|Memphis Minnie's brisket, in sandwich form.|
When your plate of 18-hour smoked brisket slides over the glass shelves at Memphis Minnie's
, your stomach might balk a bit. This is an intimidating spread of food. In one corner: a bright-yellow cornbread muffin and two ramekins of vinegary slaw, smoky beans, or whatever else you might have chosen. In the other: a daunting pile of spice-crusted ovals of Memphis Minnie's signature 18-hour smoked brisket.
SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition
Though the claims of 18 hours of slow-smoked goodness seem impressive (and they are), brisket, the superficial and deep pectorals of the cow, are well-used muscles. Without lengthy cooking, the cut has a tendency to stay tough and stringy. Memphis Minnie's avoids even the suggestion of dry meat, by smoking it on-site over white oak. What emerges is a flat boulder of blackened meat, perfectly encrusted with a secret mix of dry ingredients and lightly charred meat. Once thinly sliced, the reward for this lengthy cooking period emerges. The meat itself is tender enough to be torn apart by the desperate fingers of a starved barbecue lover.
Bob Kantor, the Brooklyn-born cook who started Memphis
Minnie's, uses no mop sauces when preparing his barbecue, sticking to the
philosophy that the taste of well-cooked meat is grand enough. That
secret-ingredient black crust that rims each piece lends a tiny hint of
salt, pepper, and even chili powder. When dredged through the
restaurant's Beelzebub sauce (though it isn't as hot as the restaurant claims), each bite becomes a tender
bit of meaty fire.
Other favorites in this series:
Memphis Minnie's: 576 Haight (at Steiner), 864-7675.
576 Haight, San Francisco, CA