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I am just going to put it out there. One of the best places I have ever eaten BBQ ever is at the Stockyards. Yes. It is. Period. But wait. Theres more. How about the sexiest damn burger, the best onion rings, the most flavorful porchetta, the best tasting limeade and some of the nicest sandwiches a girl could ask for. It was freaking awesome. That sums up the whole meal:  freaking awesome.

I have been wanting to go to this place for a year. Since they opened last April. I never got the chance till tonight. I was worried it would not live up to its reputation. I was hopeful that the hype was true. It did not disappoint. I think for anyone coming into Toronto missing The Stockyards would be a sin. Truly.

I got to enjoy this meal with Ben Kaplan a writer for the National Post. He had written a story about the Stockyards previously and knew the owner Tom Davis. Tom is a tall lanky guy who has an intensity about him and a true warmth and passion for all things BBQ. He was on a mission to feed us both enough food to kill us. He seemed to take a real delight in it.

As we sat through the meal and talked back and forth I was thinking about the episode with Anthony Bourdain where he visits Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal QC. Martin Picard serves Anthony dish after decadent dish of fois gras items. All more decadent than the one previous. It just about kills him with the deliciousness and indulgence of it all.

Now imagine that instead of fois gras you were served outstanding  BBQ. Then burgers, and in house made pastrami and andouille and bacon and well you get the picture. That was my culinary adventure for tonight. Oh my goodness.

I started out the night with a photo-shoot in the rain on the back of my truck with my super cute Traeger pig BBQ. Then I moved on to the culinary indulgences. Limeade. Ahh limeade. I love you limeade. It is a perfect pairing with BBQ in my opinion. Their limeade puts all others to shame. Crisp clean and not too sweet. Lovely. Just lovely.

Now the first taste of the night came with the onion rings. Too many places forget the onion and all you get is batter. These were the best I have ever had period. A good onion ring is soooo hard to find. These were delightfully crisp. The batter had a pepper kick that made you want them more and more. The integrity of the onion never got lost with the batter. It stood on its own still retaining its crisp. Deep fried perfection.

I’d like to thank the fly fry girl Allison. She is a very hospitable friendly lady who worked the fry station all night like a champ. She rocked.

Our seats were right at the full view of the kitchen. Prime real estate at the Stockyards considering there are only 14 seats . The lineups never cease for takeout and on a Tuesday night its all about ribs and chicken.  Their full menu is plentiful. Additionally all of their takeout containers are biodegradable. Even the straws are biodegradable. Kudos to them for being environmentally responsible with their packaging choices.

Before the onslaught of food started we took a tour of the back room and the smoker. Tom runs it on hickory and apple wood he sources from the Niagara region and sugar maple hardwood lump charcoal. Its no secret I am a HUGE fan of sugar maple hardwood lump charcoal. It really does add to the flavor of the food. The smoker itself is a J&R Clone. Its a fairly large smoker that can accommodate a lot of meat. Tom had it custom made to his specifications. After years of playing with smoke  fire wood and charcoal on a cheap $100.00 Canadian Tire Smoker he knew what he wanted. He got it and it runs beautifully. It was great to see it in action as he was still smoking chicken when we got there.

Getting back to our seats from the tour of the kitchen the first 6 dishes arrived. The smell was truly intoxicating to me.

Pastrami, ribs, pulled pork, andouille, brisket and coleslaw.

The pastrami they do in house. It was wonderfully tender and nicely spiced. I think it will soon rival Caplansky’s.

The pulled pork had lots and lots of really great texture and definition. They do not serve it with sauce on –it is served on the side. Their sauce is not the syrupy sickly sweet consistency of so many other BBQ joints. It has twang and depth with apple cider vinegar and just a touch of sweetness. KUDOS to them. There are glorious shreds of bark through out. It was incredible. As we were doing a tasting it was served on its own. Truly a good pulled pork in my opinion should be able to stand on its own without sauce without a bun and without coleslaw. This pulled pork stands on its own and sings. Its that good.

Brisket. Oh my brisket. I love the point on brisket, all that delectable fat. My sandwich was full of delicious point.  This brisket was sliced thin and served on a French Baguette with caramelized onions garlic mayo and just a touch of their BBQ sauce. It was divine. Tender morsels of brisket that pulled apart with just a little tug. It was an incredible sandwich and the addition of the mayo and onions was just taking it to a whole other level.

