‘Fusion food’ usually refers to the blending of multiple culture’s foods or culinary styles. More unusual combinations (like Tabasco sauce and ice cream) have no given name but Soho’s Shotgun BBQ certainly made efforts to introduce us to new ways of adding hot sauce to absolutely everything . Amidst spicy gin cocktails and an education on barbecuing we tasted some of the Southern eateries best bits.
Shotgun BBQ draws its feel from central London and its soul from Mississippi. Chef Brad McDonald hails from the southern state and is quick to demonstrate that its supposed ‘humble’ cuisine can not only be universally enjoyed but well presented.
The space is warm with dark wood panelling on the walls, wood floors and mahogany leather booths. A long pale bar, a sprinkling of bright green ferns and the ceiling fans give the space a dignified Southern air, like Matthew McConaughey could be about to walk through the door and order a stiff drink. That said, the space is refined and is keen to remind you that it’s an international venue, with its laid back modernity.
The Great British barbecue has nothing on its American cousin. As much as we wish it was one of our strong points, our weather hasn’t allowed us to master cooking outdoors. (Never mind, we have the Roast, that one’s ours). The Southern States however have blistering heat and full flavours so they’ve made an art form of slow cooking joints of meat. At Shotgun BBQ this is done in a couple of ways – in a Big Green Egg and an even bigger wood burning oven that’s fired up first thing in the morning and smokes enough meat for the day’s service.
With Tabasco sauce combinations being the order of this day, we started with New Orleans style Chargrilled Oysters smothered in the hot sauce. I am a fan of the raw oyster variety but this warm, spicy starter is a much more festive way to enjoy them. Side dishes were just as flavourful – Dirty rice with a mix of rices and Creole spices and Mexican Street Corn salad with Chipotle Tabasco sauce. It all made for a rich and hearty set-up that you’d expect at an all-American cook-out. The meat dishes provided schooling on how to barbecue intelligently. The pork belly, baby back ribs and brisket came off the grill one dish at time and we were lucky enough to hear the secrets behind these succulent results.
It would seem that timing is everything. McDonald explained the process of maintaining moisture while keeping the meat on the grill for hours. The proof however, is always in the pudding and all the pieces had been seasoned and softened to perfection, with the meat’s ‘burnt ends’ sliced off for extra flavoursome nibbling. The all-around winner was the brisket. Even the most avid low calorie, fat-fearers will be defenceless against McDonald’s brisket. Perfection.
Dessert was Chocolate soft serve ice cream with caramel sauce and yes, Tabasco topping. While it sounds like a pregnancy craving I assure you it’s absolutely delicious. Even the cocktails were doused with Tabasco – most notably the Spicy green Gin & Tonic. Visit the restaurant on a regular day for other meaty options like Suckling pig and Corn fed Chicken.
Get Chef Brad McDonald’s book Deep South – New Southern Cooking and recreate these casual dishes at home.
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