Monday, September 26, 2011

Pig Pen's Hot & Spicy Seasoning Made My Chicken Yell Uncle

Pig Pen at Tilley Harley Davidson's Biker, Blues & BBQ

I finally met Pig Pen at the Tilley Harley Davidson Biker, Blues & BBQ barbecue competition in Salisbury, NC, and he remembered that I had tried out the original Pig Pen seasoning and had really loved it. I had bought Pig Pen seasoning at Food Lion, and then I got my reading glasses out and figured out that I'd bought a really local product. Small world it is.

Pig Pen hooked me up with a bottle of his Pig Pen's Spice It Up! Hot & Spicy Seasoning. That's his new addition to his seasoning barbecue sprinkle or rub line.

After a weekend throwing down with enough barbecue to make me waddle, you might think I'd take a break. Well, I did give it over 24 hours. But, I was really thinking about that Pig Pen's spicy, so I broke out some boneless, skinless chicken. If you read my blog, you know that I live in the sticks, so our fast food is chicken sans bones and skin. It's on and off in minutes - literally. If you want a fast and easy grilled meat, then grill boneless, skinless chicken. Super easy it is.

I got my chicken out, and I sprinkled and rubbed it with Pig Pen's Hot & Spicy. I could smell the familiar Pig Pen signature scent but also picked up the extra heat. Yum. I do love some heat.Pig Pen's is a pretty traditional barbecue sprinkle or rub with a very nice balance, and the hot version is similar but with the heat turned up.

Grilled Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts with Pig Pen's Hot & Spicy Barbecue Seasoning

The chicken grilled up nice. I heated the grill before to prevent sticking and so that the chicken would grill fast and retain the moisture. If you don't use a marinade or a sauce, then you have to be quick or the chicken can be like dried shoe leather. When chicken doesn't have skin or bones, then it's flash quick grilling especially when doing a rub. That really doesn't have anything to do with the rub or seasoning, but it does make a real difference in the outcome . . . just saying.

Pig Pen Hot & Spicy Seasoned Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Strips

My Pig Pen chicken was spot on. Nice color. Nice smell. Nice and moist. Excuse the brag. I do my fast food chicken a couple of times a week, and if I didn't nail it, then it's bad on me.

I was mightily impressed with my Pig Pen spicy chicken. I got my hot genes from my Poppaw. But, he could run circles around me on heat. So, I come in on the lower end of the fire eating crowd. I can eat any heat thrown out, but I don't if it's going to make me curl up in a ball and yell uncle.

Pig Pen Spicy is HOT. My buddy (now) Pig Pen said it was kind of medium, and I would agree. But, the guys were in pain. Don't give my guys a hard time; they try out all the stuff I check out and are very good sports.

I would say that Pig Pen Spice It Up! is a great pick for those who like to put their feet to the fire. I enjoyed the heck out of dinner. But, this grilling seasoning is hot, so I would not suggest that anyone spring this one on friends and family who may have milder tastes. For a general cook out or smoke, I'd go with Pig Pen original which can be bought at Food Lion as I mentioned. If you enjoy walking on the wild side with some burn, then get some Pig Pen Hot & Spicy. You will know you ate some heat, and you will be loving on it if that floats your boat.

Per a reader request, here is how you grill boneless, skinless chicken breasts. It makes a really simple dinner and on the table in minutes.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Yadkin River Smokers North Carolina Western BBQ Sauce

Yadkin River Smokers Barbecue Sauce

I tried out a new western North Carolina vinegar based barbecue sauce made by Yadkin River Smokers this evening.

Yadkin River Smokers were at a barbecue competition with a team and with a booth for pork skins and sauce this weekend. Since I adore pork skins and especially those fried fresh on site, I had to stop by. The pork skins were absolutely amazing, and Robert hooked me up with a bottle of their barbecue sauce.

Robert said that he likes Yadkin River Sauce on chicken, and that it's extra good warmed up and used as a dipping sauce. Barbecue people know their products, so I decided to do my first quick grilled chicken smoke just as he had suggested.

