Monday, February 25, 2013

Pigchaser BBQ Sauce

a review.....................

WOW was all I could say when I received the carton from Ron Slawek from Grayslake, IL containing five bottles of his Pigchaser BBQ sauces. I was really looking forward to the “work” of giving them all a try and putting them through their paces. Of course, I am using the word “work” very loosely here.

With five different flavors to try, I admit that at first I was wondering if I would be able to discern a difference between the offerings. So what I did was pour a little of each sauce into a bowl marked on the bottom with the flavor. The goal here was to be able to taste the unidentified sauces to determine if the advertised flavors could be detected.

While certainly not considered scientific, accurate, reliable or even creditable the results surprised even one of the world’s biggest skeptics, yours truly. Most people were able to detect the flavor differences, including me.  A lot of folks correctly identified the particular flavor profile of the sauce tasted, pretty cool I thought.

The flavors tested were:

The next part of my job was what I considered my personal favorite, the pairing of the sauces with food, and then the dining on said food. Well, I had all those bottles of sauce open, what else was I supposed to do, I threw a party. I cooked up several different kinds of meats, veggies and fruits and let the guests decide which sauce they wanted to pair with which food. I have to tell you, some of the pairings were darn tasty. I also have to tell you, we had a ball. Every time someone would hit on what they thought was the winner, others would sample and say “man, that’s great, but you need to try this…”

When it was all said and done, my hands were sticky, my belly was full, and there was a smile on my face along with a few sauce smudges on my chin and spots on my shirt, I was in BBQ heaven. My guests were happy too. What I will tell you is my favorites were Habanero and Original. I have included below a basic recipe I used with the Hab sauce and some grilled pineapple, it makes a great appetizer.

Ron tells me his Habanero Sauce won 1st place at the 2013 Scovie Awards while the Bacon BBQ sauce placed 3rd in the unique category. (An interesting footnote, this sauce contains REAL bacon, not just bacon flavoring.) After tasting them, it is easy to see why. The sauces are available on their website   

My suggestion would be to give some (if not all) of these sauces a try. It is also very good to know that Pigchaser Sauces are gluten free, contain no HFCS, are all low sodium and are made with all natural ingredients. Another interesting nugget of information was located on the label of the Bacon BBQ sauce where the words “low fat” appears. Bacon AND low fat? Please Ron, send me some more!

Pigchaser Pineapple Parts (try saying that one ten times fast)

1 fresh pineapple (peeled and cored)
2 cups Pigchaser Habanero BBQ Sauce
1/3 cup of beer

Preheat your grill to a medium high heat

Wisk sauce together with the beer of your choice in a small bowl, drink remaining beer from bottle, then open another. (You don’t want to go thirsty do you?)

Slice the pineapple length ways into ½ inch slices

Carefully grill pineapple until starting to soften and some charring is visible, turning only once if possible.

When finished, dunk pineapple pieces into sauce/beer combo then return to grill to allow sauce to set. (1-2 minutes)

Remove from grill, cut into bit sized pieces, place on platter with toothpicks inserted for easy of eating.

Stand out of the way and keep hands and fingers clear, your guest will love them. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

So you want to be the KCBS Team of the Year…….
You are going to need a few things

The 2012 competition barbecue season is in the books, the KCBS Team of the Year is 3 Eyz BBQ from Owings Mills, Maryland, pitmaster Dan Hixon. I am fortunate to be able to call Dan one of the many friends I have met along the barbecue trail. Dan and I have a bit of history together. Back in 2004 we cooked against each other at the Tailgater Challenge held in conjunction with the Maryland Barbecue Bash a KCBS contest in Bel Air , MD, at the time we hadn’t yet met. Little did we know, our paths would almost cross again in 2006 while we each assisted a different team at the New Holland Summer Fest. It wasn’t until 2007 when I started my own team that we finally met in person, since then we have become close friends.

Dan and I were having lunch together in 2007 or 2008 when we discussed where we would like to go in this crazy world called barbecue. Dan told me that day; his most sought after goal was to become the KCBS team of the year. I remember thinking to myself that was quite a lofty goal, but after getting to know Dan, I only had to guess what year he would achieve his desired quest. To say the man is driven would be an understatement.

Since reaching this plateau, it goes without saying that Dan has been a bit busy. What with juggling the attention of the barbecue world with that pesky “real job” and all. Dan was nice enough to oblige me when I asked him to provide some of the items you may need if you are considering a run at the covenanted coveted title of Team of the Year. Please keep in mind, these are only suggestions and not meant to guarantee wining the TOY crown.

First, you need to go out and purchase an enclosed trailer similar to the model made by Extreme BBQ Trailers. Preferably something with a sleeping compartment and air conditioning, the reasons are obvious. You will be spending a lot time in said trailer while travelling all over the Country and , sometimes in the summer it has been known to get ridiculously warm!
; it can get a bit warm in some States.

The trailer, of course, must be fully equipped with cookers, supplies and all of the necessary accoutrements needed to cook a KCBS contest. These supplies must be continually inventoried and restocked during the contest season to assure you will have everything you will need at each and every event.

While you are at it, make sure you have a dependable, heavy duty truck with a very capable driver (with a lot of free time on their hands and /or an understanding employer) as well as a maintenance or road service policy that is in force. Dan and his team figured they took approximately 70 days off work during their run at the championship, drove 20,000 miles, slept 110 nights on sleeping pads, in a truck or in zero gravity chairs, racked up 13,000 frequent flyer miles and spent a total of 4,752 man hours at the 33 contests they cooked this past year. Oh and I almost forgot to mention the 550 hours of prep before those 33 events, this doesn’t even mention the countless hours spent planning, cleaning up and just thinking about what you have to do or have done.

What follows is a short list of some of the materials you might need for your quest based on figures provided by the 3 Eyz team who, by the way, are meticulous record keepers.

66 briskets
528 pounds of pork butt
264 racks of ribs
1,188 pieces of chicken (are you kidding me?)
99 pounds of rub (good thing they know a guy)
18.5 gallons of sauce
33 gallons of injection
2,178 pounds of charcoal
33 bottles of Patron (a significant cost by itself)
3,300 pounds of ice (better to buy an ice maker)
792 ounces of protein shakes
99 cans of energy drinks
124 cases of water
And last but certainly not least, 17 containers of Monkey Butt Powder (essential, do not skimp here or you will be extremely sorry not to mention very sore)

Additionally, they cooked a total of 46 ancillary or people’s choice contests in their spare time. Note, the above list doesn't take into account contest practice cooks, and if you don’t think these guys are practicing and tweaking continually, you better think again and add time into your schedule.

The results however, can be very rewarding. A rough count for the 3 Eyz squad for the 2012 season is 11 Grand Championships, 6 Reserves, 76 trophies won, 29 ribbons and 125 calls to the stage. That my friends, is a lot of walking, you had better put a pair of comfortable shoes on your list as well.

Please be advised, I am not suggesting that the mere collecting and purchasing of these items is all that is needed to win the KCBS TOY honors or that these things are required to win the crown.  Quite the contrary, you will also need a very understanding spouse, a good bit of experience, steely determination, well-honed skills and yes, even a bit of luck on your side. I am here to tell you that these guys from 3 Eyz BBQ, they had it all in 2012, the entire package. Congratulations fellows, on a job well done, INDEED!