Chase the scent of great barbecue in New York City, and you are rooting for a team that will, sooner or later, let you down. You are a Red Sox fan in any season from 1919 to 2003. There will be enough victories to keep the dream flickering, and there will be nights when you watch the ball hop between the first baseman’s legs.
But every loss feeds a new hope in your heart. This winter, hope came in threes. Barbecue hounds ran to Gowanus to get burnt ends and char siu pork steak at Fletcher’s Brooklyn Barbecue, and to Williamsburg to find out whether BrisketTown deserved to be crowned the Brisket King of New York in a recent cook-off. They descended on the East Village to take apart Flintstonian beef ribs at Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque and watch men in heavy black gloves grab pork shoulder by the fistful and shake it into dripping hunks — yes, real pulled pork on Second Avenue.
All three places slow-cook their barbecue with hardwood only, no gas allowed. All three places serve meat that is largely raised on pastures or outdoors, including pork from old breeds with flavorful rosy flesh and a thick girdle of white fat that bastes the meat as it melts.