Product Review: ThermoWorks ChefAlarm Cooking Timer

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Full Disclosure, folks – we’re huge fans of ThermoWorks’ signature product, the ThermaPen. We’ve got them in our homes, in the vending trailer, the competition load-out, just about everywhere. Jesse Black of ThermoWorks was kind enough to send us a ChefAlarm to review.

Having a drawer full of timers and temperature alarms, it’s plain that I’m a big believer in accurate temperatures and precision times.  I’ve had thermometers from all the big brands and digital timers by the handfuls.  Each have tried to fill a role in keeping the food I’m preparing on track and as good as it can be.  Some were pretty good, some were laughably bad but not one was a perfect fit.  Too short cords on probe, poor battery life, difficult to use or just lack of durability, they all leave me browsing Amazon for the next one all too often.  So it was with a mix of excitement and a little wariness that I started this review. 

First things first – the feel and look of the ChefAlarm are excellent.  Edge on, the unit carries the same design elements at the ThermaPen.  The ChefAlarm feels substantial without being really heavy.  And like the ThermaPen, the ChefAlarm is splash-resistant.Side-by-sideAll this speaks to the build-quality we’ve come to expect from ThermoWorks.  And the light weight means the two magnets on the back can keep it securely in place.

Durability was obviously built into the product but ThermoWorks went a step further.  They include what they call a “Padded Zip Wallet” but I call it armor.  It’s a rigid zipper case, molded to cradle the ChefAlarm and store all the accessories.  This is great for the comp cook who needs to keep everything together and well protected on the competition trail.ChefAlarm-Case

Included with the ChefAlarm and case is the temperature probe and a pot clip.  The cord on this probe is a generous 47″ long and can really take the heat.  The maximum temperature the cable can withstand is 700° F, well beyond what most of us would be doing and the probe itself can read temperatures from as low as -58° F to as high as 572° F.  And, of course, being from ThermoWorks, it’s insanely accurate.  It’s good from -4° to 248° F to within 1.8° F. Plan on incinerating something that was once food?  The ChefAlarm is accurate to within about 5° F up to an insane 572° F.  Chances are, if your brisket hits 572°, you’re probably not worried whether it’s actually 568° or 577°.  You’re looking for the fire extinguisher.

Of course it’s not just a thermometer with temperature alerting, it’s also a timer.  You can set this thing up to 99 hours and 59 minutes… into the future.  And you can have the timer running and a high/low temp alert at the same time.  The timer alert is 2 quick beeps, repeating, and the temperature alert is 4 quick beeps, repeating.  This makes it really easy to differentiate between the two.

Regardless of the type of alert, the ChefAlarm will let you know with a nice, loud alarm. And that alarm can get loud, like hear it from outside loud.  Like 92 dB loud.  I

All the controls on the ChefAlarm are clearly marked and easy to use.  The screen is easy to read and, thanks to a backlight feature, even readable during the wee hours of a cook.  The thermometer functions occupy the top portion of the screen while the timer features rest at the bottom.Tilt-up

Finally, a very clever feature, there are two configurations for this thing – the standard flat and also a “laptop mode” where the screen tilts forward toward the keys.  There’s a magnet on the back of each “half” of the unit so it’ll stay on whatever magnet-friendly surface in either configuration.

Overall, the ChefAlarm is packed full of well-executed features.  There’s no sense of compromise anywhere in the ChefAlarm.  ThermoWorks added all the stuff you need without cluttering up the device.  It excels at everything it does and boy, it does a lot.

If you’re in the market for *the* device to keep your cook on track, look no further than the ChefAlarm by ThermoWorks.

And if you want this very ChefAlarm as your very own, enter to win it at Draper’s BBQ’s Facebook page and again at Pap’s Beef Jerky Facebook page.  And if you’re at the Kentucky State BBQ Festival, stop on by and visit with both of us for another opportunity to win this ChefAlarm and a whole boatload of BBQ awesome!

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Contest is Live!

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Ok for those who have stumbled on to our page looking for how to sign up for our huge contest give away here is the direct link:

https://www.facebook.com/DrapersBBQ/app_190076381016644

Entry is as easy as hitting that link, filling out the info so we can get you your prizes if you win and hitting Submit.  We surely would appreciate you sharing out the link though and asking your friends, family, the neighborhood dogs, etc to sign up as well.

As we stated in the beginning we are very honest about the motives, we need Likes and Facebook followers to help launch several other projects coming up and if it takes us giving away nearly $600 worth of gear, then so be it.  If we get the number of Likes we are aiming for, which is 2500, then we will do the contest again next quarter.  We believe in having fun and rewarding our fans, friends and customers whenever we can.

So help us help you by sharing much, sharing often and keeping all things Draper’s BBQ out in the forefront.  We appreciate each of you who already have!

 

Shane

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Official Rules and Regulations for the Big Giveaway

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This isn’t particularly fun but it is important if you wanna win!

Official Contest Rules and Regulations

Open to residents of the United States of America only and governed by United States of America Law

No Purchase Necessary.
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. The Giveaway Contest on Facebook (the “Contest”) is sponsored by Drapers’s BBQ and Pap’s Foods (the “Sponsors”).

ELIGIBILITY: To enter and be eligible to win, a person must be a legal resident of The United States of America who has reached the age of majority at time of entry in the jurisdiction in which he/she resides and who is not an employee, representative or agent of The Sponsors, any independent contest organization, or their affiliated and related companies and, if applicable, their respective advertising or promotion agencies, dealers, and members of the immediate families of, or persons domiciled with any of the above. In these Official Contest Rules & Regulations, “immediate family” means mother, father, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and/or legal or common-law spouse.

HOW TO ENTER: During the Contest Period, you may enter the contest at The Sponsors Facebook page. During the Kentucky BBQ Festival held during the Contest Period, onsite entry may be made available at the discretion of the Sponsors.
Be certain you have read, and agree to be bound by, the Official Contest Rules & Regulations and indicate if you do not wish to receive future information from The Sponsors regarding upcoming events and/or promotions.

PRIZING: There is one prize available to be won, consisting of the following: one Pit Barrel Cooker of the Pit Barrel Cooker Co., one ChefAlarm by ThermoWorks, one Meat Maniac sampler back by Pap’s Foods and one Pitmaster Pack by Draper’s BBQ to include A.P. Rub, Moo’d Enhancer Rub, Smokin’ Sauce, team hat and 2 bags of Kingsford charcoal.

Total approximate retail value of prize pack is $500. To the extent permitted by law, The Sponsors makes no express or implied warranties, or conditions of any kind with respect to the safety, appearance or performance of any Prize. Prizes must be accepted as awarded without substitution, are not transferable, not for resale and have no cash surrender value. The Sponsors reserves the right, in the event that a Prize or any component of a Prize cannot be awarded as described for any reason, to substitute another prize without liability.

