Struttin’ with Some (Mail Order) BBQ
It’s sad but true: Some days I crave barbecue but I don’t have the time to cook it and I’m too lazy to visit the nearest BBQ joint (or, more likely, it is a Sunday and all the good local joints are closed). On these dark days, I have a bright new option: Pig of the Month.
The good folks at PigOfTheMonth.com shipped me a sampler pack of meats to test out. In a rare act of generosity on my part, I invited over a few good friends and “cooked” for these semi-pro taste testers. Much to our shared surprise, given our assumptions about mail order meat, we were impressed. The meat ranged from good to excellent, with the sausages and bacon particularly tasty. Our consensus was that the Pig of the Month products tasted fresh and flavorful, were convenient to cook or heat, and could easily hold their own against most restaurant barbecue.
The company’s website notes that their products are all natural and do not use preservatives, and the freshness really did shine through. Better yet, “Our meats come from a free range, anti-biotic, and hormone free farm… They are fed a natural diet with plenty of room to run around and play piggy kickball.”
To date, I’ve tried the following Pig of the Month products:
-Maplewood Smoked Bacon. Their a medium-thick cut, heavily salted and lightly sweetened bacon, and it is delicious. The bacon is shipped uncooked and frozen. This is not barbecue, of course, but it is pig and I’d eat it daily if it wouldn’t kill me.
-Candied Pecans. Their website says it best: “We take organic pecans and roast them with egg whites, sugar, a touch of salt and some special spices to give it a kick at the end. Sweet, crunchy, and a little bit spicy – these nuts will be gone in a jiffy.” No argument from me!
-Hot Italian Sausage and Duck, Pear & Port Sausage. Like the bacon, the sausage is shipped uncooked and frozen. I cooked mine on a gas grill over wood chips to add some smoke flavor. The Italian pork sausage is very good with a gentle heat that does not overwhelm the subtle Italian spicing; fresh taste, excellent texture. However, it was the duck sausage (duck and pork, actually) that had me thinking about mail ordering all my meat–really excellent sausage.
-Three varieties of pork ribs: Memphis Style Love Me Tender, Texas Style Cattle King, and Key West Style Citrus Grilled Baby Back Ribs. I prefer spareribs to baby backs, but I may be in the minority on that view. Regardless, these pre-cooked, heat and eat ribs surprised me and my co-tasters. We expected dried out, flavorless ribs but that wasn’t the case at all. I wrapped the ribs in foil, per the directions, and warmed them for 20+ minutes. The ribs had a deep smoke flavor, a good bark, tender meat, and had good flavor from each of the sauces, though I prefer my ribs with less sauce and my sauce less sweet. Really impressive. My only complaint was that the meat was a bit too tender, which is probably inevitable for a reheated rib. As my friend and fellow taste tester observed, “These ribs may not be 10s, but they are easily 7s, and a pre-cooked rib that ranks a 7 may as well be a 10.” (I’ll spare you his lengthier analogy, which involved a comparison to Olympic diving, with degrees of difficulty establishing the maximum score possible… a good way to look at it, actually, but you get the point.)
I honestly can say that I enjoyed everything I ate from Pig of the Month, but I don’t to be a complete Pollyanna. Some small criticisms of Pig of the Month include:
-Only selling baby backs is unfortunate, especially when you sell a “Texas -style” rib–you’ll be hard pressed to find a baby back rib at any self-respecting Texas barbecue joint. Hopefully they will add some St. Louis cut ribs or spareribs soon.
-I’d prefer the sauce be packed separately instead of cryovaced into the rib, or least put on the rib in lesser quantities. I thought there was simply too much sauce on all three of the ribs I tried. I should note that they do sell a dry rub rib, which is what I’ll order next time, so I can sauce the ribs myself (or not at all).
-For a company based in Dayton, Ohio there is a heavy emphasis on phony Southernisms in the marketing and packaging. (E.g, “Y’all come back soon, ya hear.” It’s probably a calculated marketing decision but I found it hokey and forced. Their product is good enough on its own that they can drop the act and admit to being yankees–yankees who produce barbecue good enough to please this southern boy.
Check out the Pig of the Month website to see their full product selection, which ranges from corned beef brisket to pulled pork to ribs to sausage to bacon to cracked four pepper bacon to chocolate covered bacon to bacon caramel cheddar popcorn to…