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Column: Bark and Baldy's Barbecue

A new restaurant is coming to Farmington, and it's sure to spice up the food scene in town. Baldy's Barbecue is opening its second location here downtown, inside the former Burger King location. We are in dire need of more choice of cuisine in Farmington, and a barbecue place is just the ticket for hungry lunchgoers and residents looking forward to a fun evening out.

I am extra excited about the new Baldy's location because I heard a rumor that their giant brisket sandwich, nicknamed "The Beast," is one of the biggest, tastiest sandwiches south of the river. The Beast starts with a six-inch bun, then slow-cooked brisket is lovingly layered on the bread, and topped with bacon and onion rings. Of course this masterpiece is crowned with a healthy dose of coleslaw.

You can't underestimate the importance of a good bark on barbecue. Bark is the nice crust that forms on ribs and brisket during a long smoke. Unlike tree bark, barbecue bark isn't tough, dry or hard to gnaw on. Instead, a good bark is a tasty, dark brown coating on the outside of the pork. The bark naturally forms from the fat layer on the brisket during a long, low-heat smoke. Creating a good bark takes effort, and involves patience. A barbecue master smokes the meat for several hours, and bastes the brisket in au jus during the last hour or so. Apple juice, and glazes like honey or barbecue sauces might be added during the last hour as well. Why wait so late? A high-sugar glaze can burn if added too early, and spoil the luscious bark on the meat.

In preparation for the Baldy's grand opening, I've been re-watching all of my favorite barbecue episodes of the Travel Channel series "Man Versus Food." Host Adam Richman takes on massive food challenges, like piles of brisket, ribs, and smoked chicken, all to win the honor of having eaten the most. Richman waxes philosophical about his love of bark at the beginning of each barbecue episode. Sometimes, though, he looks a little green by the end of the episode after eating pounds of brisket to win a challenge. He ate a six-pound sandwich called "The Destroyer" in Kansas City, Mo. The sandwich was so huge it looked like a destroyer battleship, especially since the chef decorated it with little paper flags, giving the impression it was sailing towards a hungry mouth.

Every barbecue sandwich Richman eats is topped with a healthy dose of slaw. I've never had a sandwich featuring coleslaw, so when I heard that Baldy's "Beast" is coming to town, I got pretty excited. Finally, a real barbecue experience, right here in Farmington. Brisket, bark, bacon, and onion rings, all topped with a healthy dose of slaw. Baldy's is opening at the beginning of April, and a little hot barbecue is just what we need to spice up the end of a dull, drab winter.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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