What's Cooking, Neighbor?
JOHN SNEDDEN, ROCKLANDS BARBEQUE AND GRILLING COMPANY
Crazy-busy barbecue ace John Snedden always finds peace and restorative strength at sea. Every chance he gets during the spring and summer months, Snedden, owner of four Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company restaurants, heads with like-minded pals for the tiny town of Deale, Md., south of Annapolis. That's where the group climbs aboard a charter boat destined for the open Chesapeake Bay. With luck, he reels in a good size rockfish (also known as striped bass).
"It's beautiful on the bay, relaxing," says Snedden, a Philadelphia native who opened his flagship eatery for wood-smoked meats in Glover Park in 1990. (The additional Rocklands locations are in Rockville, Alexandria and the Lyon Park section of Arlington.) "For my family, rockfish is a seasonal regional delicacy we love." And regardless of whether the stripers are biting, Snedden is at the ready with a cooler-full of his trademark sweet and spicy baby back ribs, succulent chopped pork and slow-cooked beef brisket.
All three are Rocklands customer favorites. Soon there will be more room to enjoy them in Glover Park. In the weeks ahead, the location will expand into the adjoining building, formerly the site of Max's Best Ice Cream. There will be 39 additional seats, including a 16-seat communal table, and – on the kitchen side – more space for baking cookies and seasonal fruit pies. "We can now be more family-oriented," he says.
Did I mention that he's a hard-working guy, always on the go? Snedden is also co-owner of Earl's Sandwiches, with two locations in Arlington (Clarendon and Ballston), where the specialty is weighty fresh-roasted turkey, beef and pork loin sandwiches. Then there’s Right Proper Brewing Company in the Shaw section of Washington. The 5,500 square-foot full-service restaurant and brewery, which opened in late 2013, offers six rotating artisanal yeast-forward brews and a menu of beer-friendly snacks and more than 20 select local cheeses. His favorite? The bright, tart and creamy ash-covered goat cheese made by Pipe Dreams Dairy in Greencastle, Pa.
At home in the Palisades, John and Kim Snedden and their three teenage children divide the cooking duties. The following is their "go-to" rockfish recipe. "It's flawless, foolproof," he says. "And it's the only recipe for fish that Kim loves…when she cooks it."
Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company, 2418 Wisconsin Ave., NW, 202-333-2558, rocklands.com
Rockfish with Creamy Leeks
3 leeks (white and pale green parts), thoroughly washed and sliced thinly
3 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
4 six-ounce or 8 three-ounce rockfish fillets
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped
Place the sliced leeks in a large, heavy skillet with the butter, 1/2 cup of the water and a dash of salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Cover the leeks with a circle of parchment just large enough to fit inside the skillet. Cover the skillet and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are tender (about 10 minutes).
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the yogurt and flour. Combine the mixture and the remaining 1/4 cup of water with the leeks. Season the fish fillets with salt and pepper to taste and nestle them into the leeks. Simmer on low heat, covered with parchment paper and lid, until just cooked through (about 8 minutes).
Serve hot, garnished with the chopped parsley.