Restaurants

Authentic new BBQ restaurant cooks 'low and slow'

Friday, January 18, 2013

While barbeque joints continue popping up all over the city, there haven't been that many smoke signals out west.

There is a new option in Forest Park that is cooking with hardwood, low and slow.

Becoming a pitmaster takes time and patience.

It's not just dry-rubbing the beef and pork. It's also feeding the fire with hardwood and knowing how long to smoke.

The man in charge at Piggyback Tavern hails from the south so barbecue is in his DNA. That's a good thing, if you happen to live out west.

The concept of low and slow isn't lost on Jason Kurosaki. The Arkansas native grew up on barbecue, so he knows his dry rub from his sauce.

But there's something almost exciting about the mundane routine of loading up a smoker and pulling out beef and pork, because he's doing it in Forest Park, not exactly a bastion of barbecue history, at the two-month old Piggyback Tavern.

"The Memphis-style dry ribs, that's what I grew up eating. The brisket from Texas is bar none, amazing, and we try to do those styles really well," said Kurosaki.

Ten pound slabs of pork shoulder get smothered in dry rub, which includes cumin, cayenne and paprika, among a few others. Baby back ribs get the same pre-smoke treatment. Brisket, meanwhile, gets only a dusting in salt and pepper.

All day long, logs of hickory and cherry wood are loaded into the base of the smoker, where the pork and brisket hang out at 220 degrees for 10 to 12 hours. Not so for the ribs.

"One of the weirdest things that I've come across is that a lot of the guys who do it really well on the barbecue circuit actually will cook the ribs at a higher temperature, around 275," Kurosaki said.

After just two to three hours, the ribs come out with a good smoke ring, and a gentle tug off the bone.

There are also some Southern touches here, like shrimp po'boys - fully dressed - and tasty sides, like a mayo-based coleslaw.

"Got a little red wine vinegar, sugar, that's about it," he said.

Even simple, expected things, like a trio of homemade sauces and a rich mac and cheese show up on nearly every table. It seems some things within the barbecue culture can't be avoided.

"I'm not trying to reinvent the wheel here. These are things people expect when you have barbecue," said Kurosaki.

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