DRAW: A random draw (the “Draw”) will take place in Danville, KY on September 7, 2014 from among all eligible entries received by the Contest Closing Date. The odds of being selected for a Prize depend on the total number of eligible entries received by the Contest Closing Date. Each selected entrant will be contacted by email within three (3) business days of the Draw Date. If a selected entrant (a) cannot be reached by email within three (3) business days of being selected after reasonable attempts; or (b) fails to return the properly executed Release Form within the specified time (see rule 5), then he/she will be disqualified and another entrant may (at the discretion of The Sponsors) be randomly selected until such time as contact is made by email with a selected entrant or there are no more eligible entries, whichever comes first. The Sponsors will not be responsible for failed attempts to contact a selected entrant.

To be declared a Prize winner, each selected entrant will also be required to sign a declaration and release form (the “Release Form”) confirming compliance with the Official Contest Rules & Regulations, acceptance of the Prize as awarded, without substitution, and releasing The Sponsors, their independent contest organization, and their affiliated and related companies, their dealers, and their respective shareholders, directors, officers, employees, agents, representatives, successors and assigns, and, if applicable, their respective advertising or promotion agencies from any liability in connection with the Prize or this Contest. The Release Form must be returned within the time period specified on the Release Form or the Prize may be forfeited. Prizes will be shipped to each confirmed winner by The Sponsors to the address on the Release Form within six (6) weeks of being confirmed a winner. Limit of one (1) Prize per person.

NAME/IMAGE OF WINNERS: By entering the Contest, each winner consents to the use of his/her name, address (city and state) and/or photograph without further remuneration, in connection with any publicity carried out by or on behalf of The Sponsors with respect to this Contest.

The Sponsors and the independent contest organization accept no responsibility for loss, damage or claims caused by or resulting from the Contest or acceptance of any Prize.

The Sponsors and the independent contest organization are not responsible for: (i) entries which fail to comply with these Official Contest Rules & Regulations and all such entries are void; or (ii) any failure of the Contest Website during the Contest, including any problems or technical malfunction of any computer on-line systems, servers, access providers, computer equipment, software, failure of any email or entry to be received on account of technical problems or traffic congestion on the Internet or at any website, or any combination thereof including any injury or damage to an entrant’s or any other person’s computer related to or resulting from downloading any material in the Contest, all of which may affect a person’s ability to participate in the Contest. Entry data that has been tampered with or altered are void.

In the event it is determined that an entrant has entered in a fashion not sanctioned by the Official Contest Rules & Regulations, the entrant will be disqualified and all of the entries submitted by the entrant will be disqualified.The Sponsors reserves the right for any reason, within the U.S. Law, to terminate or suspend this Contest or to amend the Official Contest Rules & Regulations at any time and in any way, without prior notice. Without limiting the foregoing, if, for any reason, the Contest is not capable of running as originally planned, The Sponsors reserves the right to cancel the Contest and conduct a draw from all previously eligible entries received by the Contest Closing Date. The Sponsors and/or the independent contest organization shall not be held responsible for any problems, errors or negligence that may arise or occur in connection with the Contest.

In the event of a dispute, entries will be deemed to have been submitted by the authorized account holder of the email address submitted at the time of entry. “Authorized account holder” is defined as the person who is assigned an email address by an internet provider, online service provider, or other organization (e.g. business, educational institute, etc.) that is responsible for assigning email addresses for the domain associated with the submitted email address. If the identity of an entrant is disputed, the authorized account holder associated with the email account at the time of entry will be deemed to be the entrant. A selected entrant may be required to provide proof that he/she is the authorized account holder of the email address associated with the selected entry name change. The sole determinant of the time for the purposes of a valid entry in this Contest will be the Contest server machine(s).

All entries become the permanent property of The Sponsors and none will be returned. This Contest is void where prohibited by law and is subject to all applicable federal, state and/or municipal laws.

In the event of any discrepancy or inconsistency between the terms and conditions of these Official Rules and Regulations and disclosures or other statements contained in any Contest related materials (including, but not limited to: point of sale, television, print or online advertising), the terms and conditions of these Official Contest Rules & Regulations shall prevail, govern and control.

Personal information. By entering the Contest, each entrant consents to The Sponsors, the independent contest organization, their agents and/or representatives storing, sharing and using the personal information submitted with his/her entry. Entrants agree to receive promotional communications from The Sponsors, and have the ability to opt-out of promotional emails by requesting to ‘unsubscribe’ from any communication.

The Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

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Draper’s BBQ Contest

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As the world well knows companies can live or die with social media.  We at Draper’s have been solid at social media when we really push at it and frankly terrible at it when we do not.  Case in point, we have over 2500 Twitter followers but only 850 likes on our Facebook page.  You can probably guess from those numbers were we spent our time over the past couple of years.

Given that Mike and I sat down and pitched a few ideas back and forth on how we can convert our Twitter followers into Facebook likes.  We quickly settled on the idea of giving something away as a membership drive of sorts for Facebook.  Everyone likes a good giveaway and honestly we like giving stuff away making people happy.

So from there we came up with a few things that might fit the bill.  I kept thinking back to the question I get asked via email the most “what is the best bbq/smoker on the market for a new team or for my backyard?”  With that in mind Mike and I thought it would be great to give away some sort of “pitmaster in a box” kit where the winner would get essentially everything they needed to either start competition barbecue or at least have a heck of a leg up to starting a team.

The hunt was short for what bbq/smoker/grill would fit the bill.  We naturally went with the one we recommend to 90% of the people who send us that email.  We turned to Pit Barrel Cooker Co and their Pit Barrel Cooker for this contest and new pitmasters.  And here’s why:  First it rings in around $300 which is a solid value given that most complete pieces of bunk from Lowe’s will cost you that much.  Second it has a good cooking capacity.  Third while it is simple to use it does introduce the budding pitmaster to fire and air flow management.  Fourth it helps the cook to learn the valuable trait of trusting time, fire and smoke to do the job without messing with the meat too much.  Fifth, its made in America and I can’t think of another complete functioning pit at this price point that is also made here.

Many people would recommend a pellet pit for a first pit but I just don’t think pellet pits or any device that controls the airflow and fuel for you helps make you a pitmaster.  That’s not to say you can’t create great food on them, but there is no way to learn the essentials of being a pitmaster if you are not actively managing that fire in my opinion.  I know I will get hate mail over that statement, but remember I come from a family who did barbecue for many, many years without the use of a thermometer or fans and burned down wood into coals.  The only tools my grandfather needed to be an amazing pitmaster was his trusty shovel and his old cinder block pit.  Never once saw him use anything else.  His lack of tools (read crutches) helped him develop those instincts that are so crucial to a pitmaster.  That my friends is being a pitmaster to me.

Don’t get me wrong, the PBC is dead easy to use.  Essentially you light the fire and walk away,  but it at least gets the pitmaster introduced to good old charcoal as a fuel and forces them to not rely on a temp gauge or digital control.  PBC will run at 275 degrees for 7hrs on a basket of charcoal without much fuss at all and turns out a fantastic product.

