Saturday 14 July, 2012

Rob Kelso’s Ultimate Backyard Barbecue

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kelso1I usually talk about "professional" food in this blog, as opposed to home cooking. But when Rob Kelso announced his annual backyard BBQ, I knew I had to document it. I first met Rob before I was writing about food, when a big group of music industry-related food lovers got together once a month to take over various steak restaurants around LA (okay, 'take over' is a stretch, but it was usually around 20 people). Back then, Kelso was a competitive barbecuer, and a winning one.

These days, he mostly just 'cues at home, but he's still pretty dedicated, with a combination oil drum/vertical smoker, two bullet smokers, and six Weber kettles (maybe he borrowed some of those, I didn't ask).

For the BBQ, Kelso spent a week of prep to serve smoked turkey, beef and pork ribs, tri-tip, brisket, some very spicy chicken, bacon, and even smoked spam and a goat leg (I probably missed something too). If these pics look hazy it's because the entire backyard was just filled with smoke for hours. It's a wonder the fire department didn't come--to eat, if nothing else. Every time a meat came out, people grabbed for it instantly. Believe it or not, many of these shots where the servings are half gone were taken seconds after it hit the table!

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I have to say pork ribs are clearly Rob's strength: they were dense, tender but toothy, not too fatty but easy to devour. His own barbeque sauce is very red pepper-heavy, not quite like anything I've had in that category before.

His only requirement for guests is that they bring "interesting beer," and I have to tell, that request brought an amazing array of brews, as local as Eagle Rock Brewery and as far away as (naturally) Germany--several from both, and all manner of others (I brought Red Hook IPA cans and some Mendocino Bock). Friends brought a bunch of other classic picnic salads and desserts, too, of course.

"Did you know this was a PETA gathering?" I overheard one wag telling his friends "People Eating Tasty Animals."

Kelso ended the night by bringing out a huge cherry cobbler cooked in a rectangular cast iron dutch oven over the coals.

Love, American Style.