6-17-16 / Selma’s Barbeque / Pittsburgh, PA

Last Friday, I had the pleasure of joining a friend for some BBQ out in Moon Township at Selma’s Texas Barbeque. A quaint, locally-owned and operated joint, I far prefer their approach to slow smoking their Cue with minimal fuss and allowing the customer to flavor the meat with as much sauce as you may wish to add. I was hoping to get the ribs and half chicken, but unfortunately on the day we visited, they were out of half chickens. I opted for the smoked turkey and was very impressed with the entire meal.

The sauces are of an impressive variety (but still not as deep in flavor or well-composed as my favorite in the city Yinzburgh BBQ). I don’t usually enjoy the tart bite of a Carolina Mustard Style, but their take on it is very mild, with nice sour citrus notes and a creamy garlic finish that really complimented the poultry quite nicely. The Hot and Original Memphis styles were unfortunately almost identical, but even that wasn’t that great of a negative, with the nice peppery body and smooth caramel finish. I wish the hot had had a lot more kick. When you advertise a bbq sauce as hot, I feel like it should be challenging. That being said, they were my favorite of the bunch for the ribs. The Texas Cowboy Style was even more peppery with less molasses and more of a vinegar finish. The Texas style was more like a hot pepper sauce than a bbq sauce, but still went nicely to liven up some of the turkey. The Carolina Pig Pickin sauce was equally as impressive as the Carolina Mustard Style, shying away from the easy route of too much vinegar and not enough spices, but again it was mild and balanced enough to nicely round out the high end notes of ground pepper and sweet pickled peppers. The Kansas City Style was the most accessible, mild across the board, with a thick sweet finish that reminded me of a less spicy KC Masterpiece. A great starting point for bbq traditionalists.

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For my meal, I went with the 1/3rd rack (4 generous bones) and smokey turkey breast combo with hush puppies and baked beans. The ribs were lovely in their slow smoke, with the meat separating cleanly from the bones without falling off or being too mushy. The soft give of the meat, with the deep smoke from their hickory wood, provided a really nice base for all of the sauces to play with and enhance. I was equally impressed at the give of the bones, showing how deep the smoke had penetrated that the end-cap just melted away and rich fattiness permeated each bite. The quality continued with the turkey. Where a lesser restaurant would serve dry, over-smoked turkey with the expectation of utilizing the sauces to put that juiciness back in their bird, Selma’s served an outstanding stand-alone turkey. Delicious chunks of tender and flavorful white breast meat, cubed before serving, showing that they know how to prepare and cultivate quality proteins, without using their sauces as a crutch, as many lesser BBQ places tend to do.

The baked beans, again, were elevated beyond the standard pot of beans that sits and cooks all day. The smoky sauce, packed with pieces of bacon, worked with the still toothsome and full-bodied beans, in that familiar sweet peppery sauce that goes spectacularly well with ribs. The hush puppies, a nostalgic childhood favorite, were cooked perfectly, with the deep brown crunchy outside around the soft, smooth cornmeal sweetness of the tender insides. Ironically, they actually made enjoying the corn bread more difficult, as they were more delicious and texturally complex than the one-note, sweet and soft cornbread on the side. Honestly, that was the only down note of the entire meal, which was overall an outstanding example of small, local bbq done right.

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