Bye Bye Junior Year: Oven-Barbecue Brisket, Collard Greens, Beans, Gluten-Free Cornbread

Freddie Gibbs and Tupac were bumping in the suite. The kitchen was filthy from three months of tough love. My friend Frankie and I were getting ready for an end of the semester blow-out. We wanted to cook a big piece of meat as a parting gift to our trusty oven. After I suggested brisket, collard greens, beans, and cornbread followed in quick succession. Whatever my lack of technical expertise in the kitchen, I do know how to make barbecue. My credentials: a childhood in St. Louis, plenty of meat and threes and pit roasts in the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. But in the oven? I shall speak no secrets. (No seriously, it’s not that hard to do.)

In the final analysis, it was a very good year. I accused Red Farm and Rouge et Blanc of colonial politics, wrote about two wonderful Caribbean restaurants, Freda’s and Sisters, and decried Epicerie Boulud and Untitled’s sandwich nostalgia. At Poseidon Bakery, I found baklava fit for Homer. At RUB BBQ, the city’s best ribs. I had a chat with Schatzie the Butcher, talked Fuzhou food, and walked to East Harlem for tacos. One Saturday morning, I slurped borscht at Streecha. I looked at Mister Softee thirteen different ways. From a licorice shop in the West Village to Per Se, I enjoyed a thorough education outside of the classroom. I went to Flushing. A lot. In Branson and Nashville, I took the classroom into the restaurant. My academic interests—in New Historicism, postcolonialism, Modernism, and American regional literature—crystallized and inflected my food writing, probably beyond the tolerance of many of my readers. Whether you’re my friend, family, or a stranger, I want to extend a sincere “thank you” (and a recipe or three) for reading. I look forward to another year of criticism.

Oven-Barbecue Brisket

1 brisket
1 cup salt
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp mustard powder
4 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
3 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
3 tbsp paprika
olive oil
liquid smoke

Massage olive oil and liquid smoke into the brisket. Combine all spices in a bowl. Coat the brisket evenly in the rub. Cover and let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook the brisket, covered with foil, at least 9 hours, rotating the pan one quarter turn and flipping the brisket over every hour.

Collard Greens

4 bunches collard greens
2 pork hocks
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp white sugar
1 tbsp black pepper

Wash the collard greens and cut out thick, tough ribs. Put the hocks and seasonings in a large pot. Fill halfway with water. Begin cooking over medium heat while you slowly add the collard greens, pressing down to compress. You may have to wait as some of the greens soften to fit all of them into the pot. Cover and cook over lowest heat for at least 6 hours. Stir every hour. Do not allow to boil.


1 lb bacon ends
1/2 white onion, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup beer
2 cups diced tomatoes
4 cups small kidney beans
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp dried thyme

Heat bacon ends in a medium pot until the fat begins to render. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the sugar and cook for a few minutes, until the sugar complete glazes the bacon and onions. Add the beer and spices. Bring to a boil. Add the tomato product. Bring to a boil. Add the beans and decrease the heat to the lowest possible setting. Stir, cover, and cook for at least 2 hours. Stir every 20 minutes.

Gluten-Free Cornbread

Use the Bob’s Red Mill Mix. It’s pretty tasty.


Filed under College Life, Columbia University, Meta, New York City, Recipes, Restaurants

4 responses to “Bye Bye Junior Year: Oven-Barbecue Brisket, Collard Greens, Beans, Gluten-Free Cornbread

  1. Anonymous

    You are simply amazing, talented, witty and clever.
    Too bad you are not around 60!

  2. Great little piece, but ya’ll definitely needed my photo equipment. That brisket looks like shoe leather in a puddle of gasoline! But I’m sure it was (beyond) delicious. Wish I could have been there. Cheers to a great year!

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