Christmas Guide 2017

Share

Every year for the past half dozen or so I’ve either been asked to write a barbecue gift guide or to contribute to other blogs with a few of my recommendations.  This year, I thought about doing things a little differently.  Yes, I know I could just keep every item barbecue related and that would be fine, but I thought why not open up the list a bit more?  Why not just do a list of the things that I love for one reason or another, that I use often or thoroughly enjoy using when I get the chance?  Along the way maybe a better story of who I am and why I do what I do may find its way into being.  Where possible I’ve posted an Amazon link if you decide to add any of the items to your collection.  Obviously not every item will be available via Amazon, in those cases I’ve provided links to sites I trust.

Also as a full disclosure, I’ve had a part in the success of Grilla Grills.  I am proud to be apart of this team and it is one of the most rewarding barbecue relationships I have ever had.  This includes releasing a signature line of sauces and rubs with them and being closely involved in the sourcing and releasing of several accessories.  So it goes without saying that with that much involvement some of these items made this list.  This is not me trying to convince you to buy anything from Grilla, nothing on this list made the cut if it did not meet the criteria mentioned above.


img_3525

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.  This pan was on my list last year and it still is my favorite pan for just about everything.  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 still is.  Treat cast iron pans right and you have a pan literally for a life time.  In fact one of my wedding presents from my grandmother almost 20yrs ago was a small round cast iron pan that she used for decades before passing it on to me.  There aren’t a great many things that you can buy today that you can pass on to your grandchildren when they get married, but this is one of them.


grizzly

Grizzly Coolers 60 – It’s no big secret that I’ve been on a mission for the past year to test a lot of coolers.  I’ve been sent some as test units, paid full price for others and after it was all said and done there was only one left standing and that was the Grizzly line.  Mark Lambert first turned me onto Grizzly and I have to give him credit there.  I liked the line so much I pushed for Grilla Grills to carry them on their site.  One note on sizes as Grizzly has a lot of sizes available.  I really find that the 60qt size works for me.  Some will want larger, some smaller, but if I were on the competition trail I know I could run two 60qt sized coolers and get the job done.

Let’s talk about what I feel Grizzly get’s right.  First has to be price.  Yes, there are cheaper, but in this market segment there are also some two to three times the price for the same sized cooler.  Second has to be the weight.  I really liked several other brands but what kept me coming back to the Grizzly was the size vs weight.  They are not nearly as heavy as some and when you have to lug these things on and off trailers and in and out of the back of trucks, weight starts to matter quickly.  The last thing I feel Grizzly does better than the rest is the drain plug.  You want to dump out the entire liquid contents of the cooler in a minute?  This cooler can do that without having to tip it over.  This was a factor I never considered until I lived with several other brands and it took forever for some of them to drain after I cleaned them.  And when you are doing everything from brining turkeys to hauling adult beverages, ease of clean up and keeping everything safe matters.

Let’s be real here, all the coolers in the roto molded segment keep ice for longer than anyone frankly expects.  So why pay more for the cooler if you don’t have to?  The only cooler that had a few more tricks up is sleeve that I really liked was the Orion.  Their latching system is better, but I just can’t recommend their products due to the pricing.  Orion was one of the heaviest I tested which really became an issue in the long term.

drifter

While we are talking about coolers let me bring up the soft sided cooler that Grizzly makes as well, the Drifter.  I was fortunate enough to get a Drifter 20 for testing earlier this year.  I have to admit I was skeptical at first, but after living with it on several trips and also seeing that I could fit a whole packer brisket in it I was sold.  We took this cooler with us on a trip to Florida (14hrs in the truck) and a trip to Orange Beach, Alabama (10hrs in the truck) and each time I was more impressed with the Drifter 20.  The amount of storage it has and its innovations make it a winner and frankly make it worth the $150 price tag.  Never mind it’s just plain cool (see what I did there), has tons of storage compartments and isn’t just some flabby pouch when empty.  If you’ve been considering a high end soft sider, I definitely recommend giving this one a look.


