“Desert Smoke BBQ is committed to combining tangy Carolina BBQ flavors with BIG, BOLD, Southwestern spices!” With that as a guiding principle, I’m always looking for new flavor combinations that will make your tastebuds smile (and smolder). Our new Habanero Peach BBQ sauce takes one of the most recognizable Southern flavors, the humble peach, to a whole new level with just the right amount of Fiery habanero chile pepper. Used as a condiment, our Habanero Peach sauce will make your chicken dishes cluck and is the perfect compliment to pork ribs, roasts and chops. Drop by your Phoenix area Whole Foods Market or Phoenix Public market and grab a bottle! (Stay tuned for an upcoming contest).
If you’ve ever driven to Las Vegas from Phoenix you will have passed through a town called Wikieup, so small you might miss it if you blinked. If you happen to have your windows down or vents open, you might just catch the distinctive smell of wood smoke mixed with the unmistakable aroma of meat in the pit.
Eat at Joe’s BBQ is proof that ‘Que can be found just about anywhere. This little roadside restaurant beckons all who drive past with the promise of succulent, smokey meat and the tasty sides but does it deliver?
On the recommendation of the server I ordered Heaven on a bun ($9.95), billed as a “slow smoked brisket and pulled pork sandwich, marinated in house barbecue sauce and served on a corn dusted roll with two sides.”
I found this sandwich to be a bit confused. The brisket having been chopped so finely that its texture was lost and pulled pork that was lost amidst the sauce the whole thing was marinated in.
As a big fan of both brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, I was disappointed that the flavors and textures of both were combined in a way which obliterated individual flavors and textures. The “corn dusted bun” was merely a standard hamburger bun that struggled to stay together under the weight of meaty mush.
The first of two sides accompanying my “heavenly” sandwich was an order of standard French fries which were fine in taste and texture but were unremarkable. These fries appeared to be of the frozen food service variety and fresh would certainly have been better.
Along with my fries, an order of white beans arrived and again, fell short of the mark. Though the beans were tender and properly cooked, they were lacking in any discernible flavor (even though a puddle of butter floated atop them). I’m not certain what the thought behind these beans was but whatever it was, they just didn’t deliver. (the closest thing I can compare to this dish would be Lima beans, which I enjoy when properly made).
Over-all, Eat at Joe’s BBQ is a kitschy stop on a long drive that provides sustenance but nothing special in my opinion. I’d recommend dining on either end of your journey unless you’re absolutely starving.
A big boast D-Dog’s BBQ makes of its products, we shall see if the flavors stand up to the claim. As a big fan of locally produced goods and most anything associated with barbecue, I simply could not pass up the opportunity to give D-Dog’s BBQ Original Dry rub ($6) a try.
I brought my 8.5 ounce jar of rub home and broke out the pork. As a BBQ guy myself, any dry rub worth the jar its in must be tasty on pork and chicken so to the chops we go!
Four, inch thick boneless loin chops were thoroughly rubbed with D-Dog’s magic dust and lovingly slid into a hot broiler for fourteen minutes (seven minutes per side).
D-Dog’s rub gave the chops a beautiful rust red color (a result of the paprika) and a nice sweet, smokey flavor. Over-all, D-Dog’s rub is well balanced, complimented the meat and was quite flavorful. (the two that stood out the most for me were seasoning salt and Worcestershire sauce).
Is it better than ketchup? Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far but I will certainly use D-Dogs dry rubs in the future and I look forward to trying their other products as well.
D-Dog’s BBQ is a local company based out of Apache Junction, Arizona that produces BBQ Sauce and dry rub available on-line and at several Valley retailers. Find them at www.DDogsBBQ.com or follow them on twitter.
There’s a little purple building on Indian School rd just West of Arizona SR51 housing Stacy’s Smokehouse BBQ that I pass by on a pretty regular basis. I’ve been meaning to drop in and give Stacy’s a try since they are a locally owned and operated business AND serve BBQ which is both my love and business.
A couple of days ago I was in the area and feeling those slight pangs that indicate hunger so I pulled into Stacy’s parking lot and walked on in.
The place is SMALL with only 4 tables and a counter with a sign that warns customers not to put weight (including your children) on it. There are a series of blackboards hanging behind the counter which comprise the menu and I was excited and intrigued by some of the selections.
