Christmas Recommendations

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Recently, I was asked to create a list of some of my favorite things or things that I would recommend for bbq fans for Christmas.  This list contains items that I love, some I’ve had for many years, some I’ve recently discovered.  The list really isn’t in any particular order and I haven’t really thought about it from a price stand point.  There are cheaper items and there some pricey items.  With all of that out of the way, let’s get started.


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Lodge Logic Square Skillet – There are a few standards I think every kitchen needs and a classic cast iron pan is one of those things.  From making corn bread to searing steaks they are just invaluable.  Most people have the classic round pan, but this year I bought this square version and I have found I prefer it to my round pans and I reach for it more often than the others.  This pan is about $27 on Amazon so it won’t break the bank and it is something that will last a life time if you take care of it.  When I bought mine I knew I’d be using it a lot so I added the silicone handle cover as well.  I wondered if I’d really think the extra $4 (pricing depends on color chosen) was worth it, and I’m glad to say it is.


Kick Ash Basket – I love simple solutions to problems.  To me the simplest solution shows the most genius and that is what I think the Kick Ash Basket is.  There is nothing kickashresize2complicated about it.  It is just a metal basket.  It’s not overly sexy, its not even overly pretty.  It is however built extremely well and the beauty is in its simplicity.  If you have a kamado cooker you need this basket.  This basket will save you charcoal and keep you from fighting your dampers as much because of the amount of air flow that is now able to get to each piece of charcoal.  There have been a hundred reviews of this jewel and you can google them and will find blogs like Nibble Me This, Naked Whiz and Big Green Craig love it.  That is all I needed to know.  For around $60 depending on your kamado model this will change your ceramic grill lovers life.


fb_resizeFlame Boss 200 Wifi – Since we are already kind of talking about kamado cookers let me recommend a product that honestly I did not think I would like very much.  I’ve used about 4 different “pit management” devices during my time competition cooking.  Each of them lost favor with me pretty quickly because for all of their benefit they were just a pain to set up and then got rather annoying shortly there after and frankly the cost was prohibitive.  The other reason I typically do not like them on a kamado is that…well if I’m being honest they take the fun out of cooking.  They make it automatic, easy and remove all the “know how” from the equation.  Now that’s one view from my perspective.  On the flip side of that coin from a new kamado owners perspective they would see this unit as greatly shortening the learning curve that is associated with these cookers.  They would feel more connected to the cooking process and more at ease.  In the end I have found I turn to the FlameBoss 200 Wifi when I knew I don’t have time to really monitor the Grilla Grills Kong or Big Green Egg XL.  The unit is bulletproof and works for controlling your pit no doubt, but that was only half the story.  More than control, I turn to it for data logging of just about every cook I do now (yes even on pellet pits).  That’s the real beauty of this device is that it pushes all the cook data to the cloud and saves it for you.  This can become invaluable if you catalog and really review the data after the cook.  I use this as a verifier of other devices because of its data logging capability.  Now let’s be clear this is a pretty spendy item at around $330, but of the various units I’ve used it is my favorite by a large margin. This is yet another thing that both Nibble Me This and Big Green Craig recommended to me personally that were clear winners.


ThermoWorks Smoke – So you want something that tells you when your food is done or img_20161028_152034209_hdr-2what temp your pit is running but don’t want to drop the coin on the Flame Boss and don’t need the ability to data log?  Then check out the ThermoWorks Smoke.  It’s no secret that I love pretty much everything ThermoWorks has made.  From their Thermapens to the TimeStick Trio, to the ThermoPops they just don’t make any bad products in my opinion.  I could go on and on about the Smoke but you can check out my video review which pretty well sums up everything you need to know.  For right at $100 this is a great unit that can be used for everything from cooking in your oven to any grill/smoker out there.  As a bonus let me further plug the ThermoPop, if you always thought the Thermapen was too pricey do yourself a favor and pick up a few ThermoPops.  They live in my apron pocket and I love them.  For under $30 I think anyone who cooks should have at least one.


