Gertrude is the name given to the new, one-tonne $15,000 Yoder smoker at the North Adelaide diner, and she didn’t disappoint. But more on that later.
What I loved about this event was having Head Chef and Pitmaster Drew Akin all to ourselves to talk about the new menu and the influences behind it. The Alabama-born and bred chef is so passionate about his food.
We started with a trio of dips – not your ordinary dips! Spinach & artichoke, queso (a cheesy sauce) and Mexican tomato salsa served with corn chips.
This was followed by Buffalo wings, with the sauce from Buffalo, New York. The chicken wings were meaty with a good level of spice and heat, and very moreish!
Cheese fries with queso, bacon, sour cream and chives were a meal in themselves but were a fitting finger food to go with the other dishes throughout the night.
Then the sliders came out – with their delicious smoky meat!
Drew has launched a number of restaurants in the US and Australia that specialise in the traditional Southern American Bar-B-Q, Cajun and Soul food styles of cooking. And now he’s got Gertrude, which Drew says “adds supreme flavour to meats with unquestionable tenderness”.
He’s perfected a combination of Australian wood for smoking, including red gum and two other secret components.
The pulled pork slider uses shoulder meat smoked for 18 hours. It’s rubbed with Drew’s own secret spice rub and served with a Bar-B-Q sauce (both on sale soon, he says). The smoked chicken slider was served with Alabama white Bar-B-Q sauce, and the Texan-style brisket slider is smoked for 10-12 hours. Each had deep, individual smoky flavours that were tasty without being overpowering or sickly.
Next up, the big guns were coming out – the Bar-B-Q spare ribs – but before that came the large paper bib!
Drew explained that most people tend to boil ribs first before barbecuing them. But where he comes from in Alabama, boiling ribs is a big no-no. And if he did that in a cooking competition over there, he would lose. Instead of boiling the ribs, he smokes them for 4-6 hours. He says the meat should not be falling off the bone, but should be a bit bitey.
They were tender, smoky, very easy to eat, and I could have eaten a whole pile of them and nothing else all night. No wonder they brought out the bibs! You just get stuck in, and sauce goes everywhere – but in a good, finger-licking way.
The ribs were served with cheese and chive biscuits, like scones, and an assortment of condiments: coleslaw, smoked baked beans, potato salad, candied sweet potato, broccoli salad and collard greens. That’s a big meal just in itself.
We finished up with peanut butter and chocolate tart – his grandmother’s recipe. To be perfectly honest, I did not need dessert after all that smoky goodness, but the tart was divine. It was more peanut than chocolate, which I didn’t mind at all.
Overall, an excellent Southern American-inspired menu and a really great night for us all – in an atmosphere where phones on the table weren’t frowned upon!
* I was an invited guest.
** With thanks to The Curious Squire for photos of Drew and the Yoder Smoker and the ribs.