Where the buffalo roam…
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a wide rolling plain with tall grass and a gentle breeze. In the distance you hear the sound of building thunder. There isn’t a cloud in the sky but the thunder grows louder & the ground begins to tremble. The tranquil landscape around you is transformed as a massive herd of Bison rushes past in a terrifying blur of horns & hide. Now open your eyes and don’t be afraid, BBQ has arrived in Cave Creek, Arizona!
I first dined at Bryan’s Black Mountain BBQ a month or so ago at the suggestion of a Local Chef whom I respect and admire (Gwen Ashley Walters), and have since been back several times, always enjoying my meals. Recently, I was invited by Owner/Chef Bryan Dooley via Bryan’s BBQ on Twitter to come in and try a new product that will be going on the menu this Fall, Sage and Juniper rubbed Bison Ribs with a Sweet Persimmon Glaze.
Now I’ve had Bison several times before, though never the ribs, and have always found it to be a bit tough, chewy and somewhat gamey. Having had the pleasure of several of Bryan’s signature menu items previously, I jumped at the opportunity for a first taste.
On my arrival, I was greeted by Chef Dooley (generally behind the counter ready to carve to order), who came out and spoke to me about what his ideas of BBQ in general and this dish in particular are all about. ”Simple, BOLD flavor,’ is the Chef’s mantra and the basis for everything they do. Bringing the natural beefy flavor of Bison to Bryan’s BBQ just fits in with what they are doing in this well “seasoned” building where the theme is a modern interpretation of classic BBQ flavors.
Six piping hot ribs were set before me and I immediately noticed the deep pink ring imparted by smoking over Pecan wood. A taste of the sweet Persimmon Glaze let me know what I was in for as I picked up a rib. Upon taking my first bite, I immediately noticed how tender, lean and flavorful these ribs were, giving just the right amount of pull from the bone but not coming clean off. (Contrary to popular misconception, properly cooked ribs will not fall off the bone! The only ribs that fall off the bone are those that have been boiled and steamed. This process usually robs the ribs of flavor because water is a solvent. Steamed and boiled ribs usually have a mushy texture. Properly cooked ribs will pull cleanly off the bone with your teeth, but will still have some resilience and chew.)
Persimmons are a fruit that I have not had much experience eating/cooking with but the sweet, slightly tangy flavor worked quite well when rubbed with Bryan’s mix of sage, juniper berries and a hint of black pepper. The things that struck me most about this dish were how well balanced the flavors were and the natural “beefiness” of the meat. My mind wandered back to that open, grassy plain and with each bite I could literally envision the massive heards of wild Bison that once roamed freely.
As a self professed BBQ fanatic and creator of a line of BBQ sauces and Dry spice rub, I tend to be much less forgiving in my opinion of what “good BBQ’ is. Without reservation, I can tell you that Bryan’s get’s it right, Chef Bryan Dooley is passionate about BBQ! I happen to know that his hands touch every piece of meat that crosses the counter into a guest’s waiting hands. Judging from the quality of this and the other menu items I’ve had personally, I can say that Chef Dooley’s motto of “simple, BOLD flavors” has been superbly executed.
As a side note, since this item is not currently available for purchase, Chef Dooley generously allowed me to try it free of charge. This consideration in no way contributed to my opinion of this or any other dish served at Bryan’s Black Mountain BBQ.