tic

Ticwatch S Knight – I hesitated to put this one on the list since I know the world is divided between Apple and Android users, but what the heck it’s my list of favorite things and this definitely is a favorite thing.  I’ve been on the fence about buying a smartwatch for a long long time, which might sound counter intuitive given that I’m a tech guy by day.  I frankly just don’t think that most smartwatches are worth the cost.  I also never really found one that straddled that line between fitness tracker, heart rate monitor AND personal assistant device.  Several months ago while considering buying one for my birthday I ran across the Kickstarter campaign for the Ticwatch S and thought, for $130 why not.  I figured I would be ok at that price and could stomach not loving it for just over a hundred dollars vice spending the $300 I was considering.  Fast forward to just before Thanksgiving and mine was delivered.  Being someone who is constantly reaching for my phone I wanted something to keep me from doing that as much.  After all more times than not I’m covered in grease/fat when I’m cooking and I have about 5 different company emails I have to keep up with so me digging in my pocket for my phone after receiving an alert is never ending.  I’m super glad to say the Ticwatch S has filled this void and I LOVE IT.  For the money it’s definitely worth it, even at non Kickstarter prices.  If you are looking for a great smartwach for a reasonable price check it out, you’ll be glad you did.


cb

Camelbak Chute 40oz Insulated Bottle – I know this one sounds crazy on this list, but as someone who packs this thing around as religiously as I do my phone I had to include it on the list.  Ask anyone who travels with me and they will tell you this thing has more miles on it than my truck.  I also credit this bottle with helping me keep extra weight off and it was key in getting my health turned around almost two years ago.

How does a water bottle do that?  Well, its about forming habits and replacing bad habits with good ones.  I quit soda cold turkey about two years ago.  I’ve not had even a sip since.  So what I did to replace that urge was carry around my water with me everywhere, and I do mean EVERYWHERE.  I wanted to find a bottle that was easy to clean, could take a beating, kept stuff cold and flowed easily.  The idea was that I needed to drink a gallon of water a day and I didn’t care to be sucking on a straw all day.  Thankfully I found this water bottle and Stur water enhancer at the same time.  I hate to even think how much money I’ve spent on Stur in the last two years, but I go through about 20 of those little bottles a month and for me it’s 100% worth it to not be addicted to soda’s any longer.

I’m not advocating anyone necessarily do what I did, but if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, I do advocate for everyone to take a serious look at what they are putting in their bodies, because that is likely the problem.  And believe me when I tell you that your children are watching you and will take their cues from you.  My two boys no longer drink any soda’s either and also drink water about 90% of the time.  They do drink some juices and milk as well, but I was shocked at how much their diets mimicked mine as they started seeing changes in me physically, mentally and emotionally.  Never once did I ask them to make those changes, which was all the better.  My boys even have their own smaller Camelbak Chutes and that is worth way more to me than the cost of the product.


push

Perfect Pushup Elite – While I’m harping on health I have to plug these.  Both of my wrists are completely screwed up so it was really limiting me in doing push ups.  One day while visiting with Mark Graham of Grilla Grills I saw these sitting next to his desk and asked if he liked them.  He gave them a glowing review and I thought, “well if its good enough for Mr. Fitness himself I’ll give them a try.”  Well Mark was right, they work and I really love them.  I have an alarm on my phone/smartwatch that tells me to get up and move once an hour.  Since I work at home on a computer all day this is very important to me.  So when my alarm goes off I grab these and bust out as many push ups as I can do then return back to being the sloth that I am.  It’s not that I think these will change your life, its that I think these are apart of changing your life, and that I am all for if you are tired of looking like the “before” picture in a late night infomercial.


pop

Thermoworks Thermopop – I get asked often, “what’s one thing you will not cook without?”  My answer used to be a Thermoworks Thermapen, now that has changed to the Thermopop.  I still love the Thermapen for sure, but the Thermopop is $30 and it’s much easier for me to recommend.  It’s just as accurate, nearly as fast AND easier to carry around.  There are very few devices that will make you better cook across the board, but this is one of them.  Even if you already have the Thermapen I still recommend you buying one of these.  I have about half a dozen and I keep them literally everywhere I cook and one even stays in the console of my truck and in my knife roll.  I don’t leave home without it and I just don’t think you can find a better thermometer for the money bar none.  Save yourself some headache and just order a couple in various colors because I don’t know anyone in barbecue that has just one of these.


meathead

Meathead The Science of Great Barbecue – seriously is there a better name for a cook book? I really like Meathead’s take on things.  Its one part Good Eats format where the science is the focal point and one part great cook book.  In the end I think we can all agree that Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn and his site AmazingRibs.com has become the encyclopedia of all things barbecue.  I recommend articles from his site weekly and he has made a career of proving scientifically what works and what doesn’t.  Give this book a try, it’s worth the read.

eo

Extreme Ownership – I stumbled on this book late last year and it changed a lot of things for me.  The past year has been a quest of getting my head right.  If you are looking to be a better leader, make a change in your life or just generally figure out how to be a better human give this book by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin a read.  I’ve bought several copies for friends and I just can’t recommend it enough.  Want to hear more of what Jocko has to say?  Subscribe to the Jocko Podcast.  If you are military or former military this podcast should be mandatory.  Start at episode 1 and work from there.  Believe me it’s worth the ride.

