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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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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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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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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Eating out of the Box.

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We all seem to find ourselves in a rut sometimes. Whether it is the clothes we wear, the work we do or the places we go out to eat.  Living in Kansas City gives us numerous opportunities to go out for really great BBQ.  Literally hundreds of BBQ restaurants are located in the KC metropolitan area.  Why is it that we tend to migrate to only 2 of them?  When my family goes out for BBQ we tend to go to 2 of the biggest names in KC BBQ Oklahoma Joe’s and Fiorella’s Jacks Stack.  We love them both, get great service and terrific food, but what about all of the others?  Through Facebook, I got back in touch with a friend from high school.  He noticed some of (most of) my posts are related to BBQ.  We wanted to meet up for dinner and he suggested a BBQ joint that I had never been to.  I did not even know it existed and I drive by the area every day on my way to work.  This is not a review of the restaurant, as I did not sample enough off of the menu to give a full review.  This is just about the experience of going to a new place and having things that you would normally not have.  Eating out of the box and getting out of my rut.

My friend, Mike Anani, and I had been trying to meet up for dinner for well over a month and something always seemed to come up.  Finally we found a clear Saturday and made plans.  He knew I really liked BBQ and so did he.  He actually eats at a lot more BBQ restaurants than I do.  He said he had been coming to a new place for a few months and really liked it and wanted to share it with me.  Brobeck’s BBQ is the name of the place. Mike said it was in my neck of the woods.  My neck of the woods?  I had never heard of the place and was very sceptical if I would like it.  How could it be any good if I had not heard of it?

Saturday came and I managed to find Brobeck’s.  It is not really off the beaten path but is tucked away in the back of a strip mall, hidden from the major road I use to get to work.  The parking lot was full.  That’s a good sign that the food is good.  Mike and I walked in and got one of the last tables available and Mike began to tell me about a Ham Salad appetizer they had there.  Ham Salad I thought?  Yuck!  That sounds like something old people eat.  I had never had it before.  We ordered some.  The waitress who was very very sweet, brought it to the table in a bowl about the size you would use for cereal in the morning.  It was a huge portion.  The Ham Salad was served with crackers and Brobeck’s very own potato chips that they make at the restaurant.  It looked good. So I spread some on the crackers and dove right it.  It was fantastic!  I did not ask but I think they used BBQ smoked ham in it.  It was so good if I could get the recipe, I would make it at home and have it every day for lunch.  This was very unexpected.  I never wood have thought that I would have liked that.

After the appetizer, the waitress came over to take our dinner order.  She explained that they were famous for there ribs.  Famous I thought?  I have never heard of you but if it is the best thing you make I am all in.  I ordered a half slab of spare ribs with beans and fries.  The waitress explained that the ribs will come out dry (with no sauce at all) because they are so good you do not need the sauce.  This showed me the pitmaster is very proud of his ribs.  The waitress stated they had 2 sauces on the table Brobeck’s original which is sweet and tomato based and also Brobeck’s mustard sauce if we chose to use sauce.  She continued to say that they had a BBQ sauce bar.  Yes a BBQ sauce bar.  Brilliant idea.  This was a table next to the kitchen loaded with a number of sauces from KC Masterpiece to sauces from many local restaurants including Oklahoma Joe’s and Jack’s Stack.  Honestly, even though it is a great idea and I would like to get Draper’s Smokin Sauce on that table, I did not use it because I wanted to try Brobeck’s Original sauce.  It was tangy, and sweet with good flavor.  Good sauce overall.

Our meals came and my plate was overflowing.  Six meaty spare ribs with a serving of beans and a side dish of steak fries.  Outstanding.  I tried the ribs dry first and the waitress was right, they stood on their own with no sauce.  You could taste the smoke and the rub as very mild.  Not a lot of heat in the rub.  A good solid rib.  I tried it with the original sauce and the sauce  enhanced the flavor slightly but I preferred the dry rib.  What really made the dinner was the amount of meat and the flavor of the rib.  Out of the six ribs I could only eat three and took the rest home for lunch the next day. Overall it was an excellent experience for me and I would not hesitate to go back and try other things off of the menu.  The Ham Salad was fantastic and I would go there just for that item alone.  Maybe get a to go order for lunch during the week.  It is really addictive.

