0224_barbecue_cookoff3The Greater Houston Weekly has an awesome article about rodeo and barbecue!  And as we all know, rodeo and barbecue go together like salt & pepper, gin & tonic, and, well, rodeo and barbecue!  Reporter Marene Gustin gives us the details, and I hope y’all sit up straight and notice that Texas Pepper Jelly’s big boss, Craig Sharry, is featured AND quoted!

Polish your Luccheses and pull the Stetson out of the closet, it’s rodeo time in Houston.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has some stellar talent this year — everyone from Brooks & Dunn to Mary J. Blige — plus the midway rides, funnel cake, mutton bustin’ and steer wrestling. But there’s also some serious competition outside the rodeo ring this weekend as the 2010 World Championship Barbecue Contest kicks off Thursday, Feb. 25.

More than 350 teams of serious and not-so serious barbecue cooks will be brewing up pounds of brisket, spare ribs and chickens to vie for bragging rights as the world grand champion cook. And thousands of folks will flock to the three-day event where they can grab a chopped beef sandwich, listen to the bands at The Garden, do a little boot-scootin’ and watch the teams slave over hot pits and smokers. Corporate and Go Texan teams often offer entertainment from barbecue pits decorated to look like armadillos and chuck wagons, to cooking shenanigans.

“Oh, it’s just such a fun time,” said Shirley Meadows who has been going to the event every year for 15 years. “They decorate the booths and it’s a big party. You see old friends and meet new ones.”

But how’s the barbecue?

“Who eats!” Meadows said with a laugh. “We all drink, but yeah, the barbecue is pretty good.”

Definitely the beer will be flowing, and some of it may actually make it into the barbecue sauce. But for one cook, the secret ingredient won’t be beer but jelly.

“Jelly isn’t just for breakfast,” said Craig Sharry, a long time cook off contestant and owner of the Texas Pepper Jelly company. “Of course, I use my own habeñero and jalapeno jellies, I use them in the brine and in my barbecue sauce.”

Sharry’s been barbecuing with his spicy jellies in competitions for years, traveling the circuit from Texas through Louisiana. In fact, he was the overall grand champion two years in a row at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, which guaranteed him entrance to Houston this time. A good thing since there is a years-long wait list to cook here.

While each team will be cooking up mounds of beef and pork and flocks of fowl, the judges will select only two pieces to taste. And, they tag the meat before it is cooked so no one brings in a ringer.

For Sharry, it’s chicken he’ll serve the judges, brined for 12 hours then smoked and slathered in his barbecue pepper jelly sauce.

“It’s spicy,” he said. “It’s not hot, any fool can do hot; you just throw more peppers in. The key is getting a blend of heat and sweet that make you happy to eat it.”

And happy maybe the key ingredient to the kick off contest. As Meadows said, “it’s the perfect upbeat way to start off the rodeo season.”



Of course, readers of Craig Sharry’s Texas Pepper Jelly blog already knew that pepper jelly, as well as Craig’s other fantastic rubs, sauces, and salsas, can kick up almost any recipe a notch or two.  And there is NO pepper jelly anywhere that can compete with Craig Sharry’s Texas Pepper Jelly.  I use it several times a week, and my family will back me up on any of those statements.

Heck, my husband stirs it into his hot coffee and tea.  He also stirs Texas Pepper Jelly into his, um, OTHER drinks, but we won’t go there.  They sure are good that way, though!

Yay, Craig Sharry!  You show ’em all how it’s supposed to be done, Boss!


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