Saturday, February 11, 2012

Swine 'n Dine for Charity

Team Swine 'n Dine: Frank Fields, Rob Ford,
Mike Bonn. Not pictured, Preston Cornett.
I received an email from my friend Gwen Poth who requested I check out and review this BBQ team who use their BBQ to raise money for 24 Hours of Booty in Charlotte. I always love it when other BBQers use their ability for good and to raise awareness for a good cause. After all OTT is a great event I help with, so I’m always happy to spread the word for someone else. Rob, the spokes person for the team, and I exchanged a few emails so I could find out about the team. We set up a time for me to meet the team and try some of their porcine product.

The Team
In the emails we sent back and forth, Rob gave me the history of his team, Swine ‘n Dine. It is made up of four members; Rob Ford, Frank Fields, Preston Cornett, and Mike Bonn. They started to cook at their neighborhood festival and sold sandwiches and pork butts and all the proceeds went back to the neighborhood. They really enjoyed cooking together and decided to cook for the neighbors once again. Their neighbors liked what they were cooking and asked if they would do it again for a third year. The team went from cooking 150lbs of pork to 400lbs per cook.

Cooking 160lbs of pork.
They decided to turn their hobby into a business and enter some local competitions. In September of 2010 they planned to enter the Blues, Brews and BBQ competition in Charlotte, NC but were too late to sign up so they teamed up with a local church, St. Paul’s Methodist Church, to cook for them and the neighborhood. They had to shut things down when they sold out of Q and still had 25 people standing in line for food. They had cooked over 500lbs of pork that day. When fans started to hear Swine ‘n Dine would be cooking the orders started to come early.

Over the past five years they have honed their skills. Swine ‘n Dine cook old school with no propane, only lump hardwood charcoal, hickory, pecan, and a little white oak for a mild smoky flavor. They rub the meat prior to putting it on the smoker. During the cook, it is mopped with a spicy wet rub giving it a nice bark. Finally they season it with a vinegar based sauce and some more rub that gives it that extra flavor.
Ready to chop.
I asked Rob about their cooking process. Here is a quote from the email he sent me.
“Our process is fairly simple. Get the cooker temps up to 300deg. Season the meat and put fat cap up on the cooker for about 3-4 hours. Then I come in with the wet rub and flip the butts and rub them liberally with the sauce. Typically, we’ll cook for 10-12 hours, as we typically have about 160lbs on the grill. Once the meat reaches an internal temp of about 190deg., we remove the pork from the grill and wrap in tin foil and put all together in a big fishing cooler that is lined with towels. We’ll let the meat sit for several hours before chopping. This allows the temp to continue to rise to the 205-210deg range. The meat really has a good chance to shrink away from the bone. Then we have a seasoning process that involves all four of us. One person is unwrapping the pork; one is removing the fat cap, bone, and cartilage from the butt. One person is chopping and the Frank seasons the finished product making sure that we have a perfect chop (all hand chopped).” 
Rob breaking a butt down to be chopped.
Frank chopping a butt.
Frank mixing in the vinegar sauce and spices.
Preston packing the containers for the hungry masses.
They have two main cooks each year: Sedgefest every May for their neighborhood, and 24 Hours of Booty every July. Preston, Mike and Rob are all cyclists who participate in the 24 Hours of Booty. They are on Team REEB (spell backwards). I asked Rob about the event and how they support it with their BBQ.
“The purpose of the event is to raise money for the Livestrong Foundation and Cancer Research. My Dad passed away last year from Cancer, so this is a cause that is very important to me. We have an annual fund raiser called Team REEB Brews and Brats where we team up with Old Mecklenburg Brewery for a big fundraiser. Last year our event raised over $5,000 for the 24 HOB and Livestrong. As for the BBQ, we have auctioned off “old fashioned pig pickins” from Swine ‘n Dine at the fundraiser and were pleasantly surprised to see the bidding wars that ensued and ultimately ran up the price. It has been a huge success for our fundraising efforts. This year, not only will we be auctioning a Pig Pickin’, we will also be catering the event...Franks homemade slaw, hushpuppies, baked beans, and homemade mac ‘n cheese. Last year’s pick pickin was purchased by 2 couples who are neighbors. We came to their house, cooked the pork all night, served the meal for 50 guests, and additionally sold another 50 lbs of pork by the pound (all of which was donated to 24HOB).”
They also cook for other charities and to benefit Swine ‘n Dine. When they are not cooking for charities they are cooking for the “new cooker fund.” This is a much needed cooker to handle the amount of pork they are cooking.

The Meat
The big question comes down to, “Do they make good BBQ?” Yes. Their pork is cooked very well. It is moist, tender and very flavorful. It has a nice light smoke flavor and the added rub and vinegar sauce take it to another level of flavor. You get that nice smoky meat flavor with the twang of the vinegar and the spice of the rub. It is a good solid Carolina Q.
Nice bark, smoke ring and inside meat.
The chopped pork. You can see the spice. 

I also had the pleasure to try Frank’s slaw. I’m not a slaw fan. At restaurants I will taste it but usually it sits on the plate unfinished. Frank knows how to make a great slaw. When I first tasted it I was a little puzzled as it had a pickle taste to it. After my second bite I knew for sure but had to ask, “Do you use relish in the slaw?” The answer, “Yes.” The slaw has some other spices in it but also has a touch of mayonnaise to give it a little bit of creaminess, along with mustard and vinegar which complements the pulled pork nicely. I ate it all.

Frank's slaw.
I also was able to try a rib and a couple wings. Both I would be happy to pay for. The rib was cooked perfectly with a nice watermelon bite. It had a bit of spice on it that was very good, and the wing had a good heat with great smoky flavor.
Rib and wing.
Watermelon bite.

On the Gibbs Ribs Scale*, I give Swine n’ Dine a solid full rack with a side of Frank’s slaw. The guys know how to cook Carolina Q and have fun doing it. If you can, bid on that “old fashioned pig pickin’” at the 24 Hours of Booty, your taste buds will thank you.

If you would like to find out more about the team you can follow them on FaceBook or get on their email distribution list here:

*When I do reviews, books or otherwise, I rate the items with ribs (they are my favorite BBQ dish). A full rack is great and a single rib is poor. I will tend to stick to a full rack, half rack or one rib.

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