In Texas, it takes guts to veer from traditional barbecue. While the lunch menu at San Antonio’s Granary ‘Cue & Brew focuses on classic local dishes, chef-owner Tim Rattray is all about bringing international flavor to the barbecue format at dinner. “Every culture has a different way of incorporating smoke and fire into meat, and that was something I wanted to embrace,” says Rattray. Earlier this year, he staged a ramen takeover night featuring the Granary’s Brisket Ramen. Social media promotion drew hordes of customers, who lined up around the block for more than an hour to get in, he says.
1. Smoking hot broth
The Granary’s ramen “epitomizes who we are” by taking Japanese elements and interpreting them with a barbecue spin, says Rattray. For the broth, he makes two stocks, using pork necks and chicken bones smoked in the oak-fueled barbecue pit that cooks brisket. One stock is flavored with dashi and tare (a Japanese seasoning), and the other with soy sauce; Rattray combines both for flavor intensity.
2. Noodles are brewing
The “& Brew” part of the restaurant’s name refers to the roster of beers and ales made in-house. For the ramen, “I wanted to create an alkaline noodle by mixing our brown ale with semolina,” says Rattray. It took a bit of trial and error to get the consistency right; he extrudes the dough through a metal die with a rounded edge, so the mixture gets elastic and is not too wet or dry.
3. Harvesting burnt ends
Slicing up 80 pounds of brisket a day results in lots of charred scraps. While a good portion of these burnt ends go into the restaurant’s baked beans side dish, the larger pieces top bowls of ramen, subbing for the more typical pork. Other garnishes include barbecued shallots and crispy collard green leaves.
To expand the ethnic vibe, Rattray is menuing a-style mole with a Southern vibe. “It features smoked duck breast with grits and corn fritters instead of the usual chicken with corn tortillas,” he says. “I preserved 50 pounds of Southern-grown chili peppers to use in the mole.”