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B.T.’s Smokehouse and Civic Kitchen & Drink Execute an Evening of Excellent BBQ

When Chef Rick Araujo asked how many people were visiting Civic Kitchen & Drink in Westborough for the first time, more than half of the hands in the room went up. Most of the newcomers had come on account of Civic’s collaboration with B.T.’s Smokehouse, the barbeque sanctuary in Sturbridge that has amassed a cultish following and national recognition for its brisket – something Director of Operations William Nemeroff will tell you is hard to come by in New England.

This event embodied pairing in every essence of the term. Not only did Araujo and Nemeroff loop themselves into a captivating dichotomy, Wormtown Brewery likewise found itself along for the thrilling ride. Brand Ambassador Kyle Sherwood was on hand for the evening, easing guests into an easy drinking Helles Lager, which he refers to as a ‘brewer’s beer’ in his acknowledgment that there’s very little to hide behind in the style’s margin of error.

Nemeroff and Araujo talked smoke all night, though it’s safe to say they never blew any our way. The first course arrived on hand crafted plates, featuring cold smoked Faroe Island salmon. The Faroe Islands are a small, remote island group noted for boutique production of Atlantic Salmon and a commitment to fish welfare and sustainability. In Nemeroff’s care, the salmon had undergone a two day cure of 50% sea salt and 50% sugar before cold smoking over hickory and applewood, procured locally in Sturbridge. The fish maintained its supple oily texture, pairing nicely with homemade creme fraiche to balance its richness. The plate was finished with sphericated dill pearls made from white wine, lemon, and fresh dill. A pour of Wormtown Irish Red Ale boasted a light and toasty malt to accompany crisp wedges of fresh rye bread.

The second course proved our highlight of the evening, pairing a double smoked pork jowl and cheddar grits with Wormtown African Queen Be Hoppy IPA. The prized jowl had been brined for 8 days, smoked once, cooled for 24 hours, and smoked again. Little plum rumtopfs accompanied the jowl, preserved with a traditional German technique. Each Vermont plum had been carefully packed into a mason jar and sealed with sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, and a healthy cap of rum, last August. Interestingly enough, the grits hailed from Four Star Farms which regularly provides Wormtown with a plethora of hops for brewing. On the beer pairing, Sherwood said, “Just like grapes, when you grow a hop, you get unique flavors. This hop from South Africa called African Queen has a really unique earthy, honey, tea flavor to it.” Wormtown opted to pair the unique hops with local honey to accent the African Queen along with the beautifully executed citrus notes in their Be Hoppy. “One of our brew staff, Chris keeps bees for local honey. With increased production, we obtained additional honey from Boston Honey Company to secure enough local honey to brew this beer on a large scale,” Sherwood explained.

B.T.’s 26 hour smoked beef brisket paired with Wormtown Buddha Juice X2IPA

The third course was as tantalizing as one might expect. B.T.’s 26 hour smoked beef brisket is cause for commotion. If you don’t believe me, stop by B.T.’s and wait in what I deem the most worthwhile line in Massachusetts. B.T.’s sold 120,000 pounds of hand-selected, hand rubbed beef brisket last year.

It was dessert that presented the biggest surprise, namely to the chefs. As they told it, when it came time for the final course, both apron-clad men looked at one another to inquire about the whereabouts of the banana pudding. Realizing they had both come up empty handed, the duo embraced collaboration in every sense, whipping up a delicious treat from scratch in the eleventh hour. Sherwood paired the pudding with Spies Like Us Imperial Stout, which he calls a “larger beer,” referring to its lofty alcohol content. Sorachi Ace hops provide a pepper note on the back end of the beer, tempering its sweetness along with that of the dessert.

By the end of the night, Araujo and Nemeroff felt certain that their respective crowds had been turned on to something new. Guests left with equal confidence in their knowledge that something truly original had transpired over the course of the evening. Partnerships like that don’t happen every day.

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The Civic and B.T.’s Team Up for an Evening of Award Winning BBQ

No restrictions; Introducing a new dinner series, Chef's Best: The Nemeroff Experience. Kicking it off at Old Sturbridge Village with Chef William Nemeroff. Limited number of tickets still available.

Chef Rick Araujo of Civic Kitchen & Drink knew who to tap for an evening dedicated to “award winning barbeque.”

B.T.’s Smokehouse has cultivated a rich barbeque culture in New England for over a decade. Fueled by quality natural meats, a coveted dry rub, and a whole lot of patience, B.T.’s Smokehouse slow smokes its bounty over local apple and hickory – sometimes for days on end. This illustrious eatery may have found its start in a roadside trailer, but today, B.T.’s Smokehouse in Sturbridge is consistently recognized among the top barbeque joints in New England.

Chef William Nemeroff is the Director of Operations at B.T.’s Smokehouse. Nemeroff is an “award winner” himself having secured the title of Champion at Worcester Best Chef’s Iron Chef Competition in both 2016 and 2017. On Wednesday, March 21st, he teams up with Araujo to bring his barbeque prowess to Westborough.

“We are all about local product and the community, so we love taking this opportunity to showcase our local heroes in the culinary landscape,” shares Araujo. “Bill is respected throughout the region for his fantastic BBQ dishes, and we can’t wait to welcome him to our kitchen on March 21. We’re going to be cooking up some amazing BBQ – I can’t wait to learn some of his secrets!”

The evening will kick off at 6 p.m. with B.T.’s 3 year aged prosciutto as well as sausages and accoutrements by The Civic. Wormtown pairings will accompany each of the five courses. Other featured dishes are set to include a smoked Faroe Island salad, double smoked pork jowl with Four Star Farms cheddar grits, and a 26 hour smoked beef brisket. Save room for dessert; Araujo and Nemeroff are sending guests off with a pudding of bourbon roasted banana puree and smoked nuts.

This is the first in a series of guest collaboration dinners at The Civic. It promises to be no ordinary dinner party. Limited tickets remain on The Civic’s website for $59 per person.