The skewered chicken is typically marinated in herbs and vinegar for three days, grilled over open flames until charred and served on Italian bread. People compete to make the best spiedies at the state fair, along with other regional barbecue dishes.
"Upstate New York, to me, is one of barbecue's best kept secrets," Irwin said.
Irwin is bringing a taste of upstate New York barbecue and other styles to the Peninsula at B's Craft BBQ, a pop-up he's launching out of his Mountain View home this weekend.
A selection of smoked meats and sides from Brandon Irwin's barbecue pop-up, opening in Mountain View on April 4. Photo courtesy Brandon Irwin.
Irwin is a former sports coach, university assistant professor and community organizer who was raised by a chef. Before moving to California, he spent time in Maine, Kansas and Los Angeles.
As a newcomer to Mountain View during the pandemic, it was hard to find work, so Irwin decided to start his own venture. He was surprised at the relative dearth of quality barbecue in the Bay Area, besides spots like Horn Barbecue in Oakland, Capelo's Barbecue in Redwood City and Mesquite & Oak in San Jose.
Brandon Irwin of B's Craft BBQ, a new pop-up. Photo courtesy Brandon Irwin.
Irwin said his barbecue is rooted in upstate New York but also reflects Texas and Kansas styles. He makes smoked brisket with miso peach barbecue sauce, bone-in chuck short ribs and St. Louis-style pork ribs with jalapeño honey glaze. He cooks all the meats in an offset smoker, which has a fire box where wood burns, requiring skilled supervision.
"You're managing that fire by hand. You’re usually cooking in smaller batches," he said. "That, to me, is what craft barbecue means. … learning the craft of fire management and how it impacts the flavor and texture of a piece of meat 18 hours later."
The smoked meats — sourced from Creekstone Farms in Kansas — all come with pickled onions, brown butter cornbread and cider pickles. He cooks the cornbread in a cast iron skillet and serves it with whipped honey butter. Irwin also makes a mac and cheese, cooked over live fire, with aged cheddar, Parmesan, pepper jack and mozzarella, crusted with Panko bread crumbs and herbs.
B's Craft BBQ will serve chicken spiedies, a much-loved upstate New York specialty. Photo courtesy Brandon Irwin.
Whole cuts of smoked meat, fresh or cooled and vacuum sealed, are also available for purchase.
"I think of it as a project, an experiment," Irwin said of his pop-up. "The things I do well are grounded in this low and slow, Texas-style barbecue. I'm in the process of experimenting with combining these barbecue (styles) and these different flavors."
Going forward, he plans to release menus on Mondays for curbside pickup in Mountain View on Saturdays. Orders will close on Tuesdays or when sold out.
To order for opening day on Sunday, April 4, go to bscraftbbq.com. And look for the spiedies the following Saturday, April 10.