Marks Smokes Up Top Kosher “Q”
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Marks Smokes Up Top Kosher “Q”

A pit master heading “Keith’s Corner BBQ,” Keith Marks has mastered techniques to create awesome barbecue, using a wide variety of smokers/pits and grills.

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

  • Pit master Keith Marks poses with his trailer.
    Pit master Keith Marks poses with his trailer.
  • Keith’s Corner BBQ's smoked brisket.
    Keith’s Corner BBQ's smoked brisket.
  • Pit Masters David Schakett and Keith Marks.
    Pit Masters David Schakett and Keith Marks.
  • Whole Smoked Turkey
    Whole Smoked Turkey
  • Grilled steak and asparagus with a balsamic glaze from Keith's Corner BBQ.
    Grilled steak and asparagus with a balsamic glaze from Keith's Corner BBQ.
  • Pit Master Keith Marks won Mensch of the Meat Award at the Kosher BBQ Festival.
    Pit Master Keith Marks won Mensch of the Meat Award at the Kosher BBQ Festival.
  • Smoked Beef Salami
    Smoked Beef Salami
  • BBQ Beef Sandwich
    BBQ Beef Sandwich
  • Keith's BBQ beef ribs are served with parve mac-n-cheese.
    Keith's BBQ beef ribs are served with parve mac-n-cheese.

Keith Marks grew up around his father’s Burger King and Applebee’s franchises. “We were always gathered around the kitchen and helping with the BBQ grill,” said Marks, now a husband and father of four and kosher barbecue owner.

A pit master heading “Keith’s Corner BBQ,” Marks has mastered techniques to create awesome barbecue, using a wide variety of smokers/pits and grills to create fantastic kosher “Q.” He was instrumental in starting the Atlanta Kosher BBQ Festival, now in its sixth year, where he won “2018 Mensch of Meat Award.”

“I have participated in classes taught by professional BBQ competition teams around the country learning about the perfect cuts of meat, trimming, making rub/seasonings, and how to smoke large cuts of meat,”Marks said.

Learn how to make a perfect brisket and why Marks says, “If you are looking, you’re not cooking!”

Keith’s Corner BBQ’s kosher smoked brisket.

Jaffe: What did you learn at Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts?

Marks: During my four years in Rhode Island, I got hands-on experience by working at the university’s kitchens, restaurants and hotels. I graduated in 1992 with a B.S. in Hotel/Restaurant Institutional Management.

Jaffe: What role does David Schakett play?

Marks: We met several years ago during a BBQ competition. David attended the New Orleans School of Cooking and Myron Mixon BBQ cooking school. He is a dual certified BBQ judge and a multi-award BBQ pitmaster. In 2015 we combined our knowledge and passion.

Jaffe: Describe your food “truck.”

Marks: It’s a full-sized, custom-fabricated trailer with an under-the-counter refrigerator, dry storage cabinets, counters for work space, a vending window, three sinks for washing, and a separate hand washing sink meeting Georgia health department requirements. It has all the necessary electrical outlets and a generator that runs on propane.

The smoking occurs on the back porch. The brand is “Stumps,” a self-gravity feed smoker which weighs about 1,200 pounds. We can smoke several hundred pounds of meat at once.

Grilled steak and asparagus with a balsamic glaze from Keith’s Corner BBQ.

Jaffe: What is involved in glatt kosher certification?

Marks: In the third year working with Rabbi [Reuven] Stein and the Atlanta Kashruth Commission as a kosher meat caterer, I MUST have an AKC approved certified mashgiach on hand to supervise all food handling. I am as passionate about what I prepare for the community as my guests are passionate about eating and keeping kosher.

Jaffe: Do you have non-Jewish clientele who just like “good BBQ”?

Marks: I have never had a guest tell me this BBQ wasn’t good because of kosher meats. When we use the freshest ingredients, the highest quality, and pay attention to detail, it’s a great product.

Jaffe: What types of events do you cater?

Marks: We accommodate any style private party or corporate event from 25 to 300-plus. We have catered bar/bat mitzvot, Shabbos dinners, graduations, school teacher appreciation days, birthdays, anniversaries, tailgating for the big games, Kosher day at SunTrust Park, Kosher Day food trucks at Brook Run Park, Blue Jean Shabbat and BBQ, and steak dinners for pre-Pesach.

Each event is unique. Last year we catered the Purim seudah at Congregation Ariel with BBQ Beef and BBQ chicken hamantashen … a great success!

Jaffe: How long does it take to prepare a brisket?

Marks: I use the low and slow method. Brisket is the most challenging to cook consistently. It takes time and patience. I smoke meats at 225 degrees. The smoke can only penetrate into the meat for the first two to three hours. A whole brisket can weigh from 10 to 16 pounds. The largest whole brisket that I have held was nearly 25 pounds. Large cuts of meat come with significant amounts of collagen, which turns into liquid and provides intense flavor. The hardest part of the smoking process is not to open the smoker, which would release heat, flavor and add extra cooking time.

Keep the smoker closed. You could buy a high temperature meat thermometer with a digital screen that sits outside of your smoker. When the brisket gets to an internal temperature of 163-ish, wrap it in foil/butcher paper to maintain moisture and help cook faster.

When it gets to an internal temperature of 203, remove it. The longer you allow it to rest in its own juices, the better. Let briskets rest in foil/butcher paper (vented) for as many hours as possible before serving.

Pit Masters David Schakett and Keith Marks.

Jaffe: What’s the recipe secret to your homemade BBQ sauce?

Marks: There are several sauce types: traditional BBQ, Carolina-inspired sauces and Kansas City sauces. My personal choice is influenced by Kansas City, which is thick, sweet and tangy. It is important to taste the different layers of flavor in everything I cook.  My secret recipe gets adjusted to the flavor of the protein!

Jaffe: What hints would you give home grilling folks?

Marks: The most important part about grilling at home is to enjoy the grilling process. Involve others, get creative, make it a family affair, and most importantly, don’t get burned!

Some of Keith’s best dishes:

Beef Ribs – seasoned beef ribs smoked slow over fruit woods for a soft smoky flavor.

Pulled Beef – slow-smoked tender, hand-pulled beef topped with a sweet tangy barbecue sauce.

Brisket – seasoned beef brisket smoked slow for up to 18 hours over apple wood.

Chicken – smoked, apple wood-flavored chicken finished with a peach-glazed barbecue sauce.

Salmon – cooked by the heat of a smoky fire, this delicate piece of meat is seasoned with fresh spices, pink Himalayan salt and garlic.

For vegetarians:

Cowboy Caviar – cold black-eyed pea, fresh tri-color peppers, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, chili seasonings, vinegar, salt, pepper and lime juice.

Mac-n-Cheese (pareve) – Penne pasta tossed with a creamy blend of mozzarella and cheddar cheese.

Grilled Vegetables – seasonal vegetables perfectly seasoned and kissed with smoke from fruit wood over an open flame.

Roasted Potatoes – hand-cut seasoned potatoes grilled and then roasted over apple wood.

Apple Vinegar Coleslaw – fresh green cabbage marinated in apple vinegar, honey, Himalayan salt, cracked pepper and lime.

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