Mention Las Vegas, and world famous BBQ is not the immediate thought most people would get, nor would they connect it with a security clearance. Yet locals have been enjoying some of the best BBQ thanks to Mike 'The Legend' Mills' magic touch at his four Memphis BBQ locations. What does a security clearance have to do with BBQ? Well, that's what Mike needed to deliver his awarding winning meals to President Clinton aboard Air Force One.
Mike “The Legend” Mills
BBQ is not just a cooking style; properly done it is an edible art form which Mike learned early on from his BBQ-obsessed dad and has indisputably mastered. But Mike's mom, proud as she is of him, still comments that he changed the family sauce recipe by adding apple juice. This is a family that takes their BBQ very seriously indeed! His winning the Grand Sauce Award at the Jack Daniel's World Championship International Barbecue Cook-Off in 1992 did make Mom beam, as well as all his other contest victories. This tasty sauce recipe is included here. Mike (owner and founder of Memphis Championship Barbeque) is a four-time World Champion, and the only three-time World Grand Champion at the Annual Memphis cook-off (the 'Super Bowl of Barbecue'). Known fondly as 'The Legend', he has earned of awards such as National Grand Slam and Grand Champion, Grand Champion Sauce, and Grand Sauce in competitions.
Can you say "BBQ perfection"?
Mike got started winning contests back in the '80's, with a group of friends who formed the Apple City Barbecue Team in his hometown of Murphysboro, Ill. They realized the economic and social benefits of having a BBQ contest. Not to mention having all that tasty BBQ to check out! But that they had the best was verified repeatedly when the team kept winning local, state, regional and international barbecue contests. It wasn't long before they had become the only three-time World Grand Champions of Barbecue.
The secret to this top notch caliber BBQ? Mills says it's the 'old fashion low and slow method of cooking, the finest meats, and freshest ingredients.' 'Meats are smoked over low heat in wood-burning pits for hours and hours, achieving superb flavors and tenderness' and we don't use any MSG, tenderizers, or preservatives,' he continued.
When you can't decide, the combo plate is a solution.
Mike credits several factors for the great result. The use of apple wood giving his BBQ a sweet smoky aroma and flavor, the 100-year old tradition consolidated in a secret family recipe for 'magic dust,' (a dry rub of 18 different spices) plus an award-wining vinegar sauce created by his maternal grandmother, Mama Landess.
Mike's tribute to his mother is the belt busting Mama Faye's Down Home Supper. This dinner for four has a rack of St. Louis ribs (or baby back ribs), pork, beef brisket, hot links, whole chicken, baked beans, cole slaw, French fries, cream corn and rolls.
Maureen Cewe and Ben Burton of Memphis Championship Barbecue.
Now the Mills passion for great BBQ has caught on with just as successfully with the next generation. The cookbook Mike and his daughter, Amy Mills Tunnicliffe have written 'Peace, Love, and Barbecue: Recipes, Secrets, Tall Tales and Outright Lies from the Legends of Barbecue' is part cookbook, part memoir and part travelogue. In 'Peace, Love, and Barbecue' Mike and Amy explore the impact that barbecue has had on their lives as they crisscross the country introducing readers to its living legends. There are hundreds of books about barbecue, but this is the first and only book written by an authentic pitmaster' The National Barbecue Association announced earlier this month their 2006 NBBQA Awards of Excellence winners in the Best New BBQ/Grill Cookbook category and Peace, Love and Barbecue shared one of two first place awards. It was also nominated for a 2006 James Beard Foundation Award. 'This is a huge honor,' Mike says. 'I understand it's quite unusual for a first-time author to even be nominated. The other two authors in our category are powerhouses in the culinary world so it's quite a thrill to be mentioned alongside them.' www.peaceloveandbarbecue.com
Just like Mike is no ordinary cook, this is not just a collection of 100 recipes. Beyond the recipes of this barbecue maestro, it also features lots more. It has top tips from his pit master buddies as the book takes you along a highly amusing, informational travelogue with an insider's look at the barbecue contest circuit. Learn about his stops at some of the best "shrines, shacks, joints, and right-respectable restaurants".