As this was between lunch and dinner, I ordered relatively light fare, a large hotlink sandwich, an ear of deep fried corn (how could I not?), an order of red beans and rice and sweet tea.
After a short while my food arrived and I must say it looked quite tasty. The Hotlink sandwich was comprised of two sausage links split and served on a seeded bun with just enough of their tasty BBQ sauce to keep things interesting. It had great bite (though I’d bet the farm the sausage was Farmer John Red Hot Links rather than something house made/made for them), the proper texture (a bit more chewy than say, a hot dog), and pretty good spicy flavor. All in all, exactly what I’m looking for in this kind of sandwich.
I generally get a pretty good measure of a BBQ joint by the care they put into their beans so I was keen to try the red bean and rice (something not found often enough in a BBQ joint in my opinion). The beans were tender and the long grain rice just past al dente which is where I like it since this allows each grain to stand out and gives you a great mouth feel. The ‘glue’ holding the beans together was quite flavorful, being slightly on the spicy side, and had just about perfect consistency.
…and then there was deep fried corn on the Cobb. I must admit I thought I’d eaten corn prepared in every possible way but clearly I missed one, this ear was rolled in perfectly spiced cornmeal and deep fried until golden brown. The first bite made me giggle like a schoolgirl! Talk about texture, the crispy cornmeal batter allowed the natural juiciness of the corn to shine and gave it a crunch that has to be experienced to understand. Now I’m a huge fan of fire roasted corn slathered in butter, cayenne pepper and salt but I now have a new favorite.
Over-all Stacy’s BBQ was a pretty good meal at a reasonable price that I would happily recommend. I’m looking forward to returning to try Stacy’s Hickory and Oak smoked ribs for dinner in the very near future.
I’m always pretty skeptical when products and/or places are labelled ‘The Best,’ especially when it pertains to BBQ. A few months ago, I was in town for the Memphis in May BBQ festival and came across a publication proclaiming a local eatery, The Bar-B-Que Shop, to have the ‘Best BBQ sandwich in Memphis!’ As BBQ is something I take quite seriously, I was very interested in giving it a try but time did not permit so it went on my ‘list’ of places I needed to dine in the future.
This past weekend, I was in Memphis visiting family and I made it a point to drop in to see if the title of ‘Best BBQ sandwich,’ was justified.
The Bar-B-Que shop is a typical Local Memphis eatery in that function dominates form. The restaurant is not flashy, it is set up to accommodate 85 or so diners in enough comfort for them to enjoy their meals and move on rather than making their dining an experience.
On to the menu! Since I was here for a sandwich, all that was needed was a decision of size. The BBQ pulled pork sandwich comes in small, medium and large so my decision was simple…LARGE! A sandwich isn’t a meal in my mind without sides and I tend to believe that you can learn a lot about a BBQ joint by their beans, so beans I ordered along with onion rings and true ‘sweet tea.’
In short order, I was presented with a plate on which rested my BBQ prize but first, the beans… Looking at the bowl, I immediately knew that these legumes whose size, texture and appearance reminded me of ‘pork ‘n beans,’ once lived in a can. A quick taste confirmed but I asked my server anyway. Her reply ‘they come from a can but we spruce em up a bit.’ *sigh*
On to the onion rings which had a very familiar, uniform texture, color and PERFECT size and shape, I’ve seen this before and knew it to mean they were most likely the frozen foodservice variety. A bite of one ring confirmed that it’s crunchy outside hid a mushy onion which occurs due to the continuation of the cooking process when freezing, after par-frying at the plant where they were made. A quick question to my server confirmed my suspicions (and she seemed to be a bit embarrassed).
At this point I was pretty disappointed and reluctant to go any further which would have been a mistake as my first bite of the sandwich told me I was eating something special. The pork was tender, had just the right amount of smoke flavor, was mixed in with bits of crunchy, flavorful bark and lay on a light bed of mustard based coleslaw that was the perfect compliment to their ‘Original’ BBQ sauce.
If you’re looking for a tasty sandwich in Memphis, I recommend you drop into the Bar-B-Que shop for the pulled pork, skip the sides and you’ll be quite satisfied. My only complaint about the sandwich itself was the Texas toast could have used a bit more time toasting so as not to become soggy but in all I can see why this sandwich has been voted ‘Best in Memphis’
*note, I’m a bit of a critic in regard to sauce since it happens to be my business so I tried both on offer. The Original has a pleasant, sweet flavor indicative of this Regions BBQ but the Hot was terrible (and it’s well know that I’m a fan of Big, Bold, Spicy flavors. It was very HOT, but lacking in any but vinegar flavor (I suspect it’s made with tobasco sauce as it’s base).
