’em If You Got ’em
By B.A. Nilsson
107 Mill St., Troy, 266-7227. Serving Tue-Sun
10-10. MC, V.
Entrée price range: $6 (half chicken) to $19 (full rack
o’ ribs with extras)
Clientele: people who know
is the great Amer- ican dish. The tradition of slow
cooking over a low temperature first took hold in the South,
probably in North Carolina. Four regional styles developed:
Carolina, featuring pork butt (shoulder), with vinegar-based
sauces; Texas, where beef brisket is found alongside pork
ribs, and they’re glazed with sweet-sour sauce; Memphis, home
to ribs and shoulder served with thick, sweet, tomato-based
sauce; and Kansas City, with a menu similar to Texas but a
more pungent sauce variety.
Too often in the North we’re likely to slap some meat on the
grill, slather bottled barbecue sauce on it and think we’re
eating the good stuff. We’re not. True barbecue, the stuff
that falls off the bone and onto your shirt, needs to cook
for many hours.
Perhaps it’s the long wait that has inspired all the craziness
that surrounds the stuff. There are impassioned cook-offs—the
largest was in Memphis in May, but you still can attend the
National Championship Barbecue Cookoff in Texas on Aug. 23,
where they hope to top last year’s event in which over 195
cooking teams competed for $17,000 in prize money.
The passions connected with barbecue, its sauce and side dishes,
spark like fireworks. Perhaps that’s what drove Paul Connally
insane—as he’s quick to so characterize himself. After 25
years selling auto parts, he plunged for the first time into
the restaurant business, and in that most specialized niche:
Connally came back to his hometown of Troy after spending
several of his car- business years in Florida, where he also
“got the hang of barbecue,” he says. “It’s always been a hobby
of mine, but down there I really got into it.” He also learned
a wider range of sauces, including Jamaican jerk seasoning,
taught to him by a woman who had cooked for Chris Blackwell,
Bob Marley’s record producer—“So this was a sauce that Marley
also tasted and enjoyed,” Connally says.
Bringing a hint of Jamaica into the barbecue is totally appropriate
to the way such flavors grow and evolve, and it’s nice to
think that this confluence is taking place in as unprepossessing
a place as Mo’s Bar-B-Q.
Open for eight months, Connally’s tiny restaurant perches
on a side street in Troy’s south side, not far from Hudson
Valley Community College. It’s humble. Inside, you squeeze
into one of a handful of tables, and it’s Connally himself
whom you’ll probably see, unless his girlfriend (who makes
the coleslaw) is helping.
The menu, as befits a barbecue restaurant, is simple. If you
really need a starter, skip the commercial stuff like the
jalapeño poppers and go for some chicken wings ($4.50 for
10). Smoked chicken wings, which gives an entirely
new dimension to their flavor. You get your choice of sauces
of varying spiciness—or barbecue sauce, of course.
The entrées come à la carte or as dinners, the latter netting
two side dishes and corn bread. In each case, the dinner costs
an additional two bucks. Here are the à la carte prices: A
half-rack of ribs is $10, a full rack $17; half a chicken
is $6, or add a half-rack of ribs to that for $14.
The ribs speak for themselves. They’re slow cooked, and the
sauce is pungent. Whatever Florida influence Connally received
came by way of Kansas City. The chicken has a good rub of
seasonings, and I recommend the half-and-half.
Side dishes ($1.30 each by themselves) include French fries,
sweet-potato fries, onion rings, macaroni salad, coleslaw
and baked beans. The last two are my favorites. Where the
coleslaw isn’t overly sweet, the beans are, a big taste of
molasses and sugar complementing their flavor. (“My sister
makes those,” says Connally. “She won’t tell me the recipe.
When I’m about to run out, I call her.”) Corn bread does what
it’s supposed to do.
There are cheaper dining options, and that’s where the unsung
star of the show comes in. The pulled pork is the result of
slow-cooking the pork butt and then plucking the meat from
the cooked-to- submission bone. Mixed with a vinegary sauce,
this is as good as barbecue gets, and pulled pork sets up
nicely as a sandwich ($3.50; add 30 cents, and you really
should, for coleslaw).You also can get sandwiches of pork
tenderloin, barbecued beef or chicken, all in the $3.50 range,
as well as those wretched atrocities called chicken fingers,
the mucilage of dining.
smoking equipment is on the second floor,” says Connally.
“It’s state of the art, keeps a constant temperature. I typically
smoke the meats over hickory or apple or both.” He can get
up to 250 pounds of meat at a time into his smoker, which
hasn’t been required yet—but I’m sure that situation will
change as his restaurant catches on.
here for a list of recently reviewed restaurants.
Saratoga Wine Exchange (Spring Street, across
from the carousel in Congress Park) will host
a wine tasting tonight (Thursday, Aug. 14) from
6 to 9 PM to benefit the Thoroughbred Retirement
Foundation. Some of the wines that will be offered
are: Rudd Jericho Canon Red 1998, Turley Zinfandel
Old Vines 2001, Kistler Chardonnay 1999 Dutton
Ranch, Robert Foley Claret, Guigal 1999 Hermitage
and Allegrini Amarone 1998. In addition, Stag’s
Leap Wine Cellars and Glenora Wine Cellars will
be on hand to pour selected offerings. Light hors
d’oeuvres will be provided by Black Diamond
Catering. Admission is $50 per person with all
proceeds payable to the TRF. Tickets can be purchased
at the Saratoga Wine Exchange (580-9891) or the
Saratoga Race Course information booths, or by
contacting the TRF at (800) 728-1660. . . . Remember
to pass your scraps to Metroland.
fax info to 922-7090)