Sunday, August 26, 2012

Chris Lilly at Fearing's

Last Sunday I was dining on barbecue from a television star. Chris Lilly came in from Alabama where he runs the famous Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur. The barbecue competition champion, reality television star and cookbook author had come to help Dean Fearing celebrate the fifth anniversary of Fearing's restaurant. My wife an I were able to attend as a guest of the generous and congenial host, Fearing's GM Michael Gluckman.

Lilly was tending the pits all night on Saturday, but he had a little help from local barbecue cook, Marshall Cooper who offered the use of his Jambo pit. Marshall also convinced local barbecue champion Johnny Trigg to give up his shiny blue Jambo for the evening. They needed the smoker real estate to feed the nearly two hundred guests. 

Pork shoulders were wrapped and resting in the kitchen while a few dozen spatchcocked chickens were stacked in the smoker as wisps of hickory smoke filled the air. The final step for the chickens was a dip into Chris Lilly's famous white barbecue sauce. It gave the smoky chicken a nice tangy flavor heavier on the vinegar than I was expecting.

The dining room was too dark to get any good photos of the rest of our meal, but the barbecue was phenomenal. A chunk of ultra tender and still moist pulled pork needed no sauce and thankfully received none. Corn on the cob, beans and pickled cauliflower were all great as well, but the item I couldn't get enough of were the grilled oysters on the half shell. Doused in butter, parmesan and some shredded spinach, these suckers were incredible. I had a least a half dozen and asked Chris for the recipe. He reminded me that his book ( Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book ) has all the recipes from the evening including the oysters. Now I've got to buy it and an oyster shucking knife.

- BBQ Snob

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Each joint is judged on the essence of Texas 'cue...sliced brisket and pork ribs. Sausage is only considered if house made. Sauce is good, but good meat needs no adornment to satisfy. Each review can only be based on specific cuts of meat on that particular day. Finally, if the place fries up catfish or serves a caesar salad, then chances are they aren't paying enough attention to the pits, so we mostly steered clear.