Honky Tonking: More Hill Country News
I've made no secret of my love of Robbie Richter's cooking, so it should it come as no surprise to anyone that I'm head over heels for Hill Country NY, where he is the pitmaster along w/ Big Lou Elrose. (Editor's Note: Big Lou closed down his Queens location discussed in the article linked here shortly before the opening of Hill Country.)
That being said, here's a great article from Metromix w/ Mr. Richter that I found on Eater. It has a cool photo gallery that gives some of the flavor of the new joint. Is that Post Oak I smell?
Mazel tov and yee-haw!
Hill Country pit master in chief Robbie Richter dishes on his Texas-born sausages and having David Byrne in the house
By Matt Rodbard, Metromix
June 28, 2007
Thank you for smoking: Richter and pal
(Credit: Melissa Hom)
It’s mildly amusing that a Jew from Queens wound up running the smoker at Hill Country, the latest entry into New York’s upscale barbecue wars—Robbie Richter did cater his brother’s wedding but, alas, no pork could be served in accordance with the rabbi’s wishes. The restaurant’s namesake is a region in central Texas, near Austin, known for giant pecan trees, a burgeoning wine scene, and badass brisket and sausage.
Richter, who also runs catering company Big Island Bar-B-Que, doesn’t rock the ten-gallon but cooks like he should: He’s an award-winning pit master who’s participated in barbecue competitions for the past ten years. Metromix spoke with Richter about poseur ‘cue joints, the importance of the side, and David Byrne’s impromptu concert at the new Chelsea smokehouse.
Click Here For The Photo Gallery
What's your proudest moment as a competitive barbecue pit master?
Winning first place chicken at the 2005 American Royal BBQ Championships in Kansas City, where we bested 478 teams.
Are there groupies at these events?
You see a lot of familiar faces. It’s great because we love to feed them and they love to eat. There is a guy who the members of my team used to call the Meat Stalker.
Explain your five-way chicken recipe?
We use only natural, organic chickens and first place them in a brine, then a marinade, then we rub it and finally sauce it multiple times before serving. If you put the chicken into a cooker with fully concentrated sauce, you are going to burn it. The chicken is cooked hotter than most of our other meats it makes for a better-textured product. It all takes a couple hours to prepare.
At Hill Country you serve Kreuz Market sausages, links shipped all the way from Lockhart, Texas. What’s so special about this meat?
They are made from a 107-year-old recipe. The sausages we serve are made primarily of beef with a little pork added. The meat comes to us already cooked and smoked, and we then put it in our smoker, so it’s actually double-smoked.
Hill Country has opened amid dynamos like Blue Smoke and R.U.B. How do you separate yourself from the pack?
In New York there are only a handful of barbecue restaurants equipped with actual smokers. There are some restaurants that think that cooking ribs or chicken in an oven, and then slathering sauce on top, is barbecue. That is not barbecue, and people know it!
Sides at local barbecue joints are often maligned in the press. Defend yours.
Normally, sides are an afterthought, but New Yorkers need good sides. I love our baked beans, made with brisket burnt ends, and our cornbread—ours is moist and beautiful. They're cooked individually in a cast-iron skillet, which is the key to great texture.
It was rumored that Talking Heads frontman David Bryne played an impromptu show during your opening weekend. Confirm or deny.
I can confirm that. I was upstairs serving meat at the time, so I didn’t get to see it. But it was certainly the buzz of the night. He just got up on the stage and played a couple songs with the band Hey Bale.
You must get sick of barbecue sometimes. What non-barbecue foods do you like?
I tend to gravitate towards Asian and Italian food. One of my favorite restaurants is Fatty Crab.
Do you and Zak Pelaccio trade notes?
Zak is a big barbecue fan—a big meathead, as I like to say—and I’ve cooked some barbecue with him.
How often do you get your cholesterol checked?
My cholesterol is borderline, but I don’t overeat. Barbecue is hard work. Lots of heavy cuts of meat and long hours. I like to say this barbecue business is no picnic.