Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday Night Videos

I've been on vacation and haven't felt very bloggy. Still, a man has obligations. Today's video is not BBQ-related, but it does demonstrate the kind of fast food innovation that brought us the McRib.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

Not much BBQ for me this time of year. Instead, I bring you my very yellow contribution to Christmas Eve dinner. Tonight we will be having goose which is something I've always wanted to try cooking, I've never been industrious enough to track one down and give it a go. Luckily for me, it's a family tradition for HA (crazy Icelanders), and I've been invited to partake. I'll soon find out whether I like it.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday Night Videos

This video link arrives courtesy of BD (Husband of Click Daily). Pay attention to J. C. Hardaway's reaction to the length of time Raymond Robinson claims to cook his ribs.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holiday Hopes Dashed

I had plans for the upcoming holidays. With a week off between Christmas and New Year's Day, I hoped to work on The Sauce, maybe smoke a chicken, organize my office, bake a pineapple upside down cake for Christmas Eve, work on our bathroom remodel, cook some prime rib, change the oil in my motorcycle, and try to make tea eggs.

Big plans, I know. I didn't expect to accomplish everything on my list, but I thought I'd get a few things knocked out. Alas, that will not happen. An upgrade to LineRider has been released. See you all in 2008.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Genius or Madness?

I had a dream last night which is rare, although becoming more common as I age. In this dream, I was eating what could only be called a BBQ cheesecake. Imagine a slice of NY-style cheesecake with a thin layer of reduced, extra-sweet BBQ sauce on top. While my dream was of a dessert, a savory BBQ cheesecake might be possible. A quick consultation of The Great Google yielded an experiment with a smoked salmon cheesecake. Why not BBQ? Discuss amongst yourselves.

Monday, December 18, 2006

My Baby Loves Me

While making a Legion of Zoom/Moxie Dynamite t-shirt for me to wear to the roller derby last week, E also made this kickass tee. Viva McRib!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Friday Night Videos

Like most of the Interweb, I have become obsessed with LineRider. With a little more practice, I'm hoping to turn pro. This is how I spent my week.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Smoking Turkeys

For all practical purposes, The Saucier is a libertarian. If you want to smoke, smoke. If you want to do so in a restaurant, knock yourself out. If the restaurateur would rather you didn't, get out. And if you don't want to work in a smoky environment, get another job. Anti-smoking legislation has nothing to do with public health. Like all politics, it's about money, power, control and self-righteousness.

With that, I give you guest Bar-B-Logger, RJA:

The Commercial Appeal today has a story regarding the proposed state-wide ban on smoking in all public buildings, with the focus being on restaurants and bars. I’m not here to argue whether this is a good idea or not, or whether the government should be going into private businesses to tell them what they can and can’t do. The solution seems like common sense to me – let the private business owner set his own policy and the free market will decide whether it’s a valid policy or not.

This is the Bar-B-Log, so if The Saucier will indulge me, I’m going to focus on the story below the fold, the one about The Rendezvous voluntarily initiating a no smoking policy as of Jan 11. I should point out that I’m a small business owner and that my business happens to be tobacco. The fact that they want to change their policy is their business, being able to make our own rules is why we go into business for ourselves. And I don’t dare tell the Vergoses how to run their operation, they run one of the best tourist traps in Memphis. My problem is with the hypocrisy, with these bar and restaurant owners spouting off about health and the well-being of their patrons. Nick Vergos is in the game of trying to get you to cram as much pork into your system as you could possibly handle. I can also visit the Rendezvous, drink draft Michelob after draft Michelob, put my family in the car and drive them across town. But there’s money to be made in fat. And there’s money to be made in beer. And if there was money to be made for him in tobacco, you can be sure Nick Vergos would baste it, chop it or pour it up with as much gusto as imaginable.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Captain John's Old Tyme Pit Barbecue

Historically, I don't find myself in Collierville very often. Maybe once a year. Maybe. But, now that my dad started managing the service department of a motorcycle dealership out there and the MRD set up shop at FunQuest, I seem to be making the trip all the time – twice last week as a matter of fact.

