BLUDSO'S BBQ: TEXAN STYLE 'Q. STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
Regular readers of the blog will be only too aware that I do like a bit of ‘Q action. The American Royal Competition in Kansas City is now the third date I put in the calendar after my anniversary and Sybil’s birthday and, on a recent road trip from Chicago down to New Orleans via twelve Mid-West and Southern States, my friend Neal and I managed to eat enough ribs, links and fatty brisket to keep the towns we visited out of recession.
Los Angeles has not really cut the vinegar based mustard sauce when it comes to BBQ, and I had assumed that I would just have to learn to live with my disappointment until I was back on the road in the New Year. A couple of weeks ago, the jonesing for ‘Q got so bad that I posted a plaintive request on Twitter asking if anybody knew where I might get even a semi decent slab of something smoked here on the West Coast.
Fortunately for me, my good chum Aaron Tell, the author of the excellent new (ish) blog The Savory Hunter dropped me an e-mail asking me if I wanted to join him on a journey to Bludso’s A BBQ joint in the city of Compton, about thirty minutes drive of downtown Los Angeles.
I had never heard of the place, but a bit of internet research told me that Kevin Bludso, the owner, came from a family of Texan BBQ aficionados and brought his talents to Southern California, opening his small joint on South Long Beach Boulevard some three years ago.
As we pulled into the small parking lot, Mr. Bludso was sitting outside with a friend next to the two large smokers he uses for outside catering. It was Aaron’s second visit, but when Mr.B found out that it was my first, he called over “Y’all head on inside, we’ll take good care of you”. To be honest, there really wasn’t much of an “inside” just a glass covered ordering window and a handful of stools alongside a small counter if you want to eat your order there and then.
Bludso’s serves traditional Texan Style BBQ and, at Aaron’s suggestion we ordered the $28 Texas Sampler. It came with two sides and, after choosing Mac & Cheese and Collard greens, we made our way back out to the parking lot to join Kevin Bludso and his friend.
Our meal arrived shortly after we had taken our seats and started chatting. It was a ludicrous amount of food our order comprising chicken, beef and pork links, pulled pork, pork ribs, smoked chicken and slices of beef brisket. Alongside the meat were big tubs of our side dishes, hot corn bread and two slices of Wonderbread, just in case we were in the mood to fashion a fatty brisket sandwich.
The amount of food would not matter, of course, if it was not up to snuff, but I am delighted to say that the ‘Q at Bludso’s is really rather good. The meat was moist and had just enough smoke to add flavour but not overpower. Aaron was particularly taken with the chicken, while I tore into the ribs as if I had not had one for at least ten weeks. Which is, in fact, when I last did. Mac & Cheese is never my idea of a good time, so I concentrated on the collard greens, which were still slightly crunchy and came plumped out with big meaty chunks of ham hock. Lovely stuff.
After decanting our leftovers into take out containers to be enjoyed over the next couple of days, we snapped some photographs and chatted more to Pitmaster Bludso about his cooking techniques. His reply was as typically unassuming as I have come to expect from the lovely people I meet in the wonderful world of ‘Q.
“Make it anyway you want, just don’t make bad ‘Q”
Well, for the record, Mr. Kevin Bludso makes excellent BBQ and it comes to you straight outta Compton.