81-cg54dxelPremiala Meat Injector – So I have a huge love hate relationship with injectors.  Full disclosure I have about 7 various models laying around ranging from $2 to around $130 (looking at you Chops Power Injector) and every single one has left me high and dry (see what I did there…dry) at one time or another.  They clog too easily, break or just don’t have enough vacuum to pull and inject heavier viscosity fluids (looking at you BDI injector).  I never pack a single injector with me because of this.  I keep coming back to my tried and true back up, the Premiala.  This injector just works, is built well and can be used with one hand.  For $25 it works as it should and comes with spare parts and its own carrying case to keep everything together.  If you inject turkeys, pork butts, chicken, whole hogs (your hand will get tired but at least you know it will work) or briskets this has a needle that will work and it will take a beating.  I’m not the only one who thinks so, check out the review over at BBQ Beat as well.


Anker SoundCore – I know it’s not technically cooking/bbq/grilling related but I seldomanker-1 ever cook without this thing.  It has great sound quality, last for hours and takes a beating.  It goes with me in my backpack right long with my camera and knife roll.  I love this little speaker and frankly I say if you aren’t dancing around the kitchen and enjoying yourself while your cooking then you are missing out.  Much like ThermoWorks, I have yet to find a bad Anker product.  From their battery packs to their charging cables they are all top notch and always 4 star plus rated products on Amazon.  For $40 (I’ve seen these as low as $25 on sale) you have a great unit that pairs with your phone sans cables and keeps your hands and phone free to do the chopping, prepping, etc that you should be enjoying.  There is an updated version of this unit (SoundCore Sport XL) that is supposedly even better and even more rugged but I have not personally tried it so I cannot comment on it, but I don’t doubt that it is equally fantastic but it is more expensive.


pixelGoogle Pixel XL – So while I’m talking tech let me plug the new Pixel from Google.  Earlier this year I invested about $1000 in a Canon Rebel T6i, lenses and a lav mic set up for recording.  I’m glad I did, but about a month ago I also bought a Pixel XL and I am astonished at the pictures and vids that come out of this phone.  For us blogger types or Twitter/Instagram nerds who take a pic of everything we eat before we eat it, this phone is amazing.  I’m not saying it’s for everyone, I’m just saying I love it and even at its $600+ price tag dare I say it was worth it…..yeah I do.   Even though its on Verizon this phone will work with all carriers.  I settled and got the 32GB version and yes it would be nice to have the 128GB version but I have not found the smaller size to be an issue because of the unlimited storage with Google Photo’s.  And let me tell you the phone is one part of the story but the ability to back up, share and easily edit photos within Google Photos makes the phone even better.


Zelite Infinity Knives – This summer I was able to shoot a video with Jack Scalfani of zelite2Cooking with Jack.  His YouTube channel is great and he reviews a ton of kitchen products.  Jack handed me the Zelite Inifinity Chef’s knife and I fell in love instantly.  I am a Miyabi and Victorinox fan and recommend the Victorinox Fibrox line to just about everyone who asks what is a great knife for a great value.  I have to say there are days where I don’t want anything in my hand except the Infinity.  The pinch and balance on it are fantastic and it is crazy sharp because of the angle these knives are sharpened with.  These are not the cheapest knives you will own, but they are not the most expensive either.  They typically run about $120 for the chef’s knife on Amazon but I have seen them with 20% off codes listed from time to time.  The paring knife is awesome in this line as well and it is one the best paring knives I’ve picked up.


griddle2King Kooker Cast Iron Griddle – This piece is great for kamado cookers or any round grill for that matter including the Grilla Grills Grilla.  You can also use it direct over a fire while camping or tailgating.  It absorbs heat like a champ and produces some serious sear marks on a steak or burger with the ribbed side.  You can do pancakes and pizzas with the flat side.  This one is great for the pitmaster who has everything and for $25 you can’t really go wrong.  We have used one for a couple of years now and it still looks like new.