When I opened the bottle, I got the vinegar kick smell, but it was not as strong as many North Carolina barbecue sauce products. There was an extra sweet layer in there. The scent was very nice, so I was curious to see how the sauce would taste grilled on the chicken and also on the side as a dip.

Grilled Chicken Breast Strips with Yadkin River BBQ Sauce

I would call Yadkin River Barbecue Sauce a mop as is the tradition in North Carolina, but it had just a little more body than the NC sauces I've used before. This meant that the sauce stayed on the chicken better than mops which was nice, since I was doing the boneless, skinless chicken breasts which can be on and off in minutes. After a long weekend at a barbecue competition, I really wanted something fast and simple.

I let the chicken rest in the sauce for about a half hour while I got the grill fired up and hot. Preheating a grill really is important. If it's not hot, then grilled foods will stick.

My yard was smelling great, and we were all looking forward to dinner. I was hoping the chicken would taste as good as it smelled.

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Yadkin River BBQ Sauce

I pulled the chicken and had some sauce that I heated on the stove. Sometimes I heat sauce on the side of the grill, but the boneless breasts grill really fast, so it seemed a good idea to heat the mop sauce inside and have it ready.

The grilled chicken with Yadkin River Barbecue Sauce was excellent and even better with extra warmed dipping sauce. Robert told me right on that.

Yadkin River BBQ Sauce is a North Carolina sauce - clearly. But, it has an extra layer of sweet to cut the twangy vinegar. I adore our North Carolina vinegar sauces, but they can be a bit much for those outside the area. I think Yadkin River BBQ Sauce will appeal to locals but also to those who are not used to the real high octane vinegar sauces. It's in the spirit of our sauces but with more layers and not so "in your face" on the vinegar.

You can buy Yadkin River Sauce direct, and they hope to be in grocery stores soon. Since Food Lion is based here in North Carolina, I hope they will be carrying Yadkin River Barbecue Sauce. They are good about stocking local products, and this is a thumbs up.

Barbecue Judgement Day at Tilley Harley Davidson Biker, Blues & BBQ

Whew! What a Weekend at Biker, Blues & Barbecue

I headed back to the Tilley Harley Davidson Biker, Blues & BBQ yesterday to see if any of the barbecue competition teams had drowned (talk about some rain around here this week) and also to see who would be taking home trophies.

The rain had stopped by turn in time, and barbecue teams were walking the competition boxes up the side of the building. With four categories in a Kansas City Barbecue Society competition spaced a half hour apart, the turn in time is a pretty long process.

Tuffy Stone of Cool Smoke Walks His Competition Box In

I was weaving in and out of the barbecue tents but staying in the background and out of the way. The last thing you want when you're trying to get your chicken thighs just right is someone gabbing and asking you to pose for photographs.

Fast Eddie's Fine Swine On the BBQ Competition Home Stretch

Once the barbecue boxes were turned in, most of the teams kicked back for a while and shared chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket with family, friends, and random nice people. This is when it's great to have lots of barbecue Facebook friends and a camera.

I visited with some of the teams I'd met the day prior like Yadkin River Smokers (great sauce) and Smoke-a-holics (Pig Pen - terrific BBQ seasoning). They hooked me up with some fabulous samples. It's amazing the variety of wonderful barbecue these guys turn out. Now, I'm sounding gushy in this paragraph, but there aren't enough adjectives to really capture the yummyness of slow smoked meat right off the smokers.

Catawba College Kids Give D&D Hickory Hogs the Thumbs Up

My crew which ended up including my son who goes to Catawba College and his roommate and a buddy home based with D&D Hickory Hogs. We'd been talking about the competition for several months. It was the first time Darrin and Donna had ever entered.

Darrin was a little nervous about his food. Some of the teams do talk junk like you see on Barbecue Pitmasters (Myron Mixon - hi there), but most (at least in private) were worried. I tried out Darrin and Donna's meat, and I was pretty certain the pork and brisket were going to be in the money.

