Thursday, August 25, 2011

Paul Kirk of R.U.B. Will Not Talk Trash About Kansas City BBQ Being the Best

Paul Kirk Headshot.jpg
Paul Kirk: Baron of Barbecue
Paul Kirk's Chelsea barbecue palace is named R.U.B., which stands for Righteous Urban Barbecue. Amen. Now, Long Islanders have their own outpost, serving the same menu of ribs, wings, burnt ends, and other Kansas City goodness. Kirk, who earlier this week shared his recipe for Grilled Vegetables With Balsamic-Maple Dressing, shifts his attention back to meat with a primer on different barbecue traditions.
Are you excited about the new R.U.B. on Long Island?
Sure. It's basically going to just like the original, except that it can seat, like, 125 instead of 70 or 80 here in the city. It's going to be an exciting adventure.

Will you be doing anything different to cater to the Long Island scene?
No, we're pretty much doing the same recipes. We are going to do a burger night that we started here. We were voted one of Time Out's Best Cheap Burgers in New York City for the second time this year. We're going to do more with the burgers up there because we're better set up for it, but other than that we're pretty much going to do the same thing.
What's the difference between Texas-, Memphis-, and Kansas City-style barbecue?
Well, it's mostly the sauce as opposed to the actual cooking process. The cooking processes are very much the same. The seasonings are different in varying areas. Like, I grew up with salt and pepper and that's basically what they use in Texas. As rubs keep evolving, people will try different spices and say, "Wow, this really turned out great."
So, is Kansas City-style the best?
Basically, my recipe is what I developed in competition. I won seven world championships and that's another long story. It used to be difficult for me to say that Kansas City was the barbecue capital of the world until a bunch of us started venturing out in the world and winning with our style of barbecue. What we serve at R.U.B. is completely different than normal, commercial barbecue ... just the way we season it, the way we look after it.
Is there much trash talking between pit masters about the different types of barbecue?
No, not really. We each have our moments of "mine's better than yours" and so forth. But there's not really a whole lot of trash talking. Maybe when the BBQ Block Party comes out there may be some trash talking, but not so much as a general rule.

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see home cooks make when they try to do barbecue at home?
They don't have patience. They keep looking and opening the pit to see how the meat's doing. Listen, the meat's doing just fine. All that does is let a lot of heat out that you should keep constant. That's the biggest thing. And then cooking too hot usually.

Southern food and barbecue are everywhere these days. Why do you think that is?
Well, I say it's American food and it's comfort food. It's social food, you know, because that's where it started: People gather around for a barbecue. It's been growing in leaps and bounds. People enjoy it.

Do you have any favorite barbecue spots in New York when you're not at your own?
No, I really haven't had a chance to go out. I want to go out to Daisy May's and Hill Country. I've been to Blue Smoke. I've been to John Stage's Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. I really enjoy Dinosaur, but other than that I haven't had a chance to get out because usually I have a pretty full schedule when I'm here.
You're working on other restaurants in the tristate area?
Yeah, a couple more. Also, I'm working on a bunch of new cookbooks. I should have two new ones out next year and I may sign a contract on a couple more by then.

Are there ever any trends that emerge in the world of barbecue?
Not so much this year. I think it's been pretty steady. I think people instead of trying new things, they are just trying to hang on and get through this economy.

What do you like to drink with your barbecue?
I pretty much just drink water.

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