Editor’s note: Ryan Swartling has been a chef, caterer, and food product developer in Seattle for 14 years. He has tremendous passion for Italian, Louisianan, Caribbean, and barbecue cuisines, and loves to share them with those around him. He spent weeks developing the original recipes in this story for Leafly. Cannabis and barbecue have both been part of American culture for centuries. Each has navigated a unique history to arrive at the roles they now play in modern life. Although each has had a different evolution in our culture, their social roles are not so distant. Both have been used for generations as a means of bringing people together, friends and strangers alike. Marrying cannabis and barbecue into one form seems a natural next step.
After years of cooking and catering for large events, barbecue is at the top of my list for a cost-effective crowd pleaser. The cuts of meat are large and inexpensive, the accompaniments are simple, and the aroma is irresistibly enticing to guests. Generations of families have developed and tweaked recipes and techniques for barbecue mastery, and in many places, barbecue strategy is as hotly debated as professional sports. Barbecue enthusiasts typically have a personal history or connection with barbecue as well. My own barbecue history includes the dishes and flavors I came to love as a student in New Orleans; the Texas and Memphis grilling and smoking traditions; and the local ingredients I grew up with in the Seattle area.
Developing a cannabis BBQ sauce
(Audrey Kelly for Leafly)