Saturday, August 27, 2011

Goo Gone Grill Cleaner Review - #GooGonePassionProject - Cleaning My New Weber Bullet

Goo Gone Grill Cleaner

Today I'm testing out Goo Gone Barbecue Grill Cleaner as part of the #GooGonePassionProject. You are probably wondering what I mean by the Goo Gone Passion Project.

This story dates back to early July when Amber emailed. She said Goo Gone had noticed my blog and my passion for grilling. "During the next few weeks, we’d like to send you a very cool, valuable item that we think you will really get excited about. The catch is that it will come with a little imperfection that will only take a few minutes to fix," she said in her email.

To be honest, I've seen emails like this, and the exciting "thing" has turned out to be an email photo. Photos are fine, but I can't really tell readers much about something I have not seen or used. That's what makes my blog special. I try things out at home with my family, and I share the best data that I can.

I do like to help readers, so if my schedule is not too packed, I'll try out most anything, unless I'm sure I won't like it. No fig barbecue sauce. I'm sorry. I just really hate figs. So, I don't think it's fair to test something when I know it's going to make me gaggy.

In the Goo Gone case, I just asked if this "something to fix" was related to barbecue. I don't want to spam my blog with random posts that don't add value for readers. Amber replied and said that the fixer upper would be in my content area. OK. I'll see what comes and if I can fix it. Am I not the most helpful blogger you read? I sure hope so (-:

Actually, I forgot about this email, since it had been a few weeks.

Then, the FedEx man pulls in right as I'm about to get in the shower. I think the FedEx man does this on purpose. I peek out the window with only my eyes showing and see that he puts a huge box right behind my Jeep. It's almost time to go to work, and I'm blocked in. So, I shower quickly and go to examine the big box.

Wow! There's a Weber Smokey Mountain 22.5 inch behind my Jeep. I didn't order a smoker. Has this dropped from heaven? No. I did see the FedEx man, but I am rather confused as I drag the smoker box in the garage.

I also have a small package compliments of the FedEx man, so I take that inside and quickly open it before I have to head off for work. The mystery is solved. Goo Gone explains that the smoker is part of the #GooGonePassionProject.

The Barbecue Master with Goo Gone and the Weber Bullet Smoker

Now, it's the weekend, so one of my guys puts the used Weber Smokey Mountain Bullet back together, since it's disassembled to fit back in the box.

I get the Goo Gone out and get ready to test out this new grill cleaner. The Weber smoker is great (of course - I have the small one), but my real task is to find out if Goo Gone actually works.

Dirty Weber Smokey Mountain - #GooGonePassionProject

First, let me say that Goo Gone did, indeed, send me a dirty smoker. That kind of cracks me up, since I've never had a company intentionally send something dirty. But, that's the whole point of the Goo Gone Passion Project - to see if the grill cleaner works. I could certainly come up with some dirty grills to test out. SHHHH. We won't tell my Mom that. She does not believe in dirt or spider webs or dust balls.

I can attest that the overall smoker was not totally cruded up, but the lid and grates clearly needed some elbow grease.

Down and Dirty - Quick and Easy with Goo Gone

The directions from Goo Gone Grill Cleaner say to spray on the product and wait for one to two minutes. Gotta love easy and quick. But . . . will this stuff work?

Putting Goo Gone to the Test

I squirt the Weber Bullet lid with the Goo Gone with visions of smoking something tomorrow and hoping that the grease does come off without a whole lot of work.

Time to See What Goo Gone Brings to the Table (or BBQ smoker)

I begin wiping as instructed, and the grease splatters wipe off easily. Goo Gone sent the cloth for cleaning as well, and I, being the frugal type, kind of cringe about using a brand spanking new dish type cloth on a greasy grill. But, I decide to follow all the directions. The Goo Gone towel is a regular towel though, so you don't need anything special to use the product.

