Hak’s Habanero Pineapple BBQ Sauce
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So I bought this myself, needing some BBQ sauce for Superbowl Sunday. Hak’s is fairly well-known, and having reviewed a bunch of sauces over the years, I am always looking for something different, and Habanero Pineapple seemed like just the thing!

So we’ve used it a few times on different types of meat and I’ve gotta say – it’s OK. Yup, that’s it – “OK”. Not a bad sauce, but nothing that got me all excited to write a review. My wife thought it had a weird after taste. The heat of the Habanero was there definitely, but honestly – neither of us could taste the pineapple. I love pineapple so I was hoping for that flavor to shine through more than it did. When all was said and done, this particular flavor of Hak’s tasted like a generic, hot BBQ sauce. Not bad, not awesome.

Seriously, Hak’s has a great reputation and this is the only flavor I have tried so now I am wanting to pick up another one to see if it fares any better. I guess after awhile, a lot of sauces start to taste the same and I begin to look for something special or unusual. I’ve done reviews on sauces from folks no one has ever heard of – that knocked my socks off. I bought this (it wasn’t sent free, for a review) for $8 which is high, to me. I wouldn’t spend that much again for this flavor…

Backwoods Mustard Review
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I found a jalapeno mustard a couple of years ago that I liked but it went out of stock and I haven’t been able to get it since. I was delighted when the folks at Backwoods Mustard offered to send me a bottle of theirs to review!

From their site: “Backwoods Mustard Company creates Michigan-made craft mustard utilizing family recipes with a focus on tradition, Michigan, and the Great Outdoors.

Launching commercially in June of 2013, Backwoods Mustard can now be found in over 125 retail stores, restaurants, and breweries. Our product is unique in that our recipes are old family hunt camp recipes dating back two generations. Because of that our products are geared toward Michigan, tradition, and the Great Outdoors.”

Backwoods deviates a bit from more traditional jalapeno mustards in that it has a bit of sweetness to it. Not sickeningly sweet – just a touch of sweetness. The jalapeno is just right, especially for a gringo like me. There’s a bit of heat there, but it’s not “knock your face off” hot. It’s perfect for rookies who like some heat, but not too much.

The mustard has a tang, and a great consistency. It’s sort of sticky, what you might expect with some sweetness. After a couple of years unable to find a jalapeno mustard that I liked, I think I’ve finally got the perfect condiment. Sweet, bright, tangy with enough heat to make you smack your lips, but not so much to make your eyes water. This stuff is just right.

You can learn more here: About Backwoods

You can find some AMAZING recipes here: Backwoods recipes

Backwoods Mustard has wholesale pricing available and is happy to provide several product options to retail stores, restaurant, breweries, etc. Contact them for more info.

Review – Coshell Charcoal
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If you didn’t read my interview with Shawn from Coshell Charcoal be sure to jump over there and have a look! I had to hit a couple of places but I finally found some at the local Albertson’s here in Queen Creek.

Coshell’s website claims that their charcoal burns “Cleaner, Hotter & Longer” and also that it is “petroleum free” and “better tasting”. I wanted to see if there was a difference between Coshell’s product and my usual product.

I used this charcoal to smoke my Christmas Day Turkey Breast. It was kind of a cold day with a brisk breeze that was coming and going. It took a bit to get the charcoal lit in my chimney starter but once I got the smoker rolling, I must say – I was impressed.

Normally on a day that cool, I would’ve struggled to keep the temp up. Not so that day. Also, for a 4-5 hour smoke, I usually would add some charcoal at least once. That day I didn’t need to. That tells me that for my review at least, their charcoal did burn “hotter and longer”. Also, there was really no odor whatsoever from the charcoal. I guess that satisfies “cleaner” too.

I must say that overall, I was happy with the Coshell’s charcoal! The price was about the same as competing brands of “regular” charcoal. It burned hotter, but not crazily so. There was no odor at all. Plus, there is the added satisfaction of using a more environmentally-friendly product. I think this might be my new “go to” charcoal.

ThermaPen Review
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I really need to thank Jesse from Thermoworks.com for sending along a Superfast Thermapen for me to try out.

According to the Thermoworks website:

Made by Hand in England, the Thermapen is faster and more accurate than any other cooking thermometer on the market. Competitors have tried to copy the Thermapen with mass-produced products made in China and have flooded the housewares market with slower, less-accurate knock-offs. However, when compared to true competing commercial thermocouple thermometers, the Thermapen is not only faster and more accurate, it’s also less expensive!

The Thermapen’s speed and accuracy will reveal more about food and cooking techniques than you ever imagined. You’ll learn that temperatures are always changing; a roast is never the same temperature throughout while cooking. If you want to know what’s really going on, get a Thermapen.

I can tell you that indeed, this thermometer is superfast – it’s almost instantaneous. I compared it side-by-side with another thermometer and there was no contest. The other thermometer took about 20 seconds to get a stabilized reading. The Thermapen took less than 3 seconds! This particular model runs about $90 and boasts the following characteristics:

3-second readings!
High accuracy to ±0.7°F (±0.4°C)
Water-resistant design
°F to °C reconfigurable
Auto on/off—no buttons!
1,500 hour battery life

The probe on this unit easily wipes clean.It folds up conveniently to protect the probe and comes in a bunch of cool colors. It seems to be tough (I inadvertently dropped it, with no apparent ill effects) and it shuts off automatically. It comes with an extensive (and very interesting!) User’s Manual and even a Certificate of Calibration. This is a professional instrument that won’t break the bank.

What an awesome product!

Cranberry Brined Turkey Breast
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So Christmas was fast approaching and I was wondering what I was going to make. Digging around in he freezer, I found a big ol turkey breast I had purchased when it went on sale. Like most of you, I keep an eye out for ribs, brisket, corned beef (for pastrami) and those giant turkey breasts. When they’re on sale, I snatch them up!

I decided I was going to make brined, smoked turkey breast for Christmas. I thawed the turkey a couple of days prior, then I made the brine using 1 cup of Kosher salt, 2 big bottles of cranberry juice, and some poultry seasoning. Using a 2-gallon freezer bag, I brined the turkey breast in the fridge for 24 hours. WARNING – It turns purple!

On Christmas Day I got the charcoal going (Coshell, by the way), and dried off the turkey breast. I rubbed it down with EVO and some chicken rub I had here and it was all set to go!

The rest was easy. I kept the smoker purring along at 225ish, and took the breast up to about 180 degrees or so. If memory serves correctly, it took about 4-5 hours.

The rest of the fixins for Christmas Dinner were more traditional but the turkey was a hit! Really juicy, great flavor!