Friday, February 27, 2009

Recipe: Chris Lilly Mustard Coleslaw




I thought that I would use the first Friday in Lent as an excuse to offer a non-meat recipe. Once again, this recipe is from Chris Lilly. Chris is one of the most famous and respected pitmasters and competitors in the nation and also serves as the corporate pitmaster for Kingsford.


We are presenting Mr. Lilly’s recipe in celebration of Kingsford’s new Competition Briquettes. Kingsford presents a variety of charcoal briquettes suited for different purposes. For those looking to emulate the success and conditions of competition BBQ, the new Competition Briquettes may be right up your alley.


We will be posting a side by side review of the new briquettes against a brand popular with competitors as soon as Mother Nature is a bit more agreeable when it comes to grilling and the weather.


In the meantime, click here for more information on the Competition Briquettes.




Crisp Spicy Southern Mustard Coleslaw


Makes: 8-10 servings

Prep time: 5 minutes



Ingredients:

8 cups shredded green cabbage

cups shredded white onion

1 cup shredded green bell pepper

cup shredded carrot

¼ cup shredded celery

cup sugar


Dressing

6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

6 tablespoons yellow prepared mustard

¼ cup ketchup

¼ cup sour cream

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

½ tablespoon salt

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper


Combine the cabbage, onion, bell pepper, carrot, celery, and sugar in a large bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour the dressing over cabbage mixture and stir together. Chill and serve.


Recipe created by champion pitmaster, Chris Lilly, on behalf of Kingsford® charcoal


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Monday, February 23, 2009

Review: Big Jake's Apple Honey BBQ Sauce


Big Jake’s Apple Honey

Manufacturer Erickson Foods Inc.
Website www.big-jakes.com


Quality **** (4 out of 5)
Viscosity **** (4 out of 5) This is a measure of thickness, not quality
Aroma **** (4 out of 5)

Appearance **** (4 out of 5)

Packaging **** (4 out of 5)


We have mentioned this before, but Big Jake’s sauces are labeled as North Woods style. What does that mean? Prior to these reviews I had never heard of North Woods style. If I’m going to base my assessment on Big Jake’s sauces, I would say that the style is bold and in your face.


None of the Big Jake’s sauces that I have tried could possibly be categorized as ‘mild’, ‘delicate’ or ‘subtle’. That’s neither here nor there and certainly isn’t a value judgment. These are strong flavors that have a serious impact on the meats you use them on. While they have the thickness of a sauce, the flavor almost reaches the intensity of a glaze.


The sauce comes in a strong glass bottle (15oz.) and pours easily in spite of its thickness. The rich, reddish brown color is as deep as the flavors. There are small specks of this and that in the sauce, offering visual variation. A bit of pepper here, maybe some onion there.*


I’m glad I’m not a betting man, as I would have put down my last dollar when asserting that there was alcohol in this sauce. A quick inspection of the ingredient list puts the lie to my assumption, but the taste and aroma are certainly present. When smelling the sauce, the apple comes out strong, but the aroma is closer to an apple jack or mash than a juice.


The flavor is a bit odd at first, with a strong mix of tomato and apple. The apple flavor grows as the tomato dissipates. The vinegar background and the lack of corn syrup help to offer well rounded flavors that, although strong, don’t bludgeon the taste buds. I found the flavor to pair very well with brisket (I would have expected poultry to be a better natural fit).


This is a winning sauce that I will be enjoying to the last drop. Then I’ll be buying some more.


* Repeated from an earlier review of Big Jake’s sauce.


General Notes:

I do the majority of the sauce analysis on this site. I have often been assisted by Will Breakstone of Willie B’s Award Winning BBQ (pitmaster, competitor and caterer). The foods used with the sauces are usually brisket, pulled pork and chicken. On occasion, other foods will be used if recommended by the manufacturer (ex. burgers, fries, meatloaf, etc.).