I know everyone has a favorite BBQ joint to go to but with all of the great ones out there you may be missing something special just down the road.  Something you drive by everyday and would never know it was there if someone would not have told you about it.  Look around, slow down and stop and smell the smoke once in a while.  Get out of your BBQ rut and try someplace new.  You may find a hidden gem or a diamond in the rough.

I would be neglecting my duty if I did not give you some info for Brobeck’s BBQ.  Their website address is http://www.brobecksbbq.com/.  Their address is 4615 Indian Creek Parkway Overland Park, KS 66207.  If you are in KC, check them out.

 

 

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Brisket with Butcher BBQ products

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Injecting meat to add flavor for BBQ is all the rage on the BBQ circuit.  Almost everyone (except Johnny Trigg) on BBQ Pitmasters was injecting some kind of meat .  I personally have used injections on turkeys and pork shoulders.  Some injections I have made myself and some I have purchased.  I had never, ever injected a brisket.  I wanted to try this out so I emailed the man that I knew could steer me in the right direction.  David Bouska from Butcher BBQ was the man to help me.  David is the owner of David’s Processing in Chandler, OK, Pitmaster of the Butcher BBQ cooking team and creator of Butcher BBQ rubs, injections, sauces and marinades.  I have seen Butcher BBQ at many of the contests I have competed in and he has always had good showings.  Infact he just won Grand Champion in Liberal, KS this past weekend.  When I emailed David and asked if I could have some products to review for Drapers, he was more than willing to oblige.  I asked David for all the ingredients necessary to cook a competition brisket.  What I received was a bag of Butcher BBQ Brisket injection, a bottle of Butcher BBQ Premium BBQ rub and a bottle of Butcher BBQ sweet BBQ sauce.  Here are my impressions of each.

Butcher BBQ Bricket Injection

I mixed the injection according to the directions on the package.  I whisked the mixture until I could see no lumps.  It did not take long at all. The powder went into solution well and did not clog my injector needle.  The aroma from the injection was not what I had imagined it would be.  I expected to smell spices and a strong beef aroma and that is not what I received.  It was not a bad smell just not what I expected.  I went ahead and injected my brisket in a grid pattern all over the meat and let it rest overnight.  The package of injection stated to let it sit a minimum of four hours.  My brisket sat for about seven hours.  Overall it was a very easy to use product and any BBQ’r should have no problem including this in a competition or home cook.  I will give you my overall flavor review at the end of the article.  This is my brisket after it was injected.

 

Butcher BBQ Premium BBQ Rub

 

I was very anxious to use this rub.  It had sat in my pantry for most of the summer while I was at Boy Scout camp and on vacation.  I did not want to use it until I had time to cook a brisket.  This rub has a great color and added a beautiful bark to the brisket that I cooked that day.  It is a salty and sweet rub.  Salty at the beginning and sweet at the end.  No heat at all.  It was well balanced and I could see it complimenting  the meat not covering it up.  I gave the brisket a good coating of rub (I used almost half the 12 oz bottle) after I had finished injecting the brisket.  Place foil over the top of the aluminum pan and placed it in the refrigerator overnight (about 7 hours).  When I pulled the brisket out in the morning, I  re-coated lightly with more rub and on to the the pellet grill it went.

Butcher BBQ Sweet BBQ Sauce

I usually do not sauce the briskets I cook.  I just prefer to have my sauce on the side when eating brisket.  I used Butcher’s sauce the same way, on the side.  Butcher’s is a dark, rich looking and semi-thick BBQ sauce.  I do believe that it could be used in competitions and at home. I tasted it straight out of the bottle first.  The first taste I detected was the vinegar in the sauce.  The sweet came through next and the finish tasted like raisins.  I know that sounds a little funny to some people but it did give me that impression.  It was sweet with no heat at all.  The vinegar gave it a little bite but was not overpowering the sauce.  The color and the thickness would give a nice competition presentation.

