Harold Jackson, Owner of The Smokehouse
Harold Jackson explains the importance of types of wood when smoking meat.
Real barbecue isn’t cooked on a gas grill it is smoked. Here in the dunes we have our own slice of southern heaven in The Smokehouse. You’ll find it on Sherman on the south side of the road (fitting, that) before you crest the big dune to the beaches. Harold Jackson, owner and master smoker, followed his passion for authentic southern smoked barbecue after retiring from a career in corrections. His dream became our delicious reality when he opened three summers ago.
There are many components to smoked barbecue, everything from the cut and selection of meat, to brine or not, the dry rub ingredients, the heat source, the wood used and more. There are many variables to ‘the perfect’ smoked barbecue. In short, it is an art form and Harold is a master artist. It is agonizing to pass his place on Monday and smell that intoxicating scent knowing that you can’t have rib tips or brisket until it is ready on Tuesday. Real barbecue takes time.
Harold designed and set up his smoker to his specifications. Envy is the word to describe what I felt when I saw his specialized compartment for drying the next day’s wood. If you aren’t from the Upper Mid-West you must forgive my fascination, the winters are long and the getting, keeping, curing, storing and burning of our wood is as vital as a well stocked larder.
By the nature of smoking the choice of wood is key to flavor. Harold uses Live Oak, Pecan and Hickory from Texas and when he can’t get to Texas he has Live Oak and Pecan shipped from Florida. He also uses apple and cherry wood from West Michigan’s orchards. This day he was smoking with local Sugar Maple, Red Oak and White Oak.
checking the brisket
This is Southern Barbecue with authentic Southern Sides. Everything offered, from baked beans and slaw to their green beans, has a southern accent we rarely see this far north. I stop in just for their Rum Soaked Bread Pudding. Below is a close up of Corn Pudding. I had never had it before yesterday. How did I live this long without it? Alas, they, like many businesses close to the beach, are seasonal.
Harold is just one of the interesting locals who moved here to follow their passion. Unfortunately it is the end of the season and he is closing down today. The Smokehouse will be sorely missed until next May when the beach traffic returns and Harold re-opens. See you then!