Like most Brits, I’d tasted my fair share of burnt sausages and badly cooked burgers growing up but in 2016 I had my first taste of low-and-slow, American style barbecue at Bodean’s in Balham, London.
The ribs, chicken and pulled pork I had was actually so intensely smoky that I couldn’t eat the whole thing but after finishing leftovers the following morning, I decided that I must know how it was done.
My research lead me to purchase my first smoker box and bag of hickory smoking chips and, for some reason, I thought I was ready to smoke the huge cut of beef brisket that I’d just purchased from the local butchers on my modest gas barbecue. The preparation was minimal – I didn’t use a thermometer, I didn’t time it properly or spray it and I didn’t even know about wrapping it in paper or using the ‘Texas crutch’. As you might imagine, the results weren’t pleasant… the brisket was dry, overcooked and over-smoked. But it wasn’t enough to stop me from trying again. I tried again with beef and pork ribs, as well as a chicken for Christmas day and the results slowly started to improve but not at the rate I wanted. I wasn’t satisfied and I was putting in so much time and money that I gave up… Until I moved house.
I moved from shared accommodation in London to Birmingham (UK) in October 2018. It would be a while until the weather improved enough that I even considered buying a barbecue but we were lucky enough to have a roomy garden and so I decided to take advantage of the landscape and, in early Spring of 2019, I started to consider my options.
“Do I go for a kettle barbecue or an offset smoker?“
Whilst I was still keen on pursuing the art of the low-and-slow, American barbecue, I settled on a cheap 43cm kettle barbecue. I didn’t think about it until May 2019, when I visited Hickory’s Smokehouse in Castle Bromwich.
The platter of meat that I tasted was on another level. Had it not been for the incredible starters, and the fact that I wanted to save room for dessert, I would have devoured every last, tasty morsel; the pork and beef ribs were tasty and well-cooked, the chicken wings and sausages were delicious but the brisket… the brisket was phenomenal. It tasted and felt just like it did in all the videos I’d seen – it was ‘melt in the mouth’ delicious and wasn’t over-seasoned or over-smoked. From that day, my mission became clear:
I needed to find a way to replicate this amazing brisket in my back garden.
I knew my journey would take me through hours of research and testing and that it would be selfish to keep it all to myself. This is where I came up with the idea of sharing my journey with the world. ExclusiveBBQ.com (as well as my YouTube and Instagram accounts) would allow me to share my favourite recipes and gear reviews as well as all of the tips and tricks I picked up along the way so that you too can follow along. So join me on my journey to barbecue heaven and let’s get cooking!