Their slaw is different, in a good way. Its not some afterthought. It really has a great crunch factor and peppery bites with touches of celery seeds. Its a great accompaniment for any of the dishes.

The andouille was a really nice surprise. Its available on their brunch menu. The coarse grained meat had a wonderful smoky flavor and an abundance of defined texture. I can’t wait to go back and try their brunch menu. I would not want to miss it. I may need a while to recoup from tonight though.

Tom smokes his spare ribs for 7 hours. You would think that after 7 hours that they would fall off the bone be mushy or be overdone. You would be wrong. These ribs were one of the best I have ever had and certainly one of the best in Canada. Seriously meaty they would rival any rib I have had any where in North America. They held their shape after biting through. The bone turned a nice whitish color and the meat was tender but not mushy. The rub is simple and effective  – it does not mask the actual flavor of the pork but compliments it thoroughly. Too often the rubs and sauces that are used by restaurants mask too much of the pork. This rub is like the best supporting actor ever. It just helped it along but didn’t overshadow them. I loved how much of the rib was caramelized.  Goodness. Pure Pork Goodness.

If those dishes were not enough for a couple of foodies the next ones just about killed us with their decadence. It was like a foodie swan song and we almost bit the dust.

Fried Chicken, BAT, Porchetta Sandwich and the sexiest burger ever.

I am going to say this for the record I am jaded about fried chicken. After over indulging earlier this year on a couple of trips to Memphis and eating at Gus’s fried chicken I never thought I would ever find anything close again. I was wrong. Now I am going to say this chicken is almost as good as Gus’s. Almost. Pretty darn close in fact. The batter is awesome. The chicken is moist and succulent. However I think it needs more spice. Thats just a personal thing. It’s an easy fix with a couple dashes of hot sauce. Thats all it takes to bring this chicken to just about the same level as Gus’s. Once again its deep fried finger licking, lip smacking deep fried greatness. The chicken is not greasy at all. It is crunchy and savory and truly yummy.

BAT. What a name LOL. Its the Stockyards house cured bacon, Arugula, fried green Tomato, and lemon aioli on a ciabatta roll. Out of everything I had this was my least favorite. There is nothing bad about this sandwich. I just wanted to eat the bacon and nothing else. The bacon is so lovely with smoky overtones and full bodied flavor that it seems almost sacrilege to cover it up with anything.

I have now had the burger of my dreams. This burger was the sassiest, tastiest and sexiest burger I have ever had. It is a griddle smashed burger. This burger is unabashedly fierce. Smoked green chilies give it sass,pimento cheese gives it depth, the ground beef, brilliantly cooked and a buttered grilled bun like a perfect pillow. – I am in love with this burger. It was like sex on a bun. It was that amazing. I cannot wait to have another one. In fact I may go again Thursday when I am in Toronto again.

Last but most certainly not least is something I would recommend above everything else. It is their Porchetta sandwich.
I love porchetta when it is done right. Here is done exceptionally well. There is so much to love about this sandwich I do not know where to begin. It could be the fact that within the first bite you know there is a whole lotta love in the making of this wondrous sandwich. It is a fennel and garlic scented pork loin, belly,and cracklings served on a baguette, with garlic aioli.


This is truly a dream of a sandwich. While you are smelling the beautiful fennel and garlic you are experiencing the most satisfying crunch of the cracklings and while you are enjoying the cracklings your mouth is flooded with pure pork pleasure and if that wasn’t enough the silkiness of the garlic aioli comes across your tongue like the caress of a lover. While their chili burger is unabashedly sexy this is more like the most incredibly orchestrated symphony of flavors, tastes, and textures. I could not dream a better sandwich that this.

It was a culinary adventure like no other.

Many thanks to my dining partner tonight Ben Kaplan.  His is an exceptionally smart guy who was funny as hell. Truly talented – I know everyone will be hearing about him and his writing accomplishments.

Many thanks to the staff of the Stockyards and to Tom Davis himself. Thank you for sharing your passions about BBQ.