On the way out to see my baby in the roller derby Saturday night, I stopped at Captain John's Old Tyme Pit Barbecue on Highway 72. I'd noticed it several times before, but this was my first meal there. I ordered a jumbo sandwich plate with beans and fries from some very nice ladies who took good care of me. I love the South.

Skip the fries. The beans were plain but good – just BBQ beans sans any extras like onions or meat. It's difficult to critique the slaw without ordering any extra. On the sandwich, it seemed pretty standard. Although, when I lifted the bun to add some sauce, I could swear I saw some lettuce. Maybe it was parsley. Either way, that's weird.

The BBQ itself had good flavor. My sandwich had some extra crunch that I'm attributing to the presence of extra bark. Lucky me. I don't think it was heat lamp crispiness because the meat wasn't dry at all. The sauce was similar to but not as tangy as Tops. And unlike Tops, Captain John's serves ribs. I'll try those in March when the roller derby season starts back up.

On a side note, I've got to stop ordering jumbo sandwiches. Not just because I'm a little too jumbo myself and shouldn't be eating barbecue in the first place. No, it's because they are unwieldy and always seem to fall apart making a big mess. This isn't a knock on Captain John's. Every jumbo combo seems to do the same.

The final verdict? I wouldn't make any special trips to Collierville for a sandwich at Captain John's, but if you're hungry and driving down 72, stop in.

Friday, December 08, 2006

3 Stars? Are you kidding me?

Given my recent flirtation with Alabama BBQ, I can't say that I'm terribly interested in a Birmingham chain setting up shop in the greater Memphis area, but many of you have pointed out Leslie Kelly's review of the newly opened Jim 'n Nick's Bar-B-Q in today's Commercial Appeal. I have yet to visit, but I feel compelled to respond.

First, you can't really classify Jim 'n Nick's as a BBQ place. Much like Smokey Bones, it sounds more like a restaurant that serves BBQ. You won't find linen napkins, spinach & artichoke dip, quesadillas or a rib-eye steak at Tops. The pie sounds good, but it ain't no bag of donuts. Second – pickles, pickles, pickles, again with the pickles. Third, do you really want to pay $8 for a BBQ sandwich? Lastly, butt jokes are funny. I like a good butt joke. I like a good butt. But, if Jim 'n Nick's slogan really is "you can smell our butts for miles," that's just gross.

The CA has six reviews (that I could find) of BBQ spots available on its website dating back to 2001. Only, Corky's and Jim 'n Nick's were rated 3 stars. Those two reviews were written by Leslie Kelly. It's a shame she's heading back to the Pacific Northwest.

And, no. It wasn't me.

Friday Night Videos

Seriously, how many BBQ-related videos can you watch?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Full Plate

Ukrainian scientist? Talking, musical plates? Smart belt? Stinky jewelry? I just don't think these things will help people lose weight or avoid overeating. If anything, they might just spur on competition. How many BBQ sandwiches can you eat before your smart belt explodes?

The following quote says it all, "I don't take money for any of this, not a kopeck. When I invented the musical condom I had people from Canada, Israel, and even Germany get in touch with me, but there were no offers from serious companies."

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Lords of Smoke, Fire & Meat

Barbecue, TV and Las Vegas – three great tastes that taste great together. I've been hooked on the Barbecue Championship Series for some time. It's currently in the second round of competition on Versus. 18 BBQ cooks vie for $75,000 in a 3-round tournament.

Each show consists of 3 dishes – the grand BBQ, the backyard BBQ, and the dish that bites back. For the grand BBQ, the cooks can use their own cooker and they each have access to a fully stocked pantry for 5 minutes at the start of each dish. The meat, the cooker and the time limit are all chosen by the producers.

The show's creators learned a lot from the original Iron Chef including tight time limits, mystery ingredients, contestant profiles, colorful "celebrity" judges and subdued trash talk.