Let's Get a Close Up of that Goo Gone in Action

Here you can see that I'm wiping the Weber Bullet. I'm using almost no pressure. I'm not sure you can see that, but I'm vibing my hand not being put to any real test here.

Mom Would Approve of This Clean Barbecue Smoker

Here you can see that my smoker from Goo Gone looks brand new. I could put it on the store floor, and I'm sure no one would guess that it had been used for a test smoke before the cleaning.

Yes. I Can See Myself in the Smoker (and you can too in this photo).

In case you aren't sure by the full shot or are blinded by the fact that I wear pink shorts with red shoes (not to confuse a barbecue blog with a fashion blog), here is the close up of the Weber lid. If you can see any grease, then I will get my reading glasses and go back out and check again.

That's my #GooGonePassionProject report.

I do thank Goo Gone for the Weber Bullet and for the Flip video cam and maybe I can get over my shy and do some video too soon. I splatted a turkey ball right in the middle of the last video attempt - not to mention some very random and spazzy out takes that I edited out.

As always, I tell it like it is (or how I see it anyway). Goo Gone Grill Cleaner took care of the grease on the WSM smoker with almost no effort on my part. I'll be trying it out on some of my other dirty grills and reporting back, but I'm going to go thumbs up. Goo Gone worked just as promised on the test drive, and I have looked high and low for grill cleaners. My "go to" prior has been Dawn dish washing liquid (great stuff - suggested by my plumber), but that's more work than this spray which did cut through and clean up the grease.

You can read more about the Goo Gone Passion Project and check out the other stories on the Goo Gone Facebook page.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dizzy Pig - BBQ Rub Review - Excellent All Purpose Dizzy Dust

Dizzy Pig - Dizzy Dust All Purpose Barbecue Seasoning

Heather contacted me about trying out the Dizzy Pig line of barbecue rubs. I'd heard that they make really great rubs, so I was watching for the package to come in.

The package arrived, and the smell was fabulous. The Dizzy Dust All Purpose bottle and the sample packs of the other flavors were sealed up tight, but I still got that blast of "yum" smell.

Pork Chops Sprinkled with Dizzy Dust BBQ Rub

I decided to grill boneless pork chops, because they are quick and easy. Plus, I can really taste rubs or sauces and get the full effect with the chops which are very mild.

Some barbecue rubs are over the top on salt or heat or something, so I went light as you can see. I hate to tank a meal and end up breaking out a frozen pizza.

I should not have worried though . . .

Grilling Pork Chops Featuring Dizzy Dust by Dizzy Pig

Dizzy Pig uses all natural ingredients. They make these rubs fresh and with quality ingredients. And, it does make a difference.

The all purpose rub you see here is gluten free (and some of my family members can't eat gluten) and also has no MSG. It's also salt free which I thought might cut down on the flavor, but it didn't.

Even though I used a light hand seasoning my pork chops, the taste was just fabulous. The seasoning is robust on the one hand but not overpowering. I could easily see this barbecue seasoning being a "go to" for all types of meats, fish, potatoes, and vegetables. It just has an all round easy-on-the-mouth pop that made my pork chops rock even with a skimpy shake.

Next time I'll go heavier on Dizzy Pig. The barbecue mix is designed to crust on the meat with flavor. It did crust, but I would suggest shaking on more liberally. The best parts were the bites with the most Dizzy Dust.

I don't find many barbecue rubs that I go hog wild over. This is one that is spot on. A balanced and beautiful flavor. No strange flavor notes that push this one to the back of the cabinet. I can see why Dizzy Pig has won awards. It really is THAT GOOD. Yum.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

College Son Learns to Grill Boneless Chicken Breasts Spiced Up with Country Chef Grilling Sauce

Youngest Son Gets Some Grilling Lessons Before Heading Off to College

My son headed off to college this week, and he said he'd like to learn a little about grilling beforehand. His older brother is getting in the grilling groove at UNC, and he's found that it's easy to make friends at college over a hot grill especially when the food is good.

