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Special Section: Outdoor Dining

The Rub

Backyard barbecue done right

By B.A. Nilsson

Although nothing beats an impromptu outdoor cookout that litters the picnic table with burgers and dogs, my friends (and I now have many in the neighborhood) are never more pleased than when there’s a threat of barbecue.

The hardware chains have obliged us by offering sturdy, lower-end smokers that do an excellent job for household use. Forget the vertical type: It has little capacity and tends to go out overnight. You need a horizontal grill with an offset fuel chamber. They’re heavy and awkward to assemble, and I suggest torquing the hell out of the bolts you use to attach the legs. If they’re not provided in the parts bag, look into adding lock washers or double nut the bolts. (I speak from the experience of one who’s seen his smoker list to one side in a high wind like a drunkard, eventually telescoping into total collapse.)

You’ll be cooking tough pieces of meat for many hours at low heat, the heat arriving on wings of smoke. The key ingredients, therefore, are meat, seasonings for a dry rub, the right wood and patience. Not to mention the ability to crawl out of bed at 3 AM to check your fire.

Let’s start with the meat. Almost anything lends itself to smoking, with poultry an excellent victim. Most of my last few Thanksgiving turkeys emerged from the smoker, and chicken wings get extra flavor and none of the deep-fry grease by this method. Even burgers get an added righteousness, but melt the cheese on top in a different kind of oven.

The king of them all is pork ribs. When choosing your meat, look for what's called a barbecue cut or St. Louis cut, which has 10 to 13 ribs and lots of meat between them. Don't fall for the hype about baby back ribs. It's a cut that's smaller and more expensive than the St. Louis cut, and has achieved whatever cachet it has thanks to chain-restaurant menus. Cultivate a relationship with your local butcher to get the best cuts: Check out Rolf's Pork Store (709 Lexington Ave., Albany, 463-0185), Cardona's Market (340 Delaware Ave., Albany, 434-4838) or McCarroll's Village Butcher (406 Kenwood Ave., Delmar, 439-3936), each of which either stocks or can order what you need. They're also sold in cryovac pairs in BJ's Wholesale Club and other such warehouse stores.

Pulled pork comes from the shoulder, termed the "butt" thanks to the 18th- century New England practice of packing the less-desirable shoulder into barrels that were called butts. (The more desirable cuts, like the loin, were "high on the hog"). It's also called the Boston butt, except, apparently, in Boston.

Beef brisket is another popular smoked item, especially in Texas. It doesn't achieve the fall-off-the-bone tenderness of the pork items but slices nicely and makes great sandwiches.

The next step, and there's no other way to put this, is to slap a dry rub on your meat. This can contain any or all of the following ingredients, which I've listed roughly in most-to-least order according to my own recipe: paprika, salt, chili powder, ground cumin, black pepper, granulated garlic, onion powder, white pepper and cayenne. Not surprisingly, it's got a bite. I wrap my roasts in heavy tinfoil to prevent excessive scorching, fork-piercing the bottom to let the grease drip through. They get slightly unwrapped for the final few hours, allowing them to darken nicely.

Now, build a fire in your smoker. I start with charcoal in a lighting chimney, which produces enough coals to get the wood fire going. You can go after the fancy hardwoods like hickory, but I have to confess that I use the same fuel—a hardwood mix—that goes into my woodstove. Just be sure it hasn't gotten soggy or moldy.

Fit as many logs as you can in the offset box, and burn them until they’re all fairly white. Add a fresh supply of wood, allow that to display well-developed flames, and let the smoking begin. Keep the temperature between 200 and 220 degrees, which you do by adjusting the air vents beside the fire box and in the lid of the grill. At first they’ll need to be opened a small amount, but as your grill gets crusted over time it will leak enough to keep the circulation going.

Place the foil-wrapped items in the grilling box, taking care to keep the thin ends of ribs away from the flames that might be licking out from the firebox. This is why you should turn the items after a couple of hours. Otherwise, it’s a fairly unattended process. Ribs take from 14 to 16 hours; pork butts eight to 10, brisket five to six. Your results may vary. Just be sure to check it frequently, as it never tastes better than when it’s just finishing cooking.

