To say I love football is as far from the truth as saying I hate regional Chinese food. Nevertheless, I joined some 300 or so folks last Sunday to watch the pigskin being tossed around at an event billed as Fatty Sunday: A Zak Pelaccio Lunchtime Feast. The elevator ride up was redolent of smoke and evoked an immediate Pavlovian reaction.
When I greeted Pitmaster Robbie Richter, he excitedly told me, "Freeman McNeil was here earlier." "Freeman who?," I thought as he patiently briefed me on the former Jets running back. My eye glazed over: I was there to preview the food from Pelaccio and Richter's Fatty 'Cue, and could care less about the game. Truth be told, it was hard to tell who was a football fan and who was a Fatty fan, but I know which camp I was in. I couldn't wait to sample the fare from the soon to open Williamsburg spot that owes as much to Southeast Asia as it does to Southern barbecue.
The pork ribs had all been gobbled up, so I kicked off an afternoon of eating with a sausage banh mi. With its funky fish sauce and bright chili zing, the flattened out link made from Heritage Foods pork shoulder was like a Thai sausage, but with a smoky Southern barbecue accent. Tucked into a piece of Paris Banh Mi bread along with the standard dressings of pickled daikon and carrots was a thin slice of what I first thought to be mortadella. Turns out it was house-smoked Tamarack Hollow Farm pork loin. I could have eaten five of these, but managed to exercise some self-control.
Manila clams with garlic, ginger, pickled Thai chilies, and lardons of house smoked bacon were served on a gigantic slab of Pullman bread from Chinatown's Dragon Bakery, which did a bang-up job of soaking up all the clam juices and smoked bone broth. That's right kids—smoked bone broth made from lamb, pork, chicken, and duck bones. At one point in the afternoon, I spied Pelaccio dipping a spoon into the bowl to savor his creation.
Here's Richter eyeballing chef Corwin Kave as he slices some insanely rich, fatty smoked lamb shoulder that had been smoked for 14 hours.
The smoke ring and crunchy outer layer of bark on this lamb would make any Owensboro pitmaster proud. The fiery goat yogurt sauce might throw a 'cue chef from America's capital of slow-smoked lamb for a loop, but I thought it cut the richness of the lamb perfectly.
This hip looking older dude's ladyfriend told me he had several portions of lamb. Not quite sure if he ate more than one pickled Thai chili though.
Bao were filled with ginormous chunks of black pepper-rubbed brisket with sweet cilantro sauce. And not just any brisket, but two pieces of the fattier richer point cut known as the deckle that had been "glued" together. When asked whether meat glue had been used to fuse the two, Corwin Kave responded, "Nope, just stacked and tied together; they glue themselves." Think of them as Southeast Asian burnt ends.
If Sunday's event was any indication of what to expect from Fatty 'Cue, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, you can expect me to be pitching a tent outside the restaurant waiting for it to open.
Fatty 'Cue's opening date is still TBD, but it will be located at 91 South Sixth Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (at Berry Street; map)