I had the pleasure of spending just over an hour with John Blisard and staff at Bubbacue, one morning before opening. Pay close attention to the article as there will be three questions at the end for a chance to win a £20 voucher for Bubbacue, T+C will be at end of article.
John hails from Philadelphia and was brought to Belfast in 2007 by his good lady (who is local). They then started Boojum and then opened Bubbacue in late November 2012. It was only meant to be a pop up restaurant slated to close in February 2013. Roll on to 2017 it is still going strong and is part of the fabric of Belfast dining culture. In 2015 Boojum was sold so John could concentrate on Bubbacue. There will be a new one opening, in Belfast, all being well in April this year……..watch this space.
Bubbacue uses all locally sourced and grown ingredients where possible (all meat and spuds are N. Irish) and all menu items are prepared by hand and freshly cooked every day, including the coleslaw, salads, bbq sauces, onion chutney, pickles, corn bread, mac & cheese, iced tea and freshly squeezed lemonade. They use the best rice available, Basmati, for his Cajun rice. They have a drinks licence for beer and cider only. He calls his style “Fast Casual dining” which means its good quality food, served quickly, made freshly hence there are no freezers or microwaves on site. Bubbacue is a trend setter and indeed many US customers who have been also comment that the meat in Bubbacue is better than the meat they have had back in the States!!! This shows that John has not skimped on traditional, authentic, real US BBQ food.
John also explained the whole meat smoking process. He explained that the pork and beef brisket is dry rubbed using freshly made rub which is then put into the hickory chip smoker at 6pm in the evening. The restaurant closes at 8pm and is then open again at 7.30 in the morning for prep for the day when the meat is then checked using temperature probes to make sure it is ready. The smokers are usually switched off at 9 am if everything is ready, meaning the end result is meat that has been slow smoked for a minimum of 14 hours. So this is the real McCoy, #slowsmoked #barbecue #bbq using #qualityingredients and is all cooked #fromscratchdaily. When the meat comes out it looks blackened or burnt, but this is totally normal and in the BBQ trade is called “bark, which is just the dry rub and outer layer of meat fusing together. Once ready, the meat is placed into a cVap oven which keeps the meat warm and moist. I saw the pork then being cut and “pulled” and then “mopped” with sauce to keep it moist and succulent. No extra oil is used so it’s pretty healthy. The chicken has the pork rub on it and is oven cooked in a steam pressured oven and takes 30-40 minutes to cook. Monday through Saturday it’s opened from 11.30-8pm and Sunday 1pm to 6pm.
The chips are all hand cut using local Maris Piper spuds (4 bags a day on average!!). The spuds are washed, cut and blanched and then fried again before being served. The freshly made sauces, in order of ascending hotness, are Sweet Memphis, Kansas City Classic, Extra Smokey, Carolina mustard, Chipotle and Buffalo Hot Sauce. Now I can remember the hot wing challenge when Bubbacue first opened and the sauce was amazing, but they don’t do that anymore.
John and I had a wee bite to eat and it was amazing- just like it was when it opened and as authentic as the BBQ I’ve had in the Carolinas. The pork was succulent, juicy and the taste of the bark was amazing. I had mine served with Cajun rice, skinny fries, onion chutney, slaw and bread and butter pickle. I tasted all the sauces and washed it down with the delicious lemonade. The competition winner is in for a treat!!!!! Thank you to John, Laura and the team for showing me around.
Q1. What do you call the outside of the cooked pork and brisket?
Q2. What type of wood chips are used in the smoker?
Q3. What is the minimum smoking/cooking time for the pork and beef?
T&C for competition:
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Answers must be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Competition closes 28th Feb 2017, winner notified by 4th March 2017.
Best of luck!!!!!!