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Big Apple Barbecue to Fill Madison Square Park with Meat

By Mary Johnson | June 6, 2012 8:33am
Barbecue will be the center of attention this weekend in Madison Square Park for the 10th annual Big Apple BBQ.
Barbecue will be the center of attention this weekend in Madison Square Park for the 10th annual Big Apple BBQ.
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MANHATTAN — Meat lovers of New York, rejoice.

The 10th annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party will fill the streets in and around Madison Square Park this weekend with smoked, pulled and saucy selections from some of the country's top pitmasters.

The list of participating barbecue cooks includes four from New York: Blue Smoke in Murray Hill, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Harlem, Rack & Soul on the Upper West Side and Hill Country in the Flatiron District.

The event, hosted by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, is free, but the carnivore-friendly fare costs $8 per plate. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Madison Square Park Conservancy, which helps maintain the park.

The available meat will run the protein gamut from pulled pork shoulders and smoked sausages to baby back ribs and whole hogs. 

Seth Gurka, general manager at Hill Country on West 26th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue, said the restaurant would be bringing its A-game for the big barbecue.

“Our signature item is our brisket, so we always bring out our best for an event like this,” he said.

Hill Country’s brisket is smoked for 16 hours before hitting the plate, so cooking will likely begin Thursday night, both in the restaurant and inside its mobile smoker, which will be set up near Madison Square Park, Gurka explained.

To complement the main course, the restaurant will serve up a salad of cucumbers, shallots and apple cider vinegar.

The barbecue fest has become a hotly anticipated event, with tens of thousands of meat lovers flocking to Madison Square Park each June to partake in the food and music.

Throughout the course of the event, six different acts will perform in the park, including Southern Culture on the Skids, The Revelations featuring Tre Williams, and Alejandro Escovedo and The Sensitive Boys.

In the past, the festival has encountered backlash from the surrounding community, some of whom have said they dread the smoke-filled air stinking up their apartments, as well as the noise and the garbage.

Last year, members of Community Board 5 passed a resolution recommending that the festival find another part of town to call home, citing concerns about damage to the park.

This year, board members again heavily weighed the festival’s impact on the neighborhood and requested that the configuration of outdoor smokers be changed to accommodate neighbors innundated with smoke.

But the festival was ultimately approved, and attendance could hit a record high this weekend, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s and 80s predicted for both Saturday and Sunday.

The Big Apple Barbecue will take place both Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the area around Madison Square Park.