Barbecue and Doughnuts Are Better Together

Barbecue and Doughnuts Are Better Together

Sweet and savoury is a combination we at Skillet like to mess with. I like to think there are no pairings amongst the five flavours–sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami–that are truly off-limits. No, sprinkling salt on cookies isn’t enough for us (no shade on salt). We enjoy Maple syrup-soaked bacon, egg and cheeses, and drizzling honey on unsuspecting savoury foods. Today we’ll add another sweet and savoury power couple to the list: Eat your barbecue with a side of doughnuts.

Doughnuts are an excellent sandwich bread. It’s a yeast-raised carb made with a simple enriched dough. Objectively, a brioche hamburger bun is only one shiny coating of icing away from being a doughnut. Granted, that icing makes all the difference, in a good way. Smokey, salty, fatty barbecue is also bridging that sweet-savoury gap on its own terms. Barbecue sauce has a sweet-side, dry rubs almost always involve at least one type of sugar, and even the smoke of wood chips have a sweetness to their aroma. Sweet meat goes with sweet bread, no bones about it.

I’m not suggesting you grab a dozen Boston creams as your barbecue side doughnut, or anything with a lot of accompanying flavours, sprinkles, or creamy accessories. Stick to a plain glazed, cruller, doughnut stick, and the like. They don’t even have to be good doughnuts. Barbecued meats have main character energy, so if your brisket, pulled pork, or burnt ends are good quality, it will benefit from the doughnut’s flavours and also have the strange effect of actually lifting up the quality of the doughnut.

I had a subpar Krispy Kreme doughnut, and excellent tangy, sweet, savoury barbecue from Mighty Quinn’s. I originally thought the combination would be best in sandwich form, so I cut the doughnut in half, as the picture shows. It was incredible as a sandwich. I had a bite of the doughnut alone, and it was disappointing. With the meat, it was a true delight. The doughnut was airy and soaked up the sauce, and was delicate, but held together. Its soft and the sugary glaze is the first to meet my tongue followed quickly by bold barbecue flavours. I could even detect the fried flavour of the doughnut, and its yeastiness paired well with meat too.

Next time, I probably won’t eat it as a sandwich. This might be a “me thing,” but I often prefer ripping off a piece of bread and piling filling on top of that, like it’s a little raft with a one-way ticket to my belly. I get more meat in each bite that way, so I’d probably enjoy barbecue with a side of doughnuts more than a barbecue doughnut sandwich.

The only downside I can predict is if you’re eating an overly saucy barbecue, or you like to douse your meat in a Carolina vinegar-based sauce. A doughnut will try its darndest, but I doubt it would hold up to the liquid. Unless perhaps you try a cake style doughnut. The way I see it, those are fair game, and worth a try. I haven’t tried the following alternate flavours myself, but I would support your efforts. If you’re up for a bit of adventure, I’d hazard a guess that an apple fritter, sour cream doughnut, or maple glazed with a pile of sweet and tangy barbecue might be the food-find of the year.

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