The lone Memphian was eliminated in the first show of the first round. One of the judges is from Oklahoma, and I suspect sabotage. Nevertheless, here are few reasons to watch:

  • Wildly inconsistent and unpredictable judging
  • The "BBQ Ambassadors" – impossibly thin and buxom Las Vegas showgirls
  • A whole bunch of butt jokes
  • An unruly audience
  • Chubby rednecks in shorts and ball caps
  • The "dish that bites back" – a surprise, live ingredient that the competitors must catch, kill and BBQ in a ridiculously short time

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Nashvegas vs. the MRD

For any of you who aren't attending the Memphis Roller Derby pre-season bout to see Moxie Dynamite and the Legion of Zoom kick the crap out of the PrissKilla Prezleys on Saturday, December 9th, you can head to Nashville for the Holiday Blogger Meat-up.

If you drive real fast, you may be able to do both, but as much as I loves me some BBQ, I'm taking my sandwich to the bout.

Meet the Flintstones

This is what happens when you eat barbecue made out of dinosaurs. Stick to pork shoulder.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sign of the Apocalypse

If this is the way it's gonna be, I'm canceling Christmas.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday Night Videos

It started out funny. Then I got scared.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

5 Takes Memphis

All in all, the Travel Channel show 5 Takes: USA is pretty lame. Nothing seems very spontaneous, and the corporate sponsorships are over the top. The travelers, or TJs as they're called, are a bunch of doofuses. In fact, I think one of them is a bit touched in the head.

With that said, their recent visit to Memphis left our fair city looking like quite the place to be. As soon as the episode was over, I turned to E and said, "I wanna go there." Of course they made the requisite visits to Beale Street and Graceland, but they did some unexpectedly hip stuff too like visit Goner Records and take an American Dream Safari with our friend Tad.

What really crossed the t's with me was their avoidance of any barbecue joints. Instead, they went to a backyard BBQ in South Bluffs. The event came across as really staged, but I appreciated the unique effort.

We Memphians tend to be an apathetic and downright negative bunch when it comes to this town, but it was fun to see things through the eyes of a bunch of fer'ners. Apparently, there are some cool things happening in these parts. At least, that's what the Travel Channel would have us believe.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Interweb Smoker

Make is one of my favorite blogpages. I'm not much of a tinkerer, but I like to pretend that I am. Visiting Make every day to see what the real geeks are building provides much vicarious satisfaction and sparks some great daydreaming about crazy projects big and small that I'll never actually start.

Today was no exception when I learned that I'll soon be able to smoke meat using the mighty power of the Interweb. My own smoker is already halfway built… in my mind.

Wireless BBQ

In keeping with the theme of my last post, here are some items that no cell phone user should be without.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

BBQ Sauce Bar

If vinegar bars are a hit in Japan, then why won't my idea for a BBQ/hot sauce bar work right here at home?

Jim Deerman's Bar-B-Q

On the way back from a ridiculously bountiful Thanksgiving in Georgia, E and I stopped for lunch on Highway 78. Knowing that after the past few days any meal would be a let down, we settled on trying some Alabama BBQ. Jim Deerman's looked like a good place, and I ordered a pork plate while E got a chicken sandwich.

This review will be quick. The pork? No smoke, no sweet, tasted boiled. The sauce? Spoiled ketchup. The beans? A can of baked beans with some onions and pork thrown in. The onion rings? I almost chipped a tooth. The slaw? What slaw? I didn't taste E's sandwich, but it came without slaw of course. It did have an unrequested slice of pickle. I guess we were still too close to Atlanta. Her greens and potato salad were fine if you like canned greens and grocery store potato salad.

If this is Alabama BBQ (and I hope it isn't representative), no thanks.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Friday Night Videos

Old skool for the class of '88.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Pecan, pumpkin & cocoa-nut.

