The rosemary brush lathers the meat with marinade as the exceptionally hot grill top lays in wait. When the quarter hits the grill, the oils in the marinade combust and flames lick the outer edges, searing it to perfection. With a quick flip and masterful cut, the meat lands in your hands, on your bun or on your plate to be quickly consumed. Then you’re back for more.
Andy Moeckel has been traveling the country, taking his Flip Flop cooking technique with him everywhere he goes. He has cooked for some high-profile figures, Randy Newberg and Donald Trump Jr. to name a couple, all of which are blown away by just how tasty the meat is.
The main idea of the Flip Flop is to bring communities together based around the age-old idea of sharing a kill or as Andy would say, “feeding the tribe.” He wants to help people reimagine the way they look at a hind quarter, and the Flip Flop is doing just that. The first time you see a whole hind quarter on the grill and devoured by the community in just mere minutes, you’ll think twice about deboning your meat in the field.
This all started in West Marin County, Calif., an area with a long history of ranching that the Moeckel family calls home. The ranchers cooked hind quarters like this for large gatherings to celebrate successful hunting seasons. The community would come together, and each family would add their own flair by creating their own marinade, seasoning or dry rub.
The Moeckel family tradition started with Andy’s grandfather, who began doing the Flip Flop after WWII, a war in which he served. He created a marinade and applied it with a brush made of fresh rosemary. It was so excellent that the recipe has been passed along through generations—unchanged—and now resides with Andy. Members of the Moeckel family even built custom BBQ pits in their backyards to accommodate the cooking technique.
While the tradition has started to die out in Marin County, it is still strong in the Moeckel family and Andy is doing his best to ensure it lives on. He is very passionate about the Flip Flop and cooks it for everyone he can. This cooking method gets even the least likely people to try game meat. “I have gotten six vegans to try it,” said Andy. “And the vegetarians are too many to count.” He equates this to the caveman-like style of consumption that draws people to their most primal roots.
Experiencing the Flip Flop
The Flip Flop is far from a traditional meal experience. Instead of bringing people together to share a table, it draws people to gather around a grill, a campfire grate or, in Andy’s case, a Burch Barrel.
The Burch Barrel seems to be specifically designed for the Flip Flop and is Andy’s preferred cooking platform. The design seems simple—a tripod stand that holds a large, steel barrel—but when you look at the attention paid to fine detail and see the efficiency of the grill, it’s easy to understand why Andy uses it.
When I first experienced it, I was confused to say the least. There was a new Burch Barrel set up in a parking lot in Bozeman, with two antelope hind quarters hanging behind it in the shop. The plastic table and sliced bread didn’t inspire confidence that I was about to taste some of the best game meat I would ever eat.
I saw Andy rub the marinade on one side of the quarter—using a bushel of rosemary as a brush—and immediately slap it on the grill top, which was hot, very hot (between 1,200-1,500 degrees). As the sizzle rang through my ears, marinade was quickly applied to the other side, then the leg was flipped over and flopped down and began to sear again. With precise knife work, Andy trimmed away the cooked meat from leg and slapped it onto the bread. A quick command for the surrounding crowd to eat and the first few pieces were snatched up and devoured almost instantly.
As the leg was flipped again, I found my way closer to the grill to ensure I would get a taste of the next serving. I did and was amazed. The juicy, rare inside was complemented perfectly by seared and slightly charred outer crust of the meat. It was like no other wild game I had eaten before.
It was delicious, and everyone else seemed to agree. The two antelope hind quarters were gone quickly after. Even the bones were handed out and gnawed on to get the remaining bits of meat cleaned from the bone. It was an experience I won’t soon forget.
What’s Next for the Flip Flop?
Andy is a busy man, besides traveling to events and cooking legs of meat for hundreds of people, he guides, photographs and works with many companies to promote hunting. But he desperately wants to share this meal and continue the legacy started in Marin County so many years ago.
Right now, the only way to experience it is to run into Andy on one of his many adventures or have him come cook for an event. That is, unless you want to make your own marinade or dry rub and give it a try yourself. But for those that want to try this 70-year-old recipe, though, there is hope.
The recipe is a family secret so, unfortunately, it isn’t at the bottom of this article. But Andy has a plan. He is going to bottle the marinade and sell it. The first run is almost ready will be available for purchase soon.
You can follow along with Andy on Instagram as he gets his marinade to market.