Greg Moody wants you to eat better barbecue.
First, the 57-year-old applies a simple rub — little more than paprika, onion powder, salt, and pepper — and lets the brisket rest for a day or two. Then it's into his hulking stainless-steel offset smoker for nearly a dozen hours. What follows is a laborious process that involves another lengthy stretch in the smoker, separating the brisket's natural juices, and then a final, finishing smoke in those concentrated juices Moody calls "black gold."
The result is well worth the wait, and cars often line up at his Smokey Trails BBQ truck in a parking lot on the corner of NW 103rd Street and Seventh Avenue (10400 NW Seventh Ave., Miami). The brisket ($8 for a sandwich, $12 for a meal, and $16 per pound) has a thin, salty-sweet bark that gives way to tender, supple meat that easily pulls apart. The best slices come from the brisket's fat-rippled deckle. Yet that's not all Moody does well. Half chickens ($7) come out of his smoker with crisp skin that turns a vibrant rust color after a few hours resting in oak smoke. Even the bird's breast is supremely juicy, which you can see as a geyser erupts from it as it's chopped.
Moody was born in California and at the age of 6 moved to Moss Point, Mississippi, nearing the end of segregation. That's where, at his mother's side, his formative kitchen training began. "She used to take me to the rich white people's houses where she used to cook and clean, and I'd do prep," he remembers. It was here that he learned how to make the collard greens, field peas, squash, sweet potatoes, and smoked potato salad that today can accompany your brisket or ribs. More important, it's where he learned to take his time while cooking, a quality required by the best barbecue.
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"If we didn't do it right, she'd come at us with that wooden spoon," Moody laughs.
The years that followed were spent bouncing around the country, including a stint on the military base at Fort Lewis near Tacoma, Washington, with a stepfather who was an Army cook. His mentality is also etched into Moody's cooking: "It takes time and effort to do things correctly." After graduating from high school, he went to Washington State University to play football, and after a failed attempt to go pro, he settled into a life working for shipping and freight-forwarding companies while perfecting his barbecue on the side. It was shipping that took him to Florida in 2008 for a job at a startup that would fail, causing him to lose his house and almost everything he owned. "That's when I figured I'd give this a try," Moody says.
And when you tear into one of his ribs ($10 sandwich, $11 meal, $15 half-slab, $25 whole slab) that have spent two days in a rub of onion, paprika, and celery-seed before sitting six or seven hours in a smoker, you might argue that smoking meat is what he was meant to do.