As if my first foray into television cooking wasn’t enough, Sonoran Living Co-host Andi Barness had asked me if I’d be interested in whipping up a little something tasty on her show the following day. My head was still spinning from my Valley Dish experience but I’m always ready to go, so take a look at the video below:
The experience was a little different as Sonoran Living is a “Lifestyle” show rather than a “cooking” show and my total segment time, for prep and cooking was 5 minutes. I had a great time and Andi kept me on my toes. This “TV cooking” thing is kinda fun!
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a wide rolling plain with tall grass and a gentle breeze. In the distance you hear the sound of building thunder. There isn’t a cloud in the sky but the thunder grows louder & the ground begins to tremble. The tranquil landscape around you is transformed as a massive herd of Bison rushes past in a terrifying blur of horns & hide. Now open your eyes and don’t be afraid, BBQ has arrived in Cave Creek, Arizona!
I first dined at Bryan’s Black Mountain BBQ a month or so ago at the suggestion of a Local Chef whom I respect and admire (Gwen Ashley Walters), and have since been back several times, always enjoying my meals. Recently, I was invited by Owner/Chef Bryan Dooley via Bryan’s BBQ on Twitter to come in and try a new product that will be going on the menu this Fall, Sage and Juniper rubbed Bison Ribs with a Sweet Persimmon Glaze.
Now I’ve had Bison several times before, though never the ribs, and have always found it to be a bit tough, chewy and somewhat gamey. Having had the pleasure of several of Bryan’s signature menu items previously, I jumped at the opportunity for a first taste.
On my arrival, I was greeted by Chef Dooley (generally behind the counter ready to carve to order), who came out and spoke to me about what his ideas of BBQ in general and this dish in particular are all about. ”Simple, BOLD flavor,’ is the Chef’s mantra and the basis for everything they do. Bringing the natural beefy flavor of Bison to Bryan’s BBQ just fits in with what they are doing in this well “seasoned” building where the theme is a modern interpretation of classic BBQ flavors.
Six piping hot ribs were set before me and I immediately noticed the deep pink ring imparted by smoking over Pecan wood. A taste of the sweet Persimmon Glaze let me know what I was in for as I picked up a rib. Upon taking my first bite, I immediately noticed how tender, lean and flavorful these ribs were, giving just the right amount of pull from the bone but not coming clean off. (Contrary to popular misconception, properly cooked ribs will not fall off the bone! The only ribs that fall off the bone are those that have been boiled and steamed. This process usually robs the ribs of flavor because water is a solvent. Steamed and boiled ribs usually have a mushy texture. Properly cooked ribs will pull cleanly off the bone with your teeth, but will still have some resilience and chew.)
Persimmons are a fruit that I have not had much experience eating/cooking with but the sweet, slightly tangy flavor worked quite well when rubbed with Bryan’s mix of sage, juniper berries and a hint of black pepper. The things that struck me most about this dish were how well balanced the flavors were and the natural “beefiness” of the meat. My mind wandered back to that open, grassy plain and with each bite I could literally envision the massive heards of wild Bison that once roamed freely.
As a self professed BBQ fanatic and creator of a line of BBQ sauces and Dry spice rub, I tend to be much less forgiving in my opinion of what “good BBQ’ is. Without reservation, I can tell you that Bryan’s get’s it right, Chef Bryan Dooley is passionate about BBQ! I happen to know that his hands touch every piece of meat that crosses the counter into a guest’s waiting hands. Judging from the quality of this and the other menu items I’ve had personally, I can say that Chef Dooley’s motto of “simple, BOLD flavors” has been superbly executed.
As a side note, since this item is not currently available for purchase, Chef Dooley generously allowed me to try it free of charge. This consideration in no way contributed to my opinion of this or any other dish served at Bryan’s Black Mountain BBQ.
While in Memphis, TN for the Memphis in May World Championship BBQ Competition, my mother took me to try Gus’s Fried Chicken. Apparently Gus’s is a Memphis tradition and a must visit if youre in town.
Now I’m a fried chicken lover from way back, some of my earliest culinary memories are of my Great Grandmother butchering and frying up chicken in her big cast iron skillet (my mouth is watering just thinking about it), but I am always dubious of “World Famous” anything.
