If there is one thing that we can say that we know, it is barbecue. For years we have competed with our ribs and brisket – and hesitated buying meat from others as few compare to the level of care we give to the preparation, cooking and rest needed to create great meals. Chain BBQ joints and local favorites always seem to miss an element of what makes barbecue great: a feeling of friendship between the guests, the meat and the cook preparing it. The moment you walk up to the table where Black Market BBQ has parked you instantly feel like you are a member of the team and have been there all day with them and shared the experience.
The crew rolls up in the smoker trailer in the early morning and fills it with racks of ribs and slabs of brisket. Talking with the chef he says there is “no better time to be out, the birds are singing and the sun is just in the right spot”. I wish I could be that chipper that early in the morning. The smoker gets up to temp and the meat rotates away within the trailer, soaking up and absorbing all the flavors with it.
After hours of cooking their truck rolls up, and the meat is released from its vessel. Go ahead, ask them to look inside the smoker, he will bring you right up to the doors and show you the Narnia-esque land of meat inside, dark from the history of smoke brought through the trailer with the redolence only a pitmaster can bring.
But all this does not build you up for the tastes you are going to get from this system. Note: If you are a person who needs a sauce to go along with your meat you will not find that here. This is a dry-rubbed, brined type of place. Order a brisket and it comes in a asian take-out style container overfilled with meat and the juices that come with it. Ribs come in a coffee bag with about 4 bones in each. Nothing more, nothing less, and we like it that way.
We will leave this review with some excerpts taken from their website, because it summarizes them so well: “This is Minnesota BBQ directly off the pit, with a dry rub that never needs sauce. This isn’t Memphis. This isn’t Texas. It’s not whatever you’ve had that was supposed to be the best barbecue ever. This is Minnesota BBQ, and it’s really, really good. Just like it’s supposed to be.”
Food: 5/5 If you are looking for smoked meats cooked slow, this is it. Drink: -/5 Food only, although it is known to park at breweries. Atmosphere: 5/5 The best people, doing what they love. Overall: 4.5/5 Why the ding? They are not open more (but thats it)!
Its time again to get the coals burning and the smoke rolling as we prepare for the 7th annual mancuisine.com smökathon. We are having it once again down at our Eagan on Hackmore Drive, inquire with one of our members on specifics. This year we will have a voluntary ticket system to enter for all those hoping to eat so we can properly prepare. Check our eventbrite site for more information.
New rule this year: All those competing can choose any cut, from pork or beef, with any cookktime, as they choose – as long as it is cooked over a natural flame. It is an open invitation to have anyone cook and compete with us! – send any inquiries to compete to firstname.lastname@example.org
The coals will be fired up around 10 AM, judging at 5 PM with beverages and edibles available all day! Join whenever you would like, the team will be around for good company.
Bring a side dish to be shared with all and some beers as well if you so choose!
Sean Brock is one of my favorite chefs – If you have not seen any of his episodes of Mind of a Chef then you should take a pause on what you are doing and witness what he has to offer the world. His book Heritage is one that I constantly reference when I am cooking food with history in the South. This recipe is closely tied to his with some slight modifications to have it with more of a kick. I have made this often at home but never for mancuisine’s ribfest – quite possibly the reason I have not yet brought home the judge’s trophy.
What You Need
1⁄2 cup chicken stock
2 1⁄2 cups apple cider vinegar
3⁄4 cup ketchup
3 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. Sriracha Chili Sauce
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. Hungarian paprika
3⁄4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger powder
1⁄2 tsp. black pepper
1⁄2 tsp. garlic powder
1⁄2 tsp. onion powder
1⁄4 tsp. chile powder
Put Them Together
Heat all ingredients in a pot on medium-high heat. Simmer, stirring when you can, until reduced by just over a half of its original, about 30 minutes. Depending on what you make, let sauce cool in fridge for no more than a couple weeks – Or add directly to your favorite meat.
The 5th Annual Ribathon approaches. The date is set for Sunday, August 24th in our recent smoking home in Eagan. For a specific address to our event, email email@example.com – We would love to have more competitors join the ranks!
Here are the specifics this year:
It is that season – smoke, meat and eating! Join us for the rib fest to test our abilities in creating the best rib possible. Cooks will arrive in the morning, tasting happens at 5. Bring food to share and drinks to imbibe. Join us anytime within this range!
