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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pellets

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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Code 3 Spices – Eating good with a cause

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While trolling through Facebook a few months back I came across a post from a company called Code 3 Spices based out of St. Louis, MO.  Code 3 has an always expanding line of BBQ rubs and they donate 10% of proceeds to charities involving the families of First Responders and the Military.  I contacted Chris at Code 3 and requested a sample to review for this blog and he was kind enough to send out a 3 bottle sampler pack containing Rescue Rub, Backdraft Rub and 5-0 Rub.  Here are my thoughts and how I used each.

Rescue Rub

This is Code 3′s all purpose rub.  It goes well on everything from veggies to meat.  I chose to use this to smoke 3 Boston butts for our upcoming Boy Scout camp out.  After trimming the butts and coating them with a little oil, I liberally applied about 1/3rd of the bottle over the entire butt.  I let the meat rest over night (5 hours) in the fridge with the rub on to let the flavors of the rub get into the meat.  Upon pulling the meat out of the fridge, I noticed that a nice kind of crust had already formed on the outside and that not a lot of fluid had been pulled out of the meat as some other rubs do.  I put the butts on my Yoder YS640 pellet grill using apple pellets for about 12 hours at 250 degrees until the internal temp of the meat was 195 degrees.  I then let them sit for an hour to rest and soak up some of the drippings in the pan.  I taste tested the pork while pulling it and it had a nice flavor with good balance and one heck of a smoke ring.  One ingredient did not stand out more than the other.  Overall a very solid all purpose rub.

Code 3 Rescue Rub Pork butt after being pulled.

Code 3 Rescue Rub Pork butt after being pulled.

Backdraft Rub

This is the spicy rub of the code 3 bunch.  While watching  a BBQ PItmasters marathon on Super Bowl weekend I got the idea from Diva Q to make chicken lollipops for the Super Bowl Party I was going to go to the next day.  This spicy rub was perfect for it .  It was not as spicy as a buffalo type seasoning but just enough kick for you to know it was there.  Coated half the lollipops with Rod Gray’s Eat BBQ The Next Big Thing BBQ (sweet) sauce and half with Angry Nephew’s BBQ (ghost pepper hot) Sauce.  The rub was complimentary to both sauces.  Backdraft Rub gave a little bite to The Next Big Thing sauce and gave a depth of heat to the Angry Nephew’s sauce.  Men liked the hot and Ladies and kids liked the sweet.   I received so many compliments on these that my wife made me make them again.

Chicken lollipops with Backdraft Rub.

Chicken lollipops with Backdraft Rub.

5-0 Rub

The last rub we come to is the 5-0 Rub.  It is a sweet and spicy rub.  I also detected a little bit of a smoky flavor similar to chipotle pepper.  I decided to use this rub on a tri-tip along with a little extra kosher salt.  I reverse seared the tri-tip and it had a really nice crust on it.  The combination of the smoke and the 5-0 Rub made this the best tri-tip I have ever made.  The heat was not overpowering and the sweet was very subtle.  I tasted beef first and spice second as an accent.  I really liked this rub.

All 3 rubs were great.  The only issue I had was with the clumping of the product.  It did clump somewhat in the bottle but a quick shake with the lid closed loosened it right up.  The rubs were very fresh, had good color and aroma and terrific taste.

Once again Code 3 Spices donate a portion of the proceeds to charities involving families of the Police, Fire, Ambulance responders and Military families.  They can also setup a fundraiser for your organization where the organization keeps 45% of what they sell.  This is good spice company, doing good deeds and making excellent BBQ rubs.  You can find them on Facebook and at code3spices.com .

 

 

 

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Intensity Academy’s Chai Chipotle Hot Sauce

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Hey folks it’s time for installment number two in my review series of the Intensity Academy line of products.  If you missed last week’s review and want the full story on how this series came to be check our my review of their Garlic Goodness sauce.  Don’t worry this week’s review will be much more concise and to the point since I won’t be retelling the full back story of me meeting Tom Was at the Houston Hot Sauce Festival.

chiachipotle

On my way out the door I threw Intensity Academy’s Chai Chipotle Hot Sauce in my backpack since I was taking some pulled pork sandwiches to work for lunch.  I wanted something that would complement the pulled pork and completely overrun it with heat.  I figured based on the name “Chai Chipotle” that I would be fairly safe on the heat front.

