Quest for the Best! McClure's Barbecue, New Orleans / by MEAT ME

You can’t win friends with salad but you might just have a chance with BBQ. Stop #2 pop up BBQ shop McClure’s Barbecue located at Dante’s Kitchen located just of Saint Charles Street. Yup that’s just 4 blocks from Squeal Bar-B-Q.

Not it’s not everyday that you see a pop up Barbecue shop but if you do stop and eat at it. Chances are it is not going to be there for very long. I got lucky McClure’s operation will only be there till the end of next week and then he’s moving on to another spot.

There is a lot that goes in to running your own shop you have to make all the bbq sauces over night you gotta smoke the BBQ for hour on end and then show up somewhere the next day and make sure it is perfect for the people who came from all over just to eat it. It almost makes me think that me driving here all the way from Los Angeles was less work then all the work that went into prepping the food for me to eat. That’s right! It takes that much work to make 15 minutes of you tasty pleasure worth it.

I hit up McClure’s Barbecue on twitter and they told me the would love to have me and your damn right I am heading right over anybody you gets that excited to see me. I walked right in and started mixing it up with Mr. McClure right off the bat!

MEAT ME: So have you always been in New Orleans?

McClure’s Barbecue: I am originally from Pensacola, Florida. I have been in New Orleans longer. I lived here for a little bit as a kid and then came back for college and never really left. I did a little time on the west coast but not very much just 5 years in Oregon.

MEAT ME: So how long have you been doing BBQ?

McClure’s Barbecue: Professionally I made the jump in November. I decided the night before I turned 40 to quit my job here as the general manager of Dante’s which is a casual fine dining bistro of which I have been a part of for 10 years since I have moved back from Oregon. I did a few pop ups in November and it was pretty overwhelming with people liking my barbecue. I needed them to give me money and tell me it was good rather than free and in my back yard. Which was great cause it got me rolling the ball a little quicker.  I was going to quit in a year. The ended up being in December from mid October to December and then January I started doing lunch here. So I have been doing that week days ever since.

MEAT ME: So what is the concept of a pop up shop?

McClure’s Barbecue: Just to occupy another space to get your product out there before you are on your own. To decide if your gonna get your own.

MEAT ME: Is it usually spread by word of mouth?

McClure’s Barbecue: It is. Facebook. Twitter.

MEAT ME: Have you done this “Pop Up Shop” anywhere else?

McClure’s Barbecue: No not yet. I just had my first adventure outside of my little nest here last Friday I did a bar down here in the CBD (Central Business District) called the Rusty Nail and had a great response down there. It’s really a different part of town. Every part of town here has got a different type of feel to it. That whole area is completely foreign to me because I have spent all my time up here for the last ten years and I really don’t go out much anymore. I got 2 kids and a wife of a long time ya know. From there I am gonna try a couple of other restaurants and have a fluid schedule while I am having my space built out. I can’t do $75 a week for ten hours of service and get my thing open.

MEAT ME: So is the eventual goal to have your own restaurant?

McClure’s Barbecue: Yes! In the mean time I have got friends in the industry; just in this city alone. I have got friends in restaurants everywhere and I’ll just kind of meander around waiting; do some catering, that sort of thing.

Yeah so I am zeroing in on a space and we are gonna start the build in a month or two and be open by the end of the year. It would be nice to be open by the Super Dome when the super bowl happens. It’s a block off the bridge and where Mardi Gras happens as well.

MEAT ME: So what do we have here? This is the pulled pork?

McClure’s Barbecue: Yes in deed.

MEAT ME: What can you tell me about the pulled pork?

McClure’s Barbecue: Its pretty simple I grew up just doing salt and pepper on pulled pork I didn’t think it needed much of a rub and it really doesn’t because it is about the meat and tenderness inside and cooking it slow till it gets to the right internal temperature which thankfully I don’t fret about anymore I know when it is ready just by the feel of it. I do a little finishing sauce on there, a little East North Carolina sauce essentially. Vinegar based, a lot of people inject their pork’s but I am not into all that it is a diminishing return after a while.

MEAT ME: Which sauce do you recommend with the pork?

McClure’s Barbecue: Oh Boy! Play with them. This is classic Carolina Style. I really like the Alabama Sauce this is a play on Bob Gibson’s Indicator he is one of the more well know Alabama Barbecue’s. It is a white sauce when I first tried it I thought this is an abomination, but it is really good on chicken and pulled pork. It is different at least.

MEAT ME: It gives you that salty/sweet thing at the same time?

McClure’s Barbecue: Yup. I really don’t use a lot of sauce unless I am doing it on a sandwich. My favorite sauce is the empty bottle and not using any. Although I will play; I gotta say I do like it on my brisket the red sauce.

MEAT ME: How do you do the brisket?

McClure’s Barbecue: Salt, pepper, and dry rub. My rub is the same and different for all of the meats. I dropped off when talking about the pulled pork I do put seasoning on there all of them are basically based on the same kind of Creole seasoning that we use in all of the kitchens here. Half of the chefs in town trained at Commanders Palace including Emerald using that Emerald Spice.

MEAT ME: How you would explain Creole to come one from California?