By this point I was so full of barbecue that I needed a nap and a membership to the YMCA, so I hung out with Kevin Sandridge who had been judging. Kevin owns the BBQ Smoker Site, and we had fun sharing barbecue writer war stories.

It was finally time for the winners to be called, and Gary Moss took the stage and began handing out trophies. I crawled up through the crowd and parked it on the curb so that I'd not block anyone's view but could still get some photos. Darrin and Donna found me, so we were all curbside and hoping for the best.

First Timers Darrin and Donna Vasseur Score Big

Yahoo. D&D Hickory Hogs took 7th in brisket and 8th in pork to land in the winners circle. They were 15th overall in a field of 37. That's really rocking especially for a first timer team.

Tuffy Stone Cool Smoke Takes Grand Champion at Biker, Blues & BBQ

The Grand Chamption at Biker, Blues, and BBQ was Tuffy Stone of Cool Smoke (from Barbecue Pitmasters TV). We had chatted both days, and I took him a bottle of Ralph's Dipping Sauce which is my favorite North Carolina western barbecue mop. He's going to give that a try and see what he thinks of our local sauce which is made by my co-worker at the college.

Smoke This at Biker, Blues, and BBQ

The Reserve Champ was Smoke This. So, I'm seeing a pattern here. If I ever have a barbecue team, I think I will have to name it Smoke Something. Both winners had short names featuring the word Smoke. Yes. I do have random thoughts like that - all the time.

Pickin' Porkers with pitmaster Roger Wise won People's Choice. That's a real honor. Folks at the event voted on them.

You can see all the teams and scores at the KCBA site.

Also check out the Biker, Blues, and BBQ photos from Friday evening and a large set of competition day photos.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Biker Blues & BBQ - Tilley Harley-Davidson of Salisbury, North Carolina

KCBA Barbecue Competition at Tilley Harley-Davidson of Salisbury, NC

Salisbury, North Carolina is a barbecue town, but it's not been a BBQ competition town. We've had a couple of small comps but not much to write or call home about. So, I had been looking forward to Biker Blues & BBQ at Tilley Harley Davidson.

After work today, I headed over to see how Salisbury would do with a circuit barbecue competition.

I was greeted in the parking lot by a guy with a brochure. I was pretty sure he was going to shake me down for a few bucks to park, but he didn't. Parking was free, and they even had the golf cart taxis to haul us up one block to Tilley's. Hey now, you can't beat that.

D & D Hickory Hogs Barbecue Team

I went looking for Darrin and Donna Vasseur. We are friends on Facebook, and they were out for their first barbecue competition.

Our golf cart taxi driver took us around back where there were more vendors and the teams and helped us look for D&D. We hopped off right beside them and finally got to meet face to face.

Last night was a gully washer, but Darrin and Donna had weathered it well along with Bella - their rescue dog who was enjoying the heck out of the barbecue comp. The rain had put a dent in the canopy, but the trailor borrowed from a friend who races dirt bikes was dry and ready for the big prep.

Donna was doing something with parsley. I won't say what she was doing, since that might just be one of those barbecue competition secrets. It was cool to watch though, and I might parsley up something here soon.

Pig Pen Barbecue Seasoning

I wandered on down the line of campers, and I must say that barbecue cooking must pay better than barbecue writing, since some of those rigs were fancier than my house.

Down at the end of the row I found Pig Pen. I've been wanting to meet him. I bought his seasoning at Food Lion, and then I got my reading glasses out (Argh - hate not being able to see well now) and noticed that he is local. I've been enjoying the heck out of his seasoning, and he gave me a bottle of his new Pig Pen hot mix which I can't wait to try out.

Cool Smoke - Tuffy Stone

Jimmy told me that Tuffy Stone was taking photos. He's been on BBQ Pitmasters, and he's on my Facebook friend list too. I looked closer, and . . . yes . . . that was Tuffy Stone.

I went over to chat with Tuffy and got my photo made. I don't guess I've tried to get a TV star photo since I was about 12 years old and was at Tweetsie Railroad and had my photo with Jody from Family Affair (a TV show - dating myself for sure now). I was so nervous that time that I sat about 6 feet away from Jody, so I did much better this time. Tuffy was very easy to talk to, and I managed to stay in the photo frame.

