Sometimes, you bite the bullet during the week. My bullet last week was midterms. Afterwards, I just wanted to veg out. Sometimes it feels good to salute the victory. Other times, it is all about the comfort.
…and nothing speaks to the soul like BBQ. Especially luscious, sweet smokey flavor.
I grew up for a few years in North Carolina, and the memories there reflect two important things: a red brick house, and the Southern style cooking. I specifically remember leaving our cosy red house to go eat Tony Roma’s baby back ribs, smothered in sticky thick sauce. When you are eight, you automatically get this pre-meal “appetizer” of celery and carrot sticks with ranch dip. An obvious vegetable ploy for moms.
Magically, the majority of the sticks were green every time and I, of course, took it personally. I was the ideal child carnivore, and celery was the worst offense. You can guess how my vegetables disappeared. 😉
Luckily, I am no longer a PETA most wanted. I eat and actually enjoy my vegetables now. Though at Joe’s Real BBQ, I might just have to smother them in BBQ sauce!
Speaking of which, may I introduce: the head chef of Joe’s Real BBQ! I loved my conversation with the personable Big D. I started asking about his BBQ influence and what St. Louis style cuts meant. After all, I lived in St Louis a few years and I had no clue what I missed out on. Big D shared lots of cool information, starting with my cut question: Did you know that a St. Louis style cut means you separate the knuckle (also known as rib tip) from the rib and it produces greater tenderness? Nom factor plus!
He told me so much more. First off, I’ll share my favorite food discovery made that day. SMOKED SWEET POTATOES with cinnamon butter. Available starting November 1st, so I’ve been told. You may see me
staring down the staff politely waiting outside around 11AM to get in.
As some sweet potato affectionados may note, no black spots under the skin! Big D let me in on the secret… if you smoke the sweet potato, the dark spots disappear! Why? The spots are actually sugars burning out of your tater – a major problem. The namesake of the potato is at risk!
And so, I confess: I like my sugar. A lot. Which probably explains why I was overjoyed to find out that Joe’s Real BBQ sauce is gluten-free. Whoop whoop! Now that I am certain gluten is not on friendly terms with my body, I have to ration out my indulgences. Luckily, there is no fear of using some delicious BBQ beans to top off my giant orange potato! Nom nom sauce time.
I wanted to point out some other interesting tidbits Big D brought up, though. Joe’s Real BBQ sauce is specifically Arizona style. It uses local Arizona pecan wood to create the all-important smokey flavor; one which doesn’t stick in your mouth the rest of the day. Joe’s BBQ sauce blends sweet and sour flavors with unique Southwestern spices, keeping it distinct from other BBQs out there.
We wound up talking about the lack of general Arizona style. Unique Arizona essence. I mean, creating an “Arizona” BBQ? That is hard to do. Most other areas have a particular community marker on flavor, like New Orleans Cajun, Tex-Mex, Memphis style, etc. etc. Arizona, it seems, gets lumped into “the Southwest” flavor. Well, not here! Those local pecan trees get chopped up into piles for smoking in three massive rotating ovens.
Which can then make the briskets, ribs, and other options tender and moist. Perfect for a sandwich.
Perfect for a lean meal too. Joe’s Real BBQ offers chicken and turkey options for those avoiding pork or beef. Now here is where anyone interested in a moist Thanksgiving turkey should key in. Big D offered an important tip to keep the breast meat moist.
Separate the meat when you cook it. Everyone wants to cook the turkey whole, but if you separate the meat out, light from dark, you win with a moist meal in the end. Impress the in-laws? Check.
If you know my mind, you realize I have completely ignored the joy of my existence. Homestyle comfort is not about to happen unless dessert is involved. And oh, Joe’s Real BBQ has got your fix. If the nostalgic 1950s candy near the register does not peak your curiosity, the line up of treats will sell you. Where to even begin…oh yes, the smoked pie.
Check out that crust, my pie-making bandits. The clincher. Everyone knows you can doctor the filling. However, when it comes to the crust, there’s no forgiveness. And that crust holds nothing back. The insides are delicious too, make no mistake. Inside that pie is the smoked sweet potato goodness mentioned above.
Unfortunately, my memorable conversation with Big D made me forget to take my pictures! An apple crisp suffered a meltdown. Oops.
Other treats beckoned from the kitchen prep work, as well as the ice buckets lining the side of the restaurant front. (Of course I noticed!)
A word here please: If you have yet to eat a slice of Root Beer Cake, you must go and get some. Top left corner is what you want, in case you get distracted by warm chocolate chip cookies (top right), Mexican soda bottles, or a giant, entirely scratch-made root beer float. Eye on the prize, friend. You want that cake, believe me!
Because the co-owner’s wife happens to be super sweet, because I happen to have a gluten allergy, and because I love my SIFE executive board, nine of those freshly baked chocolate chip cookies made their way into a carry out box and over to ASU without any accidents. Students in Free Enterprise is an organization new to ASU campus, I am on the executive board, and we had a board meeting. I finished talking with Chrystie, the co-owner’s wife, and Big D just before I needed to head over. Would you like a second opinion on those desserts?
Warm cookies make the world a better place, especially for those escaping two solid weeks (or more) of midterms. They loved them. I loved bringing them. Thank you for sending me away with them, Joe’s Real BBQ! I think everyone on my team needed at bit of home-style comfort, and the local source certainly put a smile on the face of our sustainability officer!
Want more pictures? Click HERE.
Want more of Joe’s Real BBQ? Please click here.
Stay tuned for more conversations and in the meantime, what is your kind of comfort food?