Overall Impressions

The injection worked wonders for my brisket. I cooked it for 7 and 1/2 hours on the GMG Daniel Boone  untill it reached 204 degrees.  I cooked at 225 degrees the entire cook and wrapped when the meat reached 140 degrees.  I used BBQr’s Delight Apple pellets during this cook. The meat was very tender and juicy.  It would have been considered mushy for a contest but that is the way my wife and kids like it.  It had big beef flavor.  I do not think it would have been that beefy and flavorful without the injection.  I loved the rub.  The brisket had a nice bark that tasted great and I think the rub would go equally good on pork or chicken.  Now on to the sauce.  While it is not something I would dip my french fries in, it did taste great on the brisket.  Remember, I dunked mine as I ate and did not coat the brisket in it.  I tasted the sweet of the sauce first then the beef flavor of the meat came through second. Butcher BBQ has a full line of rubs, marinades, sauces and injections for you to try out.  I can attest they make one fine brisket.  This is my finished product.

 

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Product Review: Green Mountain Grill Daniel Boone Pellet Grill

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As a writer for Drapersbbq.com, it is my job to find interesting things to blog about.  Often I have to cold call different companies and arrange for samples to be sent to me to try out and review.  Small things like sauces or rubs are very easy to ship via what ever postal carrier you choose.  Grills and smokers on the other hand, those are a whole different story.  So right off the bat, I would like to thank Jason from Green Mountain Grills  (GMG) and Bob from BBQ Bonanza in Kansas City, KS for providing me this GMG Daniel Boone model to try out and review for our readers.  Jason made all the arrangements and Bob had the GMG delivered right to my front door, unpacked it and even loaded it with a few pellets.  They could not be nicer folks to work with.

The GMG brand is no stranger to us here at Draper’s BBQ.  Mike has owned a GMG for sometime now and I have a next door neighbor that has one as well.  Our intent is to give you a review through the eyes of a first time user (me) and a longtime owner (Mike).  We hope this will give you some helpful information if you are in the market for a new pellet grill.  You can read Mike’s long term review here.

Lets talk about the features of the GMG Daniel Boone model I cooked on.  The Daniel Boone features a 27×16 inch stainless steel grate for 432 sq inches of cook space.  Team that with a 13.5 inch clearance and you have a very large cook space.  The Daniel Boone weighs 152 pounds which makes it very portable.  Some pellet cookers can weigh over 300 lbs.  GMG gave this machine a digital control for easy use, a meat probe, utility hooks to hang your tools on and a thermal sensor to measure ambient temperature.  This thermal sensor tells the GMG to kick it into high gear if it is cold outside so you don’t have to wait for you grill to heat up in cold weather. GMG also equipped the Daniel Boone with a positive pressure hopper fan to prevent burn-back and a “fan only” mode with auto shut off to blow ash out of the firebox when you finished.  All of this for less than $800, making the GMG Daniel Boone one of if not the most affordable pellet grills on the market.  You can also purchase extras like a stainless steel (no warp) lid, a form fitting cover, a dome thermometer (to measure temps at the top of the grill) and a remote.  Bob was nice enough to include the remote with my Daniel Boone.  I was really excited to try that feature out.  Green Mountain Grills also includes an instruction/recipe book and an instructional DVD to help new owners.

Start up would have been easy if I would have read the instruction book that was given to me.  Being a man,  I did not read it until I became frustrated.  To start up the grill you must turn on the power switch then hold the increase temperature button.  I assume this is a safety feature so the grill does not accidentally get turned on by a child or accidental bump.  This is a very nice safety feature.  Once started, the grill begins to go through the motions of starting up and getting to temp.  The grill is automatically set to get to 320 degrees F, then you must set your cooking temp.  I lowered mine to 230 degrees F and opened the lid to help the temperature decrease.  This entire process took about 15-20 min.

Once I reached my desired temperature I put my brisket on and inserted the food probe so the Daniel Boone could keep track of the meat.  I turned on the remote control and headed inside to relax and watch the BBQ Pitmasters marathon on Destination America.  The remote worked flawlessly.  I could check the temp of my cooker and the meat with just the push of a button.  I waited until the meat’s temperature was 145 then I put it in a foil pan with some beef broth and covered it until it was time to take it off.  Total cook time for a 4.67 lb brisket flat was about 7 hrs and 45 min. This is a picture of the finished product. 

