Product Review: GMG Fruitwood Blend Pellets

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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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The Art of the Reverse Sear.

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

Seasoned Tri-Tip on the smoker.

Seasoned Tri-Tip on the smoker.

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

Reverse seared Tri-Tip ready for slicing.

Reverse seared Tri-Tip ready for slicing.

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

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

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

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

 

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Ranking the BBQ Meats

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

beef

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Boy Scout Feast – A Fish Story

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If you have read my posts in the past, you know that my son’s are both involved in scouting.  My oldest son’s troop has an annual feast camp-out in the month of November every year.  Last year, when we were considering joining Troop 10, we were guests at this camp-out.  This year we were full fledged participants.  I brought my GMG Daniel Boone and a salmon recipe given to me by Steven Hartsock of Sock’s Love Rubs prepared for a long day of work and long evening of feasting.

The Grub-master told me I would be cooking turkey breasts and salmon for the feast.  I have done turkey several times before and think I make a really good smoked turkey.  Salmon on the other hand scares the heck out of me.  I really have never cooked a piece of salmon that I would be proud to serve to someone.  I am not a big salmon fan in the first place so anything I am going to serve will have to knock my socks off.  I asked a lot of BBQ friends what they did to salmon.  I received a lot of different answers.  Wet Brine?  Dry Brine?  160 degrees?  225 degrees?  What to do?  I finally settled on a recipe that was given to me by Steven Harsock creator of Sock’s Love Rubs.  It was a wet brine with some unique savory ingredients that just said “autumn season” to me.  The recipe contained brown sugar, whole all spice, clove and peppercorns.  These are things that I never would have thought to put into a brine for fish.  After 2-3 hours in the brine we took the salmon out and rinsed it off making sure none of the brine ingredients clung to the fish.  After rinsing the fish, we let it air dry for 1-2 hours.  When the fish was dry I gave it a good sprinkle with some Drapers AP rub.  I knew that the flavor profile of Shane’s rub would reinforce the flavor of the brine.  I also gave the fish a good coating of brown sugar.  The recipe also gave me instructions on how to make a baste, but I was so busy that I decided to go with just a heavy coating of brown sugar instead.

Salmon fillets after brining on the Green Mountain Grill

I had a little over 2 hours to smoke the 4 large pieces of salmon which was just enough time.  I put them on and set the GMG at 225 degrees and let them sit in the smoker.  Of course I had to open the GMG multiple times to show off the salmon, so it probably would take a little less time to make this at home when you are not looking so much.  I cooked the salmon to a temperature of 140 degrees.  Then placed the salmon in our hotbox for about 30 minutes before serving.

The buffet line was filled with a large variety of delicious meats and side dishes.  We had chuck roast that was cooked all day in dutch ovens, tur-duck-ens that were flown in from Louisiana, sausages made from exotic game meats like deer and alligator, turkey breasts, brisket and 2 whole pigs roasted for us by a local meat market.  It was really quite the spread.  I was hoping my salmon would be a favorite of the crowd.

Salmon fillets after smoking and ready to be served.

As the people got in line and began to fill there plates you could hear comments about everything.  The people loved everything we had on the table.  I tend to go get my food last when I cook usually because I have sampled my product before it hits the table and am a little less hungry because of that.  My buddies pushed me into the line and said I needed to eat with them after I had cooked all day.  When we reached the salmon, only enough for 4 small portions remained.  One serving for me and my 2 buddies and then 1 left for someone else.  The line was only about halfway done.  The Grub-master underestimated how popular the salmon would be.  We went to our table and began to eat and a lot of people went out of their way to compliment me on how good the salmon was.  I was really amazed as this was my first try at smoking salmon.  The ultimate compliment came about an hour later.  I was packing my spices back into the car and I overheard to men talking about how good the salmon was.  It was an hour later and they were still talking about it.  What a compliment!

I have never had a piece of salmon that I cared for very much.  Most salmon I have had has been palatable, but the it never has been something that I crave or have to make.  I find it is usually dry and very fishy tasting.  It is not one of my favorite foods.  That being said, this salmon was moist, savory, sweet and not fishy tasting at all.  It was the best piece of salmon I ever had (sorry for the brag) and would actually request this again.  I would like to thank Shane Draper and Steven Hartsock for all the help last week.  Without those 2 men, I would not have received all the praise that I did.

