Shelburne Falls & West County Independent • February 4, 2011
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
New BBQ biz to fire up soon
By Cameron Graves SHELBURNE FALLS—With very few local restaurants here that regularly serve smoked barbecue, Shelburne Falls resident Brolin Winning sees a niche that he is ready to fill. He is planning to open his new business, Smoky Bro’s BBQ with a barbecue stand Saturday, April 2. Winning, an Amherst native inspired during frequent trips to Bub’s Bar-B-Q in Sunderland when he was a kid, starting cooking professionally at age 14. Starting with the former Bell’s Pizza in Amherst in the late ’80s, he cooked at various restaurants and schools, including Deerfield Academy and Boston University, each for a couple of years. He moved to San Francisco in 1999 “on a whim, because my younger brother was out there” and initially found work cooking at a few fancy restaurants. Winning’s career path took a turn when he was hired by music Web sites to write and edit record reviews. One was MP3.com, whose parent company CNET, best known for its. technology product consumer reports, was bought by CBS in late 2008, causing him to be laid off. He also freelanced for iTunes and was developing a record label called 442 Records. “To date, we have put out nine albums since 2003,” said Winning. “It was fun making and producing music, but there is no money in it since anyone can get any music for free on the Internet, so they are not going to buy an album on compact disk” Winning never gave up his love of barbecue. He started a catering company called Instant Luau that made Hawaiian barbecue. With a small smoker he bought from Home Depot for a couple hundred bucks, Winning taught himself the art of
barbecue, including making his own rubs and sauces and trying different wood combinations for the best smoke.
His education paid off when he moved to Shelburne Falls in September 2009. Hired as the chef at Elmer’s Store in Ashfield in 2010, he was able to plan and serve a barbecue night with kielbasa, chicken, pulled pork and side dishes. Last summer, he also worked with friend and welder Julian Halpern in Holyoke to construct a commercial-grade smoker from scratch.
“It is about six feet long,” said Winning, “six feet tall, weighs about 700 pounds and you can fit about two dozen racks of pork spareribs in there. The smoke chamber is two 55-gallon drums welded together and then we fabricated a big firebox with quarter-inch steel. It is on wheels, so I can winch it up into the bed of my truck and bring it wherever”
Winning was able to use the new smoker when Elmer’s had a booth at the Cummington Fair at the end of August, and then during Cider Days at the BucklandShelburne Community Center in early November and again during Moonlight Magic the day after Thanksgiving. Each went well with approval from barbecue aficionados who attended the events.
Still working on an eatery site, Winning plans to start out small, opening with a stand to make enough to afford a full-sized dining site in the future. Beginning with a limited menu of pulled pork, chopped chicken, pork spareribs and kielbasa with coleslaw, potato salad and beans as side dishes, Winning would like to add beef and lamb ribs to the menu at some point. All dishes will be homemade, including a hot sauce made with chipotle peppers and a sweet sauce made with local maple syrup. Other local products, such as apple cider vinegar for barbecue sauce and vegetables for the side dishes, will also be used.
Until the stand opens, Smoky Bro’s BBQ will be available for catering and delivery and will continue serving food at local events, fairs and festivals. For more information, contact Winning at 413-489-1515 or visit smolcybrosbbq.com or Facebook under “Smoky Bro.”
Confident of the quality of his food, Winning even hopes to compete on a television show like “Pit Masters” some day.
“I have been barbecuing for at least 15 years,” said Winning. “Shelburne has a lot of good restaurants, but nothing for barbecue. Most places that say they have barbecue don’t really smoke meat, but instead took it in the oven and put barbecue sauce over it. I want to open a place where the barbecue food is delicious but affordable.”
By ERICA COUTU Special to The Recorder
or Brolin Winning, barbecuing
for friends and family has always
been one of his biggest passions.
About 10 years ago, Winning
seriously began honing his
barbecuing skills by experimenting with
different spice rubs, sauces and wood blends
on a small smoker purchased at Home Depot.
After finding the perfect spice and sauce combinations to satisfy his palate, Winning —who was working as the head chef in the restaurant at Elmer’s Store in Ashfield at the time — began testing his homemade creations at events like the Cummington Fair, Cider Days and Moonlight Magic.