I thought grilled boneless chicken breasts would be a good starter barbecue project. That's our fast food around here. Fire up the grill. Dinner is ready in minutes if you do the chicken filets or tenders. I wrote up the directions on How to Grill Boneless Chicken if you need some tips and help on that. I wrote out just what I told my son.

For the sauce, I pulled out Country Chef Grilling Sauce Honey Recipe. Country Chef is a 100% all natural recipe that tastes like homemade. Plus, my son loves honey. I wanted his first chicken grilling session to be a good one, and I trust this line of sauces which you can find at Ingles grocery and some other places now too.

Country Chef 100% All Natural Grilling Sauce - Honey Recipe

I told my son . . . OK first thing . . . you take a picture of the jar of sauce. He got a laugh out of that, because he knows that's what I do. I think and hope it makes it easier to find sauces and other products I talk about.

Eli got a pass on photo taking and picked up with the actual grilling. I watched and mentioned a few tips along the way, but he grilled up the chicken for dinner.

Grilled Chicken with Country Chef BBQ Sauce - My Son's First Time

I think my son got the grilling gene and probably a good general idea about how to successfully grill just from watching and helping out over the years. His barbecue chicken turned out beautiful, and it did taste as good as it looked. Any sauce can be used, but the sauce is pretty key on boneless chicken breasts. I'm glad I pulled out Country Chef Honey for his last week home and working on his grilling skills.

Now I'm home alone, and it sure is quiet. I can grill for one, but I had a night class so I didn't fire up tonight. I'll be back on the grill again soon - of course. I'm not really hungry just yet, because it's hard when your last kid moves off. Where is that box of Kleenex anyway?

I am excited for my son, and I'm sure he'll do great at Catawba College. It was fun to pass along the barbecue torch, and I'll look forward to when he comes home, and we can grill some more together.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Barbecue Sauce Experts Tell All (or most) on Hot Sauce Weekly Podcast

I joined a roundtable barbecue sauce discussion with Hot Sauce Weekly last night. Brian Meagher had emailed and invited me. I don't usually do the spotlight stuff, because I'm a bit shy in person or when microphoned. Plus, Brian mentioned Skype, and my computer is old, and my sound does not even work after I had my computer "fixed" three months ago. That cure ended up being worse than the virus it turned out I did not even have. Sigh.

Brian and his wife Marilyn who own Hot Sauce Weekly were so nice, and I knew the other barbecue sauce guys scheduled were top notch, so I decided to ignore that little voice in my head that said that I would forget what I wanted to say or would say something random and goofy on podcast to be forever online to haunt me.

The roundtable podcast turned out great. OK. I did blurt out that liquid smoke is like a breast implant job. You can tell the difference. But, you can. Or, I can. I love smoke, but a barbecue sauce does not need to have that fake stuff in there. Make a good sauce. I'll provide the smoke. That's just me.

Brian and Marilyn did a super job hosting the roundtable, and the guests were Larry Gaian (MOINK ball inventor), Brian Henderson (BBQ Sauce Reviews), and Wayne Brown (Big Wayner BBQ). These guys really know barbecue sauce. And, I know these guys online from barbecue circles and have met Wayne who lives about 45 minutes away.

Be sure to check out the Hot Sauce Weekly podcast. You will hear about some of the best barbecue sauces out there. I was familiar with most mentioned, but the guys tossed a few out that I'm going to have to check out. If a barbecue sauce rated a mention by sauce guys, then I know it has to be great.

The podcast also gives you an idea about how barbecue sauce reviewers operate. Just a heads up . . . we are all different. But, the thing we have in common is that we really love barbeuce and barbecue sauces.