Having gone through this effort, you won’t want to insult your palate with commercial barbecue sauce. Make your own by cooking down a mixture (in decreasing amounts) of good ketchup, cider vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, molasses, salt, pepper, oregano and a dash of cinnamon. Reduce it to two-thirds of the original amount, and funnel it into your empty ketchup bottles.

Hamburger buns and coleslaw complete a pulled pork sandwich. Serve the ribs with beans and slaw and cornbread, preferably with cheddar and jalapenos within. Brisket goes well with a mustard-and-vinegar sauce.

Your friends will bless you. Just don’t show them the calorie count or they’ll never forgive you.

 

Restaurant Guide

The following restaurants offer seasonal outdoor dining on decks, patios, porches, or sidewalks; call for more information or to make reservations.

Full Service

Adirondack Pub & Brewery

33 Canada St., Lake George, 668-0002

Agean Breeze

327 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, Mass., (413) 528-4001

Albany Airport Hilton Garden Inn

800 Albany Shaker Road, Colonie, 464-6666

Albany Pump Station

19 Quackenbush Square, Albany, 447-9000

Angelo’s 677 Prime

677 Broadway, Albany, 427-7463

Angelo’s Tavolo

1 Glen Ave., Scotia, 374-7262

Aperitivo

426 State St., Schenectady, 579-3371

Appletini’s Cafe

1118 Central Ave., Colonie, 489-2990

Arlington House

3532 Route 43, West Sand Lake, 674-1880

Bailey’s

Corner of Putnam and Phila streets, Saratoga Springs, 583-6060

Barcelona

1192 Western Ave., Albany, 438-1144

The Barnsider

480 Sand Creek Road, Colonie, 869-2448

Bayou Café

507 Saratoga Road (Route 50) Glenville, 384-1568

Bayou Café Downtown

79 N. Pearl St., Albany, 426-8550

Beverly’s

47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-2755

Black Cat Ale House

25 White St., Cohoes, 235-3199

Bongiorno’s

23 Dove St., Albany, 462-9176

Bourbon Street

2209 Central Ave., Colonie, 382-1110

Brindisi’s Restaurant and Bar

390 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-6262

Brown’s Brewing Co.

417 River St., Troy, 273-BEER (2337)

Café Hollywood

275 Lark St., Albany, 472-9043

Café Lucia

60 Church St., Lenox, Mass., (413) 637-2640

Café Madison

1108 Madison Ave., Albany, 935-1094

The Cat’s Meow

14 Karner Road (Route 155), Guilderland, 456-1895

Chianti Il Ristorante

208 S. Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 580-0025

Chico’s BBQ & Restaurant

2490 Western Ave., Albany, 456-0940

Cider House Restaurant (at Orchard Creek Golf Club)