Award-winning BBQ sauces and Magic Dust.
Find out about all sorts of barbecued meat, fish, sauces, dry rubs, sides, soups, and finishing touch desserts that truly make a barbecue feast. Besides being available at retail bookstores nationwide, in-store or online it can be bought at all 3 Memphis Championship Barbecue locations and www.memphis-bbq.com
Besides Mike's reasonably priced cookbook, Magic Dust and sauces on the site, there are recipes to check out. Gift cards of any amount can also be purchased. The current special being offered either from the website or at one of their Vegas restaurants is a personally signed book along with get a free bottle of Mike's special Magic Dust for $19.95. Just put who you want the autograph personalized to in the comment section of the order page.
Chef Josh Winne knows when kids are happy, he's done his job. Shelby Saemann and Tyler Emery are all smiles.
However, since Mike will be keeping busy judging BBQ contests nationwide this summer, it may take a few extra days for that special touch if you wait too long. Mike has signed plenty of books before he left but ordering now will sidestep that delay. Instead of a tie for a Father's Day gift for that special man, why not order the cookbook, some sauce & get him grilling up a storm?
As shown in the mouth watering pictures here, Memphis Championship Barbeque looks fabulous & tastes even better! But if you're not in the Vegas area, don't despair. Mike owns an interest in nearly 12 barbecue restaurants in Southern Illinois, Las Vegas and New York. Plus his website will supply you with some essentials if none of those locations work for you. One taste and you'll understand why it is a favorite of Congressman Jerry Costello, Governor Jim Edgar, George Wint, Randy Owens, Jeffrey Steingarten (Vogue Food Critic Vogue), Sheryl Crow, Celine Dion, Andre Agassi among many, many others.
The atmosphere is also about food, family, fun and tradition.
Memphis Championship Barbecue has also expanded its line of award-winning barbecue sauce and Magic Dust to Los Angeles-area Whole Foods Markets. The barbecue sauce's one-of-a-kind taste is one of the most sought-after recipes throughout Las Vegas and will now be flying off shelves at 28 out of 38 Whole Foods Markets in L.A. Along side the original and spicy barbecue sauce, the famous Magic Dust made with 18 secret spices is also available for purchase, with each item retailing at $4.99. Whole Foods decided to distribute the popular items after great success at its stores in the Las Vegas market.
Shelby Saemann, Troy Saemann and Tyler Emery insist we return.
Memphis Championship Barbecue has two other locations in Las Vegas: in Green Valley at 2250 East Warm Springs Road (702-260-6909), open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and in North Las Vegas at 4379 Las Vegas Boulevard at Craig Road (702-644-0000), open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12-9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, go to www.memphis-bbq.com
. Apple City Barbecue Sauce
This award-winning sauce (from Mills' days as co-captain of the Apple City Barbecue team) enhances just about any barbecue. Some barbecue sauce is very thick and just sits on top of the meat. This sauce is smooth and on the thin side, and it seeps down into the meat.
1 cup ketchup (I use Hunt's)
2/3 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup apple juice or cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/3 cup bacon bits, ground in a spice grinder
1/3 cup peeled and grated apple
1/3 cup grated onion
2 teaspoons grated green bell pepper
Combine the ketchup, rice vinegar, apple juice or cider, cider vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce, mustard, garlic powder, white pepper, cayenne, and bacon bits in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir in the apple, onion, and bell pepper. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, 10 to 15 minutes or until it thickens slightly. Stir it often. Allow to cool, then pour into sterilized glass bottles. A glass jar that used to contain mayonnaise or juice works real well. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
MAKES 3 CUPS
VARIATION: To make this sauce a little hotter, add more cayenne pepper to taste, approximately another 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon.
Be careful; a little cayenne goes a long way.
Have some for me!
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