Giving Thanks

It seems that Thanksgiving is a slow time for a barbecue blogger. We Memphians may love our BBQ, but there isn't much to say about it this week. Instead, talk has shifted to which of our favorite establishments are offering smoked turkeys – many of them are. For our family, the focus is on traditional, delicious, homemade ravioli – making it and eating it. All in all, it's a wonderful time for family, friends and food, but I won't be doing much writing. What will I be doing? Baking pies.

More Better

I neglected to provide a review of my last batch of The Sauce. Here are a few quick notes:

I saw some real improvements in the overall flavor. Less sugar and more vinegar was definitely the right way to go. I think I found the right combination of brown sugar, honey and molasses.

Switching from tomato sauce to crushed tomatoes was a good experiment, but it didn't work for me. I didn't like the chunky texture that they added. I'm going back to sauce.

The same problems still linger – too thin, too hot, needs smoke.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Sandwich is a Sandwich

During an e-mail debate concerning whether or not a Manwich is actually a sandwich (sparked by the recent burrito ruling by Worcester Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke), DW discovered this amazing 8500 calorie "Manwich." Its glory must be shared.

Any idea what a BBQ burger is? Cause this crazy UK sandwich contains four.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Back to Bidness

You'll notice quite a few changes to The Sauce recipe I'm trying out today. First, I'm cutting back on the paprika and chili to reduce the heat (for now), and I'm adding cumin for a sorta, kinda smoky flavor. For what I think will add some depth, I'm switching from tomato sauce to crushed tomatoes but will still reduce them significantly first.

I liked the addition of honey to the last batch, and so that stays. To it, I'm adding molasses, but cutting back on the brown sugar. Sweet is good. Too sweet is horrific. These sweeteners now belong to a category I'm calling "finishers." The Sauce cooks for a long time, and I don't want the sugars to burn. I'll add them near the end of cooking – maybe 15 minutes. Also, I'm adding some vinegar – more sour to balance the sweet.

Dry Ingredients
3/4 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/4 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Wet Ingredients
3 cups Beef Stock
28 oz Crushed Tomatoes
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Molasses

Simmer tomatoes about 45 minutes to thicken. Combine the wet ingredients and bring to a boil. Combine the dry ingredients. Add to the wet and simmer 1 hour. Add the finishers approximately 15 minutes before the end of cooking.

Add 2 spoonfuls of corn starch slurry at the very end to thicken, if needed.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I'm not sure I'm down with the name, but I think "Mustaches for Kids" is a great idea for a charity. The Chicagoist has number 3 on their pros list absolutely right – it's a great place to store extra BBQ sauce after lunch.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Bowl O' BBQ Sandwich

Click (Daily) had a birthday party. The Saucier drank a wee bit too much at said party. I'll have to rely on RJA's account of the festivities, but I'm pretty sure I had a good time. Barbecue from Tops was on hand, and I do know that after a few beers (somewhere in the high teens) I ate this sandwich:

That was not the last time I would see it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Another Confession

For all of my barbecue snobbery, I love the McRib. I love it! I always have, and I always will. I can rationalize this love by saying that the sandwich in no way resembles BBQ or ribs or even food for that matter. It defies categories.

The McRib is a seasonal delicacy. Much of its mystique arises from a seemingly random reemergence and quick disappearance from the McDonald's menu – a true enigma. I recently noticed a sign outside a nearby franchise proclaiming its return.

Viva McRib!


My disdain for the current crop of television cooks has been previously documented. At the top of the list of abominations has to be Rachael Ray. No one can really be that annoying. Was she dropped on her head as a child? As an adult? Seriously, I think there's a problem there.

I will now make a confession. I watch 30 Minute Meals almost every day. Why? Why would I do that? What's wrong with me? I can't really explain it except to say that I will continue to watch until the day she makes it through a show without saying or doing something that irritates me more than the last time I watched. For example, within a 10-second span of a recent episode she pronounced two very important culinary words as moofaletta and New Orleeens and then declared that she would be making a meatless moofaletta. WTF? I can't imagine what could irritate me more than the idea of a muffuletta without salami, but I'm 100% convinced I'll find out on the next show.

