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I stopped by Urban Bar-B-Que‘s “Saturday Straight from the Smoker” promotion and ordered up enough meats to feed the Washington Redskins‘ offensive line for a week. Co-owner David Calkins hacked me off a few ribs—-which, incidentally, didn’t need a drop of Urban’s sweet sauce to give them flavor—-and sliced me several thick strips from a brisket that was as black as onyx. He loaded me up with sausage and pork butt; he even gave me a handful of charred burnt ends, those delicious dehydrated pieces of smoke and meat, when I asked for them.
The meats’ freshness was undeniable. The char was au poivre-like in its texture, and the smoke levels were worth at least four alarms. There was just one problem, which I pointed out to Calkins when he asked how everything was: The brisket was strangely dry, and I had never had a dry slice of brisket at Urban since it installed its new smoker.
That’s when Calkins had his eureka moment—-or as close as the preternaturally calm chef gets to a eureka moment. He realized that his “Straight from the Smoker” briskets need to have, like all cooked meats, a resting period, so that the juices can be redistributed throughout the cut before serving. In their enthusiasm for the new promotion, the Urban team had forgotten this basic rule.
It won’t happen again.