BBQ&A: Chef David Bancroft Talks All Things Beef BBQ
Learn how to smoke beef brisket and ribs in this episode of BBQ&A.
David: Well the good thing about a bad football season is we still have barbecue.
Robby: Welcome to the Southern Living barbecue pit for barbecue Q&A with chef David Bancroft of Acre and Bow & Arrow and the loveliest village on the planes; Auburn, Alabama. We're gonna talk about all things beef barbecue.
David: I like beef and I love tasting the quality of beef. These came from Barney Wilborn from the Auburn University Meat Lab. Bow & Arrow, two miles from campus. Acre which is literally two blocks away from Campus. So we can get this beef processed and slaughtered by our students by our students
David: And then delivered to our restaurant. So it's a very simple rub, very straight forward. Chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, fresh ground black pepper,
David: Kosher salt.
Robby: It's a dry herb. I always like a dry herb in my rub as well. Which one you got here?
David: This is just dried thyme. Flick of sugar, so it doesn't burn while it smokes.
Robby: Right, right. The quality of the beef is so important and I think that kind of speaks for most barbecue.
David: We are serving meats literally, I mean singing acapella. There's no where to hide, you order them. You're ordering off of pit, over the coals. The butcher is gonna carve your barbecue, put it on a tray. So we are truly paying homage to the quality of beef, the quality of product that we have. So we're gonna mirror that with the spice rub. It's not over aggressive, it's not overly spiced.
Robby: like this, yeah.
David: It doesn't have to cure for multiple days. We're just a dry rub, throw it on the smoker and let it do its thing.
Robby: I love this. I come from the school if sauce isn't on it, I may or may not put any on, because I feel like it's kind of there by design.
David: So in Texas you have lean brisket, moist brisket; I brought the whole thing, and I'll show both ends of it. On one side you got the lean, and one side you have what's called the moist.
Robby: I like it. Oh yeah.
David: Oh baby. Whooo wee.
David: Why would you want to cover that with sauce? You can see how it tapers
David: And goes down.
Robby: Okay, okay.
David: It's obviously all your fat and you got multiple fat layers running through this backside and then you got a flat up here. If you're a rib eye eater
David: You're a moist or fatty brisket eater.
David: If you like clean barbecue and you don't want to put it on your hip and your waistline. You need to go on this side.
Robby: Yeah, but there's no fun in that. I mean that's not living really, you know.
David: It's not.
Robby: We gotta see this, let's get in here and really take a look and see what's happening. Oh man, look at that. Amazing color.
David: It's taking everything I can not to just shove this in my mouth.
Robby: As you can see the lean side there still got this delicious fat that's kind of protecting it in a way.
David: Gonna be a lot more approachable.
David: For most people, but there's nothing wrong with the lean side.
Robby: Trust me, there's nothing wrong with this at all.
David: I prefer to do whole briskets, and the reason is cuz you're gonna get a lot more even fat going through.
Robby: Right, right.
David: On each side of it. That way, while smoking it you're not going to lose a lot of that natural basting that's going on.
David: Smoking it with the fat cap up, letting it drip down into the beef constantly.
David: That's why the lean side, you know, even the tail end. I mean, look at the burnt ends falling apart.
David: When the burnt ends are falling apart.
David: Something happening right there. Something was good in there.
Robby: I love that.
David: And now I'm gonna show you the fatty end. I'm just gonna cut a chunk. I want you to see the cross section of this.
David: Oh baby.
Robby: Oh wow. Let's turn that around.
David: Look at that.
Robby: Alright people, get in and see that.
David: So in here you can see all the fat layers running throughout.
David: Watch this here.
Robby: I want to hold it, I feel like I'm holding a puppy or something you know, you just gotta do it.
David: So there it is.
Robby: Oh my God.
David: A super duper tender piece.
David: You got yours?
Robby: I got mines right here. Look at that.
David: Cheerio mate.
David: Oh my God. Oh dude.
Fire, Food, and Fellowship
David: I mean, every nation has their fire, their food that they do over fires and how they fellowship over it.
Robby: Totally, totally.
David: But barbecue, I mean, that's America.
Robby: That's America.
David: And I think, in my personal opinion is that barbecue and backyards create some of the best chefs in America.
David: I started on the grill and then I taught myself French and I taught my self European technique. My buddies used to come over to the house in San Antonio and I'd pull a brisket after a baseball game.
