One morning I woke up to the savory aroma of hickory wood smoke. As I walked through my alley trying to find the source of the smell, I stumbled across my neighbor Wiley tending one of the biggest pits I have ever seen in anyone's backyard. He was putting together a catering job for 150 out in the suburbs and the smell was intoxicating. And I don't even eat red meat.
That was a few months ago. Since then I've kept my camera close to my door so I could grab it the next time I saw Wiley cooking. I waited. And waited. And waited.
And finally last weekend - paydirt!
From my balcony I could see Wiley in his backyard at about 7 am getting his barbecue together. He told me to come back later when he would have his Weber going. "Oh," I asked, "one of those regular Webers?" "Oh no," responded. "This ain't no regular Weber."
With two hands he needed to open it up.
It is definitely NOT a regular Weber. That's Wiley on the right. Ribs and links on the grill.
At this point, the ribs and links have been on the grill for 2 hours. They're just about done. The ribs have been marinating overnight. On the side of the grill, Wiley builds a small pile of charcoal and leans a single hickory log next to it. Look at the bottom half of the photo.
The ribs and links look great:
Wiley learned grilling back in Arkansas by observation. When he moved to Chicago, he mastered the art of grilling ribs. Wiley is a dry griller - no sauce ever touches his meat, unless a customer wants to dip after the meat is served. He told me, "Usually, once they taste it, they realize they don't need sauce. It just tastes that good."
Wiley marinates the meat in a combination of spices and oil. He uses four different spice mixes in a secret combination:
When Wiley caters for larger affairs, he fires up his pit. The aroma is heavenly.
Having a backyard griller like Wiley in the neighborhood is enough to get me thinking about maybe, someday, eating red meat again. Maybe.