Half Ceramic Stone – If you have a kamado or Weber kettle style cooker you know the value of 2 zone cooking.  Using a half stone like this one makes it much easier to do and stone2manage.  I love using the half stone when cooking something that needs a bit of low and slow but benefits from a higher heat finish.  Chicken wings, chicken leg quarters and chicken halves all fit into this category for me.  Ceramic Grill Store has about everything you need if you have a kamado.  I have my eye on one of their woks as well that fit the Grilla Grills Kong and Big Green Egg.  I haven’t bought one yet so I can’t comment on how good the wok is, but based on reviews I’ve seen they look pretty fun and do a great job over the direct heat of lump charcoal.  I’m betting they would work on a round pellet pit as well with some testing of course.  Looking at you Ceramic Grill Store if you want me to test one those out 🙂  If you buy this half stone (or even two if you want to use it as a full heat diversion system) you will need one of the spiders to hold the stone(s) in place.  One stone and a spider will set you back around $50.


 

silverbac-product-1Grilla Grills Silverbac / Kong – I saved my last two picks for two products that really surprised me this year.  Many of you know that I consult for Grilla Grills and help them with videos, marketing, product testing, etc.  So know that this recommendation comes from two vantage points.  First of course I do receive compensation from them, but that’s not why I recommend these two.  The more important reason I recommend these two is because I have seen all the good and the bad from an insiders perspective and I am still amazed by both these grills.  The Silverbac has been a big surprise to me just how well they have been received and how well they cook.  I frankly thought “great…another barrel shaped pellet smoker” and was not really excited by it, but appreciated the price point that Grilla Grills put on the unit.  For $699 delivered it still represents the best bang for your buck for cooking surface and build quality of any pellet pit out there.  The Kong I also kind of dismissed as an “also ran” product since I have a lotkong of experience with the Big Green Egg XL.  I have to say though from the first time I fired it up, it reminded me why I loved kamado cookers but also why I was so disenchanted by BGE.  Grilla Grills took the time fix my complaints about the BGE (price, assembly and nest) and deliver them to customer at a price ($799) that is nearly half of that of BGE.  You just can’t say enough about that and their commitment to their customers.  I have experienced the company from the inside and I am proud to be associated with them because they are a company that still loves the people they do business with.  They have not lost sight of the fact that at the end of the day the business is about the people and not the bottom line and it shows day in and day out.


That about covers some of my favorites from this year and years past.  There is a fair mix of stuff for just about every type of grill lover on this list.  And if you are still looking for stuff, never underestimate how much us pitmasters love a good cook book.  Diva-Q released a great one this year as well as Meathead Goldwyn.  Both are great and ring in at or around $20 and will provide a whole years worth of recipes and stuff to try out.

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year my friends and stay saucy 🙂

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Turkey Smurkey…..Answers For Turning Out Top Notch Turkey

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This time of year Draper’s BBQ cooks a lot of turkeys we also answer a ton of questions about how we do our turkeys.  Unfortunately even if we told you exactly how we turn out top notch turkey goodness not everything would easily translate to how you are cooking your turkey.

With that thought in mind I thought I would cover some basics that will make you the hero of the big day, which is tomorrow, so these are last minutes tips based on things you likely already have in your pantry / fridge.

The single biggest question we get is “what is your brine recipe?”  Well to be honest we dont use a traditional brine recipe any longer.  There was a time I swore by wet brines for turkey but as my proficiency grew with cooking them I found my need for them greatly decreased.  The reality is that brines do not penetrate deep into the meat like we think it does and wet brines can be a hassle when you are doing more than one bird.

What we adapted to replace wet brining is a process called dry brining.  It accomplishes the same task, but is much easier to deal with overall.  Now you maybe asking yourself, “what is this crazy meat magic you speak of?”  Dry brining is little more than sprinkling the turkey with salt about 12hrs before you cook.  Doing this accomplishes the same thing as a wet brine BUT it does not compromise the ability to create crispy skin like a wet brine.  It does not take a lot of salt, literally just a light sprinkle and pat dry and let sit in the fridge and that is it.  You can of course add more herbs and spices to the dry brine if you wish.  Just remember to wipe off any excess moisture and dry brine before cooking.

