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Hello from Granite Planet

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Greetings fellow SMF members -


My wife and I have decided to buy a restaurant.  We have never been in the food business, but love food and we both really love smoked meat!  We plan to take ownership of the place April 1, 2015.  It will be called "Granite Planet".  Now my objective is to learn how to smoke large amounts of meat, as the restaurant does lots of catering and banquets.  I'm sure I'll learn a lot from you experts, and want to THANK YOU in advance.  Our plan is to first get a good smaller smoker and get the hang of it.  Any recommendations?  Thanks.

post #2 of 8

Welcome GP!  Fun plan for the future.


I've never been in the food business either but I have worked with quite a few, including Q restaurants.  As far as the smoker, get a small version of what you intend to use later in a larger size because every type of smoker operates differently.  Someone can be a master with burning sticks but getting the same flavor from an electric or gas is almost like starting over from scratch.  My favorite Q restaurants use stick burners but local zoning requirements can impact whether you can burn sticks or not.  If people complain about the smoke, the people usually win.


A new Q restaurant just opened in Sacramento called Fahrenheit 250 BBQ.  A Q buddy and I are going to eat lunch there next week.  I can't post links to the place here but you can Google it.  They are using a stick burner. 

post #3 of 8

Good morning, and welcome from East Texas. You are on the right track, get your smoker, practice, figure out what you want to be smoking at you restaurant. That way you can check out rubs and sauces. Go to as many places you can and check them out, talk to locals and see what they prefer. There are quite a few commercial units that do a good job, 

Good Luck.  ask questions any time


Gary S

post #4 of 8
Thread Starter 

Hey Guys - thanks much for the greetings and info.  I have a lot to learn and am looking forward to doing a lot of that here - seems like a great group of people.  

post #5 of 8

My Q work buddy and I went to the new restaurant today I mentioned above because next week got clobbered and today was pretty light.  Interesting mix of foods, from outstanding to bland.  Nice atmosphere. Absolutely no smoke aroma in the air or in the restaurant so I suspect they either have a recovery system, smoke off premises, or we caught them when the smoker was cold.  We wanted to talk to the owner but he was not onsite.    


We had an appetizer of smoked shrimp served on grits with a tomato cream sauce; plus we had pulled pork, hot links, spare ribs, potato salad, and mac/cheese.  The appetizer was off-the-charts fantastic.  I'll probably dream about it tonight.


It was apparent the Q was real, not mock Q that lots of places out here serve. The pulled pork had a great bark, good flavor, but was dry as a bone.  The sauces were its savior.  They were better than average and came in a variety of flavors.  Their fresh baked buns had a nice crust like a sourdough.  The hot links were good.  The spare ribs were better than average with a nice smoke ring and easy tug on the bite.  The mac/cheese was our second favorite part of the meal, prepared in an oven not the smoker.  The potato salad was a disappointment; way too basic with absolutely no character at all. 


The place is a 20 minute drive from work and a 45 minute drive from the house so I'd probably only go with my wife if we were down that way.  Still, it filled up completely for lunch with a wait line so I suspect they'll do quite nicely. There are places in town with less flavorful Q that do a booming business so this was one of the better ones for where I live.          

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the review.  It gives a good perspective of what to look for / attempt to achieve.  


What does it mean that the "Q was real, not mock.."?  Or better put, what is "mock" Q?  I love the idea of good breads/buns.  I'll have to see what I can source.  Potato salad is a competitive sport around MN! (it better be good ;)  I've never had smoked mac & cheese - that sounds tasty.  Do you think it would have been better smoked?  Will have to try that..


Again - thanks!

post #7 of 8

Mock Q is a term I coined for baked or boiled meats that are then seared and sauced.  Real Q is made in a smoker.


I don't know if it is even feasible for a restaurant to do so but smoked mac and cheese is fantastic. Definitely try the smoked mac and cheese!  Use a mild wood.  I'm a huge fan of four cheese versions, and yes, theirs would have been better smoked.  It was pretty darn good but I've had better.  I mentioned above it was oven-baked.  After thinking about it though it was probably a stovetop mac & cheese.  I'll bet they boiled the noodles, prepped the sauce separately, then mixed the two.  There was no hint of a browned or crusty top layer which was the giveaway for me how it was prepared.


They used a fisarmoniche pasta which was a great touch because it gave substance to each bite, could easily be eaten with a fork or spoon, and had lots of surface area for the creamy, cheesy goodness to stick.  After that trip to the restaurant I switched my habitual personal preference for mac & cheese noodles from rotini to fisarmoniche.     

post #8 of 8

I don't want to sidetrack the thread but this thread helped create the recipe below.  I'm walking through the grocery store today, down the pasta aisle, thinking about that mac and cheese from the restaurant.  I spotted a jar of sauce on the shelf and BAM! this recipe literally formed in my head on the spot. 


Quick 'n Easy Four Cheese Pasta


Although this really isn't "macaroni and cheese", and won't work in a smoker, it is pretty darn good.  I call it a "cheater" recipe because it uses store bought Alfredo sauce, not homemade.  If you like creamy, cheesy sauce on your pasta, give this a try.  My wife was raving about it all evening.


16 oz Rotelle, rotini, or fisarmoniche pasta
2 Tbs salt
1/4 cup olive oil
15 oz jar Classico Four Cheese Alfredo sauce
3/4 cup whole milk
4  oz neufchatel low fat cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded three cheese Italian blend



1. Add the salt and olive oil to 1 gallon of water in a pot and turn on high heat to bring to a boil.  When the water starts to boil add the pasta, stir to prevent sticking, then cover and set the timer for 8 minutes to cook to a nice al dente texture.

2. While water is heating to a boil, in a separate saucepan add the jar of Alfredo sauce, milk, and cheeses.  Turn the heat to medium low.  Break up the neufchatel cheese with a spoon as you stir constantly to prevent the milk or cheese from burning.  Continue to stir and heat until you see the first wisps of steam and the cheeses are all melted into the sauce.  Turn off the heat and cover.

3. Drain the pasta into a colander when done, quickly transfer to a bowl, then add the sauce to the pasta, stirring to coat completely.

4. Add fresh ground pepper to taste.

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