I could go on and on about the PBC and why I recommend it, but I think Meathead Goldwynn over at Amazing Ribs.com does a pretty comprehensive job at covering it:  http://amazingribs.com/bbq_equipment_reviews_ratings/smoker-pizza-oven/pit-barrel-cooker  and John Dawson with Patio Daddio also has wrote extensively about the PBC: http://www.patiodaddiobbq.com/2012/07/competition-bbq-pit-barrel-style.html

With that we called up Noah and Amber at PBC and placed the order.  They graciously decided to sponsor part of the contest with us.  The ordering process was dead easy and Noah and Amber are great people to work with.

Next to be a pitmaster in training you need a good temperature reading device.  I love my Thermapen even though my grandfather would have quickly laughed at how much I paid.  I now have learned to cook more by feel, but I always check my competition meats with a high accuracy thermometer.  So given that, the fine folks at Thermoworks gave us approval to give away one of their top of the line Chef Alarm units.

I won’t completely steal Mike’s thunder as he is doing a review of the unit as we speak.  But I will tell you this, no tricks were missed in the development of this beauty.  It’s a professional piece of gear all the way and all a budding pitmaster needs to help him dial in that time and temp aspect of cooking.  For $60 its a great value and worth the investment.

After some more discussion Mike and decided we should give away this awesome kit live at the Kentucky State Barbecue Festival in Danville, Ky on September 7th.  This is the last day of the event and we figured it would be fantastic to do the announcement on stage there since it is one of our favorite events each year.  This is our favorite event because we get to feed about 50,000 of our closest friends, fans, family and cook right along side the likes of Brad Simmons, Carey Bringle, Craig Kimmel, Mike Mills, Moe Cason and Shelly Fritch.  All superstars in their own right and we are humbled each year to cook with them.

This planted the next seed of what we should include.  The Danville area is home to one of my favorite snacks, Pap’s Beef Sticks and Pap’s CEO Rick Waldon.  So I called up Rick and asked him if he wanted in.  He was quick to pull the trigger and offered up a bevy of beef snacks to keep any pitmaster satisfied on those long cooks.  Go check out the Meat Maniac on the Pap’s site.  Seriously if you have not tried Pap’s, go order some or go tell your favorite store to carry some.  It’s seriously the best beef jerky around.  My personal favorite is the Pitmasters Barbecue, it is a awesome mix of smoky, sweet and heat.  Not to mention Pap’s ensures only the highest quality US beef is used.  Pap’s is legit and if you win this prize pack you will know why.

By now you have to be asking, well that is all fine and good but what does Draper’s BBQ bring to the table in this contest.  Well, we figure you have the pit to cook on, the thermometer to tell when it is done and even snacks to keep you happy while you cook.  So we are there to fill in the remaining gaps.  You will need some great rubs for your meat, so you get 1lb of our A.P. Rub and 1lb of our Moo’d Enhancer.  You need sauce to top that meat with, so you get a gallon of our Smokin’ Sauce.  But you also need something to keep the sun out of your eyes while you cook, so you also get one of our team caps.  These hats are nice adjustable flex fit hats with our logo embroidered on them so you can be apart of the DBQ crew.  We also toss in enough charcoal for your first several cooks on the PBC.

If you have been keeping up with the prices, this is a prize pack worth over $550 delivered to your door.  If you are within a reasonable driving distance we will deliver the prize pack personally.  All you need now is some meat, some free time, a frosty beverage of your choosing and a lighter and you are ready to start your trek towards pitmaster enlightenment.

So now you have to be wondering how do I enter?  Well, stay tuned.  July 25th at 5pm Central time the contest will go live on the Draper’s BBQ FB page and Mike will post the rules on our blog.  All you have to do to enter is Like our Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/DrapersBBQ  That’s it, we have made it simple.  Because it is so simple we would greatly appreciate it if you shared our page to your friends after you like it.  If you are one of the 830 people who have already liked our page you are already entered but again we would greatly, greatly appreciate you sharing our page as often as you can to help us out.

If this contest successfully generates the results we are looking for we want to do something like this once a quarter.  Mostly because we just like giving stuff away and making people happy, but also because we have LOTS of things coming up including a new video series that Mike and I are ironing out that we want everyone to see.  Draper’s is being reborn and we want to share everything with as many people as possible, so stay tuned!

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Barbecue Live…..Barbecue Legit

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I made the decision last fall that Draper’s BBQ was going to make a run at the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Competition in 2015.  Now, some may think that is planning too far ahead.  I can tell you it is not far enough after being a part of a few teams that have competed at MIM it is barely enough time.  Even with a team of seasoned veterans of barbecue, you still need time to come together and learn how to sing and operate in harmony. 

So how does a newly formed team prepare for what many consider the biggest dance in all of barbecue?  First you practice, practice, practice.  Most good teams can get 90+% of what they need through research and trial and error, but even the best team needs a sanity check and some insider info to get that last 5-10%.  That last bit is what separates teams from placing in the middle of the pack at MIM or getting lucky enough to be in the top 10 or if the barbecue God’s smile on your team, make the finals. 

To get that last bit you either have to know some great pitmasters who are willing to mentor you or you have to find a class to gain that information.  Draper’s BBQ has a lot of barbecue friends who have done very well for themselves as far as winning is concerned and have shared lots of info along the way, but to be honest we still wanted to get more info before we take the MIM plunge again. 

Competing at Memphis in May costs literally thousands of dollars.  To be willing to write those checks without sponsorship you better know your team is good and you better have every ounce of information you can get your hands on.  That left me searching for a barbecue class, preferably one put on by some MIM veterans. 

My search was very short thankfully because I knew of Barbecue Live from being friends with Malcom Reed.  It is a relatively new class held by Mark Lambert of Sweet Swine O’ Mine and Malcom and Waylon Reed of Killer Hogs.  Two great teams and both have been on a tear the past few years collecting a lot of trophies.  It is one of the only classes ran by a committee of pitmasters who are willing so share all they know in order to help you bring home that Grand Champion call.  As if working with Mark, Malcom and Waylon weren’t enough they are still only part of the story.    

Barbecue Live also includes special guests at each of their classes.  In my class Danny Montgomery of Tuscumbia River Bottom Barbequers and Patrick Banks of Booty Que were there.  I know these names may not ring many bells so let me clarify just who these men are. 

Danny Montgomery is a personal hero of mine.  He is a legend to be quite honest, although he would never admit to it.  Danny has won ribs at MIM was the 2002 Jack Daniels International Grand Champion and only followed that up with winning Reserve in 2003 and 2004.  He has mentored numerous teams from all over the world and has been instrumental in making countless champions.  Danny, for those in the know, is one of the most sought after coaches in the world and still one of the top whole hog and shoulder cooks around.  Danny Montgomery might not be a household name, but he deserves to be.  He is one the best teachers I have ever met and I am proud to know him.

