Heirlooms

"2 : something of special value handed on from one generation to another " – Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Grandpa’s Barbecue

on May 6, 2013

This recipe was grandpa’s culinary masterpiece. He made it for large family reunions or events. I remember that I requested this for my high school graduation open house. It was always delicious! At the risk of immediate deportation from North Carolina, Carolina barbecue ain’t got nothing on my grandpa’s barbecue. Carolina barbecue pales in comparison and sours my stomach (but I will keep your hush puppies and sweet tea, thank you very much!).

Grandpa loved to cook and he loved to eat. One day, while I was visiting at lunch time, I watched as grandpa finished his mashed potatoes and gravy, scraped his plate, then in a moment of unguarded zeal, picked up his plate and licked it clean. I still giggle when I see that image in my mind’s eye. Grandma must have had her back turned for a moment because she would have scolded him for sure but I remember thinking that it must be nice to be in your 80’s and still live with that kind of passion.

One of my favorite food stories grandpa would tell on me took place when I was about four years old. Grandma and mom were hosting the women’s church circle so grandpa was given the duty of getting out of the house with the kids for the evening. He took Rod, Terri and me out for steak dinners. I think the restaurant was called Amber’s at that time. When the waitress took our order, she was discouraging grandpa from ordering a full steak for me- I was a just little squirt, after all. But grandpa assured her that I was up to the task. When the steak came, he recalled that it was as big as my dinner plate. Grandpa said that I did, in fact, to the astonishment of our waitress and all the other gals working that night, finish my steak. So apparently I was being groomed for eating contests and food marathons from a very young age.

Grandpa also loved to tell of the time when we went to visit “Shirley Banana” in Florida. I can’t recall if it was just too hot to have the oven on in Florida or if her oven had broken but grandpa was astonished and proud that she had masterfully cooked a turkey on the grill with a pumpkin pie balanced over the turkey on forks. I do not doubt at all that the turkey and the pie were delicious!

Grandpa could talk about food all day long. He could tell you what was on sale at Marsh that week and how to cook it. He would brag on grandma’s latest dish and tell you how she made it. He could recall the finest steak, the juiciest turkey and the best hamburger he ever ate. He would tell you about cooking segments he saw on TV, how they got it all wrong and how it could’ve been better. He would give you some specific cooking instructions and end every recipe recitation the same way, “then call me and I’ll show you what to do with it.” It must be said however, that as much as he loved to cook and loved to eat, his real joy came from sharing the table with those he loved. Nothing gave him more joy than to have his family gathered in and around a meal.

In the manner of truly gifted chefs, grandpa’s barbecue recipe had never been written down. After grandpa lost his eyesight to macular degeneration, I spent a weekend with him in Logan at my mom’s house, making his barbecue to his specifications and writing it all down as we went along. Mom helped in the final quality control analysis with a hint of this and a pinch of that. This is as close as we got to his culinary perfection but I confess that I still feel it is lacking something whenever I attempt it on my own.

Perhaps I just really miss my grandpa.

Grandpa Conn’s Beef Barbecue

Shredded Beef Barbecue Recipe photo by Taste of Home, http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/shredded-beef-barbecue

Shredded Beef Barbecue Recipe photo by Taste of Home, http://bit.ly/12YkKcd

6 to 8 lbs beef with bones
1/2 cup vinegar
4 to 5 onions
1 quart tomato juice
1/2 cup mustard
3 to 4 carrots
3 to 4 stalks of celery

[add later]
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice

Cook down meat for several hours over medium to low heat. Remove any bones. Break up large pieces of meat. Cool. Skim off any fat from top.
Heat over low to medium heat. Add salt, pepper, sugar and lemon juice.
If barbecue is too soupy, can add 1/2 cup oatmeal to it to thicken. This is better if allowed to simmer on very low heat for hours to fully develop the sauce and it is always better the next day. Then call me and I’ll show you what to do with it.

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