We also employ a process of using herbed butter to bring flavor to the party.  A few hours before the dance of the turkey begins we soften a stick of butter (not completely melt, just soften) and add our favorite herbs, spices etc to the butter and then reform into a log using wax paper and toss that into the freezer.  Once the butter has set again or just before you put the bird in the hot box you want to slice this roll of butter into about 12 pieces so it looks like coins.  Then you can work these coins under the skin of the bird.  I like to put 3 per breast and at least 1 per leg and thigh.  I like doing this because the butter is typically frozen and acts like a first baste but it is under the skin so the meat itself gets the benefit of the flavors.  Now I know it might sound a little primal working your hand up under the skin of the turkey, but its very easy.  If you work from the cavity end of the bird and start with the breast and slowly work forward you will easily make the pockets needed.  Once you are done feel free to use some tooth picks to stretch the skin back so it fully covers the breast again.

So you are probably asking “what spices we use” in our herbed butter.  Well to keep it simple I would recommend either of the two listed below.  Both are easily found in your local big box store and both bring a good mix of flavor to the party.  
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So the bird is brined, butter under the skin now take some good cooking spray and give the bird a nice spray.  Everywhere you spray the cooking spray you are promoting a nice tan color on the bird.  Some say go ahead and coat with herbs after you have oiled or sprayed the bird, I recommend not doing that just yet.  Adding the herbs too early to the exterior of the bird can cause them to blacken too much.

So how do you cook your turkey?  Well most are going to use an oven.  Some an electric smoker.  Other perhaps a grill or big barbecue pit.  Here are some ideas that work no matter what method you opt for.

  1. try not to cook a 20+lb bird.  They are just hard to get done correctly.
  2. understand you probably need to cook this bird at 300 degrees or better.  This is more for the smoker guys out there.  Lower and slower actually do not produce better results here.  Hotter and faster is better for poultry in general.
  3. Do not use a high sided pan that causes your bird to sit down in its own juices or hides the thighs and legs from heat.  This will prolong your cook time on your dark meat and destroys the texture of the skin on these cuts.
  4. If cooking at 275-325 degrees your cook time will be 15-18min per pound as a rough guide.
  5. DO NOT OVER COOK THE BIRD!  Most people torture their turkey by pushing it to 180 degrees and there is no need for this.  Once all parts of the bird have reached 165 degrees internal temp then pull it and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Now lets talk injections.  I really like injections for turkey because it allows me to put flavor exactly where I want it and where it may be needed.  Our injection is a riff of the “injectable butter” you see in all the big box stores this time of year.  It is really simple to make.  Take 2 cups of high quality chicken broth, melt in 1 stick of butter and add a table spoon of seasoning salt and a teaspoon of granulated garlic.  You want to heat this up and have it right near boiling.  If you do not and you inject this into your cooking bird you will actually slow down your cook time!   Now the beauty of this recipe is that you can add literally any seasoning here that you can fit through a needle and even get crazy and add different seasonings to different parts of the bird if you wish.  The options are limitless.

As a generalized rule for injecting, I like to inject at the 2hr point of the cook process and then again each hour to hour and a half after that until done.  This ensures lots of flavor, plenty of moisture and a great final product.

Now about the herbs and spices I told you wait on for the exterior of the skin earlier.  Once your bird is about 20min from being done grab that cooking spray again.  You are going to mist a light coat on the bird and then sprinkle your herbs and spices on.  If you dont have a blend in mind I personally like the Montreal Chicken from Grill Mates.  Its a great herby seasoning that looks good on the turkeys.

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That is about as easy as we can make cooking turkey and what we have learned after cooking literally hundreds of them.  Turkey does require some preparation, but they are not the culinary crusade that they are made out to be.  In general terms keep it simple, have a plan and you will turn out a great product that the family will love.

 

Shane

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Official Rules and Regulations for the Big Giveaway

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

Official Contest Rules and Regulations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Draper’s BBQ Contest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Barbecue Live…..Barbecue Legit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Day 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Day 2

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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DBQ at the Ky State BBQ Festival

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 Hot off the presses from last night’s Getting’ Sauced with Draper’s BBQ and the Kentucky State BBQ Festival (so dubbed KSBF from here forward because that is a lot to read) webpage, I have been asked to do the cooking demonstrations for the 2nd Ever Kentucky State BBQ Festival.  I am both honored and humbled by being asked to do this by Brad Simmon’s and the organizers of the event.