Be sure to share you favorite barbecue sauces too. It's always great to find a new one that is terrific.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Wilber's BBQ Restaurant Goldsboro North Carolina - Barbecue Restaurant Review

Welcome to Wilber's BBQ Restaurant in Goldsboro, NC

Wilber's BBQ restaurant is an iconic eastern-style North Carolina wood burning barbecue restaurant, so I was pretty stoked about getting to stop by and try out some chopped pork when we headed to the beach for vacation. Wilber's is right on 70 on the way, so it was a no brainer to time for a lunch stop on the way to Emerald Isle.

Wood Burning Pit at Wilber's BBQ in Goldsboro NC

Wilber's is clearly a classic barbecue joint. It's out in the country even if on the highway. You can see the pit above where they slow smoke whole hogs which is the eastern style of barbecue in North Carolina. Western (or Lexington style) North Carolina barbcue is shoulders or Boston butts.

I've read that Goldboro gave Wilber's a grandfather clause so that they can continue to wood burn and slow smoke the barbecue, but once Wilber Shirley is gone, they have to shift to gas smoking. That's a shame, and I sure do hate to see our wood burners slowly go away. You just can't beat the real deal.

Sunday Crowd at Wilber's Barbecue Joint

The parking lot was packed when we got to Wilber's, but we didn't have to wait very long. We hit the far end of the Sunday crowd.

An older gentleman was at the front door greeting. He was super nice and friendly. He said something funny like that we'd only have to wait three days. I suspect he may have been Mr. Shirley, but I'm not certain on that. It was a good start though.

Hush Puppies at Wilber's BBQ

I've heard that the hushpuppies at Wilber's are awesome. They are free like nacho chips at many Mexican restaurants. When the waitress came out, she brought a bowl and put them on the table.

My guys go wild for hush puppies, and I'm a pretty big fan myself, so we were all pretty excited to get the bowl and try them out.

Perhaps they left something out of the hushpuppy recipe the day we visited. They were really bland. It is also possible that the oil had not been changed. In any case, I think this was the only trip we've ever made to a barbecue restaurant where the hush puppies went begging. We all tried them, but no one got very excited about those hush puppies. They were just kind of like cardboard.

Also, we did not have butter on our table. I don't put butter on my hushpuppies, but the guys usually do. Since we didn't see our waitress again for a while, we snagged a bowl of butter from an empty table. That didn't help much apparently, because we still had hush puppies left in the bowl, and the table next to us had two big bowls of hushpuppies that just sat there getting cold.

Oh well. Hushpuppies can be great, but we were at Wilber's for the pork barbecue meat.

Chopped Barbecue Sandwich Plate at Wilber's

Since it was lunch time, we went with the barbecue sandwich plate which comes with French fries. I did get a side of Brunswick stew (which was quite good). There are other sides like potato salad which looks close to mashed potatoes (with tiny chunks of potato) and slaw that is mayo based with some hot sauce and green beans (but it's garden bean season - hard to compete with that).

First, let me say that the price is a real deal. I am always amazed that North Carolina slow smoked barbecue sells at such a low price, when the work is so labor intensive.

The barbecue at Wilber's comes out sans sauce. The sauce is on the table, and they offer the eastern style which is vinegar with some hot pepper seeds. They had a milder one (ligher colored) and a hotter one (darker color).

Vinegar Based Barbecue Sauces at Wilber's

We all dove right in to our barbecue sandwiches. The meat did have a nice smoke flavor, and the general chop was good (medium). North Carolina is not pulled pork; it's chopped with knives. This is more labor intensive, and it's a nicer texture in my book.

I was enjoying my Wilber's chopped barbecue sandwich when I hit a blob of fat. This was not a little blob. It was close to the size of a ping pong ball. OK. I opened the bun and got a second fat blob out of there. I was hoping that I got the only fat ball sandwich, but three of the five sandwiches also had the fat hunks. That's not good.

My older son got a bite of pig skin. No. It was not outside brown. It was the slimy type of skin that is in a fold and is pretty gross. That pretty much did him in on the meal.