Bring something to share (beverage and/or food item) and your appetite.
Rules for the cooks:
Arrive as early as you need to serve at 5:00.
Find your own ribs-any cut.
All meat must be cooked onsite.
Prep(Cut)/Rub/Brine is okay in advance.
Must cook with coals. No gas or electric cooking.
Sauce can be prepared in advance, no store bought sauce.
Ribs to be served at 5
Every cook will assign one judge to rate all the ribs.
All other attendees will have the option to vote for their overall favorite.
Must be present to win!
With the smell of hickory smoke still filling the beard and a digestive tract that continues to be uncertain about where it has been it’s time to give the summary of this year’s Rib Event. A kinder and gentler set of sauces this year kept us from the problems encountered when ribs are in heat…
Thirty two adults and hoards of smaller creatures attended this year’s last minute event with two dogs, six cooks and a new trophy brought to the event by last year’s winner- Jeff. A new feature this year was the number of people who unexpectedly stopped by to see what kind of bargains we had at the “garage sale”! Seems that to the idle passer-by the driveway full of working smokers had the appearance of a rummage sale. Although, one guy did stop to ask questions about the various kinds of grills we were using to help him make a decision. We gave him a beer and shared our vast knowledge of smokers and grills. Unfortunately, it seems, he is likely to buy a Green Egg. Makes ya wish you had given him a Blue Moon.
Cooking started around 10:00 and continued right up to the judging at 5:00 pm (17:00). Here are the results in the order they were judged:
Doug swore to no secret ingredient with just a hint of heat and some pre-brining.
Brad went with a 1-2-3 rub-glaze-mop with a hint of mint and bourbon.
Jeff went with a bit of heat in his rub with a final mop to kick things a bit further.
Isaac went with a marinade and mop using habanero peppers and pears. He also tried a hybrid smoker, mini grill treatment.
Kyle forsook the smoker altogether and went with the slow, dry, fall-off-the-rib treatment on the Weber.
Trevor went for the long smoker treatment with a bit of root beer in the sauce, not having any cola around the house.
In the end Jeff took the popular vote and the Judges Overall Award. He is seen at the left checking out the potential changes in the barometric pressure that might impact the timing of the mop sauce. To complete the sweep he also walked away with the most heat nod from the judges. Isaac is still wondering how his habaneros ended up in second heat. Hard to tell what will happen when ribs are in heat.
Nonetheless, all ribs were deemed more than edible with Kyle taking second overall and Isaac third. For those doing the stats for the event baby backs were the ribs of the day thanks to a sale at Rainbow Foods although we noted that Cub Foods has ribs on sale this week as well. Only two of the contestants made spare ribs.
The day was sunny and breezy, perfect to keep the coals alight and the games fun. The usual mix of beverages arrived with the special addition of some Kinship IPA tapped in the garage ‘frig. Side dishes showed up as well with the winner being Missy’s remarkable seven layer bars. However, the hit of the day seemed to be Isaac’s retro Schmidt Beer aluminum cooler with built-in bottle opener. Adam was unable to join us a a cook this year but made a fine addition to the judging staff. Thanks to those who filled in as judges. Serious work for the seriously committed.
As soon as we can pry it from them we’ll put the top three recipe’s on the site. Note that there are no recipes posted from last year’s winners. Hmmm…
In a hasty short notice fashion we are formally announcing our annual Rib Cook-off the weekend of June 29. The Saturday event will be the same as before with a group of judges deciding on the winners in a series of categories and the public choosing the ribs of the people. No big rule changes this year with the exception that meat may arrive rubbed and marinated. Should be fun, if you are attending bring along a side dish or some beverage to share. Eating and judging begins at 5:00 with people beginning to arrive by mid-afternoon.
Look for items from the event here. The group is warming up with a discussion of the rules and such at the Blue Door this week. We’ll get a posting up as soon as we can.
This week the Mancuisine group will be assembling to have a great collection of BBQ ribs. Each member will be stopping by a favorite BBQ site on the way to Scott’s, arriving with a rack and a side. If anyone has a suggestion of a Twin Cities BBQ place worthy of a stop please let us know in the replies below.