For those that were not able to attend last year’s event and missed Brad and I talking about it last night on the radio show let me attempt to describe just what this festival is all about.  The KSBF is loosely based on the Big Apple Block Party.  The organizers invite the best of the best in the world of barbecue out to cook for thousands of new friends.  In short, Joe Consumer can come out and eat the barbecue of world class pitmasters.  The list of pitmasters for this event is impressive to say the least, a definite who’s who of Q.  To get to share an event with the likes of Carey Bringle (Peg Leg Porker BBQ), Moe Cason (Ponderosa BBQ), Pete and Melissa Cookston (Yazoo’s Delta Q), Shelly Hunt (Desperados Barbecue) and Craig Kimmel (Firehouse BBQ) is an honor.

Add to that being asked to sit in for none other than Dr. BBQ, mister Ray Lampe is humbling to say the least.  Ray did amazing cooking demonstrations last year and to say one could ever replace him would be a mistake.  Ray is one of my personal bbq heroes, I got to tell him that at last years KSBF when were vending barbeque sauce and rub.  Ray was such a great guy he even used our products during his demonstrations.  The first barbecue related book I ever read was Ray’s Big Time Barbecue.  Ray has had a great influence on not only me, but a whole generation of barbecue pitmasters and I will forever be in his debt.  I can only do my best to live up to the excepti”onal standard that Ray set at last year’s KSBF.

So what can you expect from the demos this year?  Great competition tips adapted for the backyard and awesome samples cooked on a pit that anyone can use.  That’s right we will have a limited amount of samples during each class.  Mike and I have been working on a curriculum for our classes that is based on our Salt, Smoke, Meat concept.  I took this simplified concept and compressed it even further to work in a 30min demonstration.

On Saturday, September 8th I will be doing the following demos:

  • 12:30pm – Chicken – I will show you how to make competition lollipop chicken legs and let you taste them.  You will also get recipes and instruction for whole and spatchcocked chicken as well.
  • 2:30pm – Ribs – We will discuss baby backs vs spare ribs, go over how to properly trim ribs and I will give you instructions on how to cook 4hr ribs.
  • 4:45pm – Pulled Pork – We will coverBoston butts vs whole shoulders, proper trimming, proper injection and how to cook including our competition timeline.
  • 5:30pm – Brisket – I will cover picking a proper brisket, how to trim correctly, injection recommendations and of course how to cook a great brisket.

On Sunday, Sept 9th I will be doing these:

  • 11:15am – Tailgating – It’s all about easy and great entertaining with this demo.  Moink balls, wings, bacon explosion I got it all covered.
  • 1:30pm – Holiday on the Pit – Give the oven a break, I will show you how to great turkey and ham on your smoker.

We will be cooking all of this on Green Mountain Grill’s pellet grills.  We are proud to be featuring the GMG as part of the cooking process because they are a very affordable, highly capable and easy to use barbecue pit.  These pits with just a little bit of know how and anyone can be a super star in their backyard.

In addition to the demo’s we will also have our booth set up selling our sauce and rub. Danvillewas great to Draper’s BBQ last year and we sold out of sauce and rub.  We are coming prepared this year and look forward to meeting even more new friends and visiting with the fans we made last year.

As you can see this year’s Kentucky State BBQ Festival is a big event for Draper’s BBQ and we have gone “all in” on it.  We can’t wait to get there and are proud to be apart of this event!  See you there!

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Houston We Have Ribs

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Picture provided by Chile Pepper Magazine
Photographer – Rick McMillen

Many of you have been asking when you can find the issue of Chile Pepper magazine featuring us.  I got confirmation today that is hitting newsstands as we speak.  So check it out and let us know what you think.