I have no doubt I will be back. Soon. Very soon. Like maybe in 48 hours.

the Stockyards
Smokehouse & larder
416 658 9666
info@thestockyards.ca

HOURS
Monday closed

Tuesday 11:30 to 9:00pm
Wednesday 11:30 to 9:00pm
Thursday 11:30 to 9:00pm
Friday 11:30 to 9:00pm

Saturday 11:30 to 8:00pm
Sunday 11:30 to 8:00pm

NO RESERVATIONS


 


I figure its only right to finally post my own BBQ Pitmaster audition tape. No matter what I am happy that I submitted it and took a chance to be on the BBQ Pitmasters show. Since the beginning of the series I made no secret that I want to be on the show. I think TV needs more BBQ shows. It has only been good for all facets of BBQ from restaurants to products and all competitions. I think they need a Canadian Chick that knows how to BBQ.

 

 


 


I have been to Disney World Florida more times than I can count when I was a kid and once with my eldest daughter Lexi and my parents. One of my fondest memories besides spending time with family was the Giant Turkey legs. If you ever go make sure to stop and get one. It will be enough to feed at least 2 people. You will feel like a carnivorous Neanderthal while chowing down on one. You won’t care. They are that good. Every time I think of juicy delicious turkey legs my memories take me back to Disney World.

I did my best to recreate those turkey legs on the BGE. I used Clubhouse brand Montreal Chicken seasoning with a dash of poultry seasoning as well.  I generously seasoned the legs and placed them on the BGE with some pecan wood chips and a drip pan underneath. I kept them low at about 225F and I went back a couple of times and basted them with the juices. They were not exactly as I remembered but they were juicy and delicious. It was really fun to tell my kids I was serving them dinosaur birds. Much more fun than telling them they were eating turkey.

The BGE performed nicely. As it was the first cook I got to experience how little charcoal it takes. Overall the BGE did terrific and I was really pleased with the ease of cooking on it.


 


Well today has been a very exciting BBQ day!! I got to see the new Traeger 300 in person right after it was unloaded. It is even more impressive in person. Really solid design. I am looking forward to playing on one in the upcoming weeks.

Here are some pictures of the unit

As soon as I get the spec sheet I will update this post!


 


Along with my love of BBQ and food in general I have a serious affinity for butchers shops. I have my own here in Barrie- Hovey’s Gourmet Meats and I believe everyone needs a good butcher. Last year I had the opportunity to do a Traeger demo at an incredible butcher store Schinkels Gourmet Meats in Chatham Ontario. Due to some technical difficulties (ok I admit it I lost the pictures) I haven’t posted before now but here are some pictures of this terrific butcher store. If you are ever in the area I suggest you stop in and pick up some of their great products.Additionally they have some of the nicest and most helpful staff you will ever encounter.

They have terrific meat counters that are full service

Great selections of lots of cheeses

Lots of spice mixtures and also BBQ sauces

Plus their owner is an all around great guy who really knows his stuff:

Stop in if you are in the area!

Schinkels’ Gourmet Meats
145 Richmond St.,
Chatham, Ontario.
Canada
N7M 1P1

Ph: (519) 351-2117
Fax: (519) 436-0961


 


Thats quite the title for the post.

Well we are home. Coming home after one hell of a weekend away in Little Rock Arkansas. It was an interesting ride for sure. We always enjoy traveling through the US. On the way down we stopped a few times but overall nothing to exciting.

* Tuffy’s new Jambo. Looked awesome even has some really sharp flames on the sides.

One of the best parts of this weekend was my Sister in Smoke Angie Quaale flew in to hang with us for the weekend. She is a terrific friend and I really appreciated her help on the weekend. It was the first time ever I have let anyone help trim my meats. She did a great job trimming out the chicken.

Everything was going really smoothly on the weekend cook.  The one challenge I faced was the ribs. I could not get the same ribs I had been working with for the last couple of years. One text to my friend Kelly and a couple of stops at various stores and I had 12 racks to choose from.  I was pleased with the way they turned out. Apparently that was not to be when it came to the scoring.

Got to visit with some great friends I don’t see nearly often enough. One of the highlights had to be finally meeting Harry Soo in person. He is an awesome guy. I would highly recommend if you ever get the chance go meet him. I saw him be gracious to hundreds of fans through out the weekend. Always smiling.

We also got to visit with a few folks from around the competition. With a competition this size it wasn’t nearly enough time to get to everyone thats just one of the downfalls.

We got through the night with no problem. My excellent fire master husband Vlado kept everything running really smoothly while I caught a few hours on my favorite army cot.