Most of the food used for the reviews is cooked on a Weber Smoky Mountain or a Lang 84. The basic BBQ accoutrements (such as tool sets, chimney starters, etc.) are by Weber. Knives are by Mercer Cutlery. Fuel is either a cherry/oak mix or whatever charcoal I’m in the mood for.


www.weber.com

www.pigroast.com

www.mercercutlery.com

CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE HOME OF BBQ FRONT PAGE






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Friday, February 20, 2009

Review: Fatman's Beef Jerky - Salt & Pepper



Fatman’s Beef Jerky


Manufacturer: Red Meat Foods, LLC

Flavor: Salt and Pepper

Weight: sample package

Website: http://www.fatmansbeefjerky.com/


Flavor: 3.5

Aroma: 2.5

Texture: 5

Appearance: 4

Packaging: 2 (sample package)

Ratings range from 1 to 5


The only aromas that I was able to pick up were the beef and the pepper. The aroma was light and natural, avoiding the omnipresent chemical redolence found in most jerky’s.


The slices of meat were thin and remarkably lacking in fat and sinew. The texture was excellent. It was a little crisp, had some ‘chew’ to it and avoided that type of resistance that sometimes makes you think that you are eating a dog’s chew toy. The sizes varied of course, but the average was about 2.25” wide by 1.5” long. Deep reddish brown in color, the jerky was visually attractive.


A orange label with black lettering adorns the sample package. Extremely bare boned, it doesn’t do much to catch the eye. There is a small caricature of a chef on the top right of the label, but that is the only bit of flair on display.*


This was interesting in that the review evolved as I ate the jerky. The pepper flavor is pretty prominent, minimalizing the immediate impact of the salt flavor. I realized after the fact that while eating an once of this jerky I drank over 40 oz. of water. The salt was certainly there.


For a non-descript ‘pepper’, there was a substantial lingering heat. The pepper seemed to bounce around the taste buds for quite a while. The heat wasn’t intense, but it was long lasting.


There may have been a bit too much salt here for my tastes, but it was still enjoyable.


*Repeated from our earlier reviews of Fatman’s Jerky


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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ramblings: The Future of BBQ - Did You Know?

The Future of BBQ



We have recently reviewed a few books that dealt with the history of BBQ. Let’s turn our heads in the other direction for a moment and take a look at what is ahead. What can we expect to see in 20 or 40 years?


Sophisticated trend analysis and dedicated prognostication has led me to see the following developments (ok, I’m guessing):


1) Bioengineered pigs

I believe that we can look forward to pigs that are genetically designed for taste and size. Swine eugenics will lead to tasty BBQ for the masses. Can we dare to hope for a pig with all ribs as tender as the babybacks? Scientists today are laying the groundwork for science/gastronomy of tomorrow.

2) Enhanced Appearance

Nanotechnology will help the incompetent to play at a higher level. Want a thicker bark? No problem. Want a deeper smoke ring? Got it.

3) Texture

Concerned about having enough time to properly cook a brisket? Back we go to nanotechnology. Dissolving hearty tissue and softening meat will be enhanced by technology, leaving artistry in the past.

4) Taste

In 40 years marinades and FAB will seem as primitive as youtube aficionados making videos of ribs being boiled. Sauces and rubs will be akin to ambrosia before the opening of Pandora’s Box. Better BBQ through chemistry will not only perfect the balance of flavors but will also stimulate the palette in a more natural and effective way than MSG or FAB.

5) Cooking

Stokers and Gurus will develop to the point where they will practically have a robot that will deliver your turn-ins for you. Eventually we will see a clear dichotomy between the cooks who barely look at their meat and the die hards working on their UDS’s and other home made equipment.



Ok, is this a pipe dream? Maybe. But maybe not. I saw this video and it was pretty enlightening. If, like me, you barely give any thought to the topics that obsess futurists, it’s worth a look. Maybe two.





