Rolling Smoke Bar-B-Que celebrated its pre-opening at the Stanley Marketplace with a New Orleans-style crawfish boil, a new monthly event. “New Orleans has my favorite foods,” said Terry Walsh, co-owner of Rolling Smoke. “We fed more than 300 people on 500 pounds of crawfish that we flew in from Louisiana overnight.”
The Oh Hey Crawfish Boil was a preview of the down-home Southern cooking to be served at Rolling Smoke when it opens in early April. Rolling Smoke will be a 382-square-foot space in the middle of the Stanley, between Miette et Chocolat confections and The Juniper Pig butcher shop.
Walsh and his partner, Wade Williams, had planned to open their takeout kitchen at the Stanley earlier this year, but a minor change in the construction plan caused a month-long delay. “There was no work on our space for 26 days in February and March because we needed to move a hand sink and submit the change to the city for approval. It will be great when it’s done, but what a hassle,” Walsh said.
Walsh grew up in Tulsa, Okla., where he learned to cook “Southern-type soul food,” influenced by Memphis and Kansas City barbeque. The restaurant will serve ribs, brisket, sausage and pulled pork, as well as homemade macaroni and cheese, collard greens and baked beans. Walsh said his specialties include burnt ends and bacon candy. “Burnt ends are pieces cut from the point end of the brisket, called the ‘fat cap.’ You melt the fat into the meat and it’s tender like pot roast. Bacon candy is thick-sliced bacon rolled in sugar and spices, and smoked until it caramelizes.”
Walsh started Rolling Smoke in 2014, with two food trucks in Denver. The Stanley is his first brick-and-mortar location. “We’ll go from a 60-square-foot kitchen in the trucks, to a 382-foot kitchen. We’ll have room to expand the menu and get creative.
“We’ll try pastrami beef ribs, tri tip beef and smoked prime rib. We’ll do fried chicken twice a month and fried catfish on Fridays during Lent. We’ll make about 30 side dishes, including Cajun dishes like red beans and rice, sweet potato casserole and smoked cheesy grits. We’ll offer a couple of them each day so it’s always different.”
Walsh said the secret to good barbeque is “low and slow.” “Everything we do takes a long time. It’s 225 degrees for as long as it takes. Our brisket smokes for 20 hours and our pulled pork smokes for 10 to 12 hours. The secret to good collard greens is to simmer them overnight with smoked ham hocks.”
Walsh moved to Denver in 2002 and worked in finance for Lehman Brothers. He lost his job when the economy collapsed, so “I decided to do my own thing,” he said. “It sure beats sitting in a cubicle. I have no regrets. I never look back.”
Reach Rolling Smoke at rollingsmokebbq.co or on Facebook.