The next day, I wanted to test the Daniel Boone out as a grill.  I cooked a flank steak for fajitas.  I took the grill up to 500 degrees F (its maximum) for this.  The GMG took about 15 to 20 minutes to get to this temp.  I placed the steak on and heard the sizzle.  I could not wait to have those fajitas.  I took about 40 minutes to cook the flank steak to 155 degrees F.  This was longer than it would have taken me on my propane grill but the Daniel Boone cooked an incredible steak.  It was very juicy and flavorful and I did not have to worry about flare-ups with the GMG.  With the fan circulating the heat all around the food, I would almost call this smoke roasting vs grilling.  It takes a little longer to grill on the GMG but the result was just as good.  I did have substantial pellet usage while grilling at that high of temp so the cost to use the Daniel Boone as a grill is higher than a propane or charcoal grill but the products put out on the GMG were very tasty.

My overall impression of the GMG Daniel Boone model was excellent.  Start up was easy (once I read the instructions),  the cook was good, and the temp of the GMG only fluctuated a degree or 2 all day.  This was a very hot day in KC (high 101 degree F) and I did not use a lot of pellets.  My estimate was less than 5 lbs of pellets for the almost 8 hour smoke.  This pellet grill has a lot of high end features that you do not find on higher priced pellet grills.  I love the meat probe and the remote control.  I only left my recliner 3 times all day to check on the grill.  A few concerns I have about the GMG Daniel Boone are the thickness of the metal used in construction.  Will it insulate well enough in the cold weather months?  Will it warp and bend over time with the high heat of grilling?  Mike can probably address these questions in his review as a long time owner.  For the price,  I do not think you can beat this pellet grill.  It performs well under normal conditions, has some high end features that you wont find on higher priced pellet grills and the company has been very accommodating and easy to work with.

One footnote to my article:  The GMG Daniel Boone that I tested was an older model and may differ in specs from the current model.  Sorry for any confusion.

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Extended Review: Green Mountain Grill Jim Bowie Pellet Grill

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As a companion piece to Ernie Rupp’s excellent review of the GMG Pellet Grill, I offer my thoughts on the Green Mountain Grill Jim Bowie Pellet Grill, which is part 2 in this series of 3.  If you would like to see Jason Baker’s response to our review please check out his post here.

Let’s start off with a quick overview of the differences – the Jim Bowie is the larger of the two standard models.  The main differences are strictly size specs- the cooking surface on my GMG is 600 square inches and the weight tips the scales at 183 pounds.   That’s a gain of roughly 70 square inches of cooking surface for an additional 30 pounds or so.  Both models feature the same pellet hopper/auger system and stainless steel grates for easy clean up.

After reading Ernie’s review, I noted a few more points where the newer and older GMGs differ.  The startup procedure for my cooker is different than for Ernie’s Daniel Boone.  After speaking with Jason Baker of Green Mountain Grills, we determined that my Jim Bowie is actually the newer model than Ernie’s.

Where the older model requires one to keep the “On” switch depressed for an extra second or two, mine just has a rocker switch for power and then uses the temperature “Up” or “Down” button to start the process of filling the firepot with pellets, heating them to ignition and then getting the temperature up to the default setting.   On my newer Jim Bowie, the default temperature is 150 degrees Fahrenheit whereas Ernie’s older Daniel Boone is 320 degrees.

My GMG was purchased in October of 2011 and there haven’t been too many weekends when it didn’t see some action.   The majority of my cooks have been more in the barbecue vein so it’s seen more briskets and butts than burgers and hot dogs but it’s a versatile machine.  The cooking surface will accommodate a ton of food and the height of the cooking chambers means turkeys or several beer-can chickens will fit easily.

When it comes to smoking and barbecue, the GMG is a wonder of convenience.  Like Ernie’s, my cooker has the remote which allows for easy monitoring of both the meat (via probe) and the internal temperature of the cooker itself.  Changes can be made to the temperature and you’ll be notified if your pellet supply gets too low.