 

 

 

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My thoughts about The American Royal.

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The greatest weekend of BBQ in Kansas City is now done for another year.  Congratulations to Shiggin and Grinning for winning the American Royal Open contest on Sunday and to Big Poppa Smokers for winning the American Royal Invitational on Saturday.  They had lots of great competition but came out on top.  They also went up against some classic Missouri weather.  Lows at night were in the low 30’s and highs during the day were only in the 40’s until Sunday when the sun finally came out in time to warm everyone up for turn ins and the taping of BBQ Pitmasters.

For those of you that have never made it to KC for the American Royal here is how the schedule works.  Teams arrive early in the week, usually before Friday.  They get there spot set up and see the town.  Friday is party night at The Royal.  Some teams are hired by companies to cater large parties with music and drinks.  There is even an award for best party.  This is the day with the largest attendance numbers.  The parties end around 11 or so and the invited teams (all previous grand champions this year)  get ready to begin cooking for Saturdays Invitational contest.  After turn ins on Saturday, the teams must again begin to get ready to cook for Sunday’s Open contest.  Most teams invitational teams do compete in the open although some with longer trips home chose to leave before the open contest.  All in all this makes The American Royal (in my opinion) the toughest BBQ contest in the world.

This year was a little different .  Usually, Saturday night’s entertainment is some local band playing country music to a much smaller crowd that Friday night.  This year in addition to the band, KCBS had the first ever BBQ Hall of Fame inductions.  The Hall of Fame has been around for a few years now but KCBS purchased the rights to the Hall of Fame and hope to make it a grand occasion every year at The American Royal.  The KCBS invited the previous seven inductees which included the likes of MIke Mills, Dr. Rich Davis, Carolyn Wells and John Willingham along with the 3 new inductees Henry Ford (representative), Johnny Trigg and celebrity chef Guy Fierri.  It was a nice ceremony that honored all that attended.

For the first time ever, The American Royal had a Sunday event.  The Destination America show BBQ Pitmasters was taping an episode in Kansas City.  John Markus, Myron Mixon, Tuffy Stone and Aaron Franklin were all on hand for the season 4 taping.  I got to speak with all of 4 of them personally and talk about this season and BBQ in General.

For the BBQ fan this had to be the ultimate weekend event.  So many big names were in Kansas City, Mo that you would have trouble listing them all off the top of your head.  Let me tell you some if my impressions of the event.  First off, the contests, I have no idea how much organization it takes to put this on but the American Royal staff did a heck of a job.  I heard no complaints from any cooker I spoke with about how the event was run.  I have never had this kind of access to the Royal and was really impressed with the organization of it all.  Awards were late (they always are at any contest) and the Hall of Fame Ceremony was a little late due to set up issues with the stage.  Really neither was a big deal at all.  Second, the Hall of Fame Ceremony was well thought out.  The KCBS gave credit to all the previous inductees who were not privileged enough to have a ceremony when they were inducted into the Hall of Fame.  Nice touch KCBS!  Attendance at the ceremony was very sparse.  Saturday night never has the attendance that Friday does, but some huge BBQ names were up on stage being honored.  I did not see that many BBQ teams up by the stage area watching as ,The Godfather, Johnny Trigg was inducted.  At 7pm that night at least some of the cookers should have shown up for the people that have paved the way for them to do what they do.  The KCBS could have promoted it better than they did as well but there were over 500 teams at the Royal and I do not think there were 500 people at the ceremony.  Hopefully Kansas City can do a little better next year.  Sunday was BBQ Pitmasters Day with free admission to all.  Once again not really advertised very well.  The Pitmasters started at 7:30am and announced the winners at 6pm.  Do not ask me for spoilers I purposely did not stay until the end so I would not have to keep a secret.  I would have thought a lot a backyard cookers would have come down to watch that event and the crowd was small.  I enjoyed talking to all the judges and creator John Markus.  They were more than nice and obliging for my son Tanner and I.  Overall a great weekend.

