Chow: John Brown's Barbecue Turns To Pure “Meat Candy”
At John Brown’s in the Long Island City section of Queens, Kansas City gets its turn in the city’s barbecue spotlight with addictive burnt ends that are cooked for 16 hours until they turn into candy. Chow.com contributing editor Pervaiz Shallwani filed the following report.
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Not that long ago, barbecue was kind of a joke in New York City. To be fair, it’s hard to find enough space to smoke meat properly.
That’s been changing in the past decade. Nowadays, just about every American barbecue-style has a foothold in the city, whether it’s popular Texas or little-known Georgia.
At John Brown’s Smokehouse in Queens, we now have Kansas City, a melting pot of styles that includes Texas beef and Memphis pork, and addictive crusty burnt ends. Here, pitmaster Josh Bowen has adapted the barbecue of his childhood to include dishes like smoked foie gras terrine and pastrami.
It’s been so popular, Bowen recently had to move to a larger space, complete with a beer garden and a stage for bands. It’s still a no-frills experience, not that different from those you’ll find in Kansas City, affordable counter-style barbecue platters, served on cafeteria-style trays.
Avoid some of the less fatty cuts, which can be a little dry, and build a meal around spare ribs that tear off the bone perfectly, or pulled pork that melts at the touch of a knife.
While some of the other meat can lack in flavor, what sets John Brown apart is burnt ends. The flavor-packed ends of the brisket are pure meat candy.
After Josh smokes brisket for 12 hours, the fattier burnt ends are removed and hit with more rub. They are then cooked another four hours until they form a crisp, caramelized crust with a smooth, gelatinous center that makes you wonder why anyone would throw this meat away.
Greens are at a minimum here, and thankfully both are winners. Tender collard greens come filled with hefty chunks of pulled pork while vinegary coleslaw is crisp and caramely. It's a needed balance for all that candy.
John Brown Smokehouse is located at 10-43 44th Drive in Long Island City. For more dining recommendations, visit Chow.com.