Smoke ’em if you got ’em.
Pit masters will battle it out for brisket supremacy at the Irondale Center on March 16 in the Brisket King of NYC competition. The event’s organizer said the slow-cooked delicacy brings together Brooklynites of all backgrounds.
“It’s really a great slice of New York,” said Jimmy Carbone, who owns a restaurant on the distant island of Manhattan. “We have kosher people, people who like barbecue, people who are into smoking [meat]. Everyone likes beef and everyone likes brisket.”
Twenty chefs from around the city will carve up their best beef-breast dishes for a panel of judges and around 500 guests. Prizes will be awarded for best traditional, braised, and innovative briskets, as well as an overall winner and a people’s choice.
Briskets come in many varieties, including the Irish corned beef, the braised brisket popular in Jewish culture, and the smoked version from the South, Carbone said. But, he added, all brisket has a few things in common.
“It has to be fatty. And it really takes love,” he said. “All brisket takes a lot of time in the kitchen.”
Carbone said his favorites are usually the ones that take the least amount of work.
“I personally like briskets that are un-fussed-over,” he said. “The less handled the better.”
Brooklyn will be well represented at the cook-off, with meatheads from Morgan’s Barbecue in Prospect Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant’s Beast of Bourbon, and Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue in Gowanus all set to participate. Bill Fletcher, who will be entering the Brisket King competition for the third time, said it is one of the better food face-offs he has seen.
“A lot of times these food competitions, it’s more about the social aspect. People are just there to party,” he said. “But Brisket King isn’t like that. The attendees are truly passionate about the food. They want to understand what you have and how you made it.”
Fletcher said a good brisket for him always starts with a nice fresh cut of meat.
“To get something good out, you have to put something good in,” he said.
Fletcher’s entry in the contest will be a barbecued brisket bulgogi, a Korean marinade that translates to “fire meat,” served with fermented kohlrabi, a turnip popular in Germany, in lettuce leaves. It’s a mouthful, but the method is tried-and-true: barbecue.
“It’s all about cooking real slow and over low heat,” he said.
Brisket King of NYC at the Irondale Center (85 South Oxford St. between Lafayette Avenue and Fulton Street in Fort Greene, www.event