What One Chicago Pitmaster Thinks You Should Be Grilling Right Now
A visit to Logan Square’s Flat & Point for a little BBQ 101
Holy sh*t, it’s been a rough winter. And if last weekend was any indication, one that’s yet to end.
But someday soon, you will head outside, get some fresh air and reacquaint yourself with your grill.
This year, you deserve more than the standard burgers, brats and kebabs, so we enlisted Brian Bruns, co-owner and head chef at Logan Square’s new casual BBQ joint Flat & Point, to walk you through a spring/summer meal that will deem you your neighborhood’s resident pitmaster in one fell swoop.
From a cut of meat you’ve probably never heard of to a secret-weapon slaw recipe, take these tips to the bank.
Our chef — who came up via Tru and Spiaggia — definitely knows his way around a cut of meat, and recommends the underrated picanha. Part of the top sirloin, it’s a fatty cap that basically gives you the fat-to-meat ratio of a brisket without the 16-hour cook time. He really loves brisket (if you didn’t catch it, flat and point are the two end cuts of a brisket).
“First and foremost, you need quality ingredients,” says Bruns. Look to buy from local farmers markets and local meat producers. “If you’re in the city and buying local, you are buying meat from the same places that high-end restaurants are buying from,” he says.
A butcher shop will cut your picanha. Don’t be surprised by the inch-long fat cap.
- At home an hour before you cook, season the meat with salt and pepper
- Get the grill lit, embers low and let the steak come to room temp
- On a cooler part of the grill, put the meat fat side down and render out the fat slowly
- When the rest of your meal is good to go and you’re about ready to eat, pull the picanha off the grill, slice it up and throw back on for a hard char. This “secondary sear” should be about 2 minutes on each side if the grill is hot.
*Bruns’s pro-iest pro tip is to make sure you rest your meat as long as you cook it. If you cook something for 20 minutes, rest it for 20 minutes. Keep it warm by wrapping in plastic or aluminum and tossing it into your igloo cooler — it’s not just for keeping things cold.
This Vinegar Hot Sauce can be poured all over your picanha and squash (spoiler alert) for a simple and delicious addition.
- Take any pepper you like — Bruns prefers serrano peppers — and char them until the skins go black
- Cut the tops off and blend them with apple cider vinegar and a little maple syrup
Roasted summer squash
- Cut a squash in half and sprinkle with salt. Let it sit for a few hours. The salt draws out the water, because you don’t want a soggy squash on the grill.
- Toss in your Vinegar Hot Sauce
- Place straight on the grill
- It’s done when you can pierce it with a fork and it’s soft. The color on the outside should have a nice char on it.
- Serve underneath the sliced picanha
Apple cider vinegar slaw
- Thinly shave or slice your favorite local, seasonal veggies (cabbage, rutabaga, carrots and cucumbers all work)
- Toss with salt, cover with plastic wrap or a reusable silicone cover, and weigh em down with a cast iron pan
- Let that sit for a few hours so that the extra water gets pushed out from the veggies. Removing the excess water will give your slaw a nice crunch. To be sure, squeeze any extra water from veggies and move to a new bowl.
- Mix dijon, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar to your taste. Go sweeter or spicier with these three components, then add celery seeds.
- Toss veggies with dressing and serve
You’re done. Congrats. You just won the 2019 grilling season.
And on the days you don’t feel like manning the briquettes …
Stop in to Flat & Point for the Snake River brisket or Pork and Polenta, served with a house-made slaw consisting of apple butter, butternut squash and pea shoots.
By the way, if your mouth has been watering all this time but you aren’t a meat eater, Bruns has you covered: “I’ve designed each of the dishes to be built so if they want to be vegan or vegetarian it’s a simple adjustment to add roasted beets instead of pulled pork or a roasted butternut squash instead of a sausage.”
Between two vegetarian sisters and his fine-dining experience, he’s learned how to keep things separated in the kitchen. Yes, they can also accommodate gluten-free diets. “We want everyone to feel like they have lots to order from,” he says.
Order at the counter and food is brought to your table, no reservations needed. Bruns places the average check at $25 for a meal and a beer. And meat portions are generous — the wagyu beef brisket is $28 for half a pound.
Whether you’re a fan of wagyu brisket, local food and beer, sustainable food, seasonal food or just a good old family-owned and -operated businesses, you can support it all at Flat & Point.