Up until this point we have been a bit tight lipped about the details of the article and the ensuing rib competition.  We can now talk about it a bit more and share some of our experiences.  The article is of course about our competition team, experiences and what we bring to the table as a competitor in the Quest for the Perfect Ribs.  It also features our rib recipe, my favorite broccoli salad recipe and Mike’s sweet potato pie with pig candy recipe.  All in all, the editor of Chile Pepper magazine, Rick McMillen did an awesome job capturing who we are and what we are about as a competition team.  His photography skills are amazing and he was exceptionally easy to work with.  We are pleased to now count Rick as a personal friend and barbecue fanatic.

I want to also remember to thank Hoyt Liggins for the use of his amazing house down in Millington,TN for the photoshoot.  The location was nothing short of perfect and for those of you that know Hoyt you know his hospitality is second to none.  Hoyt remains one of the best people I have come across and we are blessed to call him a friend.

We begin the next leg of our journey to compete in the Quest for the Perfect Ribs on September 13th, driving to Houston,Texas.  The activity starts the next day where we attend a Meet n’ Greet hosted by McAby Media owners of Chile Pepper magazine.  This will be the first time we get to meet the rest of the CPM team as well as our competitors.

Our competitors for this challenge include:  Bill & Barbara Milroy (Texas Rib Rangers, Denton,Tx), Dann & Dianne Boland (2 Skinny Cooks, St. Charles, Il), Pete & Melissa Cookston (Yazoo’s Delta Q, Memphis, Tn), Harvey Gebhard (Lone Star BBQ Society,  Burnet, Tx) and Vince Carrocci & Alexa Fairbairn (Rhythm ‘n Que, Phoenix, Az).

As you can see for yourself, a laundry list of world class talent makes up the field and we are just proud to be included in an event that includes these amazing pitmasters.

On Saturday, September 15th the gloves come off and the competition takes place center stage at the Houston Hot Sauce Festival.  There are 3 turn-ins that take place.  The first is the main blind box turn-in to the judges.  An hour later we complete a second turn-in for people’s choice.  Finally, three hours after the people’s choice we serve ribs to the attendee’s for dinner.  The official awards ceremony takes place at 7:00pm and the Grand Champion is crowned.

The awards for this challenge are as follows:

Grand Champion – $2,000, 4 page feature story in Chile Pepper magazine, interview with editor in chief recorded and aired for 30 days on chilepepper.com, 2 ¼ page ads and 1 free booth space at the Chile Pepper Extravaganza to be held in New Orleans, La Sept 2013.

1st Place – $500, feature story in Chile Pepper magazine, interview with editor in chief recorded and aired for 15 days on chilepepper.com.

2nd Place – $250, feature story in Chile Pepper magazine.

This will mark the first live competition for Draper’s BBQ using Green Mountain Grills.  Green Mountain Grills has been a great partner and sponsor.  They are instrumental in Draper’s BBQ being able to attend this awesome event.

The test cooks we have done on the GMG’s for this event have been excellent and we expect nothing but a great cook on these cookers.  The GMG’s are easy to control the temp on, easy to maneuver, take up very little space and produce excellent barbecue.  These are essential when you are competing at a high level.

All in all this is shaping up to be one amazing opportunity and we plan to chronicle and document every part of our trip and our experiences.  So be on the look out for updates as we get ready to begin the Quest for the Perfect Rib.

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Draper’s BBQ and GMG

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Some of you may have heard the rumors, so here is the confirmation.  Draper’s BBQ is now officially sponsored by Green Mountain Grills.  This cooperative agreement is a culmination of several projects where we got to work side-by-side with members of the GMG team.  It became obvious to both us and the GMG leadership that working together on a more formal basis would greatly benefit both companies.

Draper’s up to this point has never accepted an endorsement deal or sponsorship of any kind for our competition team.  We have and will continue to help all companies whose products we believe in and use but our competition focus, for the remainder of 2012 and beyond, will now reside primarily with GMG and the pellet grill market place.

As a part of this partnership we are now also a full GMG dealer and will become an active part of driving GMG to the forefront of the pellet grilling market.  We will do everything we can as a company to support our partners in this endeavor and look forward to becoming West Kentucky’s premier full service pellet grill dealership.  We are fully committed to GMG’s policy of service excellence before, during and after the sale and we will be bringing you a line of barbecue products and classes designed to help all barbecue enthusiast get the most out of their culinary adventures.