The first interesting thing I noticed about this sauce was right there on the label above the name “All Natural Carrot Based Hot Sauce.”  Now being a bit new to the hot sauce world I knew that some hot sauces use carrots for a sweetener and for color, but I thought it was interesting that this sauce was celebrating the carrot so to speak.

Before I knew it, it was lunch time and time to break the seal on the bottle and get down to business.  As always I started with the sniff test.  The first thing you get is definitely a full bodied note of carrots.  It’s almost a fruity note.  It smells very fresh if not refreshing.  There is some vinegar there, but its a light back drop vice being in the forefront.

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Next came the plate test and the finger taste test.  Chai Chipotle is neither what I would consider thick nor would I call it thin.  It definitely has some pureed carrots and a few flecks of habanero in there.  It’s a fairly tame and non complicated looking sauce.  If anything it’s lighter color and lack of variation is the story.  This sauce is what it portends to be, a carrot based hot sauce.

For the initial taste test I put a fair amount on my finger and gave it the ole college try.  At first you get hit by habaneros which kind of surprised me because given the name I was expecting that smokey mellow heat of the chipotles up front.  Don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t call this sauce hot, because it’s not.  In fact I would only give it a rating of about 1.75 to 2 on my heat scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being too hot for me to enjoy.  This sauce has some heat and the habanero and chipotle are both there, but they are not searing or unpleasant in anyway.  The surprise for me was more from my preconceived notion of what I thought I would taste heat wise. This of course caused me to grab the bottle and check the ingredients list.  Sure enough chipotle is towards the middle of the list versus at the top of heap, which explains its background note instead of the foreground spotlight.

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As for what else I tasted you definitely get carrots.  A very nice fragrant and fruity full bodied carrot sweet flavor is front and center.  It is followed up with the chipotle smokiness that adds to the body.  And just when you start wondering where the Chai flavor is, you get it right there as part of the ending body note.

2013-03-04 11.14.35By this time I was hungry and it was time to load some on my sandwich and see how Chai Chipotle was on something better than my finger.  As you can see from the picture I did not hold back or shy away.  I wasn’t afraid of the heat element of Chai Chipotle at all.  This sauce is much more about flavor than heat.  I will admit that by the end of the second sammich (that’s right sammich, not sandwich… that’s how we roll here in the South) I was sniffling a tiny bit.  The sauce added a nice body to the pulled pork but in no way over powered it.  The smoke was not over shadowed by the vinegar tang or the heat in anyway.  While I am thinking of it one other surprising thing about this sauce is how much of a background note the vinegar is in Chai Chipotle.  I am so used to most sauces being nothing but peppers, vinegar and water that when that is not the overall flavor make up of a sauce it catches me off guard a bit.  Part of me thinks perhaps the sauce could have a bit more vinegar kick, but this sauce would be PERFECT for someone who doesn’t like that hyper vinegar hit that most hot sauces have as their predominant element.

The following morning I was eating a Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwich that consisted of a sausage patty and egg whites on a croissant.  As soon as I took the first bite I thought “hmm I bet this would be better with some of that Chai Chipotle sauce on it.”  So I tried it.  And sure enough it was PERFECT.  Great flavor and just a touch of heat.  That is my problem with some hot sauces I use for breakfast they are just too strong for me in the mornings and my tongue just isn’t ready for them more times than not.

So what’s the final verdict?  Well, it’s another solid offering from Intensity Academy.  Not a thing wrong with this sauce.  It might not be my personal “go to” sauce to put on everything, but I can see why it would be for other people and it will be on my breakfast table from here forward.  It’s a unique sauce in that it strives to be a right down the middle honest offering.  Not too hot, solid fruity sweetness with full bodied flavors and a nice medium consistency.  If you are looking for a non offensive sauce to perhaps start someone on their path to becoming a chilehead, Chai Chipotle could very well be that gateway drug you are looking for.

