How a Jewish Pitmaster Makes Kosher Barbecue at Izzy’s Smokehouse

Izzy’s Smokehouse in Brooklyn, New York is one of the few barbecue joints around that specializes in kosher meats. “New York should be the barbecue of whatever you want to do. We’re not tied in or grandfathered into a specific region of barbecue,” says chef and owner Sruli “Izzy” Eidelman. “We’re free to do whatever we want.”

Being a kosher barbecue restaurant means all of the brisket, lamb, pastrami, and even fried chicken dishes satisfy the requirements of Jewish law. Each piece of meat the smokehouse receives is certified kosher; there’s also a Mashgiach who supervises kosher compliance at all times, on staff. Eidelman also has the head Rabbi of the Jewish certification company OK Kosher come by several times a week to check that everything is up to the correct standards.

“Being that we can’t use pork because pork isn’t kosher, it forces us to use brisket in innovative ways in other dishes,” says Eidelman. Barbecue dishes that traditionally use pork are replaced with beef, like in pulled beef tacos, pulled beef sandwiches, sliced or chopped brisket, pastrami, and pulled beef fries. “We’re getting a bunch of dishes from the same cut of meat.”

Izzy’s is also known for its smoked lamb ribs, dino ribs, and one of its most popular dishes, a kosher smoked and fried chicken sandwich. The chicken is rubbed with spices before being coated in coconut milk (instead of buttermilk or any other non-kosher dairy products), battered in flour, fried, and topped with horseradish mayo and hot sauce before it gets sandwiched between two soft buns.

“We happen to be kosher barbecue,” says Eidelman. “But we have plenty of people who come in who aren’t kosher and say, ‘this is one of the best barbecues I’ve ever had.’”

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