Some finds, some tips and a little bit of news:
If you're going to the 2005 Comerica TasteFest, Thursday through July 4 in the shadow of the Fisher Building, make a point I mean it to stop by Lazybones' booth and try a plateful of some true, Southern- and Western-style barbecue. The downside is that, unless you live within bone-flinging distance of Roseville, you'll have to drive there to get more I don't and I do.
Young chef-owner Deni Smiljanovski has a heritage and a professional background that would seem to argue against understanding true American smoked 'cue his family is Macedonian, and his résumé includes a silver medal in the Culinary Olympics and stints at the tony Golden Mushroom, Bloomfield Open Hunt and Orchard Lake Country Club. But when it came time to decide what, if anything, to do with his family's longtime truck-stop diner on industrial Groesbeck Highway just north of I-696, he saw a niche and decided to fill it. He traveled and studied and tasted and experimented, learned well from his mistakes, and produced a menu that will captivate Southern transplants and surprise those who know only Detroit barbecue.
Be warned if you expect Lazybones ribs to be the sauce-soaked, fall-off-the-bone sort that rules in Detroit and southeastern Michigan, you may be disappointed. But free your mind these are the dry-rubbed, mopped and slow-smoked ribs that give ol' boys fits down yonder, and there's no good reason to restrict yourself to one style of barbecue. The ribs are sauced by you, from a cup on the side, and are already well-seasoned by an herb-and-spice rub and Michigan-grown applewood smoke. When you take a bite, it pulls just enough, with a satisfying zip when it comes off the bone, to remind you this is atavistic eating at its bone-gnawing best. Another point often misunderstood around here that rosy pink ring just under the surface of the smoked meats doesn't mean they're undercooked. It's the highly prized "smoke ring" produced when somebody knows what they're doing while feeding wood to their fire.
The ribs are St. Louie-style, Kansas City is well-represented with "burnt ends," the beef is fine Texas smoked brisket, and the chicken has a sweet Kentucky sauce very similar to Detroit's. My favorite, as it usually is if prepared as it should be, is Carolina pulled pork also sauced on the side.
Everything the chipotle-smoky red sauce and other sauces, broasted ranch fries, sturdy mashed potatoes, sweet-tart slaw, pit-smoked beans, dense Cajun sausage, pies, everything is made in-house. Make a special point, too, of trying the smoky chicken gumbo, made traditionally with okra. Don't shuck it for that reason the slimy pods thicken the gumbo and add great flavor, losing the slime in the cooking process.
All of it's for carry-out (I'd like to see Chef Deni put in three or four tables so you can cop a squat and get good and messy eating his smokehouse goods), delivery and party catering. 27475 Groesbeck Hwy., Roseville; 586-775-7427; lazybonessmokehouse.net.
Don't forget to eat your veggies
I've never been a big plant eater, but you just have to find ways to get vegetables and fruits in your diet in a substantial way. Since grilling season is well upon us, throw some on.
Cut thick slices of fresh pineapple, grease it with a little vegetable oil (for a neutral flavor), and take it off when it's just-tender and has good grill marks, sprinkling with a little raw sugar if the natural sweetness isn't high, and serve.
Get a few big Vidalia or other super-sweet onions, thick-slice them, rub them down with olive oil (in this case, its flavor is a bonus) and grill to the same condition as the pineapple. Don't worry about undercooking, though if you use these sweet onions, there'll be no sting.
Almost any summer vegetables and fruit can be handled in the same way, although I've never cared for broccoli my favorite green veg on the grill. For that, year round, I cut off the tough stalks (some people save them for soups and stews), and blanch the florets in rapidly boiling, heavily salted water for three minutes before draining and dunking them in an ice-water bath. This locks in the bright green color. When you're ready to eat, drain and sauté them in half butter, half olive oil until just warmed through, sprinkle with kosher salt and red chile flakes and eat. Sometimes I toss in sliced star fruit for an appealing color and taste combination.
And if you're using your grill to slow smoke food, put a little mound of salt on a piece of foil and smoke it too. When you have dishes that aren't smoked, but would benefit from a little bit, use the smoked salt.
We're collaborating with Fox2-WJBK-TV to bring The Food Guy to Saturday mornings. The spot debuted last Saturday, and while we haven't settled on frequency or the schedule yet, I'll be showing you how to prepare many of the dishes presented in this column, review kitchenware and generally try to be helpful around your own kitchen.
Because, by necessity, everything on TV is condensed, you'll see a shorthand version of most dishes. But you'll always be able to get the recipes at both metrotimes.com and fox2detroit.com.
And I'm happy, as always, to answer any of your questions and offer some advice. Shoot me an e-mail here and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Same goes for anything you'd like to see here in print or on the tube.Ric Bohy is editor of Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org