Big Bricks gets big rib flavor with slow-smoking

June 1, 2012 (CHICAGO)

Slow-smoking is obviously a big part of the event, and that's just the thing our Hungry Hound is interested in.

So every Rriday this month, he's going to take a look at a different style of smoking. Ribs are on deck for his first "Fired Up Friday."

Some guys get excited about gadgets. Jeff Bush is happy with his jet black, two ton Oyler Smoker from Texas. He uses it pretty much all day long at the new Big Bricks in North Center, a sister restaurant to the Bricks pizza joint in Lincoln Park.

"Brings me lots of joy. We're able to smoke almost 200 slabs of ribs at a time, and provide a new, full barbecue menu to North Center," said Bush.

Like any respectable, serious barbecue joint, Bush has to maintain some standards, which include using only hickory and apple wood, and slow-smoking, to acheive the tell-tale pink smoke ring.

"Three hours minimum; dry-rubbed, never sauce on - sauce served on the side - and just be gentle with them," he said.

The dry rub is almost as important as the pork itself. Bush uses more than a dozen ingredients to coax flavors from the ribs and help develop the exterior layer.

"Two types of paprika, cumin, black pepper, cayenne, sugar.." said Bush.

That rub is also used on his mustard-slathered pork shoulder, which gets a much longer smoke - anywhere from 10 to 14 hours, depending on the size - and is then pulled and served with white bread and 'slaw. Chicken gets the slow-smoked treatment as well, but Bush is banking on his ribs, especially at next week's RibFest just up the street. He says a renewed interest in technique has fueled Chicago's most recent wave of new barbecue joints.

"Monitoring it throughout the day, it's not just a throw it and see how it turns out kind of thing, it's definitely a science to it," said Bush.

Now Big Bricks is, of course, going to be selling ribs at Ribfest in North Center June 8, 9 and 10, available in full, half and quarter slabs, and because the event is just up the street, I think these guys might have an advantage this year.

Big Bricks
3832 N. Lincoln Ave.
(773) 525-5022

RibFest Chicago info:

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