If you have any questions about Green Mountain Grills please contact Shane or Mike via email and they would both love to help you in making the right choice for your barbecue and grilling adventures.

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Vacation Grillin’

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This past week my wife put her foot down and demanded a vacation.  You know those weird things where people/families get time alone together minus distraction, work, phones, email, texts, Facebook…..needless to say I am one of those people who are not good at vacation.  I am good at pretty much everything else, but too much down time with nothing productive to do and I start going crazy in a hurry.

So like a good husband who had been voluntold what to do, I of course packed the truck.  I was told that there would be internet at this cabin, I realize now in retrospect this was a well played ruse to get me to go.  I was fortunate to have cell signal, so internet was pushing it.  I was also told there was a grill there, even though it was a gas grill I at least had something to cook on.  I gave a few minutes of thought about taking a grill or barbecue pit with us, but I didn’t want to make the boss angry.  So I opted for tossing some cherry Mojobricks, a pound of AP Rub and a bottle of Smokin’ Sauce in a bag and away we went to Lake Barkley and our little cabin in the hills.

I will forego the complete retelling of all the madness that was our time on Lake Barkley and instead concentrate on the first meal I had to cook on the grill our first night there.

I remind you I was indeed told that it was a gas grill so I knew going in I would be hampered.  I know, I know I risk sounding like a barbecue snob but let’s be honest 90% of contraptions that are fired by gas and also sold at big box home improvement stores are terrible.  As soon as I got out of my truck I was greeted with the site of what would become the bane of my culinary existence over the next few days, the Char-Broil Classic C-210L.   I knew immediately my chances for turning out non-charred food was minimal.  All I could think was that somehow I must be on a Twighlight Zone version of Chopped or something.  To a grill lover this was the highest form of culinary handicap and unjust on many levels.  Never the less a menu had to be made and food had to be cooked as I refused to cook any of the main dishes inside on the stove during the vacation.

We unpacked and I took a minute to take full stock of the kitchen utensils and the state of the grill.  As you can see from the picture above the utensils were lacking severely and I also found that the ignitor on the grill was broken and I had nothing to start a fire with.  So I did what any man would do, I turned the stove burner on high and lit a piece of cardboard on fire and carried it out to the grill to see if it would at least light.  The burners on the grill at least seemed to be in good working order, it could use a solid cleaning but at least it made fire.

After the dry run it was time to make a grocery list and run out to the store to pick up food.  I decided that everything that was to be cooked on the grill would have to be higher heat short cook time foods.  I put chicken wings, pork steaks, hamburgers, hot dogs and things like that on my list and I knew my in-laws were coming to visit us and bringing ribeyes and all the sides one evening as well.  I already hated the idea of cooking some nice hand cut steaks on this contraption, but it was a bridge I would have to cross later.  Unfortunately, the store didn’t have wings at a reasonable price, rather at a price I was willing to pay for these particular wings anyway.  So I opted for some nice sized chicken leg quarters that were on sale.  I knew these would have to cook longer but decided the savings in the wallet were worth the risk.

Once home it was time to prep the chicken and get ready to start the meal.  I tossed several Mojobricks in the grill around the burner.  I knew they would burn up somewhat quickly but I needed to at least try to impart some resemblance of real smoke flavor into the chicken.  In the pic below you can see the Mojobrick starting to catch fire. You will also notice the burnt cardboard ashes that were used to start the fire and just how dirty this pit was.

I gave the chicken a light coat of AP Rub and tossed them on the fire.  As you can see these were pretty good sized leg quarters.  I then closed the lid and it didn’t take very long at all for the Mojobricks to start filling the air with a great cherry smoke smell.  The pic below gives you a good idea just how much smoke a few Mojo’s can put out.

It was about 20 seconds after the pic above was taken that I learned two things.  First, just how fast a small grill comes up to temp.  Second, how fast a small, dirty gas grill can turn into a bon fire.  I ran and got a large cup of water and kept it on standby from that point on. It was typical to go through two to three glasses of water during each cook.  Anything that hit the drip plate and rolled off dripped right onto the gas flame igniting a healthy flare up each time.  I couldn’t ever get more than about an arms length away from this pit due to flare ups.