McClure’s Barbecue: Wow! Ahh, Creole is more city cooking it was more indigenes to New Orleans than say Cajun. Cajun was more down in the swamp. Creole was the influence of the French, the islands, and the Native American culture down here. It has a little bit of everything in it. It tends to be a little bit more sophisticated just in its over all process. The flavors did wonders for non refrigerated meat back in the day.

MEAT ME: The chicken I brine. It’s got a simple salt and sugar brine with a little orange juice and soy. I brine that over night and then I slow cook it about 4 or 5 hours. All of them go in the same cooker I don’t do separate temperatures for everything I have got a hotter part of my grill; but my thing  is an awesome machine so its not to big a difference throughout the whole thing. I bought it because of it’s ratings. I wanna build my own rig I am not going to kid anybody I am now a welder.

McClure’s Barbecue: By trade I have been a front of the house guy for most of my career. I have been a general manager. I have done a little cooking on the side but tickets have always driven me crazy. Cooking different stuff for different tables all at the same time would make me wanna… Now I know why chefs wanna stab people! It makes you insane. I am a great prep cook. Give me a knife, give me a stuff to chop and I’m down. Give me 20 things to cook on the stove at the same time to be ready in 6 hours that’s how I grew up cooking, but needing an escargot for table 20 and red fish on the half shell for table 30 and still trying to cut the greens for tomorrows salad… No it wasn’t my cup of tea.

MEAT ME: So what do we have over here?

McClure’s Barbecue: That is my 4 cheese macaroni. Mom’s potatoe salad, it is a German Potatoe salad but I do it cold. There is some egg in there and some bacon. Most of it has bacon. The mac and cheese has bacon. The beans have bacon. The pulled pork, rib meat… It’s called pork and pork and beans. The original name was pork explosion beans but that didn’t test well. It conveyed to many bad images for people I guess. (laugh)

The beans were a big project. In my back yard I have always done canned beans made better. Everybody in my family swore that I could not even think about changing them because they were so good. I have done gourmet food all my life. I have done casual fine dining. This is one of the best restaurants in the city by the way. I couldn’t see beans out of a can to people. I had to come up with my own version. I didn’t have any background in it so I played and played and played. Basically I just cook them the way I cook red beans and rice and added traditional flavors. Then I could kind of pinpoint and then I threw a bunch of meat in them. It has got a ton of meat and bacon in it. How bad can it be?

MEAT ME: The corn bread?

McClure’s Barbecue: Roasted jalapeno and corn with a molasses base.

MEAT ME: That’s good, and the coleslaw?

McClure’s Barbecue: Spicy sweet salt because I am not a huge mayonnaise fan and you need this to cut the fat in all of this food.

MEAT ME: So you have been doing this for?

McClure’s Barbecue: 4 months now. Fulltime but this is my last 2 weeks in this location. Then I will be more part time and bouncing around some bars and other restaurants. Doing this all summer while I am getting my space built out. I can’t cook all night and server lunch, squeeze sleep in there and see my kids and try and build a space at the same time it is impossible so as much of a following as I have found here for lunch. It has been great but I have to cut it off. It is going to make some people mad at me, but it will make them happy when I pop back up in the neighborhood at some point this summer.

MEAT ME: So how did you get into BBQ?

McClure’s Barbecue: I grew up just doing pig stuff. Pig cooks at home. We had a axel from a Carmagia that was rigged to a washing machine motor and fencing and we’d splay the pig out and roast it over an open flame and smoke it Carolina style pig roast. That is what I grew up doing. I didn’t know it was Carolina style but it was and we’d lean a 10 foot tin roof over it to keep the heat in. It was very Red Neck. (we laugh) We were sophisticated Pensacola types it is called the Red Neck Rivera for a reason. I don’t deny my roots.

MEAT ME: So what is your favorite out of everything you do?

McClure’s Barbecue: Brisket. I have had to play with it so much cause it was foreign to me. I really didn’t know brisket as good barbecue. My friends out at The Joint (famous place I am trying to cover on my trip) his brisket really started my motivation for all of this so I bought a better smoker than the little crappy charcoal thing I had in the back yard. It took a couple years till I was happy with my brisket. With lots of trips out there he started to notice you really drive a long way for a $10 lunch. They paid me the return favor a couple of weeks ago and when he came in here and cleaned his plate of ribs I was happy.

MEAT ME: So your favorite meat is brisket?

McClure’s Barbecue: Yea but there is room on my plate for all of God’s wonderful animals. I too am a MEAT lover if there is a big ole thing of meat on the menu I am getting’ it! I can’t help myself it is what I cook at home. I like my vegetables I like my seafood, but I love my MEAT!

Well… I can’t wait till McClure’s Barbecue has his own shop and ya won’t have to chase him around anymore. Good barbecue is hard to find and when I meet someone that has basically given everything up to do it you know it is going to taste amazing. It shows. I could tell by his hands that they barely get any rest. The entire time I was there no one customer came or left without him saying “Welcome”, “Goodbye” and Thank you”. I guess there is something to be said about southern hospitality you never get used to it and the food might even taste a little better because of it.

You can check out McClure’s Barbecue at:
On Twitter at:!/McClureBarbecue
On Facebook at:

Go out and make some friends,
Sean Rice