Smoked Right Here

Night owl Rob Turner just may have one of the coolest titles—official DLM Pit Master. If you’re ever taking a walk in one of the neighborhoods surrounding DLM Washington Square where our massive smoker is based, Rob apologizes, because you’re gonna be hungry. It’s a balmy night in July and as our stores slow to a quiet hum for the night, Rob is starting his shift. He’s got hundreds of pounds of beef barbacoa loaded on the 15 racks of our massive smoker. They’ve been smoking for about eleven hours with hickory. He unlatches the smoker and slowly opens it. Smoke uncurls and wildly travels into the night sky. He is right—the smell is phenomenal.

The well-marbled boneless chuck roast sports a charred exterior, which Rob explains is the “bark” and what you are looking to achieve when smoking meats like this. Don’t be fooled though by the tough exterior (of Rob or the barbacoa). The meat is fall-apart tender, and as the pit master empties each rack he starts to shred it immediately. “My job doesn’t feel like a job because I love it so much,” he interjects.

Smoke billows from the piping-hot shredded meat as it hits the night air. He pushes the meat on a cart inside. Heads turn, and Rob lights up and keeps moving as he hears the chorus of excitement that the smell elicits from his fellow night owls.

GO PRO OR GO HOME

The store is quiet. Most of the second shifters are gone for the evening, with the exception of a few who are curious to see what Rob is working on tonight. Guns N’ Roses wanes from a stereo in the Meat department, and the lyrics “Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” intersperse with the the squeaky wheel of the cart.

Rob continues to carefully work with the beef barbacoa. It was about a year ago when DLM decided to grow the smoked meats program by dedicating a full-time pit master to master the craft, who would fuel the appetites of all three stores. With the massive smoker hard at work, it was becoming more and more apparent that with the right person, it could be pulled out not just for limited-time products and cookouts, but a full line of Smoked Right Here meats, ready to take home and reheat.

Enter Rob. Smoking meats had always been a hobby for him for 15+ years—one that he was very good at. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to hire Rob to smoke a full pig for a special event. When he was approached about making his hobby his job, he replied, “if we are going to do it, we need to to go pro and do it right.” After a year, the smoked meats have grown by nearly 600%. We see what Rob means by “go pro” as the product speaks for itself, with mainly word-of-mouth marketing in garnering repeat customers.

 

BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL

Whether he’s smoking poultry, pork, or beef, each product has a different recipe and prep, often with a dry rub prior to going into the smoker. Rob is meticulous about keeping a log of the results from each smoking cycle, noting what works and what doesn’t, and experimenting as time allows. After he finishes the barbacoa, he begins prepping poultry, both chicken and massive Bowman & Landes turkey legs that weigh about 4 lbs prior to
being smoked. He notes that although the poultry items can be smoked together, you’d never smoke them with pork, for example. “Although it’s third shift, we always do everything in line with food safety for the customers,” Rob says.

With the DLM Smoked Meats rising in popularity, Rob says the sky is the limit and he’s ready to keep fanning the flame. “I get to enjoy my hobby and get paid. If you love it, why not do it and you can succeed,” he says.

KEEP FANNING THE FLAME

It’s about 10 p.m. and time to put the poultry to bed so Rob can pull them before his shift is over. A light shines down on the smoker and he glances around his feet before carefully taking his next step. “There you are Timmy,” he remarks, pointing to a curious toad that often hangs out on the asphalt outside at night. Third shift can be quiet and laid back, but with a big personality like Rob who has a passion for perfecting his craft, there’s always excitement in the air at DLM after hours.

Let’s Take a Journey to Lowcountry

Beyond the tantalizing allure of fried green tomatoes, shrimp and grits, braised greens, and pimento cheese creations that beckon you to the table on a firefly-lit night, there lies a cuisine with a robust array of food eaten in season. Gather around the table with those you love as we journey into the Lowcountry of the coastal Carolinas.

Plus, this month earn Bonus Points on Lowcountry-inspired favorites with use of your Club DLM card. Get the checklist!

Cast Iron Cooking

DLM Culinary Center instructor Jack Zindorf has amassed a collection of cast iron skillets over the years—30 to be exact. And just like Jack is a well-seasoned cook, so are his skillets.

Once a piece of cast iron is cleaned up and seasoned, it may be intimidating to use. But Jack recommends to not let it just become a decoration that collects dust. “Use it and use it often,” he says, noting that the seasoning of the pan continues to deepen.

Part of the charm of these durable workhorse skillets is that they are often passed down between family members, which Jack intends to do with his one day. “When I see one, I wonder what was cooked in it, what did it make?” he says. We can’t help but wonder, too.

If you are looking to start this tradition with your family, the DLM Culinary Center is thrilled to now carry a line of cast iron from a Charleston producer called Smithey Ironware Co. Come and check it out!

Once you have your cast iron skillet in tow, explore some of our favorite cast iron creations that will become staples in your recipe repertoire.

Cast Iron Skillet Creations

LOWCOUNTRY SHRIMP & GRITS

This classic dish combines rich and creamy grits with sweet, succulent shrimp. It’s great for breakfast or brunch!

PIMENTO CHEESE & SAUSAGE

A southern favorite takes on new life in this appetizer recipe. Serve with saltines and pickles for the ultimate eating experience.

CAST IRON PEACH COBBLER

Buttery, crumbly, and loaded with tons of sweet peaches, this recipe is a summertime favorite!

Hatch: The Heat Is On!

Our 10th annual “Hatch Hype” as we call it at DLM is coming your way! But the hype is only as good as the product, and that story has been over a hundred years in the making. These beautiful green chiles are grown in the Hatch Valley of New Mexico. We love the flavor of roasted Hatch Chiles, so offering them from our open-flame roaster has become a yearly tradition.

In 1917, the great-grandparents of Chris Franzoy, owner of Young Guns Produce and our supplier of Hatch Chiles, arrived in America from Tyrol, Austria, and settled in the Hatch Valley. They quickly adapted to the culture and became farmers. Ten children and some years later, this family has been instrumental in expanding the farming of these chiles in the area. On a trip out to see the farm, our VP of Produce, Dennis Chrisman, said it was amazing to see such green fields in what many consider a desert. Chris told them how Hatch “Valley” is actually at 4,000-feet elevation, which explained the hot, arid climate. While the outside temperature was about 100°F, the humidity was only about 28%. They’re blessed with a water supply in the form of the Rio Grande to the north as well as an underground aquifer. The Hatch Chiles are hand-harvested because the plants need to be left intact in order to obtain multiple harvests during the growing season.

The Hatch excitement runs deep here at DLM as our chefs are all abuzz discussing new Hatch creations to wow your taste buds once the Hatch craze sets in. Life is pretty spicy around here during those last three weeks of August as so many recipes that you’ll find throughout DLM will feature Hatch Chiles as a key ingredient, so be sure to try them all. When cooking at home, I love the way Hatch Chiles add flavor to eggs, fish, salsa, chicken, burgers, and just about everything! Choose to buy them raw or freshly roasted by the quart, then let your imagination and creativity go hot wild. Come get a little pep in your step and see for yourself what all the Hatch Hype is about. Stay tuned as we announce the dates for when we’ll be roasting these chiles at each store!