6700 Dunnsville Road, Altamont, 861-5000 ext. 2

Circus Café

392 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1106

Clinton’s Ditch

112 S. College St., Schenectady, 346-8376

Daisy Baker’s

33 2nd St., Troy, 266-9200

Davidson Brothers Brewery & Restaurant

184 Glen St., Glens Falls, 743-9026

DeJohn’s Restaurant & Pub

288 Lark St., Albany, 465-5275

Elda’s

203-207 Lark St., Albany, 449-3532

El Loco Mexican Café

465 Madison Ave., Albany, 436-1855

El Mariachi II

289 Hamilton St., Albany, 432-7580

Envy Lounge

99 Pine St., Albany, 694-ENVY (3689)

Eugene’s Side Door Café

1656 Western Ave., Albany, 456-1720

Everyday’s Tropical Cantina

2012 Central Ave., Colonie, 869-0494

Firefly

71 Church St., Lenox, Mass., (413) 637-2700

Four Seasons

33 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 584-4670

Franklin’s Tower

414 Broadway, Albany, 431-3544

Gaffney’s

16 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 587-7359

The Georgian Resort

384 Canada St., Lake George, 668-5401

Gideon Putnam Hotel

Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga Springs, 584-3000

The Ginger Man Wine Bar & Restaurant

234 Western Ave., Albany, 427-5963

Good Times Lakeview Restaurant

175 Lake Road, Ballston Lake, 399-9976

Grappa ’72

818 Central Ave., Albany, 482-7200

Grecian Gardens

1612 Route 9, Clifton Park, 373-9950

Hattie’s

45 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 584-4790

Holmes & Watson

450 Broadway, Troy, 273-8526

Horseshoe Inn Bar & Grille

1 Gridley St., Saratoga Springs, 587-4909

Hudson Harbor Steak & Seafood

351 Broadway, Albany, 426-5000

Indulge

183 Troy Schenectady Road, Latham, 220-9900

Inferno Restaurant & Pizzeria

496 Albany Shaker Road, Loudonville, 459-2121

The Inn at Saratoga

231 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1890

The Irish Mist

28 S. 2nd St., Troy, 266-8915

Jake Moon Restaurant Café

2082 Delaware Turnpike, Clarksville, 768-2570

Jake’s Roadhouse

23 Main St., South Glens Falls, 636-5090

Jillian’s

59 N. Pearl St., Albany, 432-1997

J.J. Rafferty’s

847 Loudon Road, Latham, 783-6800

Johnny B’s Glenmont Diner

Route 9, Glenmont, 434-3761

J.T. Maxies

240 Wolf Road, Albany, 435-1551

Justin’s

301 Lark St., Albany, 436-7008

Kitchen at the Dovegate Inn

184 Broad St., Schuylerville, 695-3699

Krause’s Restaurant & Grove

2 Beach Road, Clifton Park, 371-8033

La Serre

14 Green St., Albany, 463-6056

Lakeview Inn

Route 43, Averill Park, 674-3363

Lanie’s Café

471 Albany Shaker Road, Loudonville, 438-5005

Legends

286 Lark St., Albany, 275-4900

Lillian’s

408 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-7766

Londonderry Café

Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, 489-4288

LT’s Grill

2305 Nott St., St. James Square, Niskayuna, 374-7455

Lyons Lake

Lyons Lake Road, Nassau, 766-3953

Maestro’s

371 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 580-0312

Maggie’s Café

1186 Western Ave., Albany, 437-1701

Mangia

1562 New Scotland Ave., Slingerlands, 439-5555

Mansion Hill Inn

115 Philip St., Albany, 489-0466

Martel’s at the Capital Hills Golf Course

65 O’Neil Road, Albany, 463-1455

McGeary’s

4 Clinton Square, Albany, 463-1455

Mexican Connection

41 Nelson Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-4466

Mexican Radio

537 Warren St., Hudson, 828-7770

Mill Road Tavern

30 Mill Road, Latham, 783-7244

Moscatiello’s Italian Restaurant

99 North Greenbush Road (Route 4), Troy, 283-0809

My Linh

272 Delaware Ave., Albany, 465-8899

New World Bistro Bar

300 Delaware Ave., Albany, 694-0520

Nicole’s Restaurant

556 Delaware Ave., Albany, 436-4952

Orchard Tavern

68 N. Manning Blvd., Albany, 482-5677

Otis & Oliver’s Restaurant & Pub

979 Troy Schenectady Road, Latham, 785-9291

Pangaea

1-3 Prospect St., North Bennington, Vt., (802) 442-7171

Parting Glass

40-42 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-1916

Pearl Street Pub

1 Stueben Place, Albany, 470-9349

Pennell’s

284 Jefferson St., Saratoga Springs, 582-2423

Pinehaven Restaurant & Caterers

1151 Siver Road, Guilderland, 456-7111 ext. 132

Philly Bar & Grill

622 Watervliet Shaker Road, Latham, 785-9559

Prime at Saratoga National

458 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-4653 ext. 601

Professor M. Barley’s

198 Quail St. (corner of Western and Quail), Albany, 463-7740

Provence

Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, 589-7777

Reel Seafood Co.

195 Wolf Road, Colonie, 458-2068

The Riverfront Bar and Grill

Corning Preserve, Albany, 426-4738

Ruggierio’s Pizza & Deli

3905 Carman Road, Guilderland, 355-1200

The Rusty Anchor

1 Selke Drive, Watervliet, 273-2920

Ryan’s Wake Pub

403 River St., Troy, 270-9253

Sedgwick Inn and Restaurant

17971 Route 22, Berlin, 658-2334

Sperry’s

30½ Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 584-9618

Springwater Bistro

139 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-6440

Sutter’s Mill & Mining Co.

