smoked garlic butter as well.

Smoked Wings

13. What does the brining do for the chicken?

It’s used for tenderizing and as a moisture enhancer to the meat. Smoking can dry out non-fatty cuts of meat such as poultry. Any turkey, chicken or duck that we smoke will be brined.

14. Do you smoke duck for the truck?

Not for the truck. I smoke turkey and duck by special request, usually for holidays and special occasions. I even did a whole goat the other week for Preben over at Aardwolf, when he was hosting a private event. We do play with some game animals, but they are by special order and I generally need at least 72 hours notice for something like that.

Preparing a goat

15. What are “country cut" ribs?

They're untrimmed spare ribs that includes some of the flat meat from the belly and a lot of the trimmings that normally get cut off if you were served a St. Louis style cut of ribs. It’s more like a caveman style cut. You feel like you’re eating half a pig.

16. Is that how you serve all your ribs?

No, it’s a special style of cut that we normally only offer through our catering. On the truck we have Baby Back and Spare Ribs, but normally only for dinner services because of the amount of time it takes to cook them.

For lunch we serve the meats that don’t require as long to cook, meats such as the chicken, pork tenderloin, and pulled pork. The pork tenderloin is something I cooked a lot when I was up in Boston. People really like the tenderness of it. I use a salt and sugar rub on it before cooking for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. That’s what we use on the Farmer’s Sandwich.

17. What’s the Farmer’s Sandwich?

It’s a sliced pork tenderloin Sandwich with some spicy, green, pickled cabbage which is like a sauerkraut. It’s served on a French Roll with sweet barbecue sauce and house made mustard and a little cheddar cheese. I don’t think there are many other trucks doing a tenderloin sandwich at the moment, so that’s something a little different that we do.

Farmer’s Sandwich

18. What are Smoked Sweet Maple Potatoes?

It’s something we just do for catering at the moment but we are thinking about bringing onto the truck. We start by scrubbing down some potatoes and tossing them on the smoker. The sugars in the potatoes will caramelize as the potatoes cook in the smoke. The result is a potato that's super tender and soft. We do a Sweet Mashed Potato and we also slice the potatoes to do a layered Sweet Maple Potato. I make my own Maple Cream and drizzle it over the sliced potatoes along with some spiced, candied pecans.

Hand whipped Maple Cream

19. What’s Maple Cream?

It’s straight grade A maple syrup with a little salt that I heat up in a double boiler. I bring it to just below boiling before removing it and putting it over a bowl of ice. I take a wooden spoon and sit there for about 45 minutes just stirring the bowl as fast as I can. The stirring will elasticize and stretch the sugars which makes it into a light, whipped maple cream or sauce.

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