Yadkin River Smokers - BBQ Team and Pork Skins

Before we headed off for the night, I wanted to get some pork skins. Before you say, "Oh gross," you really must try them. Pork skins (or good ones) are light and airy and kind of like chips but not really and much better.

The Yadkin River Smokers out of Lexington had the pork skins spot on. They were making them right there at the competition. I had a hard time deciding which flavor to get but went with the plain ones. Fabulous. I am munching as I type, and since this computer is about to give up the ghost, well . . . no problem with crumbs.

Robert gave me a bottle of their barbecue sauce too. It's a North Carolina western - vinegar with some red (tomato) and a little more sugar than typical. Robert suggested that I heat some and use it as a dip with grilled chicken, so that's on my list to check out soon.

We were hitting it off great with Yadkin River Smokers, and they gave us cupcakes by The Cake Plate from Winston Salem too. Yum. The key lime frosting was terrific. I was also impressed with the really cool pig cake that they had on display. Perfect way to end a night on a sweet note.

The Tilley Harley-Davidson barbecue competition was really solid. We enjoyed the evening, and I think we will drop back tomorrow. The food was yummy. We had wings and French fries by TGIF and listened to some great blues music. I tried some wine from Old Stone Winery of Salisbury, and it was so good that I bought a bottle of the peach wine for a birthday gift coming up. I may have to get another when we go back. It was an all round great time, and I'm glad I went out. I guess I better wrap up here soon, so I can drop by tomorrow and see the winners. But, I must say they are all winners. Just a great bunch of folks and a really nice barbecue gathering.

Enjoy some Biker Blues & BBQ photos from Friday evening that I posted on Facebook and a large collection of competition BBQ photos from judgement day.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Frigidaire - Terrible, Awful, No Good, Dangerous, Fire Hazard Stove

Frigidaire - Worst Stove in the Whole Wide World - No Kidding

I do have a kitchen and a stove (-: even though I'm known for being an outdoor grilling/smoking kind of girl. It's nice to put some barbecue side dishes or bread on the stove burners or in the oven, and . . . heck . . . I do make a lot of Southern dishes traditionally in the kitchen . . . or I did before I bought the kitchen stove from hell made by Frigidaire owned by Electrolux.

My old stove was 38 years old so when it bit the dust, I went to Lowe's and went back and back and back. I went three months sans a stove and just cooking outdoors while I looked over the stoves on the market and tried to make a good selection.

Finally I made up my mind and bought the Frigidaire glass top stove you see above. It does look nice, and it does have nice features or so it seemed at the time.

The fun NOT began from day one with my brand new Frigidaire stove. I would put someting in a pot on the burner on simmer, and it would be boiling like beat the band. Good grief. I'd go to high, and it might be high, or I might have bathtub barely warm heat. It was always a roll of the dice, so I had to stand and babysit anything I put on the burners on this horrible stove.

Let's add some insult to the injury with the Frigidarie oven. The heat was so uneven that I had to put canned biscuit on the rack placed to the top notch, and then I'd still have to turn on broil to get the tops browned to go with the burned as heck bottoms of most foods. Argh.

My brother told me that maybe I needed to use the fan which meant that I had to go with the "fast bake" button. I thought maybe that was my problem. But . . . no . . . the baking was still awful, and I could not post up photos for my cooking blogs due to the lack of browning and other problems related to the oven not doing what it should have done.

Before six months rolled around, one of the metal rods on the fancy rack pulled loose. I'd only used this crappy stove 15 or 20 times total, since it was so lame.

I went to Lowe's. That where I bought this dreadful Frigidaire range. They gave me the rack out of the display model, since my rack was clearly messed up with the rod sticking up and making pans sit all crooked. When I mentioned the heating being off on the burners and oven, I was told that I'd have to hire a repair person to test the stove (at my own expense) and then if . . . and only if . . . I had proof that the heat was off, then I might get some help.

