Friday, December 1, 2017

Nancy's Bar-B-Que in Sarasota: Holy Smoke

Nancy Krohngold admits that she may be in a category all her own: “There aren’t too many white Jewish women making pork barbecue.” Over the past six years she’s perfected her secret dry rub recipe and pitmaster skills to create authentic North Carolina-style pulled pork Bar-B-Q that wins raves from food critics and good ol’ boy barbecue lovers alike. Her food has garnered accolades from the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Sarasota Observer as well. While Krohngold will tell you that the most important ingredient in her barbecue is the love she puts into it, that’s only the beginning. Nancy prepares pork shoulder with her secret recipe 14-ingredient dry rub, cooks it in a Bar-B-Q oven “low and slow” for 15 or more hours, and then serves it up in a casual and friendly downtown Bar-B-Q joint setting. Her dry rub turns into a rich, dark, crisp coating or “bark” — the signature of authentic North Carolina pulled pork Bar-B-Q — that tastes sweet and spicy, with just enough oak smoke. The fragrant pork is succulent and fork-tender, with incredible depth of flavour. She’s attracted her fanatical following through word of mouth: ”It’s kind of a cult thing.” 

In an historic Burns Square space that once housed an oil station and garage, Nancy operates her barbecue restaurant, including a smokehouse with an oak-fueled barbecue oven smoking tender St. Louis-style ribs, pork, brisket, chicken and sausages. While many will enjoy Nancy's ribs on one of her picnic tables, those that can’t stay can pick up a take-out meal to go. The mouthwatering smoked meats are served with popular southern sides which are included in the price, such as fresh baked cornbread, baked beans, sesame crunch slaw, red skin potato salad, baked mac n’cheese, collard greens and many more. To sample a little of everything, Nancy's features a selection of combination trays such as 'The Tractor Pull' with a full slab of ribs, half chicken, half pound pulled pork, half pound brisket, 4 sausages, 3 pint sides and a dozen slider rolls, as well as 'The Prairie Combine' and the 'Hay Baler' which serves at least eight hungry diners. We shared the 'Texas Holy Trinity' with St. Louis-style pork ribs, beef brisket and local hot pork sausage with two side dishes, and although it's meant to serve one large Texan, it was more than enough for two curious Canadians.

Intense reds, wood paneling, corrugated metal and one enormous tractor parked out front sets the laid back BBQ scene at Nancy's

The colourful entrance to Nancys Bar-B-Q

Nancy's take-out counter where an order is placed and the staff put together a tray with the desired combination of "fix-ins"

A selection of beers are kept on ice 

The "Texas Holy Trinity" with St. Louis-style pork ribs, beef brisket and local hot pork sausage with two side dishes of collard greens and potatoes au gratin

Ice cold Stella Artois

Nancy's signature BBQ sauces

Picnic tables are set up outside for more casual dining

Nancy Krohngold

Nancy's North Carolina–Style Pulled BBQ Pork
Serves 10-12
Recipe courtesy of Nancy Krohngold of Nancy’s Bar-B-Q

"Cooking Carolina-style pork barbecue takes some planning, a grill, and a commitment to remain close to it for the day. Allow for 12 to 14 hours of cooking time — the “slow” part of “low and slow”. You should start the fire in your grill before 6 am, if you want to be assured of sitting down to dinner by 8 or 8:30 that evening. I warned you: this is not for the faint of heart."

Dry Rub:
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp chile powder
2 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp dry mustard
1 tbsp white pepper
1 1/2 tsp coriander
3 tbsp smoked paprika

East Carolina-Style Finishing Sauce:
1/2 cup each of cider vinegar and white vinegar
Sugar to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste
Crystal Hot Sauce to taste

6-9 lb bone-in pork shoulder

Using plastic or latex gloves, mix all of the dry rub ingredients together and set aside. Mix the finishing sauce ingredients until the sugar is dissolved. This will keep for 2–3 days refrigerated.

Prepare the grill: Any charcoal grill at least 18″ in diameter with a vented dome cover will suffice. I cook with charcoal briquettes and hickorywood chunks. Build a pyramid of briquettes to one side of your grill’s bowl. You will be cooking using indirect heat—i.e., positioning the meat away from the heat source—so begin with just enough briquettes to form a single layer extending beneath half or less of the cooking grate surface area. Light the briquette pyramid, using some accelerant if desired.

Prepare the wood chunks: Fill a large bowl or small bucket about halfway with water and add a half-dozen or so wood chunks to soak (oak or hickory is good). Buy wood chips if you can’t find the chunks, but the latter will burn more slowly and go farther. As with the briquettes, you will be stoking the fire with the wood chunks (one or two each time you add briquettes). During the course of the day, add more chunks as needed to the water to soak before use.

Unwrap the pork shoulder in your kitchen sink. One side will have a thick-ish layer of fat over it. Trim off most of this with a sharp knife. Place the meat in a bowl or pan with tall sides and using plastic or latex gloves, pat the rub well onto the entire surface area, covering all sides and top (including the fat cap) and bottom of the meat. Keep in mind that most pitmasters never give up the exact ingredients and measures in their recipes. You might also peruse the myriad dry rub recipes online or in cookbooks, making adjustments and adding or subtracting herbs and spices to suit your taste preferences for heat, sweet, sour, and salt. 

Check your grill: Once the coals are glowing and covered with white ash, distribute them into a single layer and place a water-soaked wood chunk on top. (It’s a good idea to place an aluminum-foil pan or tray beneath the spot where you’ll be placing the pork butt, to catch the considerable amount of fat that will drip down during the course of cooking.) Put the cooking grate in place and load the pork butt onto it, fat side DOWN and away from the burning coals. Close the dome cover over the grill, adjusting all vents so the fire never burns hotter than 250ºF. If your grill doesn’t have a thermostat, you may insert a cooking thermometer into one of the dome vents.

Check the fire after 60 minutes: It will probably be time to stoke it with a half-dozen briquettes (more if your grill and fire area are larger) and another water-soaked wood chunk or two. When the pork butt has cooked for 7–8 hours, flip it over so it is fat side up. Also rotate it 180 degrees to assure even cooking.

Check the pork after 12 hours of cooking time by poking it. It’s done when it feels like a very ripe peach—and not before. Check the bone; it should be partially exposed, and if you could pull it out with a gentle tug of the tongs, the pork is done. If not, the meat needs more cooking time: replace the grill lid and test again in an hour.

When it’s ready to come off the grill, use an extra-large, heavy spatula in one hand and a silicone oven glove on the other to lift it. Take care in transferring the butt to a plate or pan. The meat will have a tendency to tear apart under its own weight. Tent it loosely with foil and let it rest for a minimum of 15 minutes before serving, if you can stand to wait. To serve, pull apart with tongs or a meat fork and pile the meat onto a plate or onto hamburger buns. Serve with East Carolina Finishing Sauce and/or your barbecue sauce of choice, some hot sauce, and your favorite slaw preparation.

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