Category: Barbecuing

Recipe: Peach Mango Habanero Barbecue Sauce

Longtime readers, friends, and fellow cooks will know of my longtime fascination with a certain couple of hot sauces. In a ten-year timespan our household subsequently had become partially involved with the sauces, as many of the recipes on their web site came from our kitchen. Later on, the recipes had even migrated onto one of our own web sites, and we became the official archive for the collection.

Sometime late this summer a disconnect of sorts occured, and suddenly and without warning the sauces became completely unavailable. They simply weren’t there anymore. I only found out when Mary asked for the barbecue sauce I used to make, to be used in pulled pork sandwiches for her birthday celebration this past Saturday. I went to order a half-dozen bottles of the peach-mango-habanero sauce, only to find the web site itself no longer existed.

Talk about a mad scramble.

I had convinced Mary that using Sweet Baby Ray’s was alright as a substitute. Ray’s has always been our fall-back sauce. We use Old Montgomery on occasion when our son-in-law Andrew is here for dinner as that’s his favorite. And we sometimes use a Kansas City sauce, if only because it has a unique flavor profile we all enjoy.

But even though she said Sweet Baby Ray’s was alright, I knew better. I needed to find some kind of a substitute for the peach-mango-habanero sauce I used to make for her with the older hot sauce.

andersons_terminal_federal_oshima_05312014I decided to head to The Anderson’s, a local chain of three retail stores in the Toledo area. The Anderson’s is more than just the stores … Since the 1940s they’ve also been the leading grainery in the area, with huge silos (seen in my image to the left of the Federal Oshima) along the River Raisin, accessible by grain shipping vessels traveling the Great Lakes. They’re also known for dealing in fertilizers for farmers, ethanol, and managing fleets of rail cars transporting their products. They opened their first retail store in the 1950s, which have become places to find all kinds of more unique food products than the national chains they’re competing against.

I had decided to find some kind of barbecue sauce with a spicy-hot base and some kind of fruit involved. The Anderson’s store in north Toledo has a twenty-foot aisle of barbecue and hot sauces, along with other spicy preserved sauces, so that’s where I headed. Some barbecue sauces had raspberries and pineapple, along with some spicier sauces containing honey, but really nothing even close to what Mary really wanted.

Heading into the hot sauces I looked around for a bit … and then stopped dead in my tracks.

There they were. A couple rows of 14 ounce bottles of Robert Rothschild Farm® Peach Mango Habanero Sauce. Which of course solved absolutely everything.

Looking at the back of the bottle I found a few differences from what I was used to. The ingredient list was in a different order than the one I knew, so I’d have to make a few adjustments to the recipe I already had. This bottle was also 14 ounces vs. the 12 ounces of the other bottle. Robert Rothschild Farms also uses lemon juice in theirs instead of the lime juice of my previous supplier. There’s nothing I could modify there … I could have added lime juice, and still might as I experiment later. But it’s really not necessary.

After grabbing this bottle I headed home, printed the older recipe, and started scribbling the modifications. Some items increased to accomodate the larger bottle size. But I also decreased the amount of water, wanting to kick up the flavor (for a reason I’d rather not disclose here). I could decrease the water further, replacing some of it with lime juice, which again might happen later …

I made the one batch on Friday for the Saturday event. Once I had the sauce rendered down I took a tasting spoon to Mary, who pretty-much swooned at the flavor. The resulting pulled pork went over extremely well with our family, which was very satisfying. And Mary was eating sandwiches with the leftovers for a few days.

What you want to do is this simple: Take a 9 – 11 lb bone-in skin-on pork shoulder and generously rub it with a combination of Kosher or sea salt, ground black pepper and garlic powder. Place it skin side up on a rack in a roasting pan, cover it with a lid or aluminum foil, and roast it at 225F for eight-to-ten hours. Test it after about the seven hour point … You’re not looking for a given internal temperature, but rather the meat flaking apart, without being mush. At that point, remove the meat from the oven. Remove the skin, fat, and the bone, and pull the pork apart into a large pot. Add the sauce as described below and stir, completing the pulling for a good texture. Heat the sauced pork through. Serve on good buns, such as a Kaiser roll, possibly topped with sliced jalapeños for additional heat.

