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Palace dishing up new barbecue option

Steve Pardo
The Detroit News

Guests at The Palace of Auburn Hills will have a slam-dunk option of a slow-cooked brisket dish named after the Pistons’ center and available at Maplewood Barbecue.

Lamar Nolden, executive chef for Levy Restaurants at the Palace, worked with Aron Baynes, trying out recipes on the 6-foot-10 center and 2016 Summer Olympian. Baynes, an Australia native, developed a penchant for beef, Texas-style barbecue while playing in San Antonio with the Spurs.

“I fell in love with barbecue during my days in Texas,” Baynes said. “And brisket is king down there.”

The new dish, named the House O’Bayne Brisket, comes with two sides (try the gooey mac and cheese and the collard greens) and will set customers back $12 ($9.60 for season-ticket holders). It will be available at the Maplewood Barbecue, as well as the Palace Grille, starting Friday for the Pistons’ home opener.

Baynes’ favorite proved to be a brisket rubbed with brown sugar and black pepper and cooked at 225 degrees for 18 hours. At a tasting Monday, the brisket was delightful; it was fall-apart tender, heavy with pepper with undertones of the sugar. The mac and cheese features cavatappi noodles. The corkscrew-shaped noodles hold on nicely to the cheese sauce, which is indeed, gooey. Finally, the collard greens have a tangy, vinegary flavor with just a bit of a bite of heat.

The relatively simple brisket prep stood out to Baynes, who said he takes a “less is more” attitude when it comes to ’cue. And he likes his brisket the traditional way, sans sauce.

“If it needs sauce, not barbecue,” Baynes said Monday outside the restaurant on the east side of The Palace. “It’s around the corner if you really want it, but we don’t put it out in plain view. What they turned out is really great quality. It exceeded my expectations. They put more time in their barbecue than I do on the court.”

(For the record, the restaurant does offer three sauces: bourbon, Carolina and sweet and spicy.)

A portion of sales of the House O’Bayne will go toward the Detroit Pistons Foundation.

“We’re trying to give back,” Baynes said “What a better way than giving back (through) the Pistons Foundation.”

Nolden said one of the keys to the successful barbecue is the blend of hickory, cherry and apple woods in the smoker.

“Hickory is a stronger flavor and I just like the flavor that comes from the apple and the cherry.”