Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vern's BBQ Sauce Makes Sloppy Joes a Hit

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On my first visit to the Riccarton House farmer’s market, I stumbled across a locally made food good that is truly unique to this part of the world. I was immediately drawn to Uncle Vern’s Authentic Louisiana BBQ Sauce and its creator Vern Andrews, a jovial guy who enjoys introducing his sauce to a Kiwi audience. The origins of Vern’s BBQ sauce goes back to Vern’s first year in New Zealand in 1996, when he was hired as a sociology professor at Canterbury University. Vern was also a bit of an experimental cook in his personal time, perfecting a BBQ sauce similar to the kind he grew up eating as a kid in the States. He entered himself and dishes that he created using this sauce into the Blues Brews and BBQ’s Festival during his first two years here, subsequently winning a fourth and second place position. His participation in this event drummed up public interest for Vern to bottle and market his BBQ sauce. However, it took several years for Vern to decide to sell his sauce as a retail product.

Uncle Vern's Authentic Louisiana BBQ sauce is killer on ribs, but can also be used for other dishes, like Vern’s Signature Sloppy Joes. A healthier version to the popular American kid’s lunch, Vern’s Sloppy Joes are an excellent quick fix for dinner or, as Vern notes - a great after school snack for the kiddies. Vern recently invited to me over to cook up his Signature Sloppy Joes and to share this recipe with Local Vanguard.

Uncle Vern’s Signature Sloppy Joes

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olive or cooking oil
½ kg lean ground/minced beef
1 tsp all-purpose seasoning
approx 1 tsp garlic salt
½ tsp mixed Italian herbs
1 tsp butter
7 mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 capsicum, roughly chopped
1 medium sized onion, roughly chopped
1 can crushed tomatoes
½ bottle of Uncle Vern’s BBQ Sauce (Medium)
4 hamburger buns
avocado, sliced (optional)
mozzarella cheese, sliced (optional)

This recipe only takes about 15-20 minutes to make from start to finish, and can be made ahead of time and quickly heated up in the microwave. You'll need two medium sized sauté pans. Warm up oil in one sauté pan. Add lean ground beef/mince. Add all-purpose seasoning, garlic salt, and mixed Italian herbs. Stir gradually. In a separate sauté pan (for veggies), add butter, and chopped mushrooms, capsicum, and onion. Allow to sauté and to slightly burn (for more flavor).

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Check ground beef/mince. Brown until well-done and a bit burned (in order to bring out the flavor), then remove from heat. Add crushed tomatoes and cook on medium heat. Add sautéed vegetables. Add ½ bottle of Uncle Vern’s Authentic Lousisiana BBQ Sauce (Medium). Let mixture simmer. Once liquid is cooked down a bit, take pan off heat. Warm hamburger buns, dish on sloppy joe mixture, top with sliced avocado and/or mozzarella, if desired. Sloppy joes are ready to serve!

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Vern and I sit down at the table to enjoy these yummy looking sandwiches. Vern states it best, as he looks up after taking the first bite - “Now that’s good eatin’”.

Uncle Verns Authentic Louisiana BBQ Sauce is available across shops in New Zealand, including Chirstchurch locations: Cashmere Cuisine, The Pantry on Mandeville, Emma’s at Oxford, Bishopdale Butchery, Elmwood Fine Meats, Torlesse Wines, Verkerk’s, Prenzel, La Traiteur, Gracebook Farms, Peter Timbs Meats, Ground Deli, Talbot Forest, The Good Street Deli.

Contributing photographer - Alice Lines, Another Alice on Flickr

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