Until next time folks….Love, Peace and Pork Grease!

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The Art of the Reverse Sear.

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Some times you try new cooking techniques because you want to make something better, or easier than before.  Some times you do things out of necessity.  Rarely do both occur on the same attempt.  Last weekend my local grocery store, had Hereford Tri-Tip roasts and Duroc pork shoulders on sale for 50% off of regular price. This sale made the Tri-Tips $3.55 per lb (usually $7-8) and the shoulders $1.55 (usually over $3) per pound.  Unheard of prices for these 2 items.  I purchased about $200 worth of meat for $100.  I had the desire to cook a Tri-Tip that night as I had not cooked one all winter.  I have 2 sons with activities on the weekends and I really did not have time to tend a grill for 30 minutes to a hour and cook this wonderful piece of meat.  I thought this would be a great chance to try out reverse searing this steak.  I had heard of the reverse sear before and knew that a Tri-Tip would be the perfect cut of meat to use this technique on.  I scoured the web for about 15 minutes and found some information  on how to do the reverse sear with a Tri-Tip and I was ready to go.

Seasoned Tri-Tip on the smoker.

Seasoned Tri-Tip on the smoker.

My son and I trimmed and seasoned the Tri-Tip.  Nothing 2 complicated.  It consisted of garlic salt, Western Sizzle steak seasoning and a BBQ rub that I will have a review on in a couple of weeks.  I prepped the pellet cooker, set the temp for 275 degrees and I was ready to start cooking.  I placed my thermometer probe in the thickest side of the meat.  I wanted to reach an internal temperature of 130 degrees before I moved it over to the propane grill to finish it off.  Once on the pellet grill, I left it in the hands of my wife to watch while my sonsand I ran an errand.  The thermometer was set to sound and alarm at 120 and my wife called me home when it went off after about 45 minutes.  When I arrived back home the steak was at 132 degrees and I moved it to my propane grill to finish off.  After grilling (searing) for 15 to 20 minutes more the Tri-Tip was at the desired temp of 145 degrees.  I took it off and waited for it to rest for 15 more minutes to slice it.

Reverse seared Tri-Tip ready for slicing.

Reverse seared Tri-Tip ready for slicing.

Now that I have told my story let me explain want a reverse sear is.  Normally when grilling you sear first and lock in the juices and form a crust on the meat then you cook the meat indirectly until you reach your desired temperature.  With reverse searing, you indirect cook first until the meat reaches a desired temp then you sear at the end to for a crust and finish the meat off.  What I got when I reversed seared was a tenderer steak, a juicier steak and a steak that had more flavor because I was allowed to add smoke into the cooking process.  My meat had a more uniform temperature throughout giving it uniform color except at the ends where it was slightly less rare.  Here is an infographic to explain.

If you added a smoke ring to the example on the right, this is what my steak looked like.

If you added a red smoke ring to the example on the right, this is what my steak looked like.

The reverse sear is not a hard technique to learn or accomplish.  Cook low and slow first the finish hot and fast.  If you watch your temps close nothing will go wrong and you will be rewarded with the juiciest, most flavorful Tri-Tip you have ever eaten.

 

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Gargantuan Garlic Greatness in a Bottle

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Every so often I come across a product that I think “nice idea, but I bet the final delivery is lacking.”  That happens to me a lot especially with hot sauces and rubs.  Everyone is trying so hard to just put out products that so many times the final delivery is something muddled and less than awesome.  This phenomenon evidently does not affect the fine folks at Intensity Academy.

I was first introduced to their line at the Houston Hot Sauce Festival in September, but more importantly I met Tom Was co-founder and co-creator of this line of products.  Tom told me how he and his amazing wife Michele started Intensity Academy as a part of their love for all things spicy.  I sampled a couple of products and quickly nabbed a couple of hot sauces (Hot Squared and Hot Cubed) and some of their Chai Thai Teriyaki.  Unfortunately I only had a couple of minutes to sample just a few products before having to run back to our tent since we were cooking ribs for the rib cook off we were competing in for Chile Pepper Magazine.

