The Barbecue Sandwich
It is easy to think of sandwiches as simple food, ready in seconds. Open the fridge, put some cold cuts on bread, and you’re done. But, for a chef as passionate as Brian Ashworth of Ace Biscuit & Barbecue, a great sandwich can take hours or even days to make.
For his Ace Dip, Ashworth transforms an ordinary pork barbecue sandwich into one that some call the best sandwich in town. He starts by smoking whole pork shoulders for 8-10 hours, placing them in a half pan as they smoke, to capture all the drippings, the condensed essences of pork and smoke. When the pork shoulders are done, he removes the bones and makes a stock from the bones, drippings, and aromatics like mirepoix, black peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves. To that he adds roasted garlic, crushed red pepper, house-made hot sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar, brings it all to a boil, and thickens it with a simple roux of flour and butter. He then purees it and, voila, “smoky gravy.”
Meanwhile, Ashworth cooks yellow onions over very low heat for up to eight hours, slowly removing all of their water, and gently caramelizing them. For sandwich assembly, he smears house-made parsley-garlic butter on a bun and griddles it. On that, he piles pulled pork shoulder, caramelized onions, and provolone, and serves it with a cup of the smoky gravy for dipping.
Pork smoked all day. Eight-hour onions. Gravy redolent of smoke and swine. A bun with toasty butter and garlic. One bite of the sandwich dripping in gravy and you’ll never call sandwiches simple again.
The genius of smoked pork in liquid smoked pork dates back even further than Ace Biscuit & Barbecue’s opening in 2012. When Ashworth was a sous chef at Zocalo, he would lie awake at night and dream up ideas for a restaurant of his own, sometimes jumping out of bed to jot them down so he would not forget. Thank goodness for the Ace Dip he didn’t just roll back over.
#11: Ace Dip – Ace Biscuit & Barbecue
The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches