She had a point. When one thinks of the great barbecue centers of the world, Kansas City comes to mind. Austin. Memphis. Charlotte. American places, all. Pitt Cue, on the other hand, is a thirty-seat joint smack dab in central London; seat of an erstwhile Empire, sure, but cultural backwoods when it comes to barbecue.
Yet here’s the thing; you can find some good ‘cue in the backwoods.
|Pickled Hot Dogs|
Recipes include pulled pig’s head crubeens (normally made only pigs’ trotters and not smoked or nearly so spiced), Buffalo pigs’ tails with Stilton sauce, porger sausage (made with bacon, pork belly, dry-aged beef rib-eye, and pork shoulder), duck giblet sausages, mutton ribs, crumbed pigs’ cheeks, habanero pigs’ ears, mashed potatoes tricked out various ways (with whipped bone marrow, burnt ends, or lardo and rosemary), and plenty of pickles, slaws, and sides.
The recipes in the Pitt Cue Co. cookbook may not be what old-timers expect of smoked meats in the bastions of American barbecue, but many techniques and flavors will be familiar to Americans, even if the details are not quite what we’d expect. Avid eaters will find a lot to like — and you boozers will notice that the boys aren’t shy about lashing whiskey and other spirits around with someone approaching abandon. The drinks chapter alone is 37 pages. Recipes for ‘sweet stuff’ call for bourbon, Pimm’s No. 1 (used both in a sorbet and in a meringue-and-fruit Pimm’s Mess), and Grand Marnier. In a nod to the wine jellies once so popular in the UK — but sticking with the pig and whiskey themes — there’s an old-fashioned jelly, made old-fashioned not with wine but with the ingredients one would find in an Old Fashioned cocktail.
|Fennel Cured Scratchings|
The next time you tackle a pork shoulder for sausage making, don't you dare toss out that skin. Use it in the sausage, drop chunks of it into baked beans, or season it and roll it into a tight cylinder, cook it, slice it, and deep-fry it for a quick bar snack or appetizer. From Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook, here’s crunchy, salted pork skin with the faint Italian-sausage nip of fennel. The only change I'd make it to include a bit of crushed red pepper (such as Aleppo) in the dry cure.
Fennel Cured Scratchings
250 g pork skin, from a whole skinned pork shoulder
15 g Dry Cure (see below)
Oil for deep-frying
Sprinkle both sides of the skin with the dry cure, then roll up the skin into a sausage (like an Arctic roll) so that the fat side remains on the inside. Place the sausage on a long length of clingfilm and roll it up very tightly. Tie off each end so that the roll is watertight and leave in the fridge for at least 24 hours.
Bring a medium pan of water to a gentle simmer and add the roll of skin. Weight it down with a heatproof plate and simmer over a low heat for 1 hour, until the roll is squidgy and soft to touch. Remove from the pan and leave to cool, then refrigerate until you are ready to cook.
Unwrap the skin from the clingfilm and slice the roll of skin into 5mm rings. Heat the oil to 180°C in a deep-fat fryer or large saucepan and fry the rings for 4-5 minutes, or until golden and crispy. The scratchings should not need seasoning.For the dry rub, the authors suggest a 50:50 mix of Maldon sea salt and smoked Maldon sea salt. While we like using flaky Maldon salt, there’s no particular need to search out that and only that salt if it means paying exorbitant import prices. In the US, plain kosher salt is fine — and if you can get your hands on good smoked salt, do as they say and work it in as half the quantity. This version omits the 150 grams of brown/molasses sugar called for in their regular dry rub.
Pitt Cue Co. Dry Cure
1 kilo/2.2 lbs salt
10g cracked black pepper
1 star anise, finely ground
10 g fennel seeds, toasted and crushed
Mix all ingredients in a bowl until they are thoroughly combined.Tom Adams, Jamie Berger, Simon Anderson and Richard H. Turner (2013)
Pitt Cue Co.: The Cookbook
288 pages (hardback)
Available from Amazon.co.uk, Waterstones, or Books for Cooks.