It’s all about the smoke!

Great BBQ is elemental
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When it comes to great barbecue, it’s all about the smoke! Serious barbecue enthusiasts agree – if you ain’t smoking it, you’re just cooking.

Barbecue brothers Mandela ‘Mandeezy’ Caesar and Ralshon ‘Dougie’ Douglas are passionate about barbecue, so don’t even mention propane gas or pellet cookers to them!

Smoke. Wood. Fire. Meat. That’s it. That’s Mandeezy’s full list of barbecue essentials. Dougie adds charcoal, but only for use as fuel for the wood. Both friends agree that pellet cookers and gas rigs are absolute No-Nos, describing gas cooking as “Blasphemous,” and refusing to even call it barbecuing.

Of course, cooking with wood and charcoal can happen over a steel barrel style pit, a campfire style pit, or even in a brick oven – but perfect barbecue needs a smoker. There’s nothing quite like a fall-off-the-bone tender cut of meat that has been smoked low and slow for hours and simply melts in your mouth.

But, what about the sauce? Is wet or dry better? Marinade or rub?

“Depends on the meat for me. Brisket is real simple – salt and pepper – don’t try to over season it. The other meats you can season to what you like. Rub over marinade.” Mandeezy asserts.

Dougie agrees, “Ya man, definitely rub over marinade. I will brine the chicken if I’m feeling fancy – other than that, I’m using a rub and letting it sit for six hours; maybe even overnight. I’m partial to garlic and heat [spice].”

Both men advise that sauce is important, but it must be made from scratch, and it should never be used excessively.

“Just don’t drown your food in sauce. Sauce must only be used as an accent to the food; to accentuate it. Yes, you can get away with just rub – chicken, ribs, and brisket can easily come in no sauce format, and be spectacular!” Dougie adds.

We all have fond memories of those casual summer evenings when mom – or dad – fired up the Hibachi and threw some hotdogs and hamburger patties on the grill. Those times were magical for many of us, but that was more about feeding the family than creating great barbecue. True barbecue deals with premium cuts of meat – chicken, pork, beef, shellfish.

When we think about an ideal summer barbecue menu, we should be thinking about smoked ribs, juicy grilled chicken legs, perfectly charred steaks, and slow roasted brisket – because we’re not kids anymore!

Mandeezy describes his ideal summer barbecue menu as, “Pretty much anything I make!” Yeah – he’s that good!

Dougie is a bit humbler, and even considerate of guests: “If it’s just me, give me bird and the swine, and I’m good. If I have friends or family over, I will add some form of seafood, and a vegan dish – a very … small vegan dish.”

That brings to mind an interesting question: is barbecue a vegan thing? I don’t know. There are vegan dishes that can be prepared on the grill, like tofu – but serious barbecue, like smoking, is for the meats!

Smoked meats must be complemented though, so our decadent Bermudian side dishes will absolutely find a space at the table when the smoker is doing the do. Peas and rice, mac and cheese, potato salad, cassava pie (for the lucky ones), coleslaw, macaroni salad, green salad, and whatever else you and your family love to consume during midsummer celebrations of life.

Mandeezy adds quinoa salad and smoked baked beans to his list of perfect sides, while Dougie gets indignant about the absence of cornbread:

“What?! No cornbread?! You been in the sun too long! Cornbread, baked beans, baked potato, smoked mac, potato salad, and Spanish rice.”

When you don’t have the culinary expertise to prepare all of the necessary side dishes, just do what we’ve always done – invite folks and tell them to bring a dish! I mean, you’re providing awesome barbecue, so you could even tell folks what they’ll need to bring to gain access.

So, now that your menu is sorted, we should start thinking about a venue. Is the backyard big enough? How about a beach? How we gonna keep the vibes comfortable while not upsetting the neighbours?

More often than not, a good barbecue experience means keeping it simple. All Mandeezy needs to set the cookout off are, “Good vibes, good people, good drink, good music, perfect food.”

Dougie agrees wholeheartedly; “Ya what he said – the cookout isn’t necessarily about the mid-evening, overlooking an infinity pool, gazing into the distance, lost in your thoughts, experience. It’s more about relaxing with friends, and licking the sauce off your fingers.”

Essential beverages for a great summer barbecue? “Whiskey and beer. Party done.” Mandeezy has spoken.

Dougie offers a more comprehensive beverage pairing list: “I don’t need anything more than swizzle, and Sunday School drink (if you have to ask then you don’t know what you have been missing).

“For the more refined palette: beef goes best with a Cabernet or Malbec; pork pairs well with Pinot Noir or Merlot; chicken is wonderful with a Sangiovese; fish sparkles with a white of some form, from Chardonnay to Pinot Grigio, even a Riesling. Or just stick to swizzle and Sunday School drink, which goes with everything during the summer in Bermuda!”

Sunday School drink, for those who don’t know, is a delightfully sweet concoction made from a varying combination of pineapple juice, red Kool-Aid, Sunquick, water, and a splash of Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer – nectar of the Gods!

Mandeezy closes by recalling a legendary Bermuda summer barbecue: “My 30th – a two day set with over 50 pounds of meat, four kegs, and a Deejay!” He then stamps his authority as, well … “I’m the king of the Que – bring any challengers!”

“Just ignore him.” Dougie implores. “BBQ takes time; you’re looking at two hours minimum for chicken, four-five hours for ribs and brisket – just don’t have any other plans. Put the time and effort in, and the results will be amazing! When you sit down to good times, with perfect food, and like persons, it’ll all be very worth it.

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