 

warrior

Way of the Warrior Kid – Yes, another Jocko Willink book.  This one is for any kid in your life.  I’ve personally bought almost 20 copies of this book and have given to every kid I have coached, mentored or ever worked with.  This book changes things for young people.  It shows them they can make a difference.  They can own their situation.  They do not have to be afraid of working hard.  My 7yr old has read this book and will tell you it is favorite by far.  This story is told through the eyes of Mark a 5th grader.  Mark’s uncle Jake, a Navy SEAL, comes to stay with Mark’s family for the summer and he helps Mark with his fear of water, the school bully, multiplication, memorizing the Presidents and pull ups.  If you have children take the time and read this book right along with them.  It will be worth the time and effort, I cannot recommend it enough.  Our job as parents is not just to love our children always, but to help arm them with the tools and ideas that will make them better humans and citizens.  It all starts at home with you.  There will never be a better time than right now to start making a difference.


lodge

Lodge L410 Hibachi – It seems like everyone is always looking for the best steak searing device and I always wonder why this little jewel doesn’t get recommended more.  It’s compact, you can’t break it and you can get this thing rocket hot for some insane steak searing.  Need some great charcoal you can find in your local big box store?  Check out B&B Hickory Lump, its quickly becoming a favorite of mine.


dalstrong

Dalstrong Shogun Gyuto – I actually have a few Dalstrong knives now, but I keep coming back to this 8in Gyuto blade.  I just love it.  I’ve tested the Dalstrong Phantom Chef’s knife as well and really enjoyed it for it’s agility and super light weight.  Where the Phantom’s are light and agile the Shogun’s have a weight and strength about them.  I just can’t describe it, but the weight and feel of these knives just feel reassuring in your hand and make you feel more confident.  The pinch on these knives are fantastic and the blades are razor sharp.  I’ve also purchased the Shogun paring and birds beak knives, each phenomenal in their own right.  Dalstrong does a great job of releasing limited run knives and some really interesting options.  Be sure to keep checking them out because if they do not have one that you love right now, give it a month they will.


inject

Grilla Injector – Let me just say that I love this injector. This is another great example of the partnership between Grilla Grills and I.  At Memphis in May we were cooking whole hog and we had probably 8 injectors on site and throughout the course of injecting both hogs every single one of them failed.  I went to Mark Graham and said “that’s it man, we are going to fix this once and for all and offer it on the website.”  Mark said “lets do it, bring it on.”  Well fast forward a couple of months, a few prototypes I tested and the end result is this behemoth.  It’s heavy, its stainless and I love how the needles thread onto the syringe.  I could wax poetic about this work of art for days, but check out the YouTube video, it pretty much sums it up.  If you don’t have this, GET IT.


coffee

Don Francisco’s Hawaiian Hazelnut Coffee – This is definitely one of my favorite things.  I have one really good cup of coffee a day.  That cup is almost always DF’s Hawaiian Hazelnut.  I know it’s odd to include coffee on a Christmas list, but that should tell you how much I enjoy this coffee.   It’s not always easy to get via Amazon and when it is available I order a couple of tins to make sure I don’t run out.

If you love hazelnut coffee, this one kicks in just a hint of coconut which makes it great black without added sugar.  For me I add the slightest hint of pure Stevia powder and it’s perfect.


ion

Ion Tailgater Express – I am most definitely 100 percent an audio file.  I don’t do much of anything without music playing.  When it’s not music it’s podcasts.  I bought this earlier this year because I wanted something to take to the pool to listen to with the kids.  It is splash resistant, has a really big built in battery that lasts a long time, has bluetooth and a USB port to allow you to charge your phone.  In addition to all these features, it sounds fantastic.  I like this thing so much that I now travel with this speaker when I go on trips.  If it died tomorrow I would order another immediately.  This little speaker has replaced a Bose unit that I ordered for the kitchen.  I know, crazy right!?!!?  I got the Bose in, unboxed it and listened to it for about 10 minutes and honestly did not feel it sounded significantly better than the Ion so I returned it.  This little box is a strong bang for the buck.


brush

Ladder 8 Steel Grill Brush – This is probably one of the items I get asked about more than any other in the grilling world.  I don’t know why but finding a great grill brush seems to be nearly impossible.  I’ve gone through about 15 different models over the years and this is the only one that I still recommend.  Now before someone comments about the dangers of a bristle breaking off and being digested let me address that right up front.  First off that danger is slim and if you wipe down your grates after brushing them it is virtually eliminated.  Second the material the brush itself is made from will determine how likely the bristles are to break off.  That is why I love this brush.  The bristles are strong and after over a year of use mine still looks new.  If that wasn’t enough every single one of these brushes are backed by a lifetime warranty and a love it or leave it money back guaranty.