Since I got my cooker so late in the year, I cooked a lot this winter.  It never really got very cold for very long in my part of the country but there were a few days of sub-freezing temperatures where the GMG saw use and invariably produced excellent quality food.

What was immediately noted and been reliably repeated is the consumption of pellets increases significantly when the weather is cold.  I don’t have an enclosed area for the GMG when it’s cooking so wind and cold really pull the heat out of the metal.  To offset this, I bought a wool blanket and some magnets at Harbor Freight and fashioned some insulation that would help with the cold.  Wool doesn’t combust until at least 570 degrees Fahrenheit and the blanket never saw use above 275 degrees.

With the magnetized blanket in place, fuel consumption dropped from about 1½ pound an hour to a much more reasonable pound an hour.  I’m estimating because I never emptied the hopper to weigh the remaining pellets – I’ll do a lot in the name of science and accuracy but standing in the cold, emptying pellet hoppers and weighing compressed sawdust isn’t one of them.

Update: I’ve learned that GMG makes a thermal blanket that provides all the benefits of my cobbled-together solution with a custom fit and much better looking.

The durability of the unit has been remarkable, even when stupidity threatens to destroy it.  I had put some meat on in the wee hours of the morning for a barbecue lunch.  I had just gotten settled into bed when I realized that I had left the wrong flavor of pellets in the hopper.

Knowing the auger was full of pellets, I figured I had time to empty the hopper and refill with the flavor I wanted.  So I drove both hands into the hopper, dumping the pellets into a box then topped the now-empty hopper with the right flavor.

Just as anticipated, the auger tube never ran out of pellets and the flavor was what I wanted.  Mission accomplished.

The lunch was so successful, I had folks asking for more.  So I obliged them, happy that my GMG and I could produce food that people enjoyed.  Two more cooks come and go and I realize I’ve managed to lose my wedding ring in the process.  I figured it was somewhere by the kitchen sink and would turn up eventually. After the second week, I was pretty sure it was just gone.

Wanting to cook again the next weekend, I took a weeknight to clean up the GMG.  I pressure washed the grates, stripped the heat diffuser and re-wrapped it in foil for easy clean up.  I dumped and cleaned the grease pail and vacuumed out the ashes and firepot – where I found my wedding band, now hickory-smoked and crusty with ashes.  It had fallen off while I was pulling pellets out of the hopper weeks ago, made its way through the auger tube and been cooking ever since.

That speaks volumes to the quality of this machine that it would take sizeable chuck of titanium through the auger tube and have enough grunt to push it all the way into the firepot without damaging any component in the cooker.  A panel for emptying the hopper would have prevented this issue but it’s a minor quibble for an otherwise rock-solid design. Oh, and the ring wasn’t damaged either and I can tell people that even my wedding band is a smoke ring!

My GMG has survived pop-up thunderstorms that drenched it but never a drop entered the hopper. The pellets were always dry as a bone.  For those unfamiliar with pellets, they’re compressed sawdust.  Water causes them to swell dramatically in size and then they dry, turning into wood-based concrete.   This is not what you want to happen inside your pellet grill.

So despite my best efforts to kill it, the Jim Bowie has survived without ill effects.  Obviously, I’m not the most careful cook but I do try and keep it inside when not in use.  For me, that’s my basement garage.  Like most basements, it’s a little dank and musty but the pellet hopper is always bone dry.

Speaking of damp, I’ve had very little trouble with rust.   There were a few spots starting to show on the side table but that’s entirely my fault – I had set a sheet pan with a wet bottom on it which trapped water against it.  I didn’t notice until weeks later as I don’t always raise the table.  A quick pass with sandpaper and a light coat of BBQ paint and it’s good as new.

After 9 months of ownership and countless pounds of pellets, I have to give my unreserved recommendation to these grills.  They really perform exceptionally well, are light enough to be part of your competition load-out, and have the best bang-for-your-buck value of any pit I’ve cooked on.   I simply cannot recommend them highly enough.

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BK BBQ Style…..