Patrick Banks is a recent Barbecue Live graduate who just so happened to win ribs at this year’s MIM only to follow that up with numerous KCBC Grand Champions.  To put it bluntly, 2014 has been Patrick’s year and he is quick to let you know that Barbecue Live helped light the fuse.  Patrick is also very active in Operation Barbecue Relief and just an all-around great guy.  Not many cooks would show you their exact recipe that just won them the big trophy at MIM. 

I only talk about Danny and Patrick to highlight just how comprehensive the knowledge base is at Barbecue Live, but it in no way is meant to take anything away from Mark or Malcom and Waylon.  Sweet Swine O’ Mine has won MIM several times and it has been hard to find a contest in recent memory that Killer Hogs entered where they didn’t come home with a trophy.

Knowledge base only matters though if that knowledge can be demonstrated and conveyed in a manner in which it can be learned and remembered.  I am glad to say Barbecue Live did a solid job of this, but even happier that they did it in a way that pushes the student to want to perfect a craft instead of just recreate it. 

What do I mean by that?  Well, I have taken a few classes now and many barbecue classes center themselves on providing you with an exact time line and procedure to perform every step.  Barbecue Live is willing to share this with you but they do not base everything on this.  They are more about arming you with a method of preparing your entries that judges can’t help but score well instead of creating a cookie cutter clone of their process.

Barbecue Live is also one of the very few classes that cover all four KCBS meats plus MBN shoulder and whole hog.  When you stop to think about that you really start to understand how much of a value this class is. 

How can they cover all of this in what amounts to about 18 hours of instruction?  First off this class assumes you can trim ribs, pull silver skin and do the basics.  They also have a squad of cooks who are running pits, assisting with bringing meats in and generally doing anything needed to assist Mark, Malcom and Waylon while they are actually teaching the class. 

Then there is Mrs. Rachelle Reed, I could spend a whole page telling you the enumerable things she does to make the class a success.  Chelle not only did the chicken trimming demonstration and parsley box builds, she was in constant motion prepping lunch, ensuring there was plenty to drink available and generally making everyone feel at home.  Rachelle is truly the matriarch of Barbecue Live and a force to be recognized.

I can’t say enough how valuable this support cast is to the overall success of the class.  They operate as an army providing meats to the instructors so they can demo every stage of the cooking process.  The timeline and attention to detail to make this possible is nearly mind boggling.   

While I won’t go into detail on the information covered I think it is important to give you an idea what each day is like at Barbecue Live.  Don’t mistake my lack of detail as lack of information, I do this strictly out of respect for the class.  Barbecue Live answers any and all questions and shows you everything, nothing hidden or reserved. 

The class didn’t officially start until 7:45am on Saturday, but Malcom and crew did something very nice on Friday.  They had a Meet and Greet on Friday evening that was a great old fashioned southern fish fry.  The Meet and Greet was a nice touch and the first glimpse of how useless my diet was going to be for the weekend.

 Day 1

The next morning everyone got registered grabbed a seat and settled in.  I will say this right off the bat, Saturday is a long, long day of information.  It is packed full but a great day.  Chicken is covered first and you barely get the first cup of coffee down before you get to try a piece of chicken.  Ribs are up next and in both cases it was very nice to compare and contrast how Killer Hogs does their entry vs Sweet Swine O’ Mine vs Booty Que.  You really come to understand that while each of the pitmasters do very similar things overall, they each have their own unique and identifiable flavor profile. 

In intermission of ribs lunch was served.  You will find a theme from this point forward concerning food.  The theme….no corners cut.  Every meal provided was awesome and done with care.  Lunch consisted of some awesome sides and headlined by Gus’s World Famous Chicken.  Gus’s is seriously the only place I stop at every time I am in the Memphis area.  Nope, not barbecue, Gus’s.  Gus’s isn’t the cheapest place on the block and it was very nice to have it brought in for the class instead of pizza. 

After lunch the remainder of ribs is covered along with getting to eat them.  Then it is on to whole hog prep, which was great.  Being a future whole hog team at MIM I can tell you even after cooking several and being mentored by some of the best, we learned some amazing tips from Mark Lambert.  I don’t think there is another person on the planet that knows the intramuscular structure of the hog better.  Mark is a credit to the barbecue world and does a great job covering the topic.

Next up is trimming of butts and shoulders.  Again, you typically will not get both in the same class and it was great.  Many times I found myself thinking that this really was two classes for the price of one.  There was so much covered between the butts and shoulders and all of it valuable. 

Then we moved into the first part of brisket.  Again, seeing how each pitmaster differed between their prep and products used was nice.  Better than that though was knowing that we would get to taste the two side by side to compare and contrast. 

Dinner is one of the last things on the docket for the day.   It was comprised of an amazing smoked skirt steak, smoked pork loin and sides.  To say it was fantastic is again an understatement.  I have never in my life been so sick from eating so much in a given day, but so happy at the same time.   We all had eaten so many of the ribs tasting the difference between Compart Duroc pork vs regular pork that dinner was nearly an afterthought for most of us.  That did not deter us from enjoying a great dinner though. 

After dinner there was a recap of the day along with a final Q&A.  I would like to say we all went out and had a beer after that, but seriously we all went straight to the hotel and tried to sleep off the food coma.  

After about 12 hours sleeping off the food coma and information overload from the previous day we started again at 8am.  Before I really get into Day 2 let me side track for a minute and highlight something that I really liked.  Barbecue Live used a camera focused on the presenter’s hands and this was shown on a 40in television.  This was great because in some classes a gaggle of students cram around the presenter and only those in the first row or two get to see precisely what is going on.  In this set up people could also sit back and check out the television which lessened the need to be shoulder to shoulder with the presenter.  That’s not to say you couldn’t literally stand next to Malcom and Mark during the whole class, you could, the camera set up just allowed a fair view for all.  So often times many would gather up close to the television as well, it was really neat to see. 

Day 2

First up was the wrapping of butts and briskets, followed by building of parsley boxes.  As with all previous topics everything was well covered and all questions answered including injection and mop recipes. 

Next pork blind boxes were covered in depth.  I will say this is yet another topic where the quote “we will show you how to build boxes that judges can’t help but score well” rang true.  Waylon spent a long time going over every aspect of exactly how he perfects his box and it was great to see firsthand the level of care that goes into that box. 

Whole hog presentation was next.  Mark went through basically a MBN presentation explaining where he would pull from and why.  He even managed to show me some cuts deep inside the hams that I never really noticed before.  Again, demonstrating his amazing knowledge of the anatomy of the hog and proving why he has won MIM a few times.

Lunch consisted of the whole hog and if you’ve never bellied up to a whole hog you are missing out.  To me it is still the pentacle of pork and why we cook whole hog.  It was awesome to contrast our flavor profiles with Mark’s and get a good feel for where we stand.  That piece of info alone was worth the cost of admission for us. 

