Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mr. Pig Stuff – Shakopee, MN (Bar-B-Quest 2012!)

We knew it was another long drive to the next contender in the Bar-B-Quest, but LowVee, HotGirlsBrother, and I booked a day to have lunch in Shakopee. Mr. Pig Stuff is only open from 11-3, so this was our best bet for knocking this one off our list. I had been to this place before, and knew they only had picnic tables outside in the summer, so we came prepared. I give you… Mobile Rib Picnic!!!!

The menu at Mr. Pig Stuff is pretty straight forward. Ribs, pulled pork, chicken, and a bunch of sides to choose from. We ordered our half slab, but we all got different styles. LowVee ordered Memphis Dry Rub, HotGirlsBrother ordered Kentucky Bourbon, and I ordered the Original style. That way, we could try a bunch and compare and contrast. We all go the baked beans and coleslaw (though I was feeling adventurous and got the jalapeno coleslaw). And we all got sides of the spicy mac and cheese. It already came with cornbread, so we didn’t have to order extra of that. We were so excited about the impending picnic in the car that we forgot to order drinks until we were all situated in our positions. I went back and ordered them. They guy told us he’d bring out the ribs to our car when they were ready. Perfect.

We set up everything, including a small table and got cozy while waiting. We didn’t feel like eating at the Rib Bar on the side of the building, since it was still a little chilly, but maybe next time.
Then, LowVee blurted out, “I never thought I’d have a rib picnic in my back end!” … which is when I started emailing everyone I know.

The food took a little longer than they told us it would, but we were very impressed with how many cars came into and out of the parking lot for lunch. Not sure if they were call-aheads or non-rib orders, but this place honestly does pretty good business for being just outside of Shakopee. Crazy. They brought it out in shifts and laughed when they saw us set up in the back of LowVee’s SUV. In fact, a lot of people that walked past to get into line laughed at our set up. Clearly they were jealous of it all.

We got out the food and started to eat. This is how we should eat every rib meal (provided there is only window service and no seating)!

I’ll do the sides first, as usual.
The spicy mac and cheese was a little soupy. I think the general consensus was the parts of the mac and cheese that didn’t have the chili powder on them were the best parts. The salt and pepper and seasoning on the non-chili-infused parts were quite tasty, in fact. The chili flakes sort of ruined it for us. We’d all recommend the plain mac and cheese – knowing full well (from last time here) the plain really has a great seasoning.

The coleslaw was decent. Nothing to rave about (which is good, since we don’t carry glow-sticks with us). A little soupy, but had good flavor, especially when paired with the ribs. The Jalapeno coleslaw was a little like the spicy mac and cheese: the chili powder used to spice it up (as if the jalapenos weren’t enough) just gave it an odd flavor. I was actually more of a fan of the regular coleslaw than the spicy. Odd for me.

The baked beans were a little meh. They had decent flavor and there was a generous portion of them, but they didn’t taste that much different than baked beans in a can with a little BBQ and ketchup in it. Decent but not groundbreaking.

The cornbread was pretty good. Moist and sweet little muffins that were great for sopping up the left over BBQ sauce. Nothing amazing, but good little muffins.

The ribs themselves were not what we were expecting. I’ll start with the Kentucky Bourbon ribs. The meat absolutely falls off the bones. We think these ribs were cooked really well. However, the sauce that is cooked on the ribs wasn’t really doing it for us. We didn’t get a bourbon flavor at all – and we KNOW bourbon, if you know what I mean (wink wink). In fact, HotGirlsBrother said he would have liked to get his without any sauce at all, and then dip it in the side of sauce that he got. And that was weird because that’s when we realized he was the only one that actually got a side of sauce. The meat was pretty fatty – something we’ll see in all the ribs – and we think that may have helped with the meat falling off the bone. The re was a lot of cartilage in the meat and they were the greasiest ribs we’ve had the whole quest. Not overwhelmed by these ribs at all.

The Memphis Dry Rub ribs were again falling off the bones like they WANTED to be eaten. However, the amount of salt on these ribs made them borderline inedible. LowVee and I are both salt fiends, so we don’t mind when you crank up the salt a bit. However, these both caused and then immediately cauterized canker sores in your mouth instantaneously. They were painful to eat. I kept putting pieces of my ribs onto LowVee’s plate, so she could have a reprieve from the salt lick she was eating. Again, the flavor of the meat was good, but you really had to scrape off the top layer of meat to get something you could actually finish chewing. And again, they were incredibly greasy and left major pools of grease in the container. LowVee seems to get the shaft the most in some of these Rib Quest adventures, so I feel bad for her. But don’t think she’s a wuss at all. She powers through and shows fortitude. It’s just she gets stuck with whatever crappy ribs the place has that day – repeatedly.

Now, the original ribs were likely the best of the bunch. The sauce was decent and seemed to go with the flavor of the meat very well. Again, the meat fell off the bones, but again, the meat was really fatty and left pools of grease in the bottom of the containers. There was a major amount of cartilage in my ribs, so I was left with a hilarious looking pile of white soft bendy things (make your jokes here) in my container when I was done.

And, we were all surprised how flat the sodas were that they gave us. It’s like the whole restaurant was having a sad day. No bubbly fun in anything, despite the fact that we were having a MOBILE RIB PICNIC!!!! Incredibly, I didn’t spill a single drop of BBQ sauce (or grease) on my work shirt or pants, so I call that a win. Despite a few ill-timed leg cramps, we had a fun time picnicking. We had a moon roof and plenty of head room. But now it’s judgment time…

We didn’t see any way that Mr. Pig Stuff beat Q Fanatic in this particular bracket of the competition. Sorry to say it, MPS, it wasn’t your day. (That’s alright, since it is – according to the GPS – the furthest drive from LowVee’s house – the center of her universe.) Which puts up Q Fanatic against Ted Cook’s 19th Hole BBQ. Ted Cooks is good, and I really like Ted Cook’s. In fact, Ted Cook’s is the number TWO seed in the Western Division. But based on the incredible meal we had at Q Fanatic last week, Ted Cook’s didn’t have what it takes to win this one. Another upset in the bracket! This moves Q Fanatic into the Elite Eight of the competition. Can you feel the excitement in the air? It’s blended in with hickory smoke and black pepper. Just take it all in…

Top 5 things about Mr. Pig Stuff
1. Plenty of really tender meat on the ribs
2. Mobile Rib Picnic!!!
3. Cornbread
4. We totally Tetris-ed our to-go containers to make them fit on the tiny table
5. Came with wetnaps (always a bonus)

Bottom 5 things
1. Really greasy ribs
2. Super salty dry rub
3. Spicy mac and cheese
4. Jalapeno coleslaw
5. Flat sodas, oddly enough


LoVee said...

Jeez, I feel like you coulda placed a disclaimer: LOVEE HAD JUST GOT DONE WITH YOGA WHICH IS WHY SHE LOOKS LIKE A HOT MESS.


Anonymous said...

I would love for you to try the new location of Mr. Pigstuff... It's a little further down the road(1 block east of Marshell Road next to Dangerfields and Taco Loco) and has a much bigger establishment. Yes, you can dine in now as they have seating for 50-100, a salad bar, you can buy beer and i hear they have new smokers.