Mancuisine members will be posting the sites they are claiming as well. First come, first taken on the locations. As you’ll notice Isaac has already claimed the mighty Ted Cook’s from his old Neighborhood. Scott has taken an entirely different approach.
Here’s the early claims (updated post event). Check the replies as they come in for the rest:
Rack- Ted Cook’s Note: Ted Cook’s is not open on Mondays
Side- Delicious cornbread & Potato salad (white variety with bacon)
Meat- Pulled Pork from
Meat- Wings from B-Dubs (four varieties: Hot, Hot BBQ, Asian Zing, Mango Habanero)
Great turnout with almost all in attendance. The ale selection included two varieties of Oskar Blues, Bells Two-Hearted, Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ (although the discussion was more on whether Kyle inspired the Lagunitas Sucks! brew after interactions with the head brewmaster when living in CA), and another sampling of Isaac’s fine Alt homebrew as he attempts to perfect his recipe. All in attendance reached a state of meat coma, followed by random YouTube watching, Spam flavored Macadamia nut eating, and bourbon sampling around Scott’s fabulous bar set-up in his NE pad.
Much like the overture to a fine symphony Adam’s Eagan patio was tense as smokers were started and each of the seven contestants moved pork to fire. The smell of hickory, cherry and apple blended with the aroma of cumin, tomato, and Dr. Pepper providing brief scents of what was to follow. Indeed, three of the seven admitted to using soda pop in their recipe. Five of the seven had rubs of some complexity beyond salt and pepper and all had some form of magic bullet sauce. The place looked like a bullet strewn CSI Miami site by the time it was over- red sauces of a variety of consistencies all over the tarmac. Could have been a Sam Peckinpaw set after filming was completed for the day.
Our day began around 10:00 am with judging starting just ahead of 5:00 pm. Seven invited judges and our Judge Emeritus, Scott, took their time and slowly considered one rib from each of the contestants. As they began their work the other attendees made their way through the piles of ribs to give a vote in the Best of Ribs Popular Vote category. Kind of like the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes. This is the first year we have split off the two awards. In the past we had observed the seriousness and comments of some of the judges and felt we needed to provide a means of supporting their earnest sincerity.
Isaac won the popular vote this year along with the Best Heat category. It was somewhat surprising to many that a fairly inflammatory sauce could win the hearts of the masses. But, nonetheless, Isaac’s Scandinavian confidence in the public won him the category. Amazing that a slightly socialist sauce would win in this political climate. It should be noted that the platter of ribs provided to the popular vote judges was marked “HOT” to save small children and Norwegians in attendance from being exposed to the heat of the moment. The winning popular smoker was the oldest of the collection. Only four letters of the Brinkman label can still be seen.
The Overall Winner this year was Jeff. As in the past, his secret was in the sauce and although he was a bit candid about the ingredients he did suggest the use of root beer had something to do with the victory. Jeff won our first rib contest using an electric smoker. It was good to see him back in the polyaromatic hydrocarbon world. Being a newlywed, Jeff had the newest smoker- a gift from two of the other contestants. Impressive ribs from an impressive contestant in an impressive device! This year’s trophy was again provided by Doug. Talk of a traveling trophy in the form of a WWF belt was mentioned with Adam knowing the location of a company that makes them.
For those counting, the author stayed true to his, “I make ribs I enjoy” and placed near or at the bottom of the competition again. Also true to form, the ribs he though were best did not place this year. Yet another reason for him to avoid fantasy football leagues. Nonetheless, it was a great day with plenty of good food, two home-brews, many flavors of donated beverages and plenty of sun. Really looking forward to next year’s event.
The Rack Shack onCliff Road in Burnsville is further evidence that great food can be had outside the urban ring. We had heard way too many good things about this place to have waited this long to check them out.
A small place in a strip mall shared with an old established family Italian restaurant, a Subway, and a bakery it would be easy to look at the outside of the place and drive by. That would be your loss. We walked in on a Wednesday night around 6:30 to a small line of locals getting takeout and a goodly number of tables for a place that appears to serve more food in bags heading out the door than at the tables- at least on this Wednesday. Walking through the door the first thing you see is the shelf of sauces in squirt bottles just waiting to be tested.