After receiving positive reviews from numerous customers, Winning began thinking of where he could test-drive a little barbecue restaurant without having the responsibility of loans, leases and other overhead that accompany owning a business.
This summer, Smoky Bro’s BBQ made its debut and has been serving up pork spare ribs, chopped chicken and pulled pork with sides of coleslaw, potato salad and spicy beans in the grassy field beside the Mohawk Trading Post on Route 2 in Shelburne.
Although most of the orders are for takeout meals, there are a few picnic tables set up and plenty of lawn to lay down a blanket and have a roadside picnic with family and friends.
With help in the “kitchen” from his wife Sunshine, Winning says that they serve a lot of local customers who regularly stop by for some barbecue while traveling along the Mohawk Trail.
What many of their diners may not realize is that the big, black, steel smoker that gets dragged to the center of the field each Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon was designed and created by Winning with the help of a close friend.
Winning said that countless hours were spent every day working with Julian Halpern,
owner of Steelhead Studios in Holyoke, on the
construction of the smoker — which he feels is
the key to the success to his “trial restaurant.”
Unfortunately, the drawbacks of owning an outdoor restaurant include inclement weather. When the eatery first opened in May, Winning was faced with many rainy weekends, which slowed business considerably and left him with more left over food than he knew what to do with.
In an effort to help out local shelters, Winning donated the food, something that he hopes to continue doing if faced with a similar situation.
Winning said that he hopes to incorporate comfort foods like chili and macaroni and cheese into his menu in the fall.
While the outdoor barbecue joint will only be open until November, Winning, who also works as a caterer, said that he will work more steadily within his catering business until the winter snows disappear and he can reopen his barbecue stand.
“This is definitely a labor of love,” Winning said. “Despite all the hours and hard work that goes into the business, I would have to say that the best apart about having a job like this is being able to meet lots of different people.”
Here’s one of his recipes:
SMOKY BRO’S PORK SPARE RIBS
One rack of full-sized ribs; do not use baby back ribs Dry rub of your choice (see below)
To prepare the ribs:
Cut off the thick, bony sternum section; trim the flap meat and peel off the membrane on the back side of the ribs. The best way to do this is to stick a butter knife underneath the first rib, loosen the “silver-skin,” then grasp the rib firmly with a paper towel and rip toward the far end of the rack. It should come off all in one piece.
Liberally coat with a dry spice rub. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight. Let the ribs warm up to room temperature before you start smoking.
If you have a smoker, load it with the hard wood of your
choice; apple wood is mostly used at Smoky Bro’s BBQ, but oak, cherry and hickory also work well. Mesquite can be kind of harsh on pork and is better used for smoking beef. Do not use soft woods like pine in your smoker because it will ruin the meat.
If you don’t have a smoker, you can use an ordinary charcoal or gas grill — the key is to cook on indirect heat.
Start your charcoal with a chimney-type starter to avoid lighter fluid fumes from contaminating the meat. Once the coals are hot, shift them to one side of the grill and put your meat on the other, as far away as possible. Cover the grill with the lid, keeping the vents over the meat open.
Add small pieces of pre-soaked wood periodically to make it smoky.
When using a gas grill, follow the same method, turning off one side of the burner and placing a foil pouch filled with soaked wood chips, with a few holes punched in it, on the hot side.
In either case, the temperature on the “cold” side should be kept between 200 and 225 degrees, never exceeding 250 degrees.
Smoke for approximately four hours, turning the meat occasionally. The ribs will turn red from the smoke, the meat will shrink some and the inside of the rib bones will turn black.
Before you remove the meat from the grill, the rack of ribs should be flexible and the meat should be very tender but still juicy. Serve the ribs with your favorite barbecue sauce. The sauce can either be drizzled over the meat or placed on the side.
Dry rubs can be purchased premixed, or made up from your own spices. Here are two typical recipes:
SWEET DRY RUB FOR RIBS
6 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons salt
3 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoon mustard powder
SPICY DRY RUB FOR RIBS
6 tablespoons paprika
3 tablespoons salt
3 teaspoons ground black pepper 2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons Onion Powder
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
For both recipes, mix all ingredients together and rub onto your ribs a good 4-12 hours before you start cooking to let the flavors penetrate the ribs.
Contact Smoky Bro’s BBQ at 413-489-1515 or firstname.lastname@example.org