I was recently invited to attend a sponsored dinner and barbecue information session at Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill in Irvine, California. Wood Ranch BBQ is one of my favorite places to get authentic and tasty barbecue in Orange County.
Alex Benes is the Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill Partner and is also known as the ‘Sultan of Smoke”. He is truly an expert at barbecuing and provided a wealth of information for us at the event. I would like to share the evening with you.
Appetizers and More
I (and some other fabulous Orange County bloggers) were welcomed at Wood Ranch BBQ with an array of tasty appetizers including (from top left) the Carolina Pulled Pork Sliders, the Half & Half (Onions and Fries), the Spinach and Artichoke Dip and Fresh Salsa and Chips.
I love the half and half order. No need to compromise on getting either the fries or the onions – here you can get a combo order of both! With the appetizers, I was offered and
tasted drank one of their house made Raspberry Ranch Lemonades. Ahhh….It was delightfully refreshing.
Next I tasted the Natalie’s Salad. A wonderful baby greens salad with avocado, cucumber and gorgonzola crumbles with candied pecans nestled in a balsamic vinaigrette. A beautiful salad which I will be ordering again soon.
Then they friendly staff brought out the freshly baked Garlic Rolls. These truly were freshly baked. I could not resist and tried one. They were amazingly light and full of flavorful garlic goodness. I seriously could have eaten this whole basket, but thankfully, I did not. Honestly, these are so light.
It’s All About the Barbeque
Next it was time to partake in the culinary treats that Wood Ranch BBQ is known for. Chef Alex Benes gave us some wonderful tips on the smoke barbecued process. Alex Benes attended the French Culinary Institute, was a reporter for CBS, and is now partnered with Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill.
Chef Alex shared many barbequing tips this evening. For example, he shared that when using wood chips to smoke your meat and poultry, you will want to consider the meat you are smoking. Mesquite and Hickory chips are better for beef and pork and White Oak chips are better for lighter fare such as fish and burgers.
He also shared how you can use injector guns to inject marinade and seasonings into larger pieces of meat. Here, he is demonstrating how to secure seasoned rubs to ribs. The secret? By slathering yellow mustard all over the ribs before adding the rub. I am seriously going to try this next time we barbecue ribs.
Next, we sampled the dinner menu entrees. Here are just a few of the wonderful items I sampled which included:
BBQ Chicken Breast, Baby Back Ribs, the St. Louis Ribs, Beef Ribs, and my personal favorite, the Texas-Style BBQ Brisket. Mmmmm! There were two specialty barbecue sauces – one was a Chipotle Cherry sauce and the other was a Habenero Peach sauce. I loved the Habenero Peach sauce as it was just spicy enough to compliment the flavors of the beef, without over-powering it.
We also sampled their glorious side dishes including their Original Peanut Coleslaw, Lauren’s Favorite Mac and Cheese, Steamed Broccoli and Smashed Sweet Potatoes (a must!).
Cheesecakes and Cobblers, Oh My!
The deserts that were brought after our meal were so gorgeous and the perfect size to share with a family member or two. I had a bite of each and my personal favorites were the Best Cheesecake and the Pumpkin Cheesecake (Seasonal), although the Oreo Cookie Crunch is a close-second.
What You Need To Know
Bottom line, Chef Benes knows his barbecue and has made Wood Ranch a great place to dine. I wish I had taken more notes from his great presentation, but honestly I was too distracted by the wonderful food offerings. Other things I want to share with you are the fact that Wood Ranch has a great children’s menu with about 11 offerings – how often do you see that? Even the pickiest eater is bound to find something to love. What a great way to expand your child’s taste palette.
If you are in the area or visiting Southern California, I encourage you to check them out.
Wood Ranch BBQ and Grill, Irvine is located in the Irvine Spectrum at:
57 Fortune Drive, Suite 230
Irvine, CA 92618
What is your best barbecue tip?