About 10 years ago good barbecue in New York City was about as available as snow boots are this winter. Back in the dark ages of low and slow smoked cooked meat the best place to get the best ‘cue was on the competition circuit, an opportunity I availed myself often enough in the guise of my hard-drinking, meat-eating, smoke-loving alter ego, Joey Deckle. Fast forward to 2014 and there’s more quality barbecue in our fair city than you can shake log of post oak at. (Heck my pal Tyson Ho is even opening up a whole hog emporium later this year.) Much of it was represented at last night’s Brisket King NYC, in which more than a dozen pitmasters vied for the crown. It was so crowded that I found myself chanting, “Ain’t no riot like a meat riot, cause when you’re on a meat riot, you never diet.”
One of the first briskets my pal Chef Dave and I sampled was Hill Country’s. The temple of Texas ‘cue stuck to its roots with a luscious traditional brisket. I also really liked the traditional brisket from Morgan’s Brookyn Barbecue, a newcomer from Flatbush. And the judges liked it too their product—as ’cue geeks call it—took third in Best Traditional Brisket. Another Brooklyn pitmaster, Matt Fisher of Fletcher’s Brookln Barbecue took home best traditional brisket for his luscious chili-rubbed number served with pickled peppers.
Another Brooklyn outfit had what I considered one of the more simple but delicious nontraditional entries. Dear Bushwick’s traditional sausage roll was served with apple-onion marmalade. As we wandered the halls lots of people kept telling us that we had to try the “thing with the seaweed.” Eventually we made our over to Mokbar and sampled their nori taco with pulled brisket, sweet brown rice, and cucumber kimchi. Even though it was the last thing sampled we both found it well-balanced and quite delicious. Can’t wait to see these kids get rolling in Chelsea Market later this year.
Baczynsky’s Meat Market, aka the East Village Meat Market, took a decidedly Old World European approach with a ham-cured brisket served atop a square of rye bread with mustard and a slice of new pickle. The shop took home third prize for nontraditional brisket. My boy Will Horowitz took won first in this category for his absolutely stupendous six-month aged smoked brisket. It was so good that I went back for thirds, letting the luscious umami-packed meat ribbon melt on my tongue.
I didn’t stick around to hear the judges announce who won the crown. The crowds and the meat sweats were taking hold of my delicate constitution. I was quite pleased however to learn Ducks Eatery took home the crown for its Pops’ “Straight-Up” Smoked Brisket Served fresh or aged. Long live the King of Brisket NYC 2014. And long live ‘cue in New York City!