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Monday, February 16, 2009

Review: Mild to Wild Chipotle Sauce


Mild to Wild Chipotle Sauce

Manufacturer Mild to Wild Pepper & Herb Company
Website www.wildpepper.com


Quality **** (4.5 out of 5)
Viscosity *** (3 out of 5) This is a measure of thickness, not quality
Aroma *** (4 out of 5)

Appearance *** (4 out of 5)

Packaging ** (2.5 out of 5)


The first thing that you notice when you are deciding on a BBQ sauce is the labeling. When a product is labeled for every possible use it’s usually a signal that it is excellent for none. Although I had some trepidation about the multi-purpose labeling for Mild to Wild’s Chipotle Sauce, being a heat freak I had high hopes.


The sauce came in a small plastic bottle. I’m not sure, but it may have been a sample size. Because of that, I’m not going to go into depth on the packaging.


The labeling is pretty bare bones. It doesn’t really catch the eye. If there is going to be a move to grow out of the products current niche market, a label redesign may be in order.


As I alluded to, this is a product from a small manufacturer. There are two types of people who try to make a go at something like this. The first is typified by a local sauce manufacturer that recently released their first product. They have no idea what they are doing and it shows. They did no research on styles of sauce and didn’t even realize that they existed. They cut every corner possible on the manufacturing and ended up with a subpar sauce that tastes like it was made by Dupont.


Mild to Wild seems to be the exact opposite. Theirs is an obvious labor of love. When you visit their website what stands out the most is pride. The recipes are the owners. The owner grows the peppers. The owner walks the fields. The owner takes the orders. Mild to Wild exemplifies the type of manufacturer that this site was created to support. Does the sauce warrant the time and energy that the owner puts into it?


Oh yes.


The smoky aroma blends with tomato when you remove the lid. If you hadn’t read the label you would certainly know that this was a chipotle sauce at this point.


Pouring with ease, the sauce does pool a bit. Not enough to be a problem, but it is noticeable. Also noticeable are the specks of ingredients that give a little visual nuance to the dark red sauce.


As it should be with a chipotle sauce, the heat here is a background component. The smoky sweetness of the peppers blends perfectly with the tomato providing a rich and deep flavor that manages to avoid overwhelming the meat. I used it on chicken and it was fine.


This is a rare sauce that lives up to its multipurpose labeling. I heartily recommend this sauce and I’m looking forward to trying the other products from Mild to Wild.


General Notes:

I do the majority of the sauce analysis on this site. I have often been assisted by Will Breakstone of Willie B’s Award Winning BBQ (pitmaster, competitor and caterer). The foods used with the sauces are usually brisket, pulled pork and chicken. On occasion, other foods will be used if recommended by the manufacturer (ex. burgers, fries, meatloaf, etc.).


Most of the food used for the reviews is cooked on a Weber Smoky Mountain or a Lang 84. The basic BBQ accoutrements (such as tool sets, chimney starters, etc.) are by Weber. Knives are by Mercer Cutlery. Fuel is either a cherry/oak mix or whatever charcoal I’m in the mood for.


www.weber.com

www.pigroast.com

www.mercercutlery.com


CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE HOME OF BBQ FRONT PAGE



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Friday, February 13, 2009

Review: Big Jakes Honey Mustard


Big Jake’s Honey Mustard

Manufacturer Erickson Foods Inc.
Website www.big-jakes.com


Quality *** (3.5 out of 5)
Viscosity *** (4 out of 5) This is a measure of thickness, not quality
Aroma *** (3.5 out of 5)

Appearance **** (4 out of 5)

Packaging **** (4 out of 5)


This is not your typical mustard sauce.


As I’m sure you are aware, mustard sauces are a significant category of BBQ sauces, usually found in the Carolinas. This aint that.


This is much closer to a KC style sauce on steroids with a strong mustard undertone and sweetened with honey.


This is not a mild sauce. The flavors are bold and change the flavors of the meat instead of accenting them.


The sauce comes in a strong glass bottle (15oz.) and pours easily in spite of its thickness. The rich, reddish brown color is as deep as the flavors. There are small specks of this and that in the sauce, offering visual variation. A bit of pepper here, maybe some onion there.


