Meet New York’s fa­mous smoked meats

This New York smoke­house rose to fame with its slow-smok­ing process


Some­time in 2011, New Yorker gourmet chef Hugh Mangum set up a spot in Smor­gas­burg, an out­door Satur­day food mar­ket in Brook­lyn. With a mea­ger $600 cap­i­tal and only a few clas­sic cuts of meat in tow, he re­lied on his knowl­edge of slow-smok­ing, and in about 90 min­utes, all of his meats were sold out. By luck, the Wall Street Jour­nal was co­in­ci­den­tally work­ing on a story on the mar­ket’s con­ces­sion­aires. When its is­sue came out the fol­low­ing Mon­day, Mangum found the cover photo to be of him­self cut­ting meat. “It was in­stan­ta­neous. It caught like wild­fire, and things just launched into great­ness,” he re­calls.

Grow­ing up with a back­yard pit, Mangum con­sid­ers him­self a week­end war­rior, thanks largely to his fa­ther, a na­tive of Texas. Bar­be­cue to him is the undis­puted na­tional dish of the U.S. He spe­cial­izes in the slow-smok­ing process where pro­tein is cooked us­ing in­di­rect heat, at a low tem­per­a­ture, and over a long pe­riod of time. The wood used is equally as im­por­tant as the in­gre­di­ents for the fla­vor it adds.

Since his WSJ de­but, it didn’t take long for a res­tau­ra­teur to get in touch with Mangum. Soon af­ter, Mighty Quinn’s in the East Vil­lage opened. Three months af­ter launch­ing, the New York Times fea­tured the smoke­house and rated it 2.5 stars—a good review for a then bud­ding restau­rant. “As I was read­ing it, I was read­ing my dream truly com­ing true. It was a mon­u­men­tal, her­culean mo­ment—the great­est pro­fes­sional achieve­ment of my life,” Mangum says.

Now, with over five lo­ca­tions across New York, one in New Jersey, an­other in Taipei, and one in Manila, Mighty Quinn’s in­tends to make bar­be­cue ac­ces­si­ble in a way it hasn’t been be­fore. Its menu con­sists of pas­teur­ized meat that can be served ei­ther in a plat­ter or by the pound.

The Brisket, slow-smoked for 18 to 22 hours, is essen­tially what the smoke­house was built on, the beef

charred on the out­side yet still fla­vor­ful and suc­cu­lent. “It is an iconic meat that is dif­fi­cult to cook. More peo­ple mess it up than do it well,” Mangum says. The Burnt Ends, mean­while, is the toasted edge of the brisket but cooked us­ing more sauce, re­sult­ing in meat that is crispy and more pun­gent. An­other house­hold fa­vorite is the Spare Ribs, which Mangum en­cour­ages to be eaten with bare hands, the meat not fall­ing off the bone but re­main­ing chewy and ten­der. All the vari­ants of meat can be paired with a gen­er­ous serv­ing of the sta­ple sides: burnt ends baked beans, potato salad, sweet potato casse­role, and slaw. Know­ing that Filipinos are fond of rice, they spe­cially in­cluded the Ca­jun and Cre­ole dish or dirty rice (closely sim­i­lar to fried rice with the ad­di­tion of meat, spices, and veg­eta­bles) on the menu.

Mighty Quinn’s only has one kind of bar­be­cue sauce, which tastes both sweet and tangy. “We stand be­hind that one sauce that uses my fa­ther’s recipe, but we don’t want to drench things in sauce. The meat is the star and the sauce is sim­ply a com­po­nent,” Mangum ex­plains.

Mighty Quinn’s hopes to rein­tro­duce bar­be­cue to lo­cal din­ers much in the same way that some for­eign food con­cepts were, such as katsu and ra­men: by high­light­ing the com­fort it brings and to dis­pel any sense of un­fa­mil­iar­ity. When asked how he thinks slow-smoked bar­be­cue will fare in the Philip­pines, Mangum knocks on the same wood they use for slow-smok­ing, mounted aes­thet­i­cally by the restau­rant’s en­trance. “Let’s say I hope, now that I’m knock­ing on wood, that we’ll crush it. The mar­ket will tell us, but that’s what I pray for.”

“We stand be­hind that one sauce that uses my fa­ther’s recipe, but we don’t want to drench things in sauce. The meat is the star and the sauce is sim­ply a com­po­nent.”

The wooden in­te­ri­ors give way to a ca­sual, au­then­tic bar­be­cue set­ting.

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