Another New Year already?! It seems like just yesterday I was writing my blog on BBQ Trends for 2017. It’s time to dust off my crystal ball for the trends that will shape barbecue in 2018.
Fusion ’que: Call it globalization’s upside. Call it melting pot extreme. It’s what happens when traditional American barbecue meets authentic ethnic cuisine and it’s happening more and more across the country. Case in point: the brisket ramen (Japanese noodle soup) served at Kemuri Tatsuya in Austin, Texas. Or the brisket tacos dished up at The Pit Room in Houston. (Like many of the new wave barbecue joints, they make their tortillas from scratch here, using—what else?—brisket drippings.) Look for more East-West mash-ups in the coming year, and be sure to let us know via Facebook or Barbecue Board what cuisines are fusing in your region.
Philanthro-’que (food philanthropy): When Hurricane Harvey devastated Houston, Stan Hays and his Operation BBQ Relief roared in to provide hot meals to the thousands of people left homeless (and kitchen-less) by the storm. Since founding Operation BBQ Relief in 2011, the CNN Hero and his army of volunteers have served more than 1.7 million meals in 24 states to more than 40 communities that have suffered from devastating natural disasters. In a similar vein, the Spanish born super-chef, Jose Andres (whose restaurants include the amazing live fire chop house Bazaar Meat in Las Vegas) boarded one of the first planes to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. To date he’s served nearly 2 million people—dwarfing the efforts of FEMA. So what can you do? For starters, donate your time, barbecue rig, or cash to Operation BBQ, learn more here.
Veal is back: Remember veal? That mild, sweet meat so spectacular grilled in the form of a veal chop? After decades of pariah status (and chef boycotts) on account of the cruel confinement conditions under which factory farms raised calves, veal is finally returning to restaurant menus and meat markets. But this time you can eat it with a clean conscience thanks to a new generation of ranchers that are raising calves in herds on pasture grass outdoors. Lori Dunn of Strauss Meats (the veal purveyor I use) reports that veal sales soared more than 10 percent last year. So how do you know you’re getting humanely raised veal? Look for the words “pastured” or “group raised” on the label. For ideas on how to grill this terrific meat, click here.
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Steven Raichlen is the author of the Barbecue! Bible cookbook series and the host of Project Smoke on public television. His website is BarbecueBible.com.