We have made claims in our first blog that we are a craft bbq restaurant. With the type of smokers that we use, making everything from scratch and using only the finest ingredients we believe that we deliver on that concept. Most regional bbq is usually influenced by what is typically abundant in their region. For example, Texas is known for their beef brisket due to their abundance of cattle.The Carolina’s and Georgia are known for their production of pork so they, in turn, brought us pulled pork and 2 types of sauce, a mustard based bbq sauce and a vinegar based bbq sauce.
In Michigan, we have 2 things that we have in abundance that we can use in our version of bbq, craft beer, and our diverse agriculture. Michigan is host to some of the biggest and best craft beer breweries in the nation. From Bell’s, Founders, Dark Horse, etc. we are privy to some of the most flavorful beers around. From an easy drinker like Oberon to a full flavored stout like KBS from Founders to one of the top I.P.A.’s in the world like Two Hearted from Bell’s we can honestly say that we have some of the best beers in the world right in our backyard. Lot’s of flavors from the beer work really well in bbq sauce. Stouts can add a depth of flavor to a sauce unlike anything else. Hops from an I.P.A. work really well in bringing out spices in a spicy bbq sauce. Needless to say, we are fortunate to have a lot of options and we have a lot of fun trying to come up new recipes every day.
Michigan is also home to the second most diverse agriculture in the nation and one of the biggest suppliers of tart cherries, blueberries, apples, carrots, etc. Who doesn’t love when cherries are being sold on the side of the road up north? I, for one, am a big fan of fall when apples come into season. Nothing like some fresh apple cider and donuts. Since both cherries and apples have a sweet, tart flavor profile they work really well in a complex bbq sauce. I really like a sweet and savory bbq sauce and those two fruits are the perfect backdrop to a great sauce.
We have taken a lot of influence from the different regions of BBQ across America, but we also felt it was important for us to break out and do our own thing. Michigan BBQ. Since craft beer and our diverse agriculture really pair well with typical BBQ flavors we know that we can deliver on our promise of Michigan BBQ. Our first attempt at Michigan BBQ will be with Oberon Chicken. Nothing says Michigan more than Oberon, heck we even celebrate this beer being released with its own special day. As if we really need a reason to celebrate after not seeing the sun from late December to March. We think that the orange zest and the bitter finish work really well in a mustard based sauce and really enhance our smoked chicken. And nothing says sunny day more than Oberon beer and bbq chicken.
Oberon chicken starts with our take on beer can chicken. We have a rack that we custom built for our smokers enabling us to produce about 10 chickens at a time (yes we take this very seriously). Next, we put a half and half mixture of our pickle brine and actual Oberon beer in each can to put inside of each chicken. This accomplishes a couple of things. First, the chicken will steam from the inside making it juicier than if you were to just smoke it. Second, the pickle brine makes the meat more tender due to the acidity of the brine. Thirdly, you can pick up a little of the beer and the brine with its sweet, tangy flavor. Next, we season each bird with a mixture of salt, black pepper, and thyme to offer a savory element. Lastly, we take our Oberon sauce that is our yellow sauce infused with orange zest, orange juice, and a little honey to round it out. Now I have to at least mention that these birds take a 2 to 3-hour nap in our smoker to get another flavor element to our chicken. Who said that chicken was bland? Definitely not this version.
I mentioned earlier the term Michigan BBQ and in the next few months, we will expand on what that means to us. Next up will be our Apple BBQ sauce, so look for our next blog when we explain the process of making this sauce. It’s got a lot going on.