Saturday 14 July, 2012

Rob Kelso’s Ultimate Backyard Barbecue


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!


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.