All of that is fine and good but how well does it work?  The 4 head design of this brush and the angle of attack built into the handle make all the difference.  There is very little on your grill that this brush won’t take care of in just a few swipes.  If you are looking for your “next” grill brush, order this one, it will be the last one you buy.


Grilla Grills Signature Sauces and Rubs – Before I get into talking about each of the sauces and rubs let me talk about what this product line means to me.  I’ve gone on record as saying this is hands down the best work I have done in my 10yrs in barbecue.  I really do mean that.  My relationship with Grilla is special and there is something about it that has brought what I do to another level.  Everything I do with them I want to be best.  They make me better and I make them better.  It is a rare partnership that works this well.  I was called crazy when I agreed to sign on to help out a company, that at the time was a complete unknown.  I was warned that I would be used for my ideas and kicked to the curb.  I was told that taking a backseat in a larger organization was career suicide.  All I know is that when I sat down with the team at Grilla I knew they were something special and different.  I knew immediately that with someone on board who had been through all the pitfalls in this community that they could be quickly successful.  So I shook the owners hand in that meeting and told him I’d give him everything I’ve got and expected their trust in return to make this company something amazing.

Those ideas and sentiments are what drive me to be the best.  I refuse to release any product before it’s perfect and I refuse to put out any sauce and rub that is not world class.  I have zero doubt that what has come from this partnership is one of the best sauce and rub lines in existence bar none.  That is not said to be cocky, but it is said because I know the amount of time and effort I have put into every single one of these products and I believe that to the very core of my being.  Find another grill company who has sauces and rubs that will say that and can back it up.  It’s a very rare thing indeed.  The core difference is that most grill makers add sauce and rubs and accessories to pad their bottom line.  They just want to make another sale.  They make huge profit margins on those things and frankly do not focus on making them the best they can be.  Mark and I refuse to do that.  Every single product has to be the best we can make it, done so at a reasonable price and delivered as frequently as possible with free shipping.

tbThick & Bold – This started it all and was the basis of the initial partnership with Grilla.  We took this sauce to the World Championships at Memphis in May and tied for first.  It was one heck of a lead off product and is fantastic on everything.  This sauce set the bar really high for me and I knew I could not release anything else unless it was equal in every way.  The thing that makes Thick & Bold special is the balance between the sweet, the tanginess and the way can be used as everything from a dipping sauce to a finishing glaze.  This sauce is as versatile as they come and we have competition teams even using it as part of their brisket program and winning just about every time they cook.

 

gb

Gold N Bold – I swore for a very long time that I would never do a mustard sauce.  Frankly I didn’t think I had much to say in this genre of sauce and Ron Worby of Susquehanna Blue Smoke had done it as well as it needed to be done.  When I was asked to finally dig in and see what I could do I ordered every mustard sauce I could find.  Frankly most fell into two categories.  Mustard that had some spices added that were very hard to stomach.  Seriously try to eat spoonfuls of mustard and see how that goes.   And then there were what basically were tomato based sauces that had mustard added to make them more tangy.  Neither of these appealed to me.  I wanted to find a mustard sauce that you could eat directly off of the spoon, still top a hot dog/hamburger with it, but had something more going for it flavor wise to make it worthy of doing.  After an insane amount of trying and failing I finally found this sweet spot of balance and I knew I was on to something.  We took this sauce back to Memphis in May and served to the on site judges on our whole hog entry.  When they all freaked out over it and asked where they could buy it I knew it was good.  When the two chef’s on our team told me it was the best they had eaten then I realized it was time to stop messing with it and get it ready for final release.  It took from June until September for the factory to get it dialed in to my requirements, but in the end all that frustration was worth it.  Its a great sauce and even if you think you don’t like mustard sauces you should give it a try.