The class concluded with barbecue business and marketing.  It was interesting to hear how different the paths to success were for Killer Hogs and Sweet Swine O’ Mine.  Again all questions were answered all things good, bad and ugly were discussed.  This info would be invaluable to new teams or a budding sauce/rub company.  This section alone if expanded on could be a complete day and honestly I would love to see it expanded and a few more sauce and rub companies invited to the table to add even more diversity to the conversation.  I for one would make the trek in a heartbeat to be a part of that panel. 

Conclusion

So what is the take away on Barbecue Live?  Honestly, it is one of the best classes in the country bar none.  While it may be a newer class, it is done right and doesn’t miss anything.  If I knew absolutely nothing about barbecue I might find the class, perhaps, a little advanced.  But if I knew that little about barbecue I would honestly be spending my time on the internet watching videos from How To BBQ Right, researching, reading forums and putting into practice what I found before I was willing to part with my money for an experience like this.  On the flip side of that coin, this class would put a fair pitmaster over the top and on the winning track quickly.  Some may find the level of information off putting since it is so in depth, but as someone who has done this for a long time I still found many tidbits of information that were well worth the cost.  The class does not pretend to make you a Killer Hogs or Sweet Swine O’ Mine clone, but they do promise to help you become the best pitmaster you can be and I think they more than deliver on that promise.  So hit up the website and sign up, you won’t be disappointed. 

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Draper’s BBQ Bourbon Barrel Art Project Submission

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Anyone that knows me knows I am sucker for charity.  I have gone miles out of my way to raise money for good causes and I think that thought is at the heart of what Draper’s BBQ is all about.  It’s not quite Spiderman’s “With great power, comes great responsibility,” but I do believe that God gives us each talent and ability and that those who are able should use those talents and abilities and our able bodies to help others whenever we can.  Some call it putting good karma out there.  Some call it being a Christian.  Some call it the Golden Rule.  Whatever you call it, we at Draper’s BBQ take it seriously.

A few months ago while visiting our friends Brad and Cindy Simmon’s out in Danville, Ky we were asked to sponsor a bourbon barrel for the Bourbon Barrel Art Project benefiting Heart of Kentucky United Way.  The idea of the project is to have an artist basically make art out of barrel and the barrels are auctioned off and all the proceeds are given to the the charity.  You can read more about the process and see some of the submissions here.

I of course said yes and we loaded up the barrel and the brainstorming process began of what we are now going to do with this large barrel now that I had stuck my foot in my mouth and agreed to sponsor one.

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If you have never seen or handled a bourbon barrel first hand I will tell you they are things of beauty just in their raw state.  They are made of very thick and beautiful oak and you start to admire the craftsmanship it takes to make one immediately.  The smell of the left over bourbon mixed with the oak is awesome!  The more I handled the barrel the more I realized I couldn’t just paint over this barrel.  Some how it’s natural form needed to celebrated.

After much deliberation with Mike Owings and of course consulting with our wives (the real brains of the operation) we decided we needed to wood burn this barrel some how.  Our vision was to make the barrel functional somehow while also making it art, but also maintaining the integrity of the barrel itself.  We wanted to convey that these barrels are still made exactly how they have been for hundreds of years.  They are handcrafted, they have the unmistakable marks of craftsmanship all over them.  They have the sweat and time of the person who built them ingrained in their wood.  We knew that painting over this was just somehow wrong.  So we agreed that we needed to make something out of the barrel that celebrated all these things vice covering them up.

I started looking for an artist willing to take the ideas in our head and put them on the barrel but we kept striking out, either because the artist was too busy or they just didn’t share the same vision we had.

After some more deliberation and some goading by Mike I decided the best thing we could do for our barrel was for US to do the art work and the building of it.  I knew this would be a gamble, but at least at the end of the day for better or worse we could say this barrel represented who we are and what we believe in.

The first thing we agreed to do was make a liquor cabinet out of the barrel to address the idea that it needed to be functional.  So we decided to put a lazy susan inside the barrel. The next couple of pics show the cutting of the barrel to make that happen.

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2013-07-28 19.26.14This sounds like a pretty easy thing to do, but its a bit more treacherous than you think. The bands on the barrel are under quite a bit of pressure.  Mix that with the idea that when you start cutting the slats out that the remaining slats can shift and you have to take some precautions.  My dad Mike Draper was the lead on this portion.  He drilled through each band and put a screw through each slat.  Once that was done he used a angle grinder to cut the band.  This was genuinely a one shot kind of deal.  If we messed it up, I would have been on my way back to Lexington to pick up a replacement.

You can see all the natural char left in the barrel.  Let me tell you there are few things more awesome than smelling a bourbon barrel that has just been cut open.  That mix of charred oak and bourbon are amazing!  Needless to say we saved the oak slats that we cut out to toss in on the very next bbq.

Once dad was done it was my turn to fire up the wood burner and see how bad I could mess up this barrel.  I started with the top band of flames that we ran around the entire barrel.  I freehand drew each one and then came back and burned them in.  I can tell you I was a nervous wreck the first ones I did.  So much so it didn’t even occur to me to practice a few first.  I literally dove right in and Mike Owings came up and asked where my practice wood was and I told him “ummm….wow….that flame right there.”  That was not the smartest moment in my years on this planet, but it all turned out for the best.  I had done some wood burning as a kid (around 25 years ago) and I figured I knew what I was doing for the most part.  Thankfully there were more good flames than bad as I started to learn the ropes again.

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After the flames I began sketching the three animals we decided to include.  On each of the animals we wanted to do sort of an 1800’s style butcher representation that included the primal cut lines for each animal.  I really wanted to label each cut but there just was not room with the wood burner.

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As you can see the oak barrel really responded well to the wood burning.  It was hard to do because the material was so thick so pulling thick, straight lines was very difficult. Shading was also a bit trying, but all in all the animals turned out pretty well.

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After the animals were done it was time to add the next piece, which was the lower band of flames.

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Once these were done it was time to add the next piece, the state logo for Kentucky.  I was really worried about this turning out well for a few reasons.  First because the outline of Kentucky is very jagged and it is hard to get a wood burning to smoothly transition these edges.  Secondly for exactly the opposite reason, I knew if every line in the word “Kentucky” wasn’t nearly perfect the whole thing would terrible since it was such a center piece.

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The final art piece of the barrel project was to add “Draper’s BBQ” to the section right below the Kentucky logo.  Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of this process.  It was VERY difficult to get something that long and symmetric placed evenly on the barrel and then wood burned.  It was easily the most difficult piece and I am glad I saved it until the end.

Once that was completed it was time to seal it up and have a table built out of white oak. While I won’t show you the final completed barrel until after the auction has completed, I will show you just enough to get an idea what you need to come out and bid on.

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What you aren’t seeing just yet is the completed butcher block table that is being installed and the lights that we put in top of the barrel that will sure to make any bottle of bourbon or wine look right at home.  Unfortunately these last pics really don’t do the barrel justice.  It turned beautiful and I am proud to be apart of creating it.