Ribs, brisket, and pulled pork were all up to expectations. The ribs were cooked soft and needed a small amount of effort to remove the meat from the rib- perfect. Side dishes were good but not exceptional. The beans were the best of the collection we had. Side portions seemed a bit small but the main dishes were plenty big. A good menu with more than enough selections. They have a HOBO bowl that looks like an amazing collection of food but none of us were up to it. They do have a three Hobo’s in 30 minutes challenge that looked interesting. Seems it was interesting enough to draw in the Man vs. Food crew.
The highlight of the place was the selection of sauces. Hot and sweet, sweet and hot, hot and stupid tastes all all met by the row of sauces. The New Orleans Ghost was a big hit with all of us with good taste at the start and a slow remarkably hot build. The burn lasts for a good long time. The Houston Hot was too much vinegar and heat, generally panned by this nordic-influenced group expecting their heat to come with flavor.
By the time we finished all were satisfied with only a bit of the smoked potato remaining. The staff was friendly and people came and went the entire time we were there. We’d rate the meats better than the local favorite- Famous Dave’s but the sides were just equal.. We are starting to see more rib joints popping up with a disturbing number of less than tasty offerings. We’ll stop by the Shack again and as soon as the tundra thaws some Shack take-out will make for a great picnic meal. Maybe we’ll grab some and head inside of the urban ring to eat..
Waking up this morning to the smell of cooker smoke in my beard that had not come out in last night’s shower -even with the trinity of shampoo, dial soap, and Old Spice uberwash- reminded me of the event yesterday. A wonderful gathering of folks ranging from babies to retirement-approaching parents with lots of niches filled between. Best of class went to Doug with his long-cooking racks and finishing sauce, Kyle pulled in second with his “boiled in Pepsi” slow cooked creation, and Trevor rounded out the class with his technique for cooking that never required him to open the cooker to add wood over the four-plus hours of smoking. Everyone else did a fine job of producing tasty ribs but did not click as loudly with this year’s judges. We have never seen such a uniformly great and varied collection of racks at the same event. As the two at the bottom congratulated each other a modification of a quote from Steve Jobs was heard “We cook what we enjoy.”
This year judges were asked to select one or two of the ribs as “Best in Show” but to give a written comment on each rib. Each cook drew a random secret number and filled paper trays labelled with that number with one rib each. Cooks worked hard to keep their number a secret from the crowd. Although there was some difficulty reading the scoresheets due to BBQ sauce covering many of the responses the winner was determined to be the rib with the most best in show votes. Of the judges Scott (shown above) often is the most detailed and earnest and in keeping with his level of engagement he provided trophies for the first two places and offered his own category of “most heat” which came with a plaque and this year went to Jeff’s entry. Joan is shown here working her way through the seven trays.
Sources of the pig meat varied greatly this year. Whole Foods Market, Sam’s Club, Costco, Clancey’s Meats and Fish, and the back of a truck unloading at a private country club were all represented. Most of the cooks had practiced on ribs purchased at the great Rainbow Foods rib sale during the summer. The comment was made that perhaps the group should do a group buy and have everyone begin the event with the same rib. The idea is being considered by the executive board and will be taken up at the next outing.
One last comment. Hardware at this year’s even included: Three vertical Brinkman charcoals, one vertical Brinkman electric, one Webber Kettle, one backyard charcoal grill, and one small barrel Brinkman. Adam was new to the vertical cooker world this year but adapted well. Techniques varied from ignoring the grill hoping others might flip the ribs to constant attenuation of the smoke to heat ratio.
The recipe page on the menubar at the top will grow as cooks submit their efforts. It’s time for us to get back to our reviews of local places, as we say- TWO DADS, FOUR SONS, SEVERAL FRIENDS & TOO DAMN LITTLE TIME TO EAT AT ANY PLACE WITHOUT A GREAT STORY.
cui·sine - /kwəˈzēn/ - noun:
a style or method of cooking, especially as characteristic of a particular country, region, or establishment.
man - /man/ - noun:
a human being of either sex; a person.
mancuisine - /manˈkwəˈzēn/:
a human being who enjoys eating and writing about a style or method of cooking, especially as the distinctive attributes of the Twin Cities establishments of character.
mancuisine is a group of people who get together to check out new [and old] places, eat great food, drink wonderful beer, and compete with each other with our cooking.