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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mike's Smokehouse BBQ and Grill, Tampa Bay, Florida

I have been in the market for a smoker for quite some time.  As a result we have had the great pleasure of checking out a lot of BBQ featuring smoked meats, mainly pork but also chicken and beef.  Smoking adds characteristic flavour and colouring to the meat.  In general there are two types of BBQ, dry or wet.  Dry BBQ starts off with a dry rub that the meat may sit in for a period of time to absorb the flavours before long, slow smoking.  A sauce may or may not be mopped on during the final hour of smoking.  The ideal temperature for smoking is 225ºF to 250ºF.

Mike's Smokehouse BBQ and Grill
Mike's Smokehouse BBQ and Grill is located at 7117 N US Hwy 301, Tampa Bay, Florida.  The restaurant has been extended from the original trailer that housed it.  Mike's is a small two level, family friendly, restaurant packed full of a lot of character.  There is outdoor seating available.  It is casual dining set in a friendly atmosphere.  There is a kid's menu for the little ones.  Daily specials keep the prices quite low.  Catering and take-out are available as well.

Mike's features slow smoked BBQ ribs, chicken and the usual BBQ sides and appetizers.  One appetizer looked rather interesting - BBQ nachos made with BBQ pulled pork.  That would be an easy one to duplicate at home so we chose the gator basket as an appetizer.  Unfortunately we did not get to meet the pit master but the waitress was extremely friendly.  Of note, the only alcoholic beverage served at Mike's is draft beer at $1 per draft all day long.  Beer pairs nicely with BBQ.
  
gator basket
The gator basket (pictured) consists of a generous portion of breaded alligator pieces served with a spicy dipping sauce.  Although alligator is sold frozen as ribs, steaks or fillets we have yet to have found it in any form other than deep fried, breaded nugget style.  It is usually paired with a rather spicy dipping sauce as well. 

Alligator is a white meat with a texture and flavour similar to frog legs.  The one word everyone in our group used to describe the texture is rubbery.  The meat does have a bit of resistance similar to lobster although it lacks the sweetness of lobster.  I rather like it as did my husband and the kids so it would be a meat I would try cooking at home.

bbq ribs
We of course ordered the ribs.  Everyone ordered a side of baked beans.  We also ordered sides of baked beans and BBQ corn on the cob.  They were dry BBQ using a tasty dry rub then long smoked until tender with just a little resistance.  They had a wonderful flavour.  The ribs were a little fattier as they weren't baby back ribs but that just added to the flavour.  The BBQ corn on the cob was a real treat!  It was the smaller kernel, hybrid white sweet corn.  The flavour was a tantalizing mixture of sweet and smokey.  The baked beans were amazing!  They had a deep, rich smokey flavour.  What was different about these baked beans is the addition of pulled pork giving them extra flavour and texture.  We ended up bringing home a 32 oz. container of the baked beans.  They were that good.

Mike's is definitely not on the expensive side.  Our total came to $59.51 for four adults including the take-out container of baked beans.  This is another restaurant that has made it onto our must visit when in the area.


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