1200 Western Ave., Albany, 489-4910

Swifty’s Pub and Restaurant

367 Delaware Ave., Delmar, 475-1111

Tandoor Palace

423 Madison Ave., Albany, 463-4123

Tesoro’s

20 Mall, 2080 Western Ave., Guilderland, 456-8242

Trader Ed’s Nautical Pub & Restaurant

630 2nd Ave., Troy, 237-2717

Trick Shot Billiards & Sports Pub

1602 Route 9, Clifton Park, 383-8771

Van Dyck

237 Union St., Schenectady, 348-7999

Victory Café

10 Sheridan Ave., Albany, 463-9113

Washington Tavern

250 Western Ave., Albany, 427-0091

Water’s Edge

70 Shady Harbor Dr., New Baltimore, 756-2000

Water’s Edge Lighthouse

2 Freeman’s Bridge Road, Scotia, 370-5300

Wheatfields Bistro and Wine Bar

54 Crossing Blvd., Clifton Park, 383-4444

Wheatfields Restaurant and Bar

440 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-0534

The Wine Bar

417 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 584-8777

Wine Bar & Bistro

200 Lark St., Albany, 463-2881

Xicohtencatl

50 Stockbridge Road, Great Barrington, Mass., (413) 528-2002

Yanni’s Too

20 Marina Dr., Coeymans, 756-7033

Zaika

54 Clifton Country Road, Clifton Park, 688-1548

Counter Service

Ambition Coffehouse & Eatery

154 Jay St., Schenectady, 382-9277

A Better Bite

One Commerce Plaza, 99 Washington Ave., Albany, 694-4400

Bountiful Bread

Stuyvesant Plaza, Albany, 438-3540

Chez Daisie Creperie

183 Jay St., Schenectady, 344-7082

Country Drive-In

1455 Vischer Ferry Road., Clifton Park, 371-3455

Daily Grind

204 Lark St., Albany, 427-0464; 46 3rd St., Troy, 272-8658

Dairy Freeze

Route 9, Latham, 785-6178

Debbie’s Kitchen

456 Madison Ave., Albany 463-3829

Gershon’s

1600 Union St., Schenectady, 393-0617

Hungry Spot Café

480 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 584-9060

Iron Gate Café

182 Washington Ave., Albany, 445-3555

Jack’s

24 Main Ave., Wynantskill, 283-5110

Jumpin’ Jacks

5 Schonowee Ave., Scotia, 393-6101

Kurver Kreme

1349 Central Ave., Colonie, 459-4120

Lauren’s House of Dogs

370 Delaware Ave., Albany, 396-3647

More Perreca’s

3 N. Jay St., Schenectady, 377-9800

Mrs. London’s Bakery & Café

464 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 581-1834

PJ’s Bar-B-Q

1 Kaydeross Ave. West, Saratoga Springs, 583-7427

Professor Java’s

217 Wolf Road, Colonie, 435-0843

Ross’

1342 New Scotland Road, Slingerlands, 439-7084

Scratch Bakery & Café

452 Madison Ave., Albany, 465-2233

Tastee Freeze

58 Delaware Ave., Delmar, 439-3912

Tastee Treat

2105 New Scotland Road, Slingerlands, 439-3344

Ultraviolet Café

290 Delaware Ave., Albany, 434-0333

Uncommon Grounds

402 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 581-0656

Villa Italia Pasticceria

226 Broadway, Schenectady, 355-1144

Click here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.


TABLE SCRAPS

Schenectady Day Nursery’s 11th annual fundraising event, “A Little Bit of Jazz & More,” will take place from 5:30 to 8 today (Thursday, April 29) in the Fenimore Gallery at Proctors Theatre (432 State St., Schenectady). The “more” part of the proceedings includes a cornucopia of food, including a carving station with turkey breast and roast beef, a pasta station, an hors d’oeuvres display and, if you don’t want to fetch your food, circulating trays with even more hors d’oeuvres, including sesame chicken, a Mediterranean artichoke tart, shrimp Wellington, spanakopita and more. There will be complimentary beer and wine and Chocolates by Lindt. The jazz part is a performance by Colleen Pratt and Friends. The event includes a benefit drawing with a choice of a $500 gift card at either Town TV or Empress Travel, and gift baskets sponsored by the Schenectady Day Nursery Board of Directors. Reservations are $50 per person or $100 for honorary committee status, and may be made by calling Jim Kalohn at 894-6305. . . . Remember to pass your scraps to Metroland.



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