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39: Big Boy Ranch Plate from Chef Shack Ranch


Here is the thing about BBQ joints -- lots of times, they are run by the kinds of dudes who could double as linebackers. Meats are their strong suit, and many can smoke these meats quite well, indeed. But the attending players -- the slaws, breads, pickles, and beans -- are usually such an afterthought that it's a standard BBQ move to serve, for instance, elbow mac with an unmelted smattering of cheese or a single slice of Wonder bread.

Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer are the gals with the big red food trucks and the famous Indian spiced mini donuts. They are the kind of people who are so quietly humble about what they do you wouldn't really know that they are also classically trained chefs who could probably work anywhere, here or in New York, which they both have done, for many years previous to their continually burgeoning real-food-for-regular-folk empire.

You see, they are proletariat. They want to share their prodigious talents as far and as wide as possible, so, meats and donuts.

See also: 40: House Hot Dog at Kyatchi

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So they're classically trained, yes, but they're also "chick pit masters" as they like to say, and their brisket is probably the best BBQ to be had in the Twin Cities right now. It's tender and smoky, yes, but also maintaining delicate integrity, not overly bombarded with smoke. It's like if that linebacker started doing pirouettes on the field just to show he's capable of more than brawn -- elegant, nuanced, and memorable.

As are the Indian spiced beans, sanctified biscuits that could stand up to the prim judgement of The Great British Baking Show, and a potato salad that doesn't fight with any of it.

And pork! Carlson does a bang up job with a cheffy pulled pork, and the sausages are outsourced to Fischer Family Farms, local fifth-generation pork farmers. The one we tried was infused with a little whiff of maple, like it took a bath in pancake syrup.

House-made pickles and beets are the astringent foil to pierce through all this considerably rich bounty.

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