Photo courtesy of Ken Goodman; photo illustration by Johansen Peralta
May 9, 2022
Getting sauced with the guys from Pig Beach
A podcast interview with Shane McBride and Matt Adboo, the chefs behind the BBQ restaurant Pig Beach and authors of a new cookbook
Barbecue. As a cuisine is about as old as mankind itself: All you need is fire and meat. Doesn’t get more primal than that.
Writing in their new barbecue cookbook, chefs Matt Abdoo and Shane McBride have this to say: “We would guess—and most historians would probably agree—that barbecue in some form started as soon as fire was discovered. Or maybe even before that, when animals were caught in natural fires and it was discovered that the cooked meat tasted pretty darn good.”
Adboo and McBride ought to know: They are the team behind the Gowanus barbecue restaurant Pig Beach, and their new book, out May 17, is called the “Pig Beach BBQ cookbook: Smoked, Grilled, Roasted and Sauced.”
And this week Abdoo and McBride are guests on “Brooklyn Magazine: The Podcast.” Both men spent years racking up fine dining bona fides before getting their aprons dirty in the world of barbecue. Abdoo was formerly the chef de cuisine at Mario Batali’s super-acclaimed Del Posto (he left before Batali was credibly accused of harassment and fostering a hostile workplace environment, leading to the eventual closure of Del Posto). McBride served long stints at Colicchio & Sons and Balthazar, among others.
But now they’re all in at Pig Beach, which began as a pop-up in 2016 and officially opened its Gowanus location the following year. The name is an ironic nod to an actual pristine beach in the Bahamas where feral pigs run wild, they say. It happened to also match the grimy reputation of the Gowanus of 2016.
“Now it’s some of the most sought after waterfront property in the entire city of New York, which is absolute insanity,” Abdoo says on the podcast.
We discuss the origins of American barbecue as we know it today, which is unique in the world, despite sharing the core fundamentals of “wood plus fire plus meat,” says McBride.
“The origins of what we consider barbecue in the United States, you can argue about it from now until eternity,” says McBride. “The way that we took smoke and fire and turned it into an enclosed cooking chamber, that’s what makes it uniquely American. It might have been done underground or in the earth, but it wasn’t done in a way we consider now to be standard procedure.”
The two break down the regional differences in American barbecue, current trends in fine dining and what their go-to smokers are.
Last fall they opened their first Pig Beach in Queens, and later this month they’ll be opening a Pig Beach outpost in Palm Beach, Florida, followed by another in Louisville, Kentucky at the end of the year.
But you don’t have to travel to get your hands on their smoked, grilled, roasted and sauced meats. The cookbook comes chock-a-block with traditional barbecue recipes, as well as some nouveau twists on familiar favorites, like ribs al pastor.
Listen to the podcast and each will share what they think is an essential recipe for any budding pit enthusiast to master.