Why do I call attention to this shame? One of the 9,000 shows Ray has running non-stop on Food Network is called $40-a-day. The premise? She visits a town and tries to spend less than $40 on food. I recently watched a rerun of an episode from 2003 (I think) because the magical TiVo device told me I should. She came to Memphis. Of course, I was aggravated to the point of sputtering, but imagine my astonishment when she hit Brother Juniper's for breakfast, Gus's Famous Fried Chicken for lunch and Interstate Bar-B-Que for dinner. Not Corky's, not Rendevous – Interstate! I'd be pretty happy making that rotation on any given day. I guess all that ridiculous popularity gets you a really good pre-production team. Now, I'm really pissed off.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Unthinkable

Earlier this week, E mentioned that her mother wanted us to bring some Corky's BBQ sauce when we visit for Thanksgiving in a few weeks. It seems the supermarkets in southern Florida don't carry that brand. I shrugged it off assuming that I'd misheard or that perhaps she was joking. She's from Memphis. She should know better.

Tonight at the grocery store I purchased two bottles of Corky's original recipe. It was difficult, and though the shame must have been written all over my face, the cashier was polite enough not to make mention. I'm expecting to collect quite a few points in the "Who's the best son-in-law ever?" competition.

Monday, November 06, 2006

One Step Forward

What did I learn from last night's batch?

  1. It's still too hot. I think the chipotle powder packs too much of a punch.
  2. Eliminating the tomato paste and reducing the tomato sauce first was a very good idea (thanks RC). However, I still need to tweak this approach for a more complex flavor.
  3. I still want to add more smoke flavor without increasing the heat or using liquid smoke.
  4. This batch was too sweet, but I really liked the addition of honey.
  5. A few spoonfuls of corn starch slurry thickened the sauce properly, but I kinda feel like that's cheating.
What will I try next time?
  1. 1/4 tsp of chipotle
  2. 24 oz of crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce
  3. Search Penzey's for smoked spices
  4. 1/4 cup of brown sugar but include honey and possibly molasses to thicken

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Omissions & Inclusions

Ridiculously, it has been almost two months since I last worked on a batch of The Sauce which is, lest we forget, the raison d'être of this here blog. For tonight's experiment, I will remove the tomato paste and replace it with tomato sauce that has been reduced in volume by half – about 45 minutes of simmering. This is an attempt to remove some of the SpaghettiO's flavor without thinning the sauce. I'm adding some chipotle powder for smokiness, and I'll try both honey and corn starch for thickening after doing some taste tests along the way.

Dry Ingredients
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1/2 tsp Chipotle Chili Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder

1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/2 cup Brown Sugar

Wet Ingredients
3 cups Beef Stock
16 oz Tomato Sauce
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce

Simmer tomato sauce about 45 minutes to thicken. Combine the wet ingredients and bring to a boil. Combine the dry ingredients. Add to the wet and simmer 1 hour.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Atlanta BBQ

A report from Moe Green – lost somewhere in Peachtree City:

"Georgia (and Alabama, too) has the worst BBQ in the world. Some jackass in these parts decided that pickles would be a good addition to a BBQ sandwich. Not even sweet pickles, but dill chips mind you. What the hell is that? You actually have to order your sandwich without pickles!"
At least in Kansas City, the pickles came on the side.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday Night Videos

Here's a look at the best thing SNL has had to offer in years. The only thing missing is a little BBQ sauce.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Old Style Bar-B-Que

I'd never heard of this 30-yr-old barbecue establishment less than 17 miles from my house until reading today's paper. I don't get to OB very often. I'm glad they celebrated their anniversary and had a good time, but is champagne and BBQ a good combination?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Tonkatsu Sauce

