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Culinary Quickie: New BBQ class smokes up in downtown Las Vegas

Soulbelly BBQ

A lot of us dabble in grilling. We'll throw a slab on the metal grill over hot coals, let it char and then you eat it. But what if you'd like to do more? What if you'd like to make that barbecue sing?

A downtown Las Vegas chef is teaching a new class that's likely to up your meat game.

Soulbelly BBQ Chef Bruce Kalman competed on Top Chef, he's buddies with Backbeat BBQ's Dave Grohl and he's got two smokers named "Big" and "Sexy."

His first class will start at 7 a.m. on March 13. What can you expect after that?

"We're going to teach all the basics, you're gonna learn how to take a brisket from a package to the table and all the steps that happen in between. … Most important thing we're going to teach is how to properly manage a fire, because that is 95% of great barbecue," he told State of Nevada producer Lorraine Blanco Moss.

"The meat just sits there. It just lays there. You know, for the most part, if you don't manage your fire well you don't make great barbecue. … We're going to teach how to trim and smoke ribs. We're going to teach how we brine and smoke … there'll be beer all day, all morning, because it's barbecue thing. … It will also include a little bit of breakfast that we're going to throw together, [and at] the end, there'll be a meal."

In the meantime, he spilled a few secrets with us. For instance, he prefers to use post oak wood, which only grows in central Texas. But it's all about fire management.

"If you're smoking a brisket for 14, 16 hours, you want what's called blue smoke, and that's just the fumes. When you look at the top of it, you can kind of see the heat coming out, but not the actual smoke," Kalman said.

And if you're making brisket at home? He said to have someone else trim it for you. There's a certain amount of fat you want to leave on for smoking, and a butcher will know what to do.

"You want to make sure that all the edges are rounded because square edges when you're smoking meat for a long time, will burn," he said.

The eight-hour class will be held at Soulbelly BBQ on Main Street. Tickets are $300 each.

Guest: Bruce Kalman, chef, Soulbelly BBQ

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Lorraine Blanco Moss is the host of KNPR's award-winning Asian American Pacific Islander podcast, Exit Spring Mountain. She's also a former producer for State of Nevada, specializing in food and hospitality, women's issues, and sports.
Kristen DeSilva (she/her) is the audience engagement specialist for Nevada Public Radio. She curates and creates content for, our weekly newsletter and social media for Nevada Public Radio and Desert Companion.
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