The time for another Pitmaster’s came upon us on Tuesday November 19th, 2013. The theme this time was a Harvest Dinner given the proximity of the foodfest that is Thanksgiving. The main course was a whole hog. This will now be the third whole hog I have consumed at Lockhart’s BBQ and I could not be happier. This is now our 4th Pitmaster’s and I am continue to be impressed by the food that is being served.
We met Eric (Erik?) the Dragonsmead head brewer and talked to him about our recent visit to Dragonsmead Brewery in Warren, MI. It was a very insightful conversation about the growth of the brewery and the beers they make/the process. It was also great to see all the familiar faces we’ve come to know and love at Lockhart’s BBQ.
The first beer we received was a pint of Erik the Red. This was a very smooth red ale with a slightly bitter finish. It was very light and a great way to start the dinner. The first course of the meal were “Dragon Balls”. They are labeled Dragon Bites, but Bubba told us they were originally to be named Dragon Balls. When they were served to us, they looked amazingly delectable. The dish smelled very sweet and the BBQ sauce they were cooked in permeated the air. The bacon flavor of the dish was not overwhelming, which I find is usually the case with dishes that include bacon. This was a pleasant surprise, and I enjoyed that the bacon was also not overly crispy or super floppy. It was firm with a slight crunch. The meatball melted in my mouth and provided great contrast of texture with the bacon. In addition, because of the spicy sausage (a Lockhart’s recipe) there was a nice bit of heat at the tail end of the meatball. When eaten in conjunction with the beer, it enhanced the flavors in the meatball then cleansed the palate. I would say that Erik the Red tames the dragon.
The Dragonslayer Altbier was served next and it was very smooth and malty. While maintaining a slightly bitter finish as well, the beer remained light and complemented the lentil soup. Prior to the soup being brought out, however, was the altbier bread along with some sweet cream butter. When the bread was delivered to our table it smelled delicious. The bread was moist and was just a bit sweet and tasted of whole grain. The soup came out and smelled of the lentils, which was to be expected. However, this soup was surprisingly light for as hearty as it was, it was reminiscent of a minestrone. There was a distinct cilantro taste that penetrated the soup and helped lighten it up.
Finally the pièce de resistance was ready – the cornucopia. This course was served with an Oktoberfest and while it remained a light beer that was typical of most oktoberfests I’ve had, the food really stole the show. The meat cornucopia was served with potatoes au gratin that were surprisingly light. Usually with au gratins I find that the dish is very creamy and a little heavy, but chef Rene did an amazing job keeping the side light and put enough ham so that it’s flavor permeated through the dish without overwhelming it. There were vegetables that were served with the dish that were delicious and cooked in the sweet better we had eaten earlier with the altbier bread. The sausages were moist and had a little bit of kick to them. The chicken was incredibly moist and well seasoned. The meat was extremely tender and just fell off the bones. The pork was cooked amazingly. This is now the third time John and I have had the whole hog at Lockhart’s and I dare say this pig may have been the best one yet. The skin was crispy and well seasoned, the meat was all very moist and tender – full of delicious pork flavor, and I was given some leg and cheek meat to try. The leg meat was chock full of flavor, more so than any part of the pig, and the cheek meat was still the most tender part that I tried.
The final course was Sweet Potato Pie paired with London Brown Ale. The Ale was sweet and tasted of dark chocolate, with a caramel aftertaste. The sweet potato pie smelled like cinnamon and tasted very similar to pumpkin pie. I attributed this to the cloves that were very present throughout the dessert. It had a delectably flaky crust. Unfortunately I was super full, so I ended up taking most of the pie slice home.
Another rousing success for Lockhart’s Pitmaster Dinner. I managed to leave the dinner this time without feeling like I needed to be wheeled out in a wheelbarrow. Of course that means I had a lot more leftovers that turned into a delicious lunch the next day. I cannot wait for the next pitmaster’s and I hope more people will join us next time.