A Memorial day weekend lead us upstate; me, the wife, and baby in a car.  One memorable experiences was hitting PJ’s barbecue in Sarasota Springs. We noticed it off the highway as  we pulled into town around 9pm. After checking in to our hotel and with an empty stomachs, we headed back to 50’s car hop styled spot only to find out it was closed. Disappointed we headed back on the highway to the oddly placed Japanese restaurant just up the road.

That night I made a promise. We will eat at PJ’s. The next day our server plated us with wonderful combinations of ribs, brisket, chicken, and pulled pork. What’s nice about BBQ spots like PJ’s is that there is no real regional agenda. I enjoyed and appreciated that their meats come dry and you have a lot of sauce options from across the country – from Carolina mustard to Kansas City sweet.

The biggest star of the meal was the chicken. Generally, chicken at BBQ spot is a lower level food with pork and beef fighting it out for number 1. I tend not to order chicken, but this time around, the Lord made way for some really awesome chicken as it was on a combination platter. And we were all very happy. The chicken was done with a modified Cornell BBQ style recipe and it really caught my attention; it’s a combination of vinegar, oil, egg, and poultry seasoning. It has a long history that dates back to the 50’s and comes from Cornell University in good ‘ole Ithaca, NY. Word. Basically it was created in order for farmers to sell more chickens.It’s a totally different take on what I was raised on as far as BBQ chicken – there was no chili powder or brown sugar ingredients that are my familiar experience with BBQ.

Another contrary to the standard BBQ, is that PJ’s actually barbecues over mesquite wood. My research on the subject  suggest that most pit masters do not use mesquite for the slow cooking that is real barbecue, but rather use it for grilling – a fast method of cooking. Apparently, mesquite burns fast and hot and with long cooking the smoke becomes “off”. Some how PJ’s was very successful in making mesquite work with BBQ .

This weekend I have some chicken quarters, a Cornell BBQ recipe sauce, some mesquite. And of course a smoker. The technique won’t be the exact replica of PJ’s but the influence is there. As for the mesquite, I’m not smoking for 4 to 10 hours, but only for about 2. So maybe the “off” smoke flavor won’t infect my chicken. If I can capture just half of what we got at PJ’s i will continue on this path with doing chicken Cornell BBQ style.

For information including tips on how to barbecue the broilers read the complete Cornell BBQ sauce recipe.