Patio Pitmaster: Brent Brashier
Title: Co-owner and chief barbecue officer for Doc's Smokehouse and Craft Bar
Location: Several locations including Dyer; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Mokena, Illinois; and Madison, Wisconsin. A LaPorte location is planned for spring. The address of the Dyer location is 1420 Calumet Ave.
What makes him sizzle:
Brent Brashier's passion for cooking was developed during his childhood while growing up in Alabama.
"There was some great cooking in the family," Brashier said. For Brashier, barbecuing, which he calls the "original comfort food," and grilling are cooking styles that allow individuals to put their own unique stamps on dishes.
Brashier, of Munster, who is the co-owner and chief barbecue officer at Doc's Smokehouse and Craft Bar, said he enjoys cooking outdoors as much as possible when he's at home.
One of his favorite dishes to make for his family is a bacon-wrapped dry-aged meatloaf, which he's presenting as his featured dish for the Patio Pitmasters' series.
"I'm not a huge fan of meatloaf, but I wanted to do something different," Brashier said. The chef's dry-aged meatloaf is given an extra boost with a bacon weave and a stuffing of cheese, which oozes throughout the meatloaf as it cooks.
Brashier said the addition of the cheese was done specifically for his children. Now, the dish is a hit on the family dinner table.
Brashier has been involved in the hospitality industry for nearly 30 years. He's honed his craft at restaurants throughout Alabama, Texas, the Chicago area and other parts of the country.
At Doc's, which he co-owns with Dr. Himanshu Doshi, Brashier is recreating his own take on the barbecue fare he honed while growing up in Alabama and working in Texas and other locales. Doc's menu features everything from brisket and ribs to chicken, turkey, pulled pork, sausage and more. (Doc's debuted in 2016 in Dyer.)
Cooking outdoors is something Brashier has enjoyed for a while. He uses fresh produce grown in his garden as much as he can in the recipes he creates for his family.
The use of fresh ingredients, he said, is key to "letting food speak for itself" and bringing forth the best tastes.
Fast Facts: Brent Brashier hails from Hoover, Alabama. Resides in Munster. Co-owner of Doc's Smokehouse and Craft Bar. Married to Aimee. Father of Harper, 4, and Bart, 2.
Q & A with the chef:
My cooking philosophy is: I grew up eating simple, well-balanced flavors. I grew up in Alabama and have tried to stay true to my roots but have expanded (my repertoire) a bit.
Dishes I grew up eating: Traditional Southern food such as fried pork chops, tomato gravy, cornbread, collard greens and other dishes.
About using bacon in my cooking: Bacon makes everything better. For my meatloaf recipe and the bacon weave, thin bacon is better for weaving. The bacon makes a nice little blanket or covering for the meatloaf.
Why I don't call myself a chef: I am not a trained chef; I am a restaurateur who loves to cook and has spent my whole career around great chefs. To refer to me as a chef is a disservice to many chefs who spent years in school learning their craft. I am just a guy who loves food and cooks a lot.
My love for using fresh ingredients from the garden: I use them a lot. Nothing says summer to me like really good homegrown tomatoes.
Advice on cooking outdoors: Take your time. If you're using a charcoal grill, let it get good and hot. Use a meat thermometer. You can Google a temperature chart. Don't be afraid to mess up. Sometimes you can create really awesome, happy accidents.
How often I cook outdoors: Every chance we get we cook outside. Probably 60 to 70 percent of our meals are done outside.
The following is Brent Brashier's recipe.
Bacon-Wrapped Dry-Aged Meatloaf
2 pounds Linz dry-aged ground beef. (Available at www.linzheritageangus.com)
1/2 cup tomatoes, finely diced with liquid
1/3 cup Vidalia onion, finely diced
1/4 cup quick cook oats
1 large poblano pepper, roasted on the grill, skin removed, finely diced. (I am substituting poblano because people probably can’t get a pasilla, which I like to use. It has a similar profile.)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon coarse ground pepper
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
Bacon weave (6x6 or 12 strips of bacon, the thinner cut is the better). The weave consists of weaving or layering the bacon around the meatloaf one strip at a time.
DIRECTIONS: Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix with your hands. (Great job for kids to help with!)
Press flat into a rectangle roughly an inch thick on a sheet of foil. Spread the cheese in the middle. Fold in half and seal the ends. Lay on bacon weave and fold over and tuck the ends so the bacon encases the meatloaf.
Cook over indirect heat on your grill at 275 degrees for 2.5 hours or until the internal temperature is 140. Put tomato gravy on top of each slice prior to serving.
3 tablespoons bacon fat (Save your bacon fat whenever you cook bacon!)
3 cups diced fresh tomatoes (preferably, but you can use 1 can diced tomatoes with liquid)
3 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
DIRECTIONS: Heat the bacon fat in a skillet on high heat. When the bacon fat pops to a drop of water, add the tomatoes and their liquid. Whisk constantly for 5 minutes, then slowly add finely sifted flour while whisking to desired consistency.
Add salt a pepper to taste.
Restaurant Scene: Go back in time at Northside Diner in Chesterton