kk

Kongo Kick – When it comes to “hot” barbecue sauces I just do not feel there is ever a clear win.  Those that know me well know I will not play if I cannot win.  So when Mark Graham asked me to make one for Grilla I was apprehensive.  The reality is that they are never hot enough for the people who love heat and the mention of heat drives away all other consumers.  Thankfully early on the name for this sauce was decided on and that allowed me to set the tempo for what the sauce should be, a great barbecue sauce with a kick at the end.  I went through about 15 different pepper blends before finding a combination that I felt added a great dynamic to the sauce while also allowing the heat to gradually build as it was being eaten.  Most people are surprised that there is some habanero in this sauce as they assume it would be painfully hot.  I love the flavor of habanero’s but not always their heat.  I was able to find away to add a great robust chili middle flavor profile and use the habanero as the light clear bite at the very end.  Think of a great bass guitar solo where the drummer joins in and ends it all with the crash of a cymbal.  That is exactly what Kongo Kick does and I love this sauce for that reason.  It was yet again me trying to balance all of this flavor chaos like a conductor while not letting any one thing outshine another.  Even if you do not like “hot” barbecue sauces you should give this one a try, it has a whole lot more going for it than just heat.

ap

AP Rub – All Purpose as a name has been so used and abused in the world of barbecue.  So much so that it’s frankly become a bit of an inside joke.  If you don’t know what you should name your rub, name it All Purpose.  Well when I first came up with AP almost 10 years ago and then revamped it a few years later I wanted something that really lived up to the name.  The balance of salty, sweet, herbs and heat make this great on everything from chicken and ribs to popcorn and veggies.  AP Rub is the first product that I went back and revamped after I really learned how to balance flavors.  That principal has stuck with me ever since and from this product came many successful products after.  There is a reason that Grilla sells out of it…because it simply works.

beef

 

Grilla Beef – The lore associated with the Beef Rub has been years in the making.  From the days of Draper’s Moo’d Enhancer to us pulling it off of the shelves and getting hate mail to me finally deciding to redo the product and release it Grilla.  Well, its been one heck of a ride.  This single product more than any other I was so afraid to redo.  Moo’d Enhancer was something special.  It was the first time that I really felt I had caught lightening in a bottle so to speak.  It was 1 part intuition, 1 part happy accident and 2 parts stubbornness.  I really wondered for a long time could I recreate it if I had to.  I frankly avoided doing it like the plague.  I knew it would be the place where I had to face whether I still had “it” or not.  For songwriters and composers they are always worried they will somehow anger the God’s and no longer be able to connect with that part of themselves where the lyrics and melodies come from.  It’s no different for me.  I had been told I was done, I couldn’t make magic any more, that I was washed up and that barbecue as an industry had moved on.  In the end I had to gather myself up, ignore all the haters and self doubt and just get back on the horse and get after it.  I’m proud of every product I’ve ever done, but Grilla’s Beef Rub was a defining moment for me where I proved to myself that I still have something to say.  From this lesson Gold N Bold and Kongo Kick were also born.  I still have a lot of miles left in me creativity wise and I’m glad to get to release those ideas with a company like Grilla Grills.  I am blessed beyond measure just from getting to work with such a great team that believes in me.  I try everyday to measure up to that and do my best for them and their customers.


From this dude in Western Kentucky, that for whatever reason people have decided to listen to, I appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read this post.  I am just a guy doing what I love and I am thankful for every friend I have made doing this crazy barbecue thing.

I hope this list gives you some ideas for Christmas, but more than that, I hope it gives you a small insight into me and what I do.  It’s never glamours, always takes more out of me than I expect and is hard on my family and I wake up everyday thankful for another opportunity to share what I love with you and yours.

 

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, be blessed my friends and always stay saucy 🙂

Share

Product Review: GMG Fruitwood Blend Pellets

Share

pellets

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

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

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

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

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

 

Share

Gargantuan Garlic Greatness in a Bottle

Share

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013-02-22 18.01.43

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

2013-02-23 09.18.32

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

2013-02-23 09.17.48

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share

Ranking the BBQ Meats

Share

pig parts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

beef

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

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

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

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

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

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

Share

My thoughts about The American Royal.

Share

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.

 

 

 

Share

Eating out of the Box.

Share

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.

 

 

Share

Introducing Sean Bardwell of Tatoos N Que

Share

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.

 

Share

DBQ at the Ky State BBQ Festival

Share

 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!

Share

Vacation Grillin’

Share

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.

Share

Brisket with Butcher BBQ products

Share

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

Butcher BBQ Bricket Injection

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

 

Butcher BBQ Premium BBQ Rub

 

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

Butcher BBQ Sweet BBQ Sauce

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

Overall Impressions

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

 

Share