In the end this barrel isn’t perfect and I’m surely no artist, but it is what it was intended to be.  It adheres to the idea that simple things made well shouldn’t be covered up by paint. They should be show cased, celebrated and honored.  We applied the same principals to this barrel that apply to every ounce of meat we cook.  We kept it simple, we kept it honest and we never tried to make it anything it wasn’t intended to be.

Whoever ends up winning this barrel is more than welcome to hang out with the DBQ Crew any time.

Love, Peace and Pork Grease folks….see you Danville in a few days!
Shane

 

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Draper’s Asian Persuasion Ribs

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I dont have many rules in life as I am a pretty easy going guy.  One of the things I do try to live by though is that I wont sit down and create new recipes or play with new food ideas or write blog posts unless I am inspired to do so or am just in the mood to do so.  Well I have been saving this post and this recipe up for some time.  I have reinvented it in my head a few times and it wasn’t until this past Father’s Day that I just felt it was time to do it up right, pull out all the stops and just knock one out of park if the food God’s were willing.

Most of you know about my previous reviews of my friend’s Tom and Michele’s Intensity Academy line of products.  Well all of those reviews were spurred by a set of ribs that I did using their Chai Thai Teriyaki on that I told Tom about.  Tom sent me a box of products and asked me to write up the recipe and take some pictures.

To be quite honest I have held off on doing these ribs until I knew I had everything lined up flavor wise to do them justice.  I wanted to give Tom something awesome, but also something easily repeatable as a recipe and I wanted to really “Draper-ize” these ribs.  It took me awhile to figure out that last part.  I mean let’s be honest just making a teriyaki rib is easy enough and making a smoked barbecue rib is easy enough.  But in order for me to full on do these justice I wanted to make sure I was paying homage to the products used AND giving full credit to a place that I feel like I grew up in, Japan.  I spent some of my most formative years in Japan and the Japanese sensibilities of cooking, philosophies and flavors permeate pretty much everything I do in one fashion or the other.  So these ribs had to be recognizable as “barbecue” ribs but also had to have authentic Japanese flavors while keeping to the principles of Japanese cooking.  They could not be one note.  They could not just be teriyaki sweet.  They could not just be ribs smoked and sauced with a barbecue sauce that had some teriyaki added.

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So how does one balance this all out and make a rib that is so good you cant stop eating them?  Well you start by considering your anchor product.  Intensity Academy has a winner in their Chai Thai Teriyaki.  It has a great depth of flavor and strikes a real balance.  It is very authentic in its delivery of teriyaki flavor and it has some definite heat.  Most American’s would not recognize Chai Thai Teriyaki as authentic though because we typically associate teriyaki with a very, very sticky sweet sauce. While teriyaki can be a thicker glaze in Japan it is most often used in this thinner consistency.

Given Chai Thai being a thinner teriyaki I decided to use it two ways in my recipe.  Firstly as the liquid I put in the foil pack when I foil my ribs.  I knew this would give them a nice rich depth of flavor and the ribs would hold on to the flavors and heat very well by doing this.  Second I decided to make a rich teriyaki glaze in which to finish the ribs with.  Afterall, a rib is just better when its messy and sticky.  That is just a rule when eating ribs.

31xou3WYVNLNext I needed to figure out a rub.  What is a rib without a proper rub?  I could have easily made my own with some ginger, garlic, onion powder and some chile’s but I remembered one of favorite condiments while I was in Japan…..Nanami Togarashi.  I cant remember exactly what the translation means, but to me it is just basically mixed peppers with some great hits of citrus and seaweed that I put on EVERYTHING while stationed there for 3 years.  It’s great on french fries, onion rings, sushi and everything in between lol.  Be forewarned if do order this, it comes in a very small bottle and isnt the cheapest thing you will have in your cabinet, but to be reminded of Japan on an occasion I keep it around.

So now I had the flavor components planned out it was time to throw down and cook.  I was already cooking 15 slabs of ribs that Saturday.  5 I had sold as part of a small party the rest I wanted to eat and just give away as Father’s Day presents to family members and to random neighbors.  So I decided to take 3 of these ribs and give them the Asian Persuasion treatment.  I’m going to start all the way at the very beginning of my cook and talk you through everything I did and do and explain they “why” as much as possible.

The night before I put the ribs on the smoker I always inspect the meat, pull the silver skin, give them a good wash and trim any pieces that dont look uniform or appetizing.  Once this is done I coat the bone side of the rib with a very light coat of yellow mustard…yup the same stuff you put on hot dogs.  More on the why on that in a moment.  I brush on the mustard lightly on the bone side and apply the rub in a good medium coat.  Flip the ribs over to the meat size and repeat the process.  Once this is all done I store them in the fridge overnight.  I like using the mustard for a few reasons.  First it allows me to use less rub since it acts as an adherent.  Second the mix of vinegar, oil and mustard helps tenderize the meat a bit but really helps move the flavors of the rub down deep into the meat.  Third and most importantly I just like the flavor.  Its a faint tanginess that just works in my flavor profile.  You could absolutely use peanut oil or a vegetable oil instead and achieve similar results without adding the flavor of the mustard.  I just like the mustard because it cheap, always available and spreads easily and allows you to see exactly where it is and where it isnt when you are applying.  My only advice is that you do not get too heavy handed with it.  You dont need a lot to get the job done.  Just a light coat will do fine.

After a 6-12hr sit in the chill chest you are ready to rock and roll.  Now I am not going to go through how to set up your smoker or your fire.  I am going to trust you have that much figured out.  If you dont know how to do all of that or even how to cook a good barbecue rib then I would refer you to the 3-2-1 method of cooking ribs that you can Google, but most importantly I would suggest you spend a week or so just reading everything over at Amazingribs.com.  I just cant do it any better than Meathead Goldwyn already has, he is an authority and I accept most of what he suggests as gospel.  Where I will start at though is about the point where your ribs has plenty of smoke and are starting to take on some really good color and you are about to foil them.  If your ribs look like the pic below then you are on the right track.  Note the black specs on the ribs, those are the sesame seeds and the spices that are in the Nanami Togarashi rub that I used.

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As you can see here I have laid out two sheets of foil (I always, always, always double foil ribs) to keep the bones from puncturing through just a single layer of foil.  I have also laid down a good strip of honey.  I take the rib and lay it meat side down into this strip of honey.

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I then of course add another strip of honey to the bone side of the ribs.  Again note the color and the evenness of the rub and the black specks of the black sesame seeds.  I did not over smoke these ribs or let them go too long.  You dont need a lot of smoke for these ribs as too much bitter smoke will take away from the final flavor profile and throw it out of balance.

2013-06-15 09.31.12Next I put about 1/4c of the Chai Thai Teriyaki into the foil packet.  I put about half in the cradle created by the arched bones and the remainder just in the bottom of the package.  You DO NOT need a lot of liquid in the foil package.  You are adding flavor here more so than moisture.  If you add too much in the way of liquid here you run the risk of your ribs having a “hammy” kind of flavor to them.  Believe me when these ribs get to cooking well in the foil packages they will create plenty of moisture that get’s trapped in the packets.  It is not uncommon to pour off over 1c of liquid out of each rib packet.