Later that night I was blessed with getting to sit down and really talk business with Tom and Tracy Carter (JAC’s Tailgaters) and some of their friends.  It was there that I really got to understand more about Intensity Academy.  If Tom, Michele and crew were a recipe for success in a cook book it would read:

  • 4 parts Passion
  • 3 parts No Comprised Ingredients
  • 2 parts Commitment
  • 1 part Perseverance
  • Combined for a perfect 10 of flavor

This recipe is the same one followed by every sauce, rub and bbq company I know of that are doing it right.  Tom and Michele really have crafted, what is in my opinion, one of the most comprehensive and different line of products available out there today.

Fast forward a couple of months to mid January, I was rifling through my cabinet and literally “clanked” into a bottle and looked to see what it was to find it was that bottle of Chai Thai Teriyaki that I bought back in Houston.  I was making some ribs and thought to myself “hmm I bet I could make some pretty bangin’ ribs with that.”  So I raided the pantry and pulled out some ingredients to make an impromptu rub with Asian flair to complement the Teriyaki.  Long story short those ribs were the hit of the night.  They got as much rave review as the Angus ribeye’s I did and that is saying something because those were some of the best steaks I had ever cooked….ever.  They were so good I dreamt about them that night and got up at 2 in the morning to raid the fridge for a couple of those ribs.  They were GOOD.  Stay tuned for more on those ribs in a minute.

Fast forward again about a month and Scott Roberts, blogger extraordinaire of ScottRobertsWeb.com asked me to do an interview with him as part of his Weekly Firecast Series.  I agreed and during the interview happened to mention some of personal favorite products that included Intensity Academy and JAC’s Tailgaters.    Tom happened to listen to this podcast and messaged me on Facebook wanting the recipe to the ribs.  I told him I would have to order more of the Chai Thai Teriyaki so I could formally write it up since I winged it and wanted to do it write if he was going to publish it.  I was planning on ordering more of IA’s products anyway since I had been really wanting to try some of their Chai Chipotle ‘Chup and Green Tea Gourmet ever since I saw them in Houston.

Well yesterday I get home to find a HUGE box sitting on my doorstep.  I was really taken back by it because I didn’t remember ordering anything that would be in a box that size.  So I glanced at the label and saw it was from Tampa, so I knew it had to be from Tom.  I wasted no time in ripping into it like a fat kid into a box Duncan doughnuts.  I found bottle after bottle of awesomeness and thought to myself that I might as well do a full review series of the product line since, well…I had pretty much the whole line right there.

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Being a Friday night it happened to be pizza night at our house.  Mike and Debra brought over some thin crust pie from one of more favorite joints, J. Bella’s.  As I was putting up the bounty of bottles from IA I spied with my little eye the bottle of Garlic Goodness and thought, “I bet that would work on pizza so let’s give a try.”  I was a little bit apprehensive I must admit.  Garlic is not one of my favorite flavors.  I am pretty sensitive to it and can pick it out a mile away typically and I personally think that it get’s used with a bit of a heavy hand by most.  Then I remember Tom mentioning something about there being like 100lbs of garlic in every 50gal batch of this sauce.  So now I was flat out worried that I would not like it, but knew I just had to try it because where others fail someone has to succeed and if anyone could pull it off Tom and Michele hopefully could.

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So I uncapped the bottle and give the sniff test.  All I can say is HOOOOOOOOOOOOLY COW the garlic was so stout smelling that it took my breath.  This stuff is so stout I swear you could just wave some french bread over the bottle and have instant garlic bread lol!  It is strong, it is pungent, it is GARLIC.  You can smell every ounce of the 100lbs of garlic they use in each batch.  It so fresh smelling it’s almost dumbfounding.  So then a small voice in the back of my head whispered “oh yeah fat boy I bet this gives you some wicked heartburn later.”  Irregardless I had to try it.  I just had to know did this taste of dark, murky, dank garlic or did IA manage some sort of culinary miracle and balance this into a great sauce?