The sauce sticks to the meat while having enough mobility to move about and coat the surface. Once you pour the sauce you can tell that the predominant flavor is that of sweetened tomato. The mustard and vinegar undertones are there, but they are overshadowed by the tomato. Different then a ‘ketchupy’ aroma, the sauce smells intense, but ‘clean’, probably due to the use of honey.


Bold and intense, the sauce is best used sparingly and on strong meats (such as pork and brisket). The mustard is much more of a major player in the taste than it is in the aroma. There is no heat here, but the sauce is still piquant and packs a wallop. Batting lead off for the flavor team is the sweetened tomato. Strong and indeed sweet, the flavor lacks the treacle side effects of corn syrup. Advancing the runners is the vinegar and honey which sets the table for the mustard. Not a power hitter, the mustard swings for average, like a palette enhancing Kirby Puckett. The impact of the mustard is unmistakable and a welcome addition.


Is this a traditional mustard sauce? No. Is that a negative? Not in this case.


If you are looking for a nice variant to the traditional tomato based sauces, this is more than worthy of a place on your shelf.


Image pictured is of Big Jakes Garlic


General Notes:


I do the majority of the sauce analysis on this site. I have often been assisted by Will Breakstone of Willie B’s Award Winning BBQ (pitmaster, competitor and caterer). The foods used with the sauces are usually brisket, pulled pork and chicken. On occasion, other foods will be used if recommended by the manufacturer (ex. burgers, fries, meatloaf, etc.).


Most of the food used for the reviews is cooked on a Weber Smoky Mountain or a Lang 84. The basic BBQ accoutrements (such as tool sets, chimney starters, etc.) are by Weber. Knives are by Mercer Cutlery. Fuel is either a cherry/oak mix or whatever charcoal I’m in the mood for.


www.weber.com

www.pigroast.com

www.mercercutlery.com


CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE HOME OF BBQ FRONT PAGE



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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Review: Smokestack Lightning



Smokestack Lightning
– Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country
Words: Lolis Eric Elie
Photographs: Frank Stewart
Pages: 224
Publisher: 10 Speed Press

There are three distinct styles of writing that I particularly appreciate. Authors such as William F. Buckley have such an incredible command of the language that they wield words like surgeons wield scalpels. Precision and clarity are the hallmarks of their writing. James Patterson, Jeffrey Archer and Ernest Hemingway are masters of brevity. They capture and distill the essence of what they are trying to communicate and convey that essence to the audience in fewer pages than other authors would have thought possible.

Lolis Elie belongs in the third group. Like Roger Zelazny and Maya Angelou, Elie brings a lyricism to his writing. His colloquial style is perfectly suited for the genre of books that Smokestack Lightning helped to form. Books about the culture of BBQ have become much more prevalent over the past few years, but when this book was written thirteen years ago, it was ground breaking.

There is a melancholy feel that threads in and out of the narrative in Smokestack Lightning. It often seems that this is as often a book about loss as it is about BBQ. This book was written in the mid 1990’s, just prior to the renaissance of BBQ that was spurred on by the advent of the Food Network, the internet, the growth of competitions and this very book.

Frank Stewart and Lolis Elie set off in a Volvo to traverse America’s BBQ byways on a Quixotic quest to find the mythical ‘BBQ’ that helps define us as a nation and culture. There is much to be admired in this book, but nothing more so than their candor. The majority of the BBQ that they tried seemed to be average at best. They traveled to all of the BBQ hot spots and apparently found few standouts.

This is often a story of what we have lost. Customs, pride in traditions, cooking skills and methods all seem to be on the cusp of disappearing. I don’t think it would have been possible for Stewart and Elie to anticipate what was right around the bend. How could they have imagined true pit BBQ being celebrated in Maine and Seattle? What prognosticator could have dreamt of the fellowship and growth spurred on by internet groups such as the BBQ Brethren?

