Warpigs: Mikkeller’s brewpub in Copenhagen with “authentic” Texas BBQ

“Generals gathered in their masses”. Goes the opening line of the Black Sabbath metal classic War Pigs. “Just like witches at black masses”, Continues Ozzy, with not a thought towards ever winning a Nobel Prize for literature. Chemistry, on the other hand…*

And not as generals, but like IT professionals at an afterwork on a Friday, we gathered at Warpigs brewpub, Copenhagen for an evening of “Authentic Texas BBQ” and American-style craft beer. We hadn’t been since it opened in the summer of 2015, so a planned extra day in Copenhagen meant the opportunity to pay a second visit. Would we still like it?

Outside shot of Warpigs brewpub Copenhagen

Mikkeller’s showcase brewpub Warpigs

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Recipe for BBQ sauce with chipotle, for steaks; I chickened out over a whole fore rib of beef

Championing as I do, the barbecuing of larger cuts of meat, I felt semi-triumphant, coming home from Waitrose with a well-marbled boneless fore rib of beef, and a half-conceived idea of a Thai glaze to give it a little zip. The triumph of actually finding properly marbled meat at Waitrose was tempered by my rapidly diminishing confidence that I could go the whole hog with the joint, so to speak, in the time I had left before the guests arrived. So yes, I chickened out. Cutting it into steaks would slice the cooking time, and I reasoned it would be a way of getting more glaze per square inch of cow.

I pulled out Eat The Heat, an old favourite Swedish cook book of chili-fueled sauces, salsas, chutneys, and glazes. Couldn’t find a Thai-type glaze that I had ingredients for, but I did find a tasty-looking barbecue sauce that appealed to the Maltjerry half of the brain: “Whisky-Corn Barbecue Sauce”. Now, (sweet)corn I find as useful and tasty a cooking ingredient as cushion stuffing, so that was cut, and I used Jim Beam bourbon. With a few other tweaks, I had my own recipe. No longer on the glaze trail, I could have done the joint en pi??ce, but it’s tricky to unslice steaks – I billed them as rib-eye.

So here it is, a Maltjerry adaptation: “Whiskey and Roasted Garlic Chipotle Barbecue Sauce”.
Enough for 4 large steaks, or indeed, a whole joint.

2-3 shallots, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
oil for shallow frying
1-2 tbsp light muscovado sugar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar; cheapo is fine
2 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar
3 dl of good chicken stock
Half a bulb of roasted garlic (or 6 cloves)
1 tsp chipotle paste (yeah, wake up to the glories of chipotle, UK! Morrisons do small jars of chopped chipotles that are OK.)
A Jamie-type glug of whisk(e)y

Gently fry the shallots and garlic in the oil, taking care not to burn the garlic.
When soft, add the sugar, vinegar and stock and simmer with the lid on for about 15 minutes. You might need to add some water if it gets too syrupy.
Empty into a blender, squeeze in your roasted garlic and add the chipotle.
Whizz until smooth.
Return to the saucepan, add the whiskey and boil until has the consistency of BBQ sauce.
Add salt to taste.

Do remember to rest your steaks well before serving; you knew that already, of course.
We drank a really nice, not-too-fruity Aussie shiraz
On the beer front, I think Garret Oliver would approve of an American pale ale, an IPA, a brown ale, or a smoked beer.
Say, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Thornbridge Jaipur, Brooklyn Brewery Brown Ale, BrewDog Punk IPA (or maybe Hardcore), Alaskan Smoked Porter.

BBQ: Marinating Myths; there’s the rub

??Over a very nice pint of Seafarers, I was thinking out loud about BBQing tonight, and how once you’ve made the step beyond burgers and sausages the first method to make your BBQ food more interesting is to do a marinade. However, it might not be the best thing to do and it certainly might not be the easiest. Made me think why we marinate meat and fish in the first place?

Idly flicking through Breakfast TV this morning, I heard a trailer for barbeque tips from an expert, so I hit record and watched it later. Beyond the airhead questions and the limited time available to the “chef” being interviewed was the serious point that many people now have?? got the hang of their basic barbeque techniques and want to branch out into more interesting food. The cook advised against gloopy sugary sauces, which will burn all too easily and?? suggested marinating.

Now, he had 30 seconds to speak, and who knows what he would have gone on to say, but marinating is not for all cuts of meat and it won’t necessarily do what you think it might do. The myths about barbequing marinated meat and fish – and in fact, this applies to marinades on the whole, but anyway, is that you marinate to impart flavour to what goes on the grill. By marinating, you somehow auomatically make the food more interesting and tasty.

My view is that the prime purpose of marnating is to tenderise and/or pre-cook. What!? Surely you add flavours to the marinade and they end up making your bit of chicken a cut above. Well, first, to tenderise a piece of meet is going to need a serious amount of forethought. 24 hours, in all probability, for the effects of the marinade to work on the meat. In anything but fish or small cuts of fillet (for kebabs, say) less time is just not going to do anything. You might get a bit of colour going from the wine or port, or soy sauce, but see how it doesn’t penetrate the meat? On top of that, most of your flavours will stay in the marinade. And you might even leach juices out of the meat.

No, a much better way, which requires far less planning, is a rub. A rub consists of a dry or semi-wet combination of herbs/spices/aromatics that you well, rub into the surface of the meat. No pretence that this is going to penetrate deep into the flesh (unless you make deep cuts) but practially all your flavours are stuck to the meat with very little wastage and it provides a tasty crust that gets served with the finished article. It looks and tastes great, and can be done in minutes while the BBQ gets to temp.

Rubs are especially good if you are doing a bigger piece of meat, say a half-leg of lamb and especially if you are using indirect heat. They work brilliantly on fish too; say, whole mackerel. You can do predominantly spicy, for example, for pork: ground dried chillies, coriander, fennel seeds, garlic and szechuan black pepper, or predominantly herby: thyme, sage, lemon, garlic black pepper, which works great on lamb. Or any combination you fancy.

I often mix the ground ingredients into a loose paste with the a addition of any of oil, lemon juice, soy sauce. Remember though when using oil on the BBQ that it could cause flame-ups and so is best suited to indirect grilling methods – or the Sunday roast, for that matter. As a suggestion, why not do the Sunday roast on the barbie???

Right, I’m off to light those coals.