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Infusing passion and food

Damon Ross develops barbecue recipes alongside his wife, Lee Anne. Photo Courtesy/Damon Ross
Follow your dreams may well be the mantra of one very contented cook, Damon Ross, who smoked succulent meats for his food truck/mobile kitchen, Reata BBQ

“We always used mesquite with beef brisket, for example,” he said. “We used lighter woods like pecan and cherry and sometimes oak for a flavor blend. Smoke infuses flavor.”

As a Texan, Ross learned that grill masters there depended on woods, not sauces or marinades, for the finished flavor.

Besides his dad, Ross also had a mentor, a family friend named Obie Wilson, who was a nine-time ribs champion. “When he started out,” said Ross of Wilson, “he used a Weber backyard smoker. That’s where I learned how to cook and to regulate heat temperature,” adding that with pork, lower heat helps the meat to absorb more flavors.

Now that he has given up office work for a cooking life – he spent some months selling barbecue sandwiches from the back of a van – Ross and his wife spend their off hours testing out recipes and refining flavors. As a result, they have drawn up a menu that includes brisket sandwiches and platters, pulled pork, smoked chicken, amazing smoky ribs and sides of potato salad, coleslaw, mac ‘n’ cheese and cowboy beans. “We are constantly experimenting,” he said.

The Rosses were fortunate enough to find space at the Brossman’s Family Produce Stand, where their mobile kitchen is stationed right by the front entrance. As the season proceeds, said Ross, the Brossman family will be selling fresh produce right alongside of his barbecue, a double treat for shoppers on the lookout for a big bang for the buck. As he concludes, “I really love doing this,” he said, adding that he gets a real kick out of talking to people who stop by.

Reata BBQ, Real Texas BBQ, 14740 James Monroe Hwy., Lucketts. 703-269-8229. Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 3 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.


Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

Damon Ross calls this a “wonderful recipe that will work with any white fish.” He serves it with jasmine rice and black beans.

Serves 4 to 6

½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
¼ cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1.4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/ 8 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
2 pounds tilapia fillets

Preheat the broiler. Grease or line a broiling pan with foil.
In a small bowl, mix together the cheese, butter, mayonnaise, and lemon juice. Stir in the basil, black pepper, onion powder, and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.

Place the fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil for 2 to 3 minutes on one side, turn the fillets over, and broil for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the oven, and spread the mayonnaise mixture on top. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is brown and the fish flakes easily with a fork. Do not overcook the fish.


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