Toward end of this first cook I gave up and decided to put the chicken in a pan for it to finish.  This actually worked quite well.  I wish I had figured it out sooner and I’m sure the chicken would have been void of the few char spots it had.  Truth be told though, I like a little bit of char so I wasn’t complaining that much.

I have to admit that I left my trusty Thermapen at home for this trip and it was sorely missed during this cook.  With the flare ups and not knowing what temp the grill was actually cooking at I had no choice but to separate the leg quarter at the joint to get a look at if it was done or not.  Thankfully it was indeed done, if not just a touch over done.  That’s not to say the chicken was dry, but had I left it on for another 10 minutes it likely would have been.

Once I verified the chicken was done I gave it a nice slathering of Smokin’ Sauce and I shut off the gas to the grill and left the lid closed so the sauce could set.

As you can see it’s not the sexiest yardbird ever cooked, but you know what it was kind of nice to eat good ole “regular joe” barbecue.  It had some char to it.  It was just the slightest bit over cooked.  It wasn’t evenly sauced.  It was…..good.  It was just good chicken.  It was refreshing to be reminded what just good barbecued/grilled chicken tasted like. It didn’t require a muffin pan or a bottle of blue butter.  It lacked pretentiousness and fussiness, but it didn’t lack flavor and in the end that is a destination that we should all travel to while on vacation.

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Decisions, decisions……

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It has been said that in life there are no easy decisions.  I don’t believe that to be true.  I think the decisions are easy it’s living with the aftermath that is difficult.  The same is true in business.

This year for Draper’s BBQ has been a turbulent one filled with success, triumph and a few set backs.  We’ve hit a few home runs and we’ve also struck out on a couple of things.  All I can do as the CEO at the end of each day, week and month is accept what we have and do my best to aim the company where we hope to go and do my best to get us there intact.

We were recently blessed with being picked as the sixth, and final, contestant in Chile Pepper Magazine’s Quest for the Perfect Rib.  Mike Owings wrote up a post earlier this week in case you missed it.  We will be competing against some of the top talent in the country (literally) and it is a great honor to be included on the same contestant list with these other phenomenal pitmasters.

Unfortunately, the actual contest will take place in Houston, Texas right before Paducah’s BBQ on the River.  I know we have many fans, friends and family members that consider BBQ on the River the biggest and toughest event in barbecue.  They also fully expect us to return again this year and claim more of the top prizes there.  It is with a heavy heart that I have to inform you that we will not be competing at BBQ on the River this year.

The time table of events makes it impossible to do both contests at a high level and I refuse to allow us to do anything as a company without the ability to ensure it is successful.  BBQ on the River just takes too much in the way of man power and preparation for us to be able to do it well right after returning from Houston.  We are a very small team and do not have the people in place to make it happen.

I know this disappoints many of our fans.  For that I am truly sorry.  Believe me there is no one more disappointed than I am.  I love to compete and as crazy as it may sound I really felt like this was our year to win it all.

On a positive note the event inHoustonhas national exposure and will go a very long way in helping Draper’s BBQ to become more of a household name.  Every major sauce distributor in the country will be there along with Food Network and many industry bloggers.  To say getting picked to go out and compete in this event with Chile Pepper Magazine is big is an understatement.  This may well be the break we have been waiting for.

I want each of our Western Kentucky and Heartland friends and family to know that you are valuable to us, but we are first and foremost a sauce and rub company.  As the CEO I must keep that in focus as I make decisions concerning what’s best for the company.  At this point in time doing what we can to sell more sauce and rub nationally is of the utmost importance.  Achieving that will allow us to do things like hire local people to be apart of this company and our family.

We wish everyone at BBQ on the River the best and look forward to doing this event next year.  Remember when you are eating that pork sandwich that it typically supports a good cause and while we may not be able to be at this one event, we are here in West Kentucky year round.  Just email or call us and we will do our best to always support your Draper’s BBQ Addiction.

Peace, Love and Pork Grease my friends!

Shane

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