Barbecue, Barbeque, or BBQ – Cooking Outside In Olympia



By Mary Ellen Psaltis

Jeff Greenwell flips meet every Thursday evening at Bayview Thriftway.

Barbecue – Barbeque – BBQ – Bar-B-Q and, yes, the Barbie. Any way you spell it, it’s all about good eats.

Barbecue is a catchall word for cooking outside (sometimes inside), regardless of the actual method used. Depending on what part of the world you inhabit and with whom you speak, this might mean cooking slowly with low heat and smoke, using an open grill, or maybe utilizing a closed metal contraption with any combination of charcoal, gas and/or wood. There are more definitions, but that gives you the idea.

Even within the US, there are distinctive barbecuing methods and sauces well known and loved from Kansas to Texas and the Deep South.  There must be a bevy of chefs right here in Thurston County, each with their own recipes and styles. Even the word itself can be used multiple ways: it’s a noun when you are referring to the implement cooked on or the party around it. Barbecue becomes a verb when you use it to explain the way you are doing your cooking. And it’s even an adjective: barbecued ribs. Regardless of the way you may use the word, the thought of it makes my mouth water. I can even imagine the familiar smells of lighter fluid and smoking coals.

In our house we call cooking on the coal fired Weber barbecuing. My husband is the master chef, proving that the grilling talent is much more than throwing meat on hot coals and hoping for the best. Moist chicken and juicy burgers are a function of properly adjusting the temperature with the lid and vent holes. Ask him for the specifics. I just get to eat it.

When you are dreaming of enjoying a barbecue but find yourself without the inclination to do the buying, cooking and cleaning, you can stop by Ralph’s Thriftway or Bayview on Thursdays from 11-7. Let them do all the work for you. Their deluxe burgers are cooked before your eyes; but the pulled pork was smoked overnight. You can feast on chicken, ribs, Kobe steak skewers and Red Hook brats. There are the popular sides as well: Harvest Beans with pinto, white, navy, kidney and garbanzo, potato salad and grilled onions.

According to Leroy Keener, who is also a sous chef at Mercato Ristorante, “many diehard fans get the same thing every time…even after two years.” You can soon find your favorite, too. An added bonus for our community is that ten percent of the proceeds go to the Thurston County Food Bank.

Mandie Lutz and Jeff Greenwell prepare BBQ meals at Bayview Thriftway.

Keener recommends that you put in your order before you shop. Then you can pay inside after you do your necessary shopping and pick up your cooked food as you leave. If you have the time, head around the back of Bayview for outdoor seating that features one of the best water views in town. Ralph’s has a few outside tables. Chris Ahmed and Derek Smith are on hand downtown to help you with your orders. Ralph’s barbecue team includes Jeff Greenwell, Janessa Blair and Mandie Lutz.

Do you want to do your cooking at home? This might involve cooking the meat slowly over low heat and/or using the smoke to do the cooking. Sauce is added after the cooking is about done.  Think pulled pork. But many cook on the ‘grill’ with meats that have been marinated or slathered with sauce. Meat connoisseurs may prefer to have their meats cooked without sauce – after all, that produces its own fabulous flavor – but everyone is partial their own sauce be it sticky, sweet, hot or smoky.

Looking for a special sauce? Both of the Storman stores have (literally) shelves of barbecuing sauces. Hot, mild, spicy, tomato based, vinegar based, mustard based, local, organic … imagine it and it’s likely waiting there for you. For just a few dollars you can break the mold on your traditional sauce and try a new one.

A tasty BBQ meal, from Bayview and Ralph's Thriftway - cooked up while you shop.

Remember that cooking out is not limited to pork, chicken and beef. Vegetables fare well looking handsome with those grilling stripes. Try eggplant, peppers, onions and mushrooms. Ralph’s and Bayview are filled with carnivorous and vegetarian barbecue options.

And what can you do with the leftover coals before they disintegrate? Make dessert!

Banana Boats:

You will need bananas, miniature marshmallows and small chocolate pieces. Slice the banana lengthwise and keep on the peel. Stuff with chocolate pieces and marshmallows, and wrap in heavy foil. Set on the coals long enough to make everything gooey. Eat with a spoon.

Campfire Cones:

You will need waffle cones and an assortment of cereal pieces, chocolate pieces, marshmallows, nuts, fruit. Fill your cone with everyone you love, wrap in heavy foil and put on the coals for a few minutes.

Having a barbecue is a sure recipe for fun.

Eat Well – Be Well.

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