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If you really like the punch of fresh ginger I would recommend adding some fresh ginger (just a touch!) into the foil packet.  I am a big fan of the stuff from Gourmet Garden that comes in the squeeze tubes.  It’s potent stuff, so be careful and be warned that it can turn off some guests who may eat your ribs if they are not as big of a fan of ginger as you might be.  For me, I love it and cant get enough of it.

2013-06-15 09.33.13Note how well these ribs are sealed up.  This is a small thing, but will cut your cook time by about 15-20%.  If that packet is fully sealed they trap all that heat and moisture and that is a good thing.  I seal up both layers of foil this way.  The good news is once your ribs are foiled and so long as you are not using direct heat to the bottom of the foil packets you can crank up the heat of your cooker to 300 degrees or more to expedite the cooking process. I havent found any issues with doing this and you can easily cut off 45min to an hour of your cook time by doing this.

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Once your ribs are close to done you can start glazing.  Bring the temp back down on your cooker and glaze every 20min until you are happy with the color.  The pic above is after I had opened the foil packet, poured off the excess juice and painted on one coat of glaze.  Before I get into what I did for a glaze let’s talk about “done” and ribs.  This can be measured by a thermometer and that temp would be determined by whether you were cooking baby backs or spares, but I would tell you some ribs are very tender at 185 degrees and others not until closer to 195 degrees.  You just have to use your judgement and look at how much the meat has pulled back from the bone and how they feel more than anything.

The glaze can be done a few ways.  You can take about 2 parts honey or agave nectar to 1 part Chai Thai Teriyaki and mix it together and that will make a fine glaze.  You can also double down on the teriyaki flavor by doing what I did here and taking 1 bottle of Kikkoman Teriyaki glaze and mixing that with 1/3c Chai Thai Teriyaki.  If you want more ‘yaki kick add even more Chai Thai to the mixture.  I found this mixture to give just about the perfect mix of flavor punch and color.

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In the pic above you can see how dark the ribs can get if you glaze them 4 or 5 times.  Since I had 3 racks to play with I glazed them each a different number of times just to see what the end result would be.  I think 3 or 4 times is a pretty good sweet spot for the color  and flavor.

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As a finishing note and more for aesthetics than flavor I sprinkled a little bit of Simply Asia’s Sweet Ginger Garlic seasoning on just before serving.  You can see the white sesame seeds in the pics above.

So how did they taste?  In a word awesome.  The ribs were smokey and sweet for sure, but what I was most pleased with was that the Chai Thai Teriyaki added a heat note that wasnt on the outside of the rib where most people expect it to be.  The heat element was down all the way to the bone but it was not in anyway overpowering.   The ribs hit on all the elements you would expect, but had just enough surprise along the way to keep it interesting.  As a final grading process of whether I had hit the target of balancing between barbecue and Asian flavors I invited my two friends Charlie and Dani Rice over to taste test.  Both know Asian cooking and my barbecue in particular very well.  Each were very impressed with how the ribs were right on the money with the heat, sweet and smoke elements and how they translated so well into a teriyaki rib.  In the end these ribs answered the mail and I am glad to share them with you and our friends at the Intensity Academy.

Love, Peace and Pork Grease my friends….until next time.

Shane

 

 

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Product Review: GMG Fruitwood Blend Pellets

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Our good friends at Green Mountain Grills supplied me with a 28 lb. bag of their new Premium Fruitwood Blend Pellets to try out and give a review on.  Now fans of Drapers BBQ know that we are huge GMG fans.  We love our Daniel Boone’s and our Jim Bowie’s.  I personally have held off using GMG’s branded pellets for 2 reasons.  Number one is there is not a dealer close to me and pellets are like propane when you need them you need them quick.  Number 2 was their lack of fruit-wood flavors.  I love apple, peach and cherry flavor pellets when cooking on my GMG.  The folks at GMG have heard our requests and developed a fruit-wood blend.   How would they compare to some of the pellets I have been using?  Well let me tell you.

I opened the bag for the first time and I was greeted with a fruity aroma.  I could not make out what fruit (as it is a blend) but it did smell sweet.  The pellets were lighter in color that the other brand I was using previously.  I don’t know that this makes a difference at all but thought I would report it anyway.  The pellets appeared to be well made.  They were solid and not crumbly and a variety of different sizes from half and inch to an inch long.  GMG claims that they have less dust than other brands of pellets.  I would tend to agree with that.  I have only ever used 2 other brands and GMG appeared to have less dust.  No scientific test to back that up just my 2 eyes checking.

I cooked 2 different meats with these pellets on 2 different days.  I had a 5 hour rib cook at 230 degrees the entire cook and a 12 hour brisket cook at 225 degrees the entire time.  I added a few different pellets at the end of the brisket cook just to make sure that I did not run out but do not think I used much if any of those.  All in all I got 17 hours of cook time from a 28 lb. bag.  I was pretty pleased with that pellet usage and the usage was right in line with what I usually use.

Results.  That is what we are all about at the end of the day.  Were the ribs and brisket good?  How was the smoke ring?  How was the flavor?  These are the true tests of how good the pellets really are.  rib 6-13Lets start with my ribs.  Excuse the bragging here but I do think these were right up there with some of the best ribs I have ever made.  Tried some new things with this cook.  I tried a new blend of spices (Drapers AP as a base), did not wrap them, and the pellets.  Look at that smoke ring.  It is huge.  The ribs did not have an over smokey flavor.  You could really taste the meat and the rubs used.  My eight year old son ate half a slab and he is like Mikey from the old Life cereal commercial.  He won’t eat anything.  Now for the brisket.  It was a good brisket not a great brisket but a lot factored into that.  I think I put a little to much rub on it and left it on about 30 min to and hour too long.  The bark was a little crusty and I don’t think I got the smoke penetration I was looking for.  It was a little roast beefy but good.

I have only one request for the good folks at GMG.  I would like to see the breakdown of the fruit-wood blend and what type of fruit-wood it contains.  The pellets performed very well during both cooks and I would not hesitate to use them again.  With the fact that GMG gives you 8lbs more that the leading pellet brand for the same price it is a no-brainer to go pick a bag up.  Check your local retailers for some new GMG Fruitwood Blend Pellets.  I highly recommend them.

 

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rQ BBQ Sauces

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For this blog post I had the opportunity to sample 3 of the sauces that are going to brought to you by rQ BBQ,  rQ is a new BBQ restaurant opening in June in Shorewood, IL.  rQ is owned and operated by my cousin, Ron Rupp, and he asked me to give him my honest opinion on his line of sauces.  I was given 3 to try initially, Sweetness, Spicy garlic and Ivory, rQ also has a Robust, Southern Vinegar, a Mustard sauce and a Lite BBQ sauce.