I’m not sure if Stewart took so many photos that they were able to tailor their selections to Elie’s descriptions or if Elie catered his phrasing to the photos, but the words and images meld seamlessly to tell the same tale. As much time was spent speaking with practitioners of BBQ as there was in evaluation of their efforts. This is a glimpse into the lives BBQ people and their culture more than a travelogue of gustatory feats.

The photos have an immediacy to them that transports you to the place and time that they were taken. They capture an emotion, a feeling and a zeitgeist that helps to give you an understanding that words alone wouldn’t. Elie’s ability to turn a phrase is simpatico with the often colorful characters that populate Smokestack Lightning. His phrasing is as unique as his subjects and helps to evoke more than what is on the page. Even handed discussions of racism, segregation, urban decay and blatant racists add more power to the narrative than a justifiably angry diatribe would ever have.

This is a seminal work in a growing field. I often loan or give away BBQ related books when I’m done with them. It will be stretching the bounds of my altruism to get me to part with this book.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

REVIEW: Savage Barbecue



Savage Barbecue


By: Andrew Warnes

Pages: 208

Publisher: University of Georgia Press


Savage Barbecue is a book that forces you to come to conclusions on issues you may have never considered before. Whether your conclusions are in agreement with the authors or not, you are left with a respect for his efforts and scholarship. This is a dense, well researched tome that makes a statement about the evolution of thought regarding barbeque, its practitioners, its history and its place in our culture.


The book traces the history of barbeque from the time of Columbus and presents a view that the impression that barbeque was seen as a barbaric food prepared by savages has lingered to this day. In the opinion of the author, the supercilious, colonialist attitudes of westerners has forever linked the cuisine of barbeque to violence, savagery and all things antithetical to civilization.


This is not a book about the people of BBQ and the whimsical hyperbole that seems to be an intrinsic part of any cultural discussion about our native cuisine. This is a scholarly tome that traces the etymology of ‘barbeque’ from its earliest found use, but doesn’t limit itself to the history of the word. The author clearly demonstrates how the paternalistic western colonialists were aghast at the early progenitors of our favorite food and attempts to demonstrate that we view BBQ through that same prism today.


This is an erudite book by a learned author. Interwoven through the book are discussions of the works of Ralph Ellison and Aphra Behn amongst others. Time after time, the author shows how barbecue is associated with violence and the lower social class. The question is whether or not that association is as prevalent today.


It can’t be argued that there are no lingering remnants of this myopic and condescending association, but I believe that this outlook has been ameliorated over time by the popularization (and unfortunate gentrification) of barbecue. With nationwide restaurant chains, cook-offs on television and a homogenized lack of regional idiosyncrasies, from my view point BBQ is now as innocuous to most everyone as Pizza Hut.


In an odd parallel, we seem to be losing the condescending racial and cultural connotations that the term used to carry with it while simultaneously losing whimsical, tall-tale aspects of the culture and food. There is a continual need to fight against the over commercialization of BBQ as it loses its soul and national identity. If only we could lose the negative connotation and maintain the positive cultural history.


If you are even a casual fan of the cultural aspects of barbeque, this needs to be on your bookshelf.


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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

REVIEW: Fatman's Teriyaki Jerky


Fatman’s Beef Jerky

Manufacturer: Red Meat Foods, LLC
Flavor: Teriyaki
Weight: sample package
Website: http://www.fatmansbeefjerky.com/

Flavor: 4
Aroma: 2.5
Texture: 5
Appearance: 4
Packaging: 2 (sample package)

Ratings range from 1 to 5

Once again, the aroma of the jerky was mild, but extremely pleasing. There was a sweet, ‘beefy’ aroma that closely paralleled the flavor.

The slices of meat were thin and remarkably lacking in fat and sinew. The texture was excellent. It was a little crisp, had some ‘chew’ to it and avoided that type of resistance that sometimes makes you think that you are eating a dog’s chew toy. The sizes varied of course, but the average was about 2.25” wide by 1.5” long. Deep reddish brown in color, the jerky was visually attractive.