Seriously now, I am a food and cooking writer. I can carry in some biscuits burned on the bottom and anemic on top baked in this oven. Or, I can make photos or take video. But, I don't see throwing good money after bad which seemed rather likely given the poor quality of the Frigidaire stove. Some "broke" really can't be fixed, and this struck me as that variety.

I trudged along and pretty much lost my inside cooking mojo with this awful stove that cost close to $800 (but a litle less with a 10% discount) and didn't even work as well as the $10 toaster oven I had back in college. Bascially, I just avoided any kitchen cooking if at all possible. But, I sure gritted my teeth every time I walked in to see that shiny new piece of junk stove taking up space in my kitchen.

I should also mention that this glass top stove won't work with just any old pans. They must be totally flat on the bottom. And, they don't recommend cast iron on them due to scratching. Break out the wallet to buy new pans to go with the new stove.

And, you need ceramic or glass stove top cleaner as well. You can shine this sucker stove up but spill a few grains of salt on the stove top, and it looks like a hot mess and dirty. Glass topped stoves are billed as easier to clean, but I can attest that as being a dirty marketing trick too. Unless you just have a stove for decoration, then plan to stand around with a cleaning rag all the time, and the stove will usually look dirty anyway.

Yes. I copped an attitude on the Frigidaire stove. It was THAT bad. But, it got worse.

On Friday, I decided to make some Chex Party Mix. That's hard to mess up, and even my awful stove could bake at low for a while and crisp up Party Mix. That was my thinking anyway.

When the Party Mix was done, I shut off the Frigidaire. I left the Party Mix in the oven to just rest as the oven cooled.

But . . . the oven was not cool an hour later. Ouch. I touched that but let go fast.


I took the Party Mix out with a kitchen glove, and I kept checking the Frigidaire for two hours. Hot. Hot. Hot. The oven was turned off, but it was not off.

Thankfully, I had left the Party Mix in the oven to cool off, so I noticed this problem. I looked online, and others were not so lucky. Just Google Frigidaire and fire hazard. You will not only see stove problems but problems with almost everything they manufacture. Some of the stoves are even recalled due to fire hazards. I'll bet my year model 2010 will be. Perhaps Frigidaire is waiting for someone's house to burn down or for someone to die.

I could raise cain and as a cooking/food writer, then I'd likely get some action under the table on this. But, guess what? I think it's much more important to warn others than to get personal help. I write, because I do think I help others. I would not be able to sleep at night knowing what I know now about Frigidaire and thinking about other unsuspecting people buying Frigidaire products which are bad in general and dangerous on top of that.

I'm just getting by like most of my readers. I can't go buy a new stove every year. I checked on Craig's List and found a 1994 GE stove for $150, and I'm not pawning off my Frigidaire stove which looks fabulous on anyone else. That would not be right. I guess I rented that Frigidaire stove for one year and 16 days to the tune around $800. It was a gosh awful stove from the start and ruined the few meals I tried to cook on the stove. I guess I'll just be thankful that the stove did not burn down my house or kill my family. But, I have an awful taste in my mouth when it comes to Frigidaire. That company should be ashamed . . . very ashamed.

My New/Old GE Stove Circa 1994

I'm very happy with my second hand GE stove. It may not look as flashy as that Frigidaire stove, but it cooks and bakes good, and I don't have to worry about a fire when the thing is shut off but isn't or with burners coming on at random times with no circuit shut off (another problem noted online with Frigidaire).

If you are looking to buy a Frigidaire, please do Google. You will find a shocking number of problems like mine. Frigidaire deletes Facebook posts about these problems, and Lowe's won't post reviews that mention the Frigidaire fire hazard issues. But, you can still find other places where you can read about these safety problems and direct CPSC Frigidaire consumers problem reports, and you can feel free to add comments to my post.

Frigidaire Stove - $799 plus taxes
Being Alive to Post About Frigidaire - Priceless

If you are having safety issues with your Frigidaire range stove or other products, you can call the Consumer Product Safety Commission CPSC at (800) 638-2772. You will need to provide your contact information including a phone number as well as the model and serial number and place of purchase with a purchase date.