Meet the Croix Valley November Grillmeister - Jen Lauer!
Jen grew up in Lake Elmo MN, and now lives in Stillwater, MN. She's married to Pitmaster Steve. They have four children - Adrianna, Hanna, Alex and Samuel.
Jen has worked at the Home Depot in Maplewood MN for 25 years and is currently a Customer Order Specialist for Millwork and Kitchens. She also happened to meet Steve at Home Depot.
They were married in 2008 at a church wedding followed by a backyard reception. Steve made the grill that their caterer/family friend used to cook pork loins on. Shortly after that Steve created another grill but this time it had a smoker on it. Their friend told them he was entering them into a bbq competition. They said ok, and in 2011 they completed in their first bbq comp. They didn't finish last, and had a call in dessert.
They only competed once a year for many years and then decided to become judges. In 2018 they added a few more competitions and earned an RGC (Reserved Grand Champion). From that moment they were hooked!
ON TO THE QUESTIONS!
When did you get into grilling, and how often do you fire it up?
I've been grilling as long as I can remember. We had a charcoal grill when I was younger and I remember my mom running her hand over the coals in a coffee can to see if the were ready. As a campfire girl we baked a cake in a grill made out of a beer case. I always had a propane grill available.
My first smoker was an inexpensive charbroil smoker. I loved cooking whole chickens on it. I was amazed at the flavors with such a basic set up.
We try to grill out at least once a week. More in the summer. I love it when the kids want to grill a burger for me, and definitely encourage them to experiment with different flavors.
Name one grilling technique you’ve learned over the years that has served you well.
With many different types of grills I have learned that heat management is one of the most important things. Understanding how meats cook, regardless of the temperature, to produce a quality product.
What’s the most unique thing you’ve grilled or cooked?
The most unique items I have smoked would be rabbits and a deer whole hog style. My favorites are corned beef, shrimp, meatballs, bacon and desserts!
Tell us about your most memorable day around the grill.
My most memorable day was at a contest was making Creme Brûlée on the smoker for Anything Egg. I won 1st prize and it was amazing.
Last but not least, what are your favorite Croix Valley products?
My favorite Croix Valley products are:
Sweet Heat, it can go on anything!
Blue-B-Cue, especially on Meatballs!
Honey Dijon Barbeque 'N Brat Sauce.
Bloody Mary Seasoning, Horseradish or Garlic 'N Dill.