David: And we would just eat it with our hands.
David: Barbecue for me is about simplicity. It's about letting something shine for the just the quality and the time spent. Once you get over a fire, everything else in life is no null and void.
David: Doesn't matter where you're from, what gender, what ethnicity, what religion, what happened today, you know everything is okay over a fire.
David: So this is a blend of beef and venison sausage.
Robby: Oh wow.
David: As a hunter, I also bow hunt.
David: Bow & Arrow. and one of the best things that every hunter loves is when their processor makes jalapeno cheddar sausage.
David: So this has got ground rib eye, ground brisket, and chuck. And this has venison in it as well.
David: Lots of fresh jalapenos, we grow those out of Acre. Then you've got chopped cheddar
Robby: Uh huh.
David: So when you cut into this, you should be able to see the jalapenos, the cheddar.
Robby: The cheddar, yup. Oh man
David: See there's big chunks in there.
Robby: Oh wow, look at that.
David: All the cheddar pockets in there.
Robby: That's fantastic. I love it. The first thing that happens, this warm creaminess of the cheddar and I get like, beef kinda in your face. Then the sauce or the venison kind of undertone.
David: I like about halfway through you start getting that green vegetable note.
Robby: Yes, absolutely.
David: The jalapenos start sneaking up, just a little grassy and then it starts to bite. Most barbecue restaurants, especially in Alabama, not a lot of places venture into sausage.
Robby: They really don't.
David: It's super labor intensive. It's difficult to make. It's very inconsistently made but in Texas it's different. So I very much enjoy bringing this to Alabama.
David: Baby, baby, baby, baby.
Robby: Beautiful, I mean the first thing that jumps out at me is that amazing color.
David: These beef back ribs, like I said, have that beautiful rib eye fat that's going between the bones. The role of fat plays in this and with the brisket, it's sort of self basting, in this case, self-lacquering cuz that fat is unbelievably. Oh wow, that's so crispy. And if you can see while he's sitting there, that rib eye fat is oozing with moisture that is gonna be oozing off into each rib. As I said earlier, the beef back ribs don't require just, crazy over handling.
David: Very simple, light rub. Just let the smoke and that fire do its thing. I mean this right here was about three and a half hours.
Robby: That's quick.
David: Quick and delicious.
David: You can see this, the fat's got a little crispiness to it.
Robby: Grab that piece. I've been wanting to grab that piece. Can I pull it off?
David: Yeah I would snatch it.
David: Dude. I'm getting a piece.
Robby: Get in there, your turn.
David: I want a piece. It just melts in your mouth. It's crispy but like.
Robby: You get a chew but then it kind of dissolves. This is barbecuing at its finest. I'll tell ya, this is it. They're super tender but they're not just fall right off the bone. They're gonna have a little bit of chew.
David: I like to have it just a little bit of tooth to it.
Robby: Okay, yep.
David: I mean just, you're eating off a giant hunk of beef rib. I like to know that I am.
Robby: We got some of your sauce here that my hands are so coated in all the beef fat it just slide it right off.
David: So our rub was simple so this can have its own character. They're not combative, it's not a big pile of mud of the same thing.
David: So over here we're definitely doing that tomato based Texas style, vinegar driven, not quite too sweet, lots of black pepper. But that vinegar is gonna cut through that fat. As a fine dining chef, you always try to enhance and overdo things. This is literally about backing away, let it do it's thing. The sauce, for here, is just to add another note to cut through the fat.
David: Yes The same with brisket, I would use this sauce on beef brisket, because of the fat and on the beef ribs.
Robby: You've hit on something that really just, I don't know it's a love so much. You said, you know this is about sort of stepping back, letting things happen and let these very humbling ingredients do their thing.
David: For me, in this sauce land, this isn't about a basting brush, for me it's more just have bites in and out of sauce. I want you to be reminded of the bark by itself and then I want you to go in with the barbecue sauce and have that yin and yang, back and forth.
Robby: Oh man, licking my lips is really like an incredible joy.
David: You know if you eat 'em this way, it makes a happy face.
Robby: This is fantastic. David, thank you for being here with us and showing us all of your barbecue techniques. I can feel the beef fat coursing through my veins. Beef coma is on the way. Bow & Arrow is gonna be great. I can't wait to come there and eat. Cheers my friend.