Butts and briskets came off and I was really enthusiastic for the briskets. They looked good. They smelled good. I could hope. The butts had excellent color. One of the best colors I have had in a long time. A beautiful deep mahogany.The chicken went on with no problems as did the ribs. Everything came off and we wished it well as it went to the judges.

We got everything cleaned up packed away and all we had to worry about was the awards. We heard so many of our friends names called and it was excellent. We didn’t get a call in Chicken, Ribs and pork. Was I ever bummed at that point. Considering those were in my opinion the best I did that weekend it was a sucky point for me personally. However when the brisket came around I got one hell of a shock a 30th call in brisket. That was awesome!!!

Overall Pellet Envy got the GC, Cool Smoke got the RGC and the Slabs.com got 3rd place. Congratulations to them all it was certainly a fun ride for the weekend!!!

For us we came in 75/230 places. We took a 45 in pork, 67 in Chicken 30th in brisket and a jaw dropping are you freaking kidding me a 193rd in ribs. I am trying to get off the bitter bus on the ribs score. Seriously. ACK.

Not sure what happened. Thats sums it up. I have looked at the video and the rib box and I really don’t think I could have done anything better. It is what it is. Oh well.

Overall it was a great experience!!! Now to catch up on some sleep.

** and here is a little blind bbq gossip item. What BBQ person had their ego bruised when they realized in their opinion they were not put in a prominent enough position within the RV park at Little Rock??  They pulled the ” Don’t you know who I am card??”  This person was told they could go home if they didn’t like it. LOL cracked me right up.


 


Well we woke up in Memphis this morning. Thankfully without a hangover from last night.

Yesterday we started driving from Barrie Ontario Canada and we pulled up here in Memphis about 25 hours after we started. Now its only a couple more hours till we get to Little Rock Arkansas.

Yesterday being St. Patrick’s Day it was fun to see the festivities at Silky O’ Sullivan’s on Beale St. It was a lot of fun to watch the festivities.Then we headed back to Pig On Beale. Still terrific food, fun staff, and great atmosphere.  If you go to Memphis make sure you go eat there.

My husband really wanted some Memphis BBQ since he didn’t come on the trip last month. I was craving a steak. Had to cave to his request. Really it wasn’t much of a cave. Vlad is one of the most incredible people on the planet. He goes out of his way to do everything he can to support my BBQ habit/obsession/career.  He really enjoyed his BBQ feast. Plus he had enough leftovers to do at least 2 more meals today LOL.

One of the highlights of this trip besides seeing everyone will be seeing  My Sister in Smoke Angie Quaale.  She is flying in today from BC to hang with us this weekend. That is awesome. So happy she is coming. Last year my friend Tim Brown from Can’t Stop Grilling came with us. His team is the only other Canadian team that will be in Little Rock this year. I plan on doing everything I can to beat him.

So we are off to do the final leg of our journey to compete in Little Rock Arkansas. There are 225 teams that are competing for $100,000.00 in prizes. I sure hope the Olympic Own the Podium program applies to Competitive BBQ’ers as well. I believe. LOL I can barely type that without cracking up. OK in reality I believe that I will do my best. I believe that- if I can- out of this entire trip – be proud of my turn in boxes, and get a call that would be cool. But I can dream. Hell yeah. I can dream.


 


Every Tuesday you can listen in on the BBQ Central Radio show part of the BCRN (BBQ Central Radio Network) . This weeks episode is a round table discussion with three of the top Chicken Cooks on the KCBS circuit:

Kelly Wertz – 4 Legs Up BBQ, previous winner of the Jack Daniels Invitational and in 2009 ranked #4 overall in Chicken and #6 Overall on the KCBS TOY Listings.

Joe Amore – Smokey Mountain Smokers, ranked #5 overall in Chicken and # 19 overall in the KCBS TOY listings. They also manufacture one of my favorite products disposable cutting boards.

Troy Black - Learn2Q.com, ranked #7 overall in Chicken and #15 overall in the KCBS TOY Listings. He also has a brand new DVD out Real BBQ Know How

Also tonight on the BBQ Central Show Mike Lake President of KCBS will be on at approx 10:05pm EST on the after dark segment of the show

It should be a great show! Make sure you tune in tonight at 9pm EST.