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DARRAGH DOIRON — Texas barbecue, fancy and otherwise

Please don’t accuse Cheryl Alters Jamison of getting too fancy with dishes like Avocado-Grapefruit-Fennel Salad.

She’s one of us, and maybe more so. She and her late husband had more than a dozen smokers around their patio in what friends considered an art installation. And they were used. Her new book Texas Q shares 100 recipes and some great tales from the pit. I feel a little smoky just flipping through the pages.

In my own “make-do” update, I spent some quarantine time cleaning out a shed that had accumulated a handful of “gifted” smokers that I put out to the side of the yard and I’m thrilled that people picked them up to hopefully refurbish. In my pantry, I’ve rescued and combined marinades and rubs to make new flavors and clear space for incoming, like I’ve found in the books in this column.

In “Texas Q, photo spreads of smoke-cooked concoctions will make your mouth water as you learn that paprika in “red dirt” will color your meat, brisket puts a shine to your deviled eggs and Evie Mae’s Cornbread Pudding and Bourbon Sauce can start with any cornbread recipe you already love.

I wish I could travel with this woman to enjoy any one of the 100 recipes. Selections that ought to grab a Southeast Texas Gulf Coast appetite the most include Gulf of Galveston Shrimp “Smoke” with Corn and Sausage, Vietnamese Lemongrass Shrimp and Noodles and Crawdad-Andouille Chowder. A Mess of Collards is the name of one recipe and Mexican street corn gets salad treatment while citrus and jalapeno provide that tart we crave.

A quickie from the book:

Sriracha Barbecue Sauce

(Author’s note: This is perfect with a bowl of brisket pho or ramen or a chicken spring roll)

  • Three-fourths cup tomato-based barbecue sauce
  • One-fourth cup sriracha
  • Stir the barbecue sauce and sriracha together in a small bowl and serve.

Sauced

New Egypt and New Jersey are words far removed from Texas thinking for barbecue. We conjure “old” and “Southern.” But there’s a king up there in New Egypt, N,J.

Actually, he calls himself BBQ Buddha, and he has my full attention. Ray Sheehan spills secrets in his new book, Award-Winning BBQ Sauces and How to Use Them. Breakfast Fatty, a Pig-Out (waffle) Cone and Moink (combo of Moo and Oink products) look trendy and fun, but please note that this certified Kansas City Barbecue Society Judge is pit-serious about empowering readers to play around. Just prep one of his BBQ Bloody Mary jars to sip while you page through to his classics. Rim the jar with seasoning rub and add skewers of bacon, celery, lime and olives. You’ve got a bloody artwork.

Right up front he shares how to make his famous Memphis Mop BBQ Sauce, which is also sold in bottles. It’s got a ketchup and mustard base. I approve of that starter, which I have been known to fashion from excess fast food packets. What I appreciate most his breakdown on building flavor with sweet, sour, spicy, savory, spice and smoke ingredients plus secret ingredients. It’s a mix and match list. You could go brown sugar, pickle juice, grated ginger, onion, paprika, and coffee. Or maybe today it’s about honey, vinegar, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, cumin, liquid smoke and cherry juice.

Hear that dinner bell? Come and taste this guy’s secrets.

On the Grill  

Grilling is a slow process, so that must be when pitmasters start churning out new combos with attention-grabbing titles.

The Devil’s BLT has lobster as the “L.” A Blueberry Sausage Fatty is a pork rib round of ingredients on a slice of pound cake. Drizzle it for syrup for a presentation that’s like a meat pancake.

These are from Ed Randolf, author of “Smoked” and owner and pitmaster of Handsome Devil LLC. Read how to create such edible delight in Showstopping BBQ With Your Traeger Grill, subtitled “Standout Recipes for your Wood Pellet Cooker from an Award-Winning Pitmaster.”

Maybe you never liked Brussels sprouts because your mom didn’t do this bacon-and-sugar thing in the recipe Balsamic-Glazed Roasted Brussels Spouts with Bacon. Catching on, everything’s a little extra, even when it is simple. Here’s an example. You can do this South Carolina-inspired sauce:

Mustard Sauce

  • 1 cup yellow mustard
  • 1 half-cup honey
  • 1 fourth cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Darragh Doiron is a Port Arthur area foodie who loves to talk about, read about and consume barbecue and grilled feasts, but would still rather someone else be the chef. Reach her at darraghcastillo@icloud.com.