A orange label with black lettering adorns the sample package. Extremely bare boned, it doesn’t do much to catch the eye. There is a small caricature of a chef on the top right of the label, but that is the only bit of flair on display.*

The teriyaki flavor with a mixture of brown sugar and soy comes out at the forefront of the tasting. The flavor of the meat is slightly overpowered by the teriyaki presence, so we should be gratified that the teriyaki is top notch. The jerky has an excellent balance between sweet and savory and fairly defies you to stop at only a piece or two.

This jerky is another winner, with a strong but not overpowering flavor profile.


*Repeated from our earlier reviews of Fatman’s Jerky


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Monday, February 2, 2009

REVIEW: Big Jake's Roasted Garlic


Roasted Garlic Honey BBQ

Manufacturer Erickson’s Foods Inc
Website www.big-jakes.com


Quality *** (3 out of 5)
Viscosity *** (4 out of 5) This is a measure of thickness, not quality
Aroma *** (3.5 out of 5)

Appearance *** (3 out of 5)

Packaging **** (4 out of 5)


Big Jake’s is a proud product of Minnesota and they bill their sauces as ‘North Woods Style’. I try to stay up on regional differences, but I’ve never heard of ‘North Woods Style’. If Big Jake’s is indicative of this style, it seems to mean a sauce that has very strong sweet tomato overtones. It is sort of a bolder and more pronounced KC style. On the other hand, maybe it’s just a marketing gimmick.


Found in a strong, 15oz bottle, Big Jake’s sauce stands out with its gold colored label focusing on a caricature of a lumberjack. The imagery is successfully evocative of exactly what the manufacturer is trying to present. Coupled with the ‘North Woods Style’, there is a rustic, frontiersman milieu being built. The labeling succeeds in not only standing out from other sauces (much needed in this ever growing field), but also in capturing the imagination of the consumer.


The aroma of the sauce is strong and lets the user know what’s in store. The tomato and the sweetness come out and almost assault the nostrils. This is not a wimpy sauce and the aroma reflects that. Unfortunately, the garlic and honey are almost non-existent.


The sauce pours well, but is clearly thick. Adhesion to any meat won’t be a problem. With the same consistency of a thick ketchup, if poured on a plate the sauce barely spreads and maintains the shape it formed when hitting the surface. Once poured it becomes noticeable that sauce has no variation in its dark red coloring but there are some ingredients visible, which is nice. The sauce is extremely well blended so that there are no small bits of this or tiny chunks of that. ‘Smooth’ (visually and physically) is the best way to describe the sauce.


The tastes that jump to the foreground are tomato and sweetness. 3 of the first 6 ingredients are a form of sugar. Thankfully none of them are corn syrup, which helps us to avoid that nasty treacle taste and related feeling on the tongue and roof of the mouth. The garlic, vinegar and spice join the party after a few seconds and nicely ameliorate what might have been an overdose of sugar.


This is a bold sauce that should be enjoyed with meats that can shoulder that weight. The flavor is almost in competition with the meat that it is placed on. Burgers, pork and brisket would stand up well and could easily benefit, but I would avoid using this on poultry.


General Notes:

I do the majority of the sauce analysis on this site. I have often been assisted by Will Breakstone of Willie B’s Award Winning BBQ (pitmaster, competitor and caterer). The foods used with the sauces are usually brisket, pulled pork and chicken. On occasion, other foods will be used if recommended by the manufacturer (ex. burgers, fries, meatloaf, etc.).

Most of the food used for the reviews is cooked on a Weber Smoky Mountain or a Lang 84. The basic BBQ accoutrements (such as tool sets, chimney starters, etc.) are by Weber. Knives are by Mercer Cutlery. Fuel is either a cherry/oak mix or whatever charcoal I’m in the mood for.

www.weber.com

www.pigroast.com

www.mercercutlery.com


CLICK HERE TO RETURN TO THE HOME OF BBQ FRONT PAGE



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