Sweetness

rQ Sweetness sauce is a slightly thick, tomato based sauce with a sweet flavor and a little smoke.  No heat to this sauce at all and it would be suitable to the whole family.  It does have a little bit of bite with some vinegar at first but the sweetness comes through soon after.  I found this sauce very enjoyable as did my whole family.ugh

Spicy Garlic

This is also a tomato based sauce with a similar consistency to Sweetness.  This sauce does have some heat to it, but just enough to make it interesting, not overpowering. Starts off with some sweetness then the heat comes into play.  When I saw garlic on the label all I could think of was spaghetti sauce but this is not the case.  The garlic in this sauce is in the background giving it an extra flavor profile and some depth.  It went great on proteins and French fries. You get the sweet, heat and savory with this sauce and it will make you want more and more.

Ivory

What has 2 thumbs and likes white BBQ sauce?  This guy.  I have tried Big Bob Gibson’s white sauce along with a few others and by far rQ has the best white sauce I have ever eaten.  I really would not even compare this to those other sauces because the flavor profile and consistency is so different.  Where the BBG’s sauce is thin, rQ’s is thicker and more substantial.  Where BBG’s sauce is tart and tangy, rQ’s is a little bit sweet.  I put it on meat, vegetables and salad.  Yes, it can be used as a salad dressing as well.  My favorite uses for it were chicken and salmon.  It compliments both meats very well.  I could also see people using it as a base for making dips or maybe even topping chili with it instead of sour cream.  rQ really knocked it out of the park with this one.

Get ready greater Chicago area! rQ BBQ is coming soon with a planned opening of June 6th.  For those living outside of Chicago, rQ sauces can be found at select retailers. Ron has over 25 years in the restaurant business and knows what it takes to run a top notch restaurant.  Check the out ahead of time and see everything they have to offer at http://www.rqbarbecue.com/.

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In a Trailer….Down By The River

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Many of our friends, fans, patrons, etc have been wondering what we have been up to as of late.  Well in short LOTS.  Heading into the off season this year I was hit right square in the forehead with a great deal of things that forced me to reconsider everything.  More than a few times I had the phone in my hand about to make a phone call that would essentially sell out our operation and end Draper’s in it’s current form and a big piece of me was more than ok with that.  It was a painful, but necessary place to be.  It forced me to realize and also reconcile that we as Draper’s weren’t any longer doing the things that made us happy.  I was miserable, Mike was doing his best to hold things together and everyone was afraid to admit it.  We were very successful in a super short time and we had a large impact on the community we loved, but now we were being driven by the machine of success and no longer enjoying ANY of what we did.  Don’t get me wrong I am not complaining, we are all genuinely thankful for every opportunity that came our way, but somehow we…well…. I forgot that it was ok to say “umm, nah I think we will pass on that one.”

So insert lots of time to soul search and I realized that while I love to compete I hated the flavor of competition barbecue.  I also realized that I am most happy when people are just eating my food.  Just handing an old man a simple barbecue sandwich and having him give you that look of “what did you do to this….they don’t make it like this any more” or that nod of “son you did your grandpa proud with this one” is what made me happiest and was better than any trophy.  Simple, honest, nothing to hide behind, nothing fake….just real.  I also started realizing we as Draper’s didn’t do more of that because we weren’t set up for it.  Every time we did, it was with a gang of 10×10 pop ups, coolers, fold up tables and hours and hours of set up and tear down time.  And let me tell you no matter how much money you make doing it, pulling a 16hr day doing that will make you think twice about doing it every weekend.  So the only thing I knew to do was to get serious about taking the company that direction and that led to us considering buying a trailer that was set up more for vending.

So in preparation for this path we sold the toy hauler and started making calls and looking around.  It was about this time that my good friend Brad Simmons gave me a call.  Brad and Cindy Simmons helped bring the Ky State BBQ Festival to the great town of Danville, Ky and we have been fortunate to be a part of the festival the last two years.  The first year just selling our sauce and rub and last year filling in for Ray Lampe (Dr. BBQ) doing demo’s and classes teaching people how to cook competition barbecue.  If you don’t know about this festival go read up on it, it’s awesome!  Basically, 6 barbecue superstars cook for about 30,000 of their closest friends.  People get the best barbecue around from the best pitmasters around.

Brad mentioned they were going to open up the festival this year to another superstar or two to meet the demand they were expecting and asked would we / could we manage a crowd that big.  That more or less cemented the idea that we were buying a trailer, but not just any trailer….a bad a** trailer that would be befitting of the honor of being asked to cook next to Brad, Carey Bringle, Craig Kimmel, Melissa Cookston, Moe Cason and Shelly Hunt.

So now the trailer had to be able to do medium sized events, HUGE events, KCBS competitions and MBN competitions.  This was a TALL order to say the least.  It wasn’t long before we took a trip to meet Steve Farris of Farris Trailers who assured us he could custom build most anything provided we knew what we wanted and had about 8 weeks to wait for it to be built.  After checking out some of Steve’s trailers we decided what we wanted.  A beast of a 22ft long trailer that had 8ft ceilings (we are all over 6ft) and was 8ft wide (and let’s say none of us turn down the extra helping of ANYTHING…ever…hey don’t judge).  The main compartment would be 18ft and there would be a 4ft “porch” for us to mount cookers on, but ALSO it would have a rear ramp that could double as a stage for presentations.  We also went with full heat and air and the full water kit which included water heater, pump and a 50gal and a 40gal holding tank.  We ordered lights EVERYWHERE including the porch and power outlets every few feet.  We opted for upgraded materials on the walls, insulation, etc but asked Steve to leave the trailer blank otherwise so would be free to configure and reconfigure until we got it the way we wanted it and then build in the cabinets that we wanted.

Without making you wait more here are some pics with some descriptions so you can see what I am talking about.

Concession window, side view.

Concession window, side view.

Back porch, window side.

Back porch, window side.

Better view of the deck/stage

Better view of the deck/stage

Pass Through Window

Pass Through Window

Entry door

Entry door

Wheels

Wheels

Sinks in the nose

Sinks in the nose

Handwash station

Handwash station

I am going to save the rest of the interior pics until we get it all done the way we want it.  What the exterior pics don’t do a good job of is really giving you a sense of the scale.  This trailer is a beast.  It’s VERY tall and very wide.  All in all between the tongue and the stage when it’s all splayed out this trailer is about 32ft of barbecue battle wagon.

Once we get all the vinyl put on the outside and a few touches that we are keeping under wraps for the time being this should be one of the sexiest places on 4 wheels that you can buy barbecue.  We wanted to make a statement and that statement is “we are all in and are holding nothing back.”

I recognize we owe much to many, but from here forward Draper’s BBQ will keep the most important thing first…..the love of what we do.  So if you see us out in the battle wagon don’t be afraid to stop by and say hi and chat with us.  We will be busy, but we will always do what we can to share the love of what we do first and foremost with everyone we can.

Love, Peace and Pork Grease………Shane

 

 

 

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