Monday, May 25, 2009

Sundays at Buckshot's......

A few weeks ago I received a call from one of my classmates in regards to cooking out at his new establishment Buckshot's. Buckshot's is a new outdoor entertainment venue that features live bands from around Texas and other parts of the country. It has a huge outdoor fireplace, bar, stage and nice little pond that's right in the middle. It's a very nice set-up and has been attracting up to 250 people on any given Sunday. We had found out that the up and coming artist Josh Langston was going to be playing that day. That very same weekend I had also planned on competing in the World Championship Bison Cook-Off is Santa Anna, TX but since I had a few other things pending that weekend as well I decided not to enter the competition and felt I should try and make a little money vending on a Sunday afternoon instead.

If you have never vended before it's a little different than catering from what I am finding out. I definitely wanted to give this a shot but to be honest it did not turn out the way I had intended. Since my specialty is Ranch Style Cuisine that's what I had wanted to do this first time around. I wanted people to know the true definition in my opinion of what Ranch Style BBQ really is and what Colins Creek BBQ was capable of doing. I know that there is a little money to be made in vending but I was not prepared in all honesty for the up front expenses of vending this type of cuisine.

I had decided to do something out of the norm that would appeal to most everyone thinking I would attract more customers. We had a menu that featured Mesquite Smoked Ribeyes, Baby Back Ribs, Beef Ribs, Sausage, Brisket and Chicken. I also made up some Ranch Style Potatoes and some beans. This was one of the most intense cook's I have done before not knowing really what kind of audience I would have.

I took my family out with me and also was able to get the help of another great cook and friend of mine Chris Canon. We had anticipated on having a big crowd but to our amazement only 40 people showed up. We served up about 26 plates from the 40 in attendance but did not really even come close to breaking even. I know we will definitely do this again but will probably go with "Plan B" next time and just try to keep it simple. I will be taking this as a learning experience and hopefully will recoup our losses at a later date. Until then I have been reading up on my new book Americas Best BBQ on what to do with all the leftovers and will probably be cooking up some new recipes that will come in handy as I try and figure out why I even do this. I guess it's my addiction but if you want to know the truth I still have a few things up my sleeve for next time that most people here in West Texas have never seen done on a BBQ pit.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Low & Slow......

I don't think you can ever stop learning about barbecue so when I think a good BBQ book hits the shelf I usually try and pick it up. For me I think learning from my own mistakes is my number one teacher aside from reading and hands on instruction. When you learn from other peoples mistakes it sometimes help's but not always. Their are so many different styles to achieving great BBQ that skipping a small step could be a very big difference. This being said you don't know what they may or may not have done so what works for me might not work for you and vise versa. Gary Wiviott the author of this book has been cooking barbecue for 10 years and hits on the fact that he's made the mistakes so you don't have to. I thought the book was worth the money however telling someone to forget everything they know about BBQ is definitely a turn-off to me and discourages people from having their own style so to speak.

I think the book had some great information in regards to cooking on different cookers and I especially liked the fact that this book actually breaks down each method when doing so. I think this book would have been more appealing to me had I not had the opportunity to learn from some of the best pit-masters out there, however for someone who does not have that opportunity I would say this book is a definite resource for many things BBQ. Being a competition cook vs a backyard cook which is what Gary is open's the floor for a few disagreements in my style vs his I think, however his knowledge and diversity in recipes, rubs, marinades and brine's is something I very much appreciate.

This book is something I have found to be somewhat controversial in a few areas, but maybe in my own little way. I will start by saying that being from Texas, Brisket and other beef products are a main staple in our BBQ and I was not happy to see that their was no section covering beef at all. I know it's also popular in other parts of the country so I was thrown off a little by it being left out of this book. It's just as important as any other meat and a good pitmaster learns to cook many items vs just a few. If you are going to write a book on BBQ I think you should include all facets of BBQ not just poultry, pork and side items. I also disagree with the fact that it says to use Pork Butt drippings so you can emulate a Texas Style BBQ Sauce in which he refers to Coopers BBQ Sauce in Llano, TX. Hello folks...Coopers does not serve pulled pork on their menu that I have seen. They do serve Pork Chops but knowhere do they use pork butt juice in their sauce. They use Brisket drippings which is an entirely different animal and flavor all together so I think the analogy of making a good Texas based sauce with pork juice should be thrown out entirely. In my opinion before you write about something I think it's best to know what you are putting out and to what audience but to each his own. Since I have not tried this in fairness I should not call it a controversy but more of a difference in opinion.

I would recommend this book to almost anyone wanting to cook or go about cooking better BBQ. For me anyone who has taken the time to write a book and give out their secrets is very deserving of a thumbs up. I do not think I would be a good student of the authors instruction but I did pick up a few things from this book that I know will help out in other ways.