So, I picked up a bottle of Bull-Dog Vegetable & Fruit sauce at the Asian market on Ridgeway near Winchester. Apparently, all Tonkatsu sauce is not created equal. This doesn't taste like what I was served with my kushikatsu in SF. It's good, but it reminds me less of BBQ and more of takoyaki. {Note: I just searched for takoyaki in order to find a link for this post and ran across this recipe calling for "bulldog sauce."} Of course, I grabbed the first thing that had Tonkatsu on the label, but I'm sure there were other options. Perhaps, I'll buy a different brand or use Bull-Dog in the next variant of The Sauce… or maybe just make some takoyaki. Anyone have 200 grams of chopped boiled octopus I could borrow?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

BBQ Ravioli

As promised, I picked up some frozen BBQ ravioli from Lucchesi's last night. They seem to be quite popular as I got the last package – 2 dozen small for $6.99. E stopped at Tops for some beans, slaw and sauce to go with. The verdict? I was right. BBQ ravioli are genius, and Lucchesi's makes the best I've ever eaten. However, I think I can make some improvements.

Containing only BBQ, spice and sauce, the filling seemed a little too dense, and I think the addition of cabbage or some other barbecue-related vegetable would lighten the texture. Also, the flavor was a bit too strong. I'm sure that's intentional because the ravioli aren't meant to be served with sauce – just a little butter and cheese. I'd rather see less spice on the inside and a good BBQ sauce on the outside.

Monday, October 30, 2006


For my wife's Italian-American family, the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are traditionally the time to make dozens and dozens of ravioli for the upcoming holiday meals. The spinach and sausage filling is usually made in advance, and on the day (or days) of construction, an assembly line of however many family members are available is created. Roll out the dough, place spoonfuls of filling on the sheet, fold it over, cut out the ravioli, seal the edges, poke them with a fork, put them on a tray, etc., etc. – it's a lot of work. I just watch.

On the plane back from Frisco, E and I were discussing the upcoming festivities and just what my level of involvement might be when I was struck with a Eureka moment. I reveled in my genius, and I've been excited about this idea for days.

Barbecue Ravioli!

Take some leftover BBQ pork shoulder and grind it up in the food processor along with some cabbage, some dry rub, and some cheese (romano or jack or possibly both). Use that as the filling for some good ol' ravioli. Boil 'em up and serve with a splash of BBQ sauce. Even better, fry those babies up, and you might have the next great fair food sensation.

Before beginning this post, I consulted The Great Google about BBQ Ravioli. Unfortunately, I cannot lay claim to the creation and in fact exclaimed to my wife on the plane, "I can't believe no one has thought of this before!" I am proud to say that according to the Interweb, the BBQ ravioli was invented right here in Memphis. I'm going to stop by Lucchesi's Ravioli & Pasta Company tonight and pick some up for dinner.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Home Sweet Home

Airport BBQ

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday Night Videos

Some messages should not be sung. Mr. Spriggs has such a message.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Kushikatsu Update

All hail Wikipedia! Recovering from a marathon combined with the unique difficulty of walking the streets of San Francisco have led to an unusual amount of vacation downtime. In other words, I've spent more than a few hours sitting on my butt in the hotel searching the Interweb.

My investigation of kushikatsu recipes led me to Tonkatsu. Tonkatsu sauce is most likely the dipping sauce I was served with my kushikatsu at Mifune. It's described as having "a taste similar to Worcestershire sauce or Kansas City-style barbeque sauce." This opens up a whole new area of exploration for The Sauce.

In-N-Out Burger

Tonight's dinner? A Double-Double, fries and a Diet Coke at the best fast food burger joint in the world – followed by another Double-Double. Gluttonous? Yes. What can I say? It's been five years since my last In-N-Out burger. It might be longer before I get another.

This has nothing at all to do with BBQ. I just wanted to make fans of The Big Lebowski jealous.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Jing Char Siu Bau

Dim Sum in Chinatown is the number one reason to come to San Francisco. What's the Bar-B-Log connection? Steamed BBQ Pork Buns – the number one reason to have Dim Sum.

I remembered my camera this time.