Friday Find: Trying Everything on the Menu at Hometown Barbecue

Monk: Alex Delany, formerly of Bon Appétit, used to do this thing where he tries one “perfect” bite from everything on the menu and then gives out awards for his favorite items. For his visit to Hometown Barbecue in Red Hook, Brad Leone joins in on the menu tasting.

They are also joined for a short chat with Dave Gill, Aussie pitmaster of Hometown, who gives his recommended order for first time customers at Hometown.

Note: After I composed this past, I found out that Delany left Bon Appétit last year under quite a bit of controversy and while I don’t condone his actions, I still wanted to feature this video for the Hometown Barbecue of it all.

Description: While New York City may not be a city known for its barbecue, Hometown Bar-B-Que stands apart as a truly great spot to meet your smokey meat needs. We sent Alex Delany to go try one perfect bite of every item on the menu at this joint, and we also sent his buddy Brad Leone along for the ride.

Linkdown: 1/5/21

Featured

My new year’s resolution: I will finally do pork steak’s in my backyard. Mark my word. Now, just to find a local grocery or butcher shop that has them or will cut them for me. -Monk

Native News

Congrats to Jon G’s Barbecue on their receipt of this award from Hometown Heroes of Union County

Three barbecue joints – Midwood Smokehouse, Sweet Lew’s BBQ, and Noble Smoke – make Charlotte Magazine’s 50 best restaurants in Charlotte list

Highlands Smokehouse has new ownership, and they aim to bring a beer garden vibe to the barbecue restaurant

Bib’s Downtown in Winston-Salem was the latest casualty of the pandemic right before the new year

Sweet Lew’s BBQ is the one barbecue joint on the list, but mmmm…pork and chicken skins

Apple City BBQ in Taylorsville introduces a few new menu items for 2021 that have a local bent to them: their hot links will be sourced from Chapman Cattle Company in Alexander County and their grits will be stone ground the old fashioned way at Linney’s Water Mill

Non-Native News

RIP to Mike Mills of 17th Street Barbecue, simply known as “The Legend”

So this happened

…which led to Texas Monthly’s Daniel Vaughn attempting to recreate

Donnie Harris Sr of Pack Jack Barbecue in Sebastapol has been smoking for 40 years

Ribs n Reds is NC-born Chef Bryce Shuman’s pivot to barbecue

Kevin’s BBQ Joints with a couple of recent posts about the knives and sharpeners that barbecue joints use

5 lb barbecue cake

LOL

Friday Find: The BBQ State of the Union on BBQ Beat

Ryan (BBQ Tourist) and Sean (NYC BBQ) from The Smoke Sheet recently joined The BBQ Beat hosted by Kevin Sandridge to discuss the current state of barbecue during the pandemic, from when festivals may actually happen again to the meat shortage to more folks grilling or smoking at home while they are sheltering in place. This was my first exposure to BBQ Beat but looks to be a live show/video podcast worth checking out again in the future.

BBQ Beat Website

Facebook page

John Brown Smokehouse – Long Island City, NY

Name: John Brown Smokehouse
Address: 10-43 44th Dr, Long Island City, NY 11101
Order: 1/2 lb of burnt ends, 1/2 lb pork belly, and 1/2 lb pulled pork with corn bread and collards (link to menu)
Pricing: $$

A quick work trip to New York City allowed me to accomplish a couple of barbecue-related things while in town (after finishing up my day job requirements, of course): try another New York barbecue joint to see how its barbecue scene continues to develop and also meet up with Sean Ludwig of NYC BBQ and The Smoke Sheet.

Regarding the latter, I had met up with Ryan Cooper (aka BBQ Tourist), the other half of The Smoke Sheet, last year in Charlotte so meeting Sean would complete my Smoke Sheet punch card. Turns out, Sean is also a great guy and I enjoyed “talking shop” regarding all things barbecue and how they run The Smoke Sheet. Sean is a thoughtful guy and gave me a lot of great things to think about when it comes to Barbecue Bros.

In terms of barbecue, I knew I would be limited when it comes to barbecue options after 8pm on a Monday night. Consulting with Sean ahead of time, we settled on John Brown Smokehouse in Long Island City since it’s open until 10 and was convenient to both my midtown hotel and Sean’s apartment. John Brown’s is a Kansas City-style barbecue joint that opened in 2012 and its co-owner and pitmaster Josh Bowen has also opened the Texas-themed Mothership Meat Company a few miles away, but that appears to be more of a warm weather patio spot.

Thankfully, John Brown Smokehouse was able to mostly deliver when it came to barbecue though some meats were understandably out by the time we get there (which is of course always preferable to serving old or not-up-to-par meats). Sean took the lead in terms of the order and we settled on a 1/2 lb each of burnt ends, pork belly, and pulled pork.

I’ll get the pulled pork out of the way since it was my least favorite of the three meats. John Brown Smokehouse served a coarsely chopped pulled pork that had good bark that surprisingly lacked much flavor.

The brisket is apparently not the order at John Brown and instead Sean recommended that we should go for the burnt ends. According to Sean, the brisket is sliced too thin while the burnt ends are taken from the fatty point of the brisket so you should just order them instead. Curiously, the burnt ends were not sauced as you might expect from a Kansas City joint but regardless, they were moist and flavorful.

I’m not sure if pork belly is typical at Kansas City barbecue restaurants or if this was a case of just wanting to have a variety of meats on John Brown’s menu, but it was yet another case of a successful protein available past 9. Similar to the other meats, it came sauceless but the well-rendered fattiness of the pork belly didn’t require any sauce.

Speaking of sauces, be sure to taste test your sauce bottles if you do go for sauce, as the highly spicy variant of the barbecue was mistakenly labeled and could have led to unexpected results had I been overly aggressive with the sauce.

In terms of sides, the cornbread is a must order at John Brown Smokehouse. Though its not a traditional cornbread cake, instead having a texture of a corn pudding. Moist and sweet, their version of cornbread was a different twist on cornmeal I hadn’t seen before that more than made up for their lackluster collards.

John Brown Smokehouse would have been forgiven for mediocre meats at a less-than-optimal time of day. Thankfully, they more than delivered a great meal on a rainy, nasty Monday night and I can imagine earlier in the day it would have been even better.

Ratings:
Atmosphere – 3.5 hogs
Pork – 3 hogs
Burnt Ends – 3.5 hogs
Pork Belly – 3.5 hogs
Sides – 4 hogs
Overall – 3.5 hogs