Peach Mango Barbecue Sauce
Yield: 1-1/4 quart

1 medium onion
3 Tbsp unsalted butter (for sautéeing the onion)
14 oz bottle Robert Rothschild Farm® Peach Mango Habanero Sauce
32 oz. bottle ketchup
2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp beef stock
3 teaspoons white vinegar

Chop the onion. Melt the butter in a 4-quart non-reactive pot and sauté the onion until translucent. After shaking it well, add the full bottle of Robert Rothschild Farm® Peach Mango Habanero Sauce, ketchup and Worchestershire sauce and stir until combined well. Add the water, beef stock and vinegar. Heat till boiling, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes to thicken, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool before storing in the fridge.

Note: Make sure to use good ingredients for this recipe. Less-expensive ketchup, Worchestershire sauce and beef stock will likely not allow you to achieve the best final flavors.

Tonight’s Dinner: A Good BBQ Pork Sandwich

Inspired by the sirloin steak sandwich I had at Quaker Steak & Lube a few weeks ago in Charleston, WV, this evening’s dinner was just a bit on the filling side. I’d slow-cooked a pork loin (seasoned with Kosher salt, pepper and granulated garlic) in a crock pot in its own juices for the entire day. I then drained it and removed the fat, then shredded it and mixed it with two bottles Jack Daniels’ Old No. 7 sauce. I then sautéed some bell peppers and onion in unsalted butter, and served the whole of it on a warm ciabatta roll with a slice of provolone cheese. Yup, this works.

2009 Memphis BBQ Network Competition, Novi, Michigan

What it’s all about; Ribs

It took me quite a while to learn how to cook ribs at home so they turn out halfway decently. What I do is pretty simple: The spare ribs get wiped down, sprinkled with a mix of Kosher salt, pepper and granulated garlic, then slow-cooked in a 200F oven for anywhere from 4 – 6 hours depending on their thickness. The pans are then drained, the ribs slathered with sauce, and grilled outside over medium-high heat for about 45 minutes, with flipping and reslathering about every 10 minutes. They then cut well into servings, fall off the bone, and are tender while still having a good “bite” to the meat.

I’d never imagined I’d be invited to be a judge at a rib-off. But a few months ago, that actually happened. It kinda threw me, particularly since the Memphis BBQ Network-sanctioned competition feeds into the massive Memphis in May competition.

Of course I accepted the invitation. The West Oakland Rib Cookoff & Family Fest happened last Sunday at the Rock Financial Showplace in Novi, Michigan.

One of the aspects they don’t show on documentaries of these competitions is what and how the competitors eat for other meals. You might imagine they send a team member off to the nearest fast food joint for a sack of something, which probably does happen to some extent. But this team (who, from what I understand, have something to do with a scrapyard) cooked their competition-morning breakfast on a massive trailer-based griddle made from a thick steel plate and powered by LP gas.

Something to remember here is that gas of any kind is not allowed for use in the competition itself. Smoking, slow-roasting, grilling, whatever … it must be done over wood or charcoal. The wood or charcoal may be lit via gas, but that’s all that’s allowed. So this amazing gas griddle, covered with potato wedges, bacon, sausage, eggs and an 18-inch skillet filled with sausage gravy, wasn’t used for the competition. It was just along for the ride.

As to the equipment used by the teams for the actual competition, the gear-of-choice ran the gamut from some rather high-end gadgets to some of the most basic backyard stuff. At the higher end was this beast, looking like one of the computerized environmental test chambers used in automotive R&D.

A Fast Eddy’s by Cookshack Series 300 competition smoker being used by one of the teams in Novi.

