The heck with “Veni, vidi, vici,” my return visit to Hoodoo Brown BBQ in Ridgefield was more we came, we saw, we ordered and man we tried. And when I say we tried…we tried EVERY meat on the menu and we tried to eat every ounce of meat on numerous trays. If this was a gunfight with Hoodoo Brown in the 1870s we would be full of holes, he won.
Armed with a reservation for the “BBQ Room,” twelve of us ventured to Hoodoo Brown. As our group congregated, I placed the initial appetizer order plus a round of beers, sodas and lemonades. To warm up our appetites, this initial order included two large BBQ Nachos (one with chopped brisket and the other with pulled pork), a dozen Bourbon Teriyaki Wings and a couple of Strawberry and Arugula salads. As we waited, super Pitmaster Nestor Laracuente wandered into the room to offer his humble thanks to all of us for coming and wished us a great meal. He was heading back to Queens for the evening before beginning the return voyage the following morning at 4AM. When I told him what I planned to order he smiled and said that we would be the first group to finish that much food. He was completely correct and the record still stands. And throughout the evening owner Cody Sperry and GM Chris Sexton stopped by to ensure we had everything for our feast, as well as see if Nestor’s prediction was correct. They were both the epitome of graciousness.
The appetizers arrived and let’s get through the non-BBQ descriptions first. The wings were very good, well glazed and moist throughout, I would probably order a different sauce next time to set the mood for BBQ. The salads contained mixed greens, goat cheese, strawberries, smoked almonds and a strawberry vinaigrette and everyone really enjoyed these salads and they were each enough for several people.
The prelude to the gluttonous marathon began with the Nacho platters, which were each served on a one-by-two-foot tray. They contained an enormous mound of nachos, topped with pit beans, guacamole, Jalapeño peppers, a large serving of the requested meat, all covered with a cheese sauce. They were delicious…the standout ingredient was the sweet and tangy pit beans (more on that later).
We returned to conversation and I was relieved that the timeframe between the Nachos and the main event was about a half hour, it allowed the body to prepare for the carnivorian onslaught. And when the platters arrived I felt like Custer at Little Big Horn, completely overmatched.
Platter #1 was the “Table Breaker” that included a beef rib, a half chicken, a full rack of St. Louis ribs and a choice of two meats (one pound of each) plus cornbread. For the meats we chose the brisket and the pork belly. We wanted to be completely inclusive in our ordering so on platter #2 we received an additional half-pound each of the smoked turkey and pulled pork, plus two orders of beans, two orders of mac & cheeses and an order of cole slaw. Our table was garnished with every meat on the menu since there was no sausage that evening.
The only way I can see reviewing all of this is to divide and conquer and go meat by meat:
- Beef Rib – Yes singular, but think Fred Flintstone, it was a Brontosaurus-sized bone. The meat on the rib must total over a pound. In one bite I understood why Fred always yelled “yabba dabba doo.” This was one of the greatest meats I have ever tasted. The smokiness, richness, juiciness, spiciness were all encompassed in the tribute to the pitmaster and his ability to smoke meats.
- Pork Belly – There were four large cubes of pork bellies, each about 2”on each side. It was a layer cake of textures and flavors. The bottom layer was the meat, beautifully smoked, and maintained an incredible level of moistness and flavor, the middle layer was the fat, just enough to deliver the pork juiciness, then the top layer was like none I have ever tasted, a crispy cracklin’ topping, which added more flavor and great crunch.
- Chicken – I never thought chicken could absorb the level of smokiness that Hoodoo Brown’s absorbed. The skin was crispy, perfectly seasoned and then the first bite of meat delivered a soft texture, complemented by the smokiness from the wood.
- Pulled Pork – The pulled pork was outrageously great. A large mound of pulled pork was quickly spooned onto all of the plates. There was no need for sauce as the pork was superb, smoky, juicy and incredibly moist. I did add a little squirt to one bite and if a BBQ sauced pork is desired, the BBQ sauce was a perfect complement.
- St. Louis Ribs – A full slab contains anywhere from 12-15 ribs so plan accordingly. The rack sat under the beef rib and ours filled almost the entire platter. I pulled one away and the meat held loosely to the bone. With just a little tug, the outstanding texture and flavor of one of my favorite meats came away. It was moist, tender and full of smokiness and pepperiness from the dry rub.
- Brisket – The brisket was as I remembered from my first visit and was the whole brisket, deckle included. There was a ¼” smoke ring on one side and the peppery exterior on the other. The meat was moist and juicy and required no sauce.
- Turkey – The four large slices of turkey were excellent. Like the chicken it was moist and full of smoky goodness. Sitting amongst the other meats, it almost took a back seat in enjoying.
- Pit Beans – Two words…order them. The combination of sweet and tangy from the molasses and the other spices made the beans spectacular and these might be the best beans anywhere.
- Mac & Cheese – The pasta was engulfed in an incredibly cheesy sauce and was fantastic.
What to do after a feast that we could not finish? Of course…order dessert. Why not a couple of Carmalita Sundaes, a slice of Toll House Pie and a couple of orders of Fried Oreos with ice cream?
When they arrived we all groaned, but dug in. The fried Oreos were similar to eating a donut with a surprise center, a double-stuffed Oreo; I really liked it. The Toll House Pie was a triangular rendition of one of my favorite cookies, it was reminiscent of biting into a very large cookie directly out of the oven. The sundae filled a mason jar and was soothing after all of the bold flavors of the evening.
Overall it was an outrageous evening of gluttonous carnivorianism. Start with a few delicious appetizers, move to the incredible smoked meats and finish with a few sweet endings and your visit to Hoodoo Brown BBQ will be one of the most fun and memorable dinners in the area.