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Next came the plate test.  So I poured a nice glob on a white paper plate.  A couple of things hit you right off.  Firstly the chunks of garlic in there.  Second is that this sauce has a enough body not to ooze all over the plate.  It expanded a little bit but held the shape you see in the picture.  The last thing you notice is what is not as over the top…the intense garlic smell.  Out of the bottle the garlic smell is tamed, it is not shocking, it becomes instead pleasant.  It smells like you chopped up a fresh clove only it smells even better.  If you keep sniffing you can pick up on the vinegar that is in the sauce.  Once I smelled this I had to check the label because it wasn’t just plain old vinegar it had something else going on.

2013-02-23 09.19.26Yup, it was Red Wine Vinegar, my personal favorite vinegar next to balsamic vinegar.  The ingredients on the list are as straight forward as they come.  Nothing you can’t spell, nothing unnatural.

Now came the time of reckoning….the taste test.  As always I started with it raw on my finger.  No, its not as sanitary or “pure” as tasting from a spoon, but I’m not a hot sauce purist, I’m a realist.  I’m real in that I don’t like hot for hot’s sake.  I NEVER like heat without flavor and you will never hear me say “the hotter the better” unless we are talking about swim suit models.  With the sauce raw on my finger I got an immediate garlic hit and it was a very solid hit, but not in any way dark or murky as I thought it might be.  The red wine vinegar does something amazing with this sauce, it allows the garlic to be pungent without being over powering.  It is the horn section to the garlic’s p-funk base line…it is the yin to the garlic’s yang.  Next you get hit with this sense of freshness and then finally some heat.  That freshness note I am betting is from the mix of the red bell pepper, onion and vinegar again.  It really makes the sauce have this lighter note in the middle which is great.  The heat is all habanero and black pepper.  On a heat scale I would say this is about a 3.2 on my scale of 5.  5 being too hot for me.  This is a solid heat that bites quickly and dissipates almost as quickly.  Overall this sauce is surprisingly good, even for someone who admittedly isn’t overly fond of garlic.

Finally was the food test on cheese pizza.  I loaded a fair amount on my slice and man oh man it was good.  It was VERY garlic but it was refreshing and unexpected.  I didn’t really any intense “heat” notes when I added it to the pizza.  So the heat while definitely present when tasted alone, tempers very nicely when added to food.

So where would I use this sauce?  Granted I have only tried Garlic Goodness on pizza so far but I can see this being a staple around my house.  I could see reworking something like 40 Clove Chicken with it or doing some over the top garlic bread by mixing the sauce with some butter.  It could easily be added to ANY soup that calls for garlic.  It would go a very long way on virtually any seafood.  That hit of garlic with a touch of vinegar would be a welcome addition in something like Shrimp Scampi (great recipe that Michele did).  You could very easily make a garlic aioli by replacing the garlic with this sauce and adjusting the amount of lemon juice to compensate for the red wine vinegar.  This sauce would be right at home in pretty much any adobo recipe.  Something like Garlic Chicken Adobo would be greatly helped out with Garlic Goodness.  This sauce in short is at home in ANY recipe that calls for minced garlic.  I plan on amping up some stir fry and some Italian dishes we are cooking this next week.

I can’t say enough how impressed I am by the entire Intensity Academy line, but also Tom and Michele as people and business owners.  Each product is a jewel on it’s own and needs to be tried.  So hit up their site or drop Tom and Michele a note on Facebook and tell them Shane at Draper’s BBQ sent you and you are ready to take some classes at the Academy.

Love, Peace and Pork Grease folks….until next time.

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Ranking the BBQ Meats

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pig parts

I visit many internet sites during the day and one of my favorites is Deadspin.  It is basically a sports website for people with little time to read or short attention spans.  They throw some humor in there as well and break stories about imaginary girlfriends and stuff like that.  Last week Deadspin had an article which ranked the best flavors of doughnuts.  It is not sports related, but I am a fan of doughnuts so I read to find out  if my favorite was near the top.  Vital information that I could not live without.  Little did I know that if this article was a BBQ contest I would be ostrasized for shiggin.  Yeah I am stealing the idea ( thanks Drew Magary ) and writing my own article ranking the BBQ meats.  I will list the meat first then give my reasoning as to why it is superior to the meats beneath it.

