Getting to know BBQ at Izzy’s Brooklyn Smokehouse

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We kept hearing about Izzy’s  and knew we needed to experience it for ourselves!  We put it on our agenda for our trip to Brooklyn and called ahead to ask if Izzy’s owner/Pit Boss Sruli would answer a few questions. Sruli was such a mentch, we really appreciate him taking the time to speak with us! We highly recommend you visit Izzy’s !

KM – First of all your food is Spectacular!! Thank you for taking time to speak with us, and to answer some questions about BBQ.

Sruly – Thank you and no problem!

KM – Let’s get right into it. If I was following a non kosher recipe and was substituting kosher meat for non kosher, what kind of modifications would I have to make so I don’t end up ruining my dinner?

Sruli – Definitely I would say to go easier on the salt. Here at Izzy’s, we are a central Texas style based bbq, so heavy salt and black pepper pretty much. If we were following a non kosher recipe for kosher meat, we would be very over salted. That would be my best tip for that.

KM – What do you find to be the best method for smoking chicken, ribs, and brisket?

Sruli – I know this is pretty much overstated, but LOW and SLOW. Don’t cook when you’re angry and don’t cook when you are in a rush. That will not end well. Make sure you have plenty of time to relax and not rush it. That is my best advice for cooking anything.

KM – Many people starting out in BBQ and smoking meats hear about “3-2-1”. Can you explain what that is?

Sruli – 3-2-1 is really more for pork. It can be used for beef ribs as well, but we do more Texas based BBQ. 3-2-1 refers to 3 hours cooking, 2 hours wrapped in foil, and 1 hour where you sauce and you finish it. If I am competing, I would do a form of that, kind of like my own version, like when I’m in Dallas or Kansas City. We wrap our brisket midway through the cook. But we don’t use traditional foil, we use a butcher paper, so this way it doesn’t turn into more like a pot roast. You still have that texture, that bark that you still want to keep. We work so hard to get that bark we want to keep that.

KM – What temp do you smoke at?

Sruli – Many people say 225. But for us it’s more what the fire wants to do. If the fire wants to burn a little hotter that’s okay. It’s about maintaining your fire more than anything. If I had to say a range it would be between 200 and 275.

KM – Does your brisket come out consistently with the fire burning hotter or lower?

Sruli – What makes BBQ places great in general is getting consistent results. One of the hardest parts of smoking is maintaining consistency. Anyone can put out 1 good brisket. But if you can put out 20 30 briskets a day making sure each one is good, you have a good thing going. It is a science, but at the same time it isn’t exact. It’s not like you can put it in the oven at 250 for this long etc. We are cooking with a real fire, there are hot spots, keep in mind back to front. Also, cows are the same either. The briskets themselves cook differently. It’s the job of the pit boss to manage that. Maintain the fire and watch each piece of meat.

KM – How can someone pick a good brisket for smoking?

Sruli – When picking a great brisket for smoking, you want to make sure it has a nice amount of marbling, nice fatty meat will taste better.

KM – What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out with smoking meats?

Sruli – Everyone wants to smoke brisket, that’s the ultimate. But you have to realize that smoking a whole brisket is very difficult, since you have the 2 different cuts of meat. To get two different muscles to cook harmoniously together is very hard to achieve. Some people will start with that and get really turned off. It takes time to learn how to smoke. The first few won’t be great and you end up spending way too much money on meat while starting out. I would tell everyone it’s much easier to start off with chicken, it’s cheaper, easier, and can be delicious. And not as big of a deal if you mess it up. Then graduate to ribs, and then brisket.

KM – What’s the difference between beef baby back ribs and dino ribs?

Sruli – Dino ribs come from the flanken, fatty delicious cut of meat, baby back come from the beef back of the ribs, similar to what in the non kosher world people eat on the bone.

KM – How long does that take to cook?

Sruli – Ribs cook from 8-12 hours.

KM – What time do you have to start?!

Sruli – We start loading the smoker each day around 8 or 9 pm. We have a 24 hour crew here, working all hours of the night. Making good BBQ is not an easy thing to do. If you are not devoted to your craft, it will show in the product. We start our fire on Saturday night and they are going till Thursday night.

KM – Is there a way to get the same genuine smoke flavor at home, if you don’t have a smoker?

Sruli – The short answer is NO. But if you have a grill, you can absolutely get some good flavors from it. The idea is that one side you have your fire, and on the other side you have your meat. And the openings of the grill should be on the side of the meat. That way there is air flow at the bottom and the heat and smoke travel through the meat. But maintaining the fire temp is a little tricky. One trick I use is to have a cold pan of water over the fire, to off put the high heat. Another option on a charcoal grill is called the snake method, where you line up the coals with wood in between. It’s not easy, but you can for sure come out with a decent product. When we started out at competitions we were using a Weber Smokey Mountain which is a $200-$300 smoker. If you can save up that money, some of the best Briskets I ever made were with that smoker.

KM – What kinds of wood would you suggest to smoke with?

Sruli- My favorite wood combo is cherry and oak. That combo really works for me. Some use Pecan, some use Hickory. Everyone has their preference.

KM – Thank you so much for your time and all of this great information!

Sruli – You are very welcome. Come back any time!


This was our meal at Izzy’s from top left : Pulled Beef Tacos, 1/2 lb slice brisket, pickles, slaw, maple pecan sweet potato, dino rib, sweet potato and lastly our trays almost licked clean!

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