Then my younger son said, "Hey, there's a bone in here." I thought he had to be mistaken, but he was not. He did have a bone about an inch and a half long in his barbecue sandwich.

Whole hog is a challenge, but Wilber's has a reputation for being a master at slow smoking full pigs. I can see how some crud might make it through the chopping. You've got a lot of pig and a lot of chopping to do. But, this barbecue was bunned up or plated, and there's really no excuse for huge fat chunks, skin, and bones to be in serving sizes the size that go on buns.

I'd also note that one member of our group got a gross soggy bun with his barbecue sandwich. No. This was NOT after he sauced his meat. It appeared that buns were microwaved (which is fine) to heat them, but this bun must have been in the bottom corner of the plastic bag and caught all the moisture, so it was flat out drippy. We should have sent it back, but my brother just won't complain even when he gets a drippy bun.

Wilber's Barbecue Restaurant

I do respect that Wilber's is an old school wood burning barbecue restaurant. We were warmly greeted. The place did have the real deal feel. But, if you bite into a hunk of Crisco-like fat, rubbery skin, or an actual pig bone in a sandwich, then it kind of wrecks the mood. Four of the five plates had those problems. While I'd guess that is not typical, not one member of our group gave a thumbs up or wants to go back.

Bummer. I certainly wanted to love Wilber's. I'm very disappointed that this one does not make my "visit again" list, but I still have visions of the pork junk in the meat dancing in my head. I got the fat blob, and that was not a great dining moment when I sank my teeth into that globber.

Grilled Pork Chops with Morrocan Sauce - Hot and Spicy

Grilled Pork Chops with Harissa Moroccan Sauce

Last night we spiced things up with barbecue grilled pork chops slathered in Robert Rothschild Farm Harissa Moroccan Sauce. This is another of my purchases with the birthday gift card my son gave me to A Southern Season (gourmet food and cooking store) in Chapel Hill, NC.

If you're not familiar with Harissa, it's kind of the catsup of Tunisia in north Africa, but it's been trending in Morocco. It's a tomato product with various spices and chilis, and it's typically quite spicy; styles vary by area and the cook or chef. Harissa sauces are used in cooking and also used as condiments.

Pork Chops Marinating in Harissa Moroccan Sauce

Someone (who will remain unnamed) picked me up some pork chops to grill but got the real thin cuts. Those are hard to grill. They grill so fast that saucing them is pretty difficult. The sauce just won't set up in the time they take to grill. So, I have been using marinades and seasonings on my thin grilled pork chops.

The Robert Rothschild Farm Moroccan Sauce is not specifically a marinade, but it's thin enough that it works fine. The texture and body is similar to salsa.

I put the pork chops in with the Moroccan Sauce for about a half hour before I put the meat on the Char-Broil Urban Grill.

Pork Chops Grilling with Harissa Moroccan Sauce

I put the pork chops on the hot grates (preheated about 10 minutes) and flipped them after about 5 minutes. They had nice grill marks at that point, but chunks of tomatoes don't exactly set up on pork chops. So, I topped the grilled up side with a little more of the Moroccan sauce.

With the grill lid down on lower heat (again for around 5 minutes), the pork chops finished off, and the sauce got nice and hot and spread out across the top of the pork chops.

Wow! This was a flavor explosion. Morocco is known for spicy hot food, and this sauce is no exception. It has several kinds of hot chilis in the sauce. It was really zippy but a nice flavor (sweet hot - not bitter hot).

Only the heat freaks were home for dinner, and everyone thought the Moroccan Sauce was great. I would not serve it to my younger son who does not like spicy food, and I'd not use it for a general party, unless I had some mild foods for an option. But, for those who like some fire in the flavor, this one rocks it. Quite hot but just a lovely flavor mix with the spices.

Rothschild Farm Harissa Moroccan Sauce

Here's the Moroccan Sauce that we used on our pork chops. I know it's easier to know what the bottle looks like rather than go in the store and try to find something you've not seen before.