The ;isket S;e;ks
The chef liste;s, the custo;ers li;e u;.
MIGHTY QUINN CLIFTON
“I cook a lot on feel,” says pitmaster and
co-owner Hugh Mangum. “It sounds
ridiculous, but the brisket has to tell you when it’s
ready to be touched, when it’s ready to be pulled.
After you do this for awhile, you develop a relation-
ship with the meat.”
Jerseyans are developing a relationship with
Mighty Quinn, which has four New York City loca-
tions and opened its first here, in Clifton, in 2014.
The restaurant, with its long wooden tables ( 130
seats), reclaimed wood and white tile walls, sug-
gests a butcher shop and also an old-time food hall,
but with a hard-rock soundtrack.
“ When I cook, the dream I’m chas-
ing is the taste of the food I ate with
my father when I was a kid,” Mangum
says. “I think it’s that way for everybody.”
“he left me a little
bit of money, and I wanted to
honor my relationship with him,”
says the son. “That’s what sent me
on this path.”
Mangum does not sauce
his brisket “because they don’t
sauce it in Texas. And the only
items we sauce on the top are
pulled pork and a thin glaze on
spareribs.” The result is soft
meat with crisp skin, because
sauce doesn’t touch it until it’s
Sauce is on the table in
growlers. Mighty Quinn o;ers just one kind. It’s
basically Texas-style (molasses, ketchup, brown
sugar, garlic and other spices) nipped up Carolina
style with a touch of apple-cider vinegar.
“Sauce enhances the flavor, but it’s not the first
thing you taste,” Mangum says. “You want the meat
to be the first thing you taste.”
In taste, you can’t entirely separate the meat
from the smoke. “I cook on olfactory senses and
remembrances,” he says. He and his father cooked
on pecan wood, all but unavailable here. So he uses
90 percent oak, 10 percent fruitwoods.
“Oak is an amazing heat source,” he says. “It
burns down the cleanest, and it’s the longest burning. It produces the best smoke, the best embers.
And meat should be kissed, not hugged by smoke.
I’m a firm believer in that.” Cherry might be his
favorite fruitwood, but he says the flavor is too
strong to use for the full 18 to 24 hours the briskets
smoke. “It’s great for pork,” he says, adding, “It’s a
Mangum stands by a
load of the oak logs
that he mixes with
a bit of fruitwood
to smoke his meats.
Below, an assortment
of riches: Clockwise
from top: smoked
pickles, beet salad,
coleslaw. Inset: baked
(continued on page 216)