Now I have to tell you, in most cases I have no idea which of the ribs came out of which of the teams or, of course, which piece of gear. So, I have no idea if the ribs that came out of this Series 300 smoker was any good! Is this thing worth the $11,000 price tag? Don’t ask me, I don’t know …

If I were to ever any competition of this type, I might end up with something like this:

“The Party” smoker from Backwoods Smoker

With its $1330 base price tag, “The Party” from Backwoods Smoker seems just the right size for a competition like this one. I may be a certifiable geek, I may have friends at Microsoft, and I may even program industrial applications for a living. But I definitely don’t need a computer to run my smoker. When it comes to ribs and such, I like getting in there and actually doing the cooking myself. This smaller smoker, protected from the elements with a solid mechanical temperature guage on the front is something I could live with.

A custom trailer-based cook station.

If you’ve seen the documentaries on Memphis-style barbecue competitions, you’ll know there are two kinds of judging. As new judges, Mary and I could participate in the blind judging. Once finalists are selected, they’re subjected to on-site judging by more experienced judges. In this judging, competitors have to put on a “dog-n-pony show”. The judges arrive at the team’s site expecting a polished welcome, a clean cooking area, possibly a maitre’d, maybe even a story which may or may not be true. Some competitors, such as the one above, set up their area in expectation of being a finalist, and were ready for just about anything.

A simple and inexpensive charcoal cook station.

At the extreme other end of the gear are the guys who could do this stuff each and every day using the same equipment in their backyard. The first photo in this post, the photo which made your mouth water and caused you to read this lengthy post already, is simply a close-up of this pile of ribs on this cooker. And you thought you needed something expensive to create ribs good enough for competition …

The blind judging, with yours truly on the far left. The judging was blind but the judges weren’t.

In the blind judging portion of the cometition, teams bring their ribs to a collection area in containers given to them for that purpose. The ribs are checked for garnishes, which are removed, and any custom markings that will cause identification of the entry. All that can be in the container are ribs and sauce. These are then brought to the judging tables, and all are opened simultaneously. We judged on appearance first, then grabbed ribs to judge further on tenderness, flavor and overall impression.

One thing to note: If you’re ever judging one of these competitions, do yourself a favor and don’t eat breakfast.

Mary, on the far right, joined us at training in the morning to become a competition judge herself.

One aspect of this judging Mary and I really liked was that it’s what’s known as “comparitive judging”. Judges are told not to compare endtries to their grandfather’s ribs, their own ribs, their favorite ribs, or ribs they’ve tasted at other competitions. The entries are  to be judged only against other entries at the table. While this is difficult to do at first, it really makes a lot of sense.

I’ll finish this post with a look at the ribs from the Bavarian Smoke BBQ from Frankenmuth, Michigan, who used that nice “Party” Backwoods Smoker to prepare these ribs. Don’t these look good?

West Oakland Rib Cookoff & Family Fest 2009 Competition Results

1st: Pork of the North 

2nd: Smokey Rhodes 

3rd: Smokin’ Post #6

4th: Bavarian Smoke BBQ

5th: Goats ‘a Smokin’

6th: Smokin’ Studs 

7th: Terry Poster with Epoch Catering

Eat This Blog: First Grilling of the Season – BBQ Ribs

As it was finally 60 degrees here in Michigan for the first time this year we took the opportunity this afternoon to set up everything on the back deck, including my grill. After getting up fairly late and having a late pancake breakfast we’d picked up these ribs for this evening’s dinner. I made up a quick rub of dark brown sugar, Kosher salt, pepper and granulated garlic. After drying the ribs and rubbing them with the mix I baked them at 275 degrees F for about three hours. I then lit the grill, slathered these things with Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce and grilled them over low heat for about an hour. While I did cut them before serving the meat fell right off the bone anyway. Oh yeah, the grilling season has begun! Tomorrow evening is supposed to be the same kind of weather, and there’s chicken waiting in the wings.

(Click on either of the images to view a larger version.)