Harv Basi with the Memphis Feast.

Authentic to the bone

Memphis Blues franchise owner Harv Basi talks barbecue in this edition of Local Flavours

For Harv Basi, it was love at first bite.

The first time the Vancouver native had a taste of authentic southern barbecue served up at Memphis Blues, he was hooked on the fare he described as “a meat-lover’s dream.”

“Me and my brother were regular customers at the Vancouver store, we’d go there two times a week,” Basi said. “And it was so good, it just became addicting.”

When an opportunity arose for Basi – who has a background in the hospitality industry – to buy a franchise in South Surrey, he quickly jumped on board.

After six months of rigorous training on the art of authentic Memphis barbecue, Basi opened up the restaurant at Grandview Corners just over two years ago.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about barbecuing – like the type we do in Canada, that’s actually grilling,” Basi explained. “Barbecue is actually using smoke, low and slow. Traditional barbecue is a lot of big cuts of meat, like pork shoulder, beef brisket, chicken and ribs.”

To get a first-hand look at the art of barbecuing, Basi travelled to Nashville, Tenn., where he was a spectator at a barbecue competition, hoping to pick up some tricks of the trade.

He was pleased to discover the meat dishes he serves up north of the border are as authentic as those down south, and may even hold an edge over what’s served in Tennessee.

“I think it may even be better – we can get  better cuts of meat up here in Canada.”

Straight from the Memphis Blues handbook, Bringin’ Southern BBQ Home, published by chain founders George Siu and Park Heffelfinger, Basi is sharing a recipe for All-purpose dry rub – which is used on almost everything at his restaurant, including the Memphis Feast, in photo – plus tips on how to convert a gas barbecue into a meat smoker.

“All you need is a barbecue and the all-purpose dry rub, with the right temperature, low and slow, you can do it at home.”

All-purpose dry rub

Ingredients

1 cup dried parsley

1 cup sugar

1 cup seasoned salt

3 Tbsp ground black pepper

3 Tbsp garlic powder

3 Tbsp dried oregano

3 Tbsp sweet paprika

1 Tbsp mild mustard powder

1 Tbsp celery salt

pinch of cayenne pepper

Instructions

Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl with a whisk. Store any leftover in an airtight container in the cupboard for up to six months. Use on pork, chicken, turkey or fish.

To use a gas barbecue to smoke meat:

You must have a barbecue that has gas jets on both the left and right sides, with separate controls. Turn only one side to high. When the interior temperature reaches 300 F, place a loaded wood-chip smoker box (available at many barbecue supply and hardware stores) onto the lit side of the grill, directly under the grill rack and directly on top of the gas jet cover. The meat goes on the unlit side of the grill. Reload the smoker box with water-soaked wood chips two or three times during the cooking process. While there are a variety of wood chips and chunks available on the market, Basi recommends using applewood chunks.

 

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