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You ever do something you are mildly ashamed of?  You know one of those things while you are doing it you are thinking “man I’m probably going to regret this…I know better.”  Well today was one of those days.  The past couple of weeks at Draper’s BBQ have been stress filled and well just a plain mess.  So I found myself in my truck this afternoon on the hunt for some lunch when I glanced down to see a coupon from Burger King (enter Jaw’s Theme here).  On the coupon I saw the picture of the Texas and Carolina Whopper’s.  In what amounts to a moment of self loathing I thought “well, I’ve eaten worse, let’s see how bad this thing is.”

So off I went to the local Burger King which is just around the corner from my office.  My coupon was a buy one get one deal (yes you calorie counters I got TWOOOOO of them, thanks for making me feel worse.).  I got to the drive through and opted for one Carolina Tendergrill (grilled chicken version) and one Texas Tendergrill.  My reasoning for the chicken was two fold.  1 – I needed to feel someone not completely terrible about the calories I was about to consume.  2 – I figured the chicken would interfere less with the flavor of the barbecue sauce.  That after all is what makes these sandwiches barbecue, because it sure as heck isn’t the way they are cooked.

I started with the Carolina Tendergrill.  I have to first comment that this sandwich was actually put together very nicely.  IE…all parts of the sandwich actually made it somewhat between the bun and it at least resembled the picture in the advertisements.  The pic above is what I found when I opened the box.

The Burger King website describes this yardbird on bun as:

A juicy fire-grilled premium white meat chicken fillet topped with pepper jack cheese, naturally smoked thick-cut bacon, freshly chopped iceberg lettuce, red onions and ripe tomatoes, smothered with a sweet southern sauce and the tang of Carolina BBQ sauce, all on a warm toasted, artisan-style bun.

Given that description I will respond to each of their claims.  The meat did indeed appear and taste fire-grilled.  It was pretty juicy, at least not dry in any way that I noted.  It was in fact topped with a white cheese, although if it was pepper jack I didn’t get any hints of pepper at all.  It did have nice pieces of bacon, and they were even what some might consider thick-cut.  The lettuce, could have been fresher, but better than what I have come to expect from most fast food establishments.  The tomatoes were ripe and nice.  I opted for no onions, because I personally am not a fan of fast food onions typically due to indigestion issues.  The bun was nice but I would call it “artisan-like” instead of “artisan-styled.”  It wasn’t a bad bun at all, but a stretch to claim artestry there.

Now the important piece, the sauce.  Now being a sauce guy I expected I would rip this area apart.  You know what?  I really have nothing bad to say about the Carolina sauce.  Now is it true to Carolina?  Eh, that might be a stretch much like the artisan bun.  It is however, sweet and tangy and a nice complement to the sandwich overall.  Dare I say that I actually enjoyed it?  Yes, I am ashamed to admit that I did.

Next I tried the Texas Tendergrill.  You can pretty much copy all the features and comments about the Carolina Tendergrill and insert them here.  For the record this is how Burger King describes it though:

A juicy fire-grilled premium chicken fillet topped with a thick slice of melted American cheese, freshly cut iceberg lettuce, red onions, ripe tomatoes and jalapeño slices, smothered in a smoky and spicy Texas BBQ sauce all on a warm, toasted artisan-style bun.

Other than the change in sauce and cheese and the addition of jalapeno’s it is the same sandwich.

My overall take on the Texas version is unfortunately not as favorable as the Carolina version.  The sandwich and toppings themselves are fine, until you get to the sauce.  The Texas sauce was just too heavy handed with liquid smoke.  I, for the record, don’t mind liquid smoke and it has it’s place when used correctly.  Unfortunately, this is not one of those instances.  The Texas sauce in its effort to be bolder just comes off as off putting.  I did like the spice it had, but I think most of that could be attributed to the jalapenos and not the sauce.

So if you find yourself in a moment of weakness and in the line at a Burger King I say give the Carolina Tendergrill a shot, you may find like I did that it’s actually pretty good.  Now….who do I call at BK Corp for making a pulled pork sandwich??!!!! HERESY I SAY!

Love, peace and pork grease folks!

Shane

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