1.  Burnt Ends  (Brisket point)- This is my favorite thing to order at any BBQ restaurant.  I am from KC what do you expect.  Tiny little fatty morsels of beefy goodness.  If they were smaller I would swear this is what the fairies used for fairy dust. They are sooooo good.  Smothered in sauce with extra bark.  You just can’t beat them.

2. Brisket  (flat) -  If burnt ends were Miss America then brisket is a close runner up.  When done right it is better than prime rib to me.  The fat just melts in your mouth like butter.  Most people will have a brisket sandwich.  My question is,  Why do you need the bread?

3.  Spare Ribs (St Louis Cut) -  I specify the St. Louis cut because I do not like eating the rib tips.  Too much work for me.  I like the extra flavor these ribs provide in comparison to the baby back ribs.  Ribs are very versatile.  You can have them from spicy to sweet and they are always good.

4.  Turkey -  I already hear the gasps from the audience.  Yes smoked turkey.  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I could eat turkey any day of the year.  Brine it, inject it, rub it and smoke it.  Always good.

5.  Pork Shoulder (Boston Butt) -  I had never had pulled pork till about 6 years ago.  My mom always called it a pork roast and roasted it in the oven seasoned with salt, pepper and caraway seeds.  Served with dumplings and brown pork gravy.  Wow it was good!  When I made my first shoulder I was amazed how much more flavor this cut of meat had when cooked in a smoker.  This cut of meat is literally a sponge for flavor.

6.  Pork Belly/Bacon -  Now this ranks this high on the list because of one thing BACON!  When I was five years old,  I ate a whole pound of bacon for lunch while my mom was visiting with my dad and his golfing buddy.  Kind of a badge of honor I think.  I have never had the rest of the belly, but hope to remedy that soon.

7.  Tri-Tip -  This is a nod to all my California buddies I met at the American Royal last fall.  This piece of meat is rapidly gaining popularity across the US.  It tastes like the best steak at about half the price.  My thanks to El Fuego Fiasco BBQ Team for the Santa Maria spice.  I have not forgotten that I owe you some Drapers AP Rub.

8.  Babyback Ribs – See spare ribs above.  These little guys have just a little less flavor than spares or they would be higher on the list.

beef

9.  Beef Ribs – Like brisket on a stick.  They are juicy and delicious and we fight over them at Christmas after the prime rib is carved.  Smoked on the BBQ they are even better.

10.  Chicken -  White meat or dark meat everyone loves chicken.  The trick is to keep it moist and get some flavor into that meat.  It rounds out the top 10.

11.  Pork Loin -  Living high on the hog as they say.  You can roast it whole or divide into chops.  Stuff it with apples or wrap it in bacon this makes a great dinner.

12.  Ham -  Most BBQ joints around KC do not cook a whole bone in ham.  They cook the processed ham loaf that you can get in any grocery store deli around town.  The process of making your own ham is very long.  It takes weeks and even months to get the ham cured and smoked.   That being said, it would be nice to have bone in smoked ham at a local BBQ restaurant.

13.  Pork Picnic -  Incomplete.  I have never had a pork picnic.  Hopefully some day I will travel down south and have some but until then we will have to rate it an incomplete.

Now, this list is not all encompassing.  I intentionally left off sausage and went with the cuts of meat vs combined elements of sausage.  If I had put it on the list,  it would have been pretty high on the list.  It is not good for me and I love it.  This is my opinion only and does not represent the views of Drapers BBQ ( with the exception of leaving mutton off the list).  You know what opinions are like…everyone’s got one.  So give them to me.  This post is meant to start a discussion.  Please post at the bottom of the article and tell me why you agree or disagree with me.  Use our new share buttons and get your friends to sound off on the subject or post it to your favorite Facebook group.  Lets discuss this cause I am sure pork picnic is too good to be left in the south and burnt ends are too good to be left to KC.

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