I am positive that the following statement will start all kinds of debate but I’m going to say it anyway, “This was the best fried chicken I’ve ever eaten!” There, the gauntlet has been thrown down, let the debate begin.
First off, Gus’s is in a seedy part of town surrounded by abandoned buildings and is itself located in a rundown building but… as you approach, the first thing you notice is a LONG line out front to get in (foodies recognize this as a good sign). After waiting for what seemed like an eternity to get inside, I saw that there were only about 10 small tables inside, bare concrete and absolutely “no frills.” After another 20 minutes of patient waiting, we were ushered to a table and handed very simple menus.
I’ve got to tell you, the smells coming from the simple, open kitchen could drive a man insane and watching hot, steaming trays piled high with fried chicken almost made me lose my manners and get a little grabby! After what seemed like forever, the waiter took our order (an 8 piece meal, fried rice, beans and sweet tea), and we began to wait again…
After about 45 minutes, and much salivating, our meal arrived and boy was it worth the wait. The chicken was served on a plastic tray lined with wax paper, the beans and rice in styrofoam cups and there was of course plain white bread. Picking up a breast, the savory, spicy smell wafted into my nostrils and I took my first bite.
The skin was crisp, crunchy and perfectly seasoned, followed by molten hot juices running down my mouth and hands…it was nirvana!.
I can only reiterate that this humble little unpretentious restaurant really should be world famous if it isn’t already. Oh and don’t take my word for it, have a look at what Yelp! and Urbanspoon users had to say.
I am a Pork Pilgrim!
I recently spent four days in the Mecca of BBQ and all things Pork that is the Memphis in May World Championsip BBQ Cooking Competition.. I arrived in the town that Blues and BBQ built on Thursday around midnight and thought it would be too late to feed my craving for ‘Que… I couldn’t have been more wrong!
After a short trip from the airport, my mom, my brother and I arrived on Beale street to find a MADHOUSE!! There were people everywhere havin a great time and The Blues City Cafe beckoned.
We ordered a rack of baby backs, hot links, smoked shrimp, fried Catfish and all the fixins’. The ribs were perfectly cooked and the sides were worthy of the Blues Music heard playing in the background. After stuffing ourselves we headed out on Beale to experience Memphis at its best.
Friday morning was my introduction to BBQ overload, over 250 teams from as far away as Denmark were set up and preparing to compete for prize money and bragging rights in 3 main pork categories: ribs, shoulder, and whole hog. (and several “other” categories)
My first stop was Pork Barrel BBQ where I met owners/cookers Brett and Heath, who made the trip from Washington, D.C. I watched as they trimmed and rubbed their brisket prior to smoking while eating the most flavorful smoked quail I’ve ever had. These guys had a calm air of professionalism about them despite all of the attention they were getting from the media (They won funding for their line of BBQ sauces and Dry rub on the TV Show ‘Shark Tank’).
- Desert Smoke BBQ & Cool Smoke BBQ @ MIM
My next stop was the Cool Smoke Team tent where I met Tuffy Stone and Jamie Geer, from the TLC series ‘BBQ Pit masters.’ These guys were friendly, organized and had the most succulent pulled pork I’ve found. Imagine taking the first bite, the flavor explodes onto your palate, the meat has just the rite amount of texture and the aroma makes you close your eyes and savor the moment. I can see why this team does so well in competition.
Wandering around the collection of team areas, I came across a big , white enclosed tent…as I approached, twin doors were thrown open and we were ushered into…wait for it…a FULLY AIR CONDITIONED TENT with refreshments and comfy couches!! (it turned out to be the TNT promotion tent for the upcoming series ‘Memphis Beat.’).
While sheltering from the heat and humidity eating cute little lemon squares and drinking cold sweet tea, I ran into My BBQ Tweeps from ManupTexasBBQ. (these two guys tweet and blog their way around the country eating ‘Que wherever it’s found).
The next few hours and the following days were kind of a blur as I ate everything BBQ that came within reach from ribs to pulled pork to brisket. I MUST mention a side trip to Gus’s Fried Chicken where I tasted the best chicken EVER….but that’s for another entry.
Check out the complete list of the winners here.
All in all, the Memphis in May BBQ festival is something that has to be experienced to be understood and in my opinion, EVERYONE should make the pilgrimage at least once.