My final thoughts about The American Royal are this.  This is the best contest in the US because of the setup and level of competition.  I am a little biased, being from KC, and I have not been to Memphis in May or The Jack yet.  Second, when KCBS and The American Royal have special events on Saturday and Sunday for the public they should do a better job of letting the public know of them.  I wish more people could have been there for the Hall of Fame ceremony.  The amount of BBQ knowledge on that stage that night was astounding.  Third and last, if Destination America want to really push the BBQ Pitmasters show then they should promote the tapings on the network.  Let people know why you are showing the previous episodes that a taping is coming up and where people can go to see it.

I will have more articles later in the weeks to come about some great experiences I had this weekend.  Let me congratulate both Grand Champions crowned this weekend and thank everyone who I got to speak with this weekend.

 

 

 

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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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Introducing Sean Bardwell of Tatoos N Que

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If you don’t “like” him on Facebook or follow @SBQue on Twitter you may not recognize this pitmaster.  His name is Sean Bardwell and has a competition BBQ team called Tatoos N Que.  I have been following Sean for most of this year and have been really impressed by some of Sean’s creations.  He shows them regularly on Facebook and they all look very tasty.  I had the pleasure of talking to Sean about his recent activities while he was doing a practice cook for an upcoming contest last week.  Sean has big plans for the future and a game plan to get there.

Sean was raised on BBQ.  His best childhood memories were being with his father cooking on an old Weber kettle grill.  BBQ was a treat.  Sean spent summers in Arkansas with grandparents who also fed his BBQ cravings.  To this day, BBQ reminds him of his childhood.  Currently, Sean is kitchen manager of a chain restaurant called Smokey Bones in York, Pennsylvania and has held this position for 4 years. He started as a line cook and has worked his way up the ladder.  Sean wants to own his own BBQ restaurant one day and is working very hard to achieve that goal.  His goal for the next year is to get a food truck to be used for a catering business and to take on the competition circuit.

Sean has many BBQ idols.  He attended the NBBQA Convention in South Carolina last year and got to meet the likes of Ray Lampe, Chris Lilly and the person Sean states he owes the most to, Danielle Dimovski of DivaQ BBQ.  He stays in touch with Danielle via twitter and says she gives him a lot of advice.  He also credits ,Prince of Q, Jay Prince and Stephen Hartsock of Sock’s Love Rub with inspiring him as well.  At the MBBQA Convention, everyone told Sean that if he wants to open a restaurant he needs to first compete and get your name out there.  This inspired Sean and his Tattoos N Que BBQ team to enter the New Holland Summerfest BBQ contest last weekend.  Tattoos n Que competed against 72 other BBQ teams.  Tattoos N Que did not win any awards at New Holland but they did not finish last in any category they entered and met Myron Mixon and Tuffy Stone.  Sean considers this a success.

Sean also has a variety of rubs for sale on his website, sbque.com  His rubs come in Original flavor which is an all purpose rub, Savory which is used a lot on poultry, Sweet for ribs and pork and is developing one called Tattoos N Que which is a competition style rub.  All the ingredients used in Sean’s rubs are also smoked before they are combined.  This gives Sean’s food layers of smoke flavor.  I found this to be very interesting and I cant wait for the sample Sean is going to send me.  Sean also makes his competition sauce from scratch using all smoked ingredients.  He joked that he can never do anything simple.

If all of this was not enough, Sean has published his very own e-cookbook.  It contains 17 original recipes all created by Sean Bardwell.  It is a free cookbook so feel free to download it here  http://store.blurb.com/ebooks/296973-sbque-recipes .  When you get done with the cookbook you will ask yourself, ” Is there any food Sean won’t smoke?”

Sean has a passion for BBQ.  He shows this in all that he does.  From rub creator, cookbook author, competition cook and his daily job they are all examples of how dedicated Sean is to perfecting his craft.  Sean is a very goal driven individual and I have no doubt that he will leave his mark on the BBQ world.  Check out his website, order some rub and get that cookbook.  You will be glad you did.

 

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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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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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