Just because he no longer makes the rounds on the competitive barbecue circuit does not mean Rep. Dennis A. Ross is done raking favorite foods — or like-minded colleagues — over the coals.
“Every weekend I’ll be doing something,” the Florida Republican told HOH of his penchant for firing up his wood-pellet fed smokers, he’s got two, whenever time permits. Ross, who has previously evaluated fellow outdoor cooking enthusiasts on behalf of the Kansas City Barbeque Society (“I haven’t judged in years,” he said.), spoke fondly of the fellowship he enjoyed whilst standing around flaming kettles.
“You can find out new recipes, you can find out different events going on. … It’s like a weekend-long tailgate party,” he said of sun-drenched afternoons spent squaring off against other backyard warriors.
The three-term lawmaker said he remains active in the rubs department, but has allowed homemade saucing to fall by the wayside.
Still, it sounds like he’s no stranger to bold flavors.
“Last weekend I made what’s called ‘pig candy,’" he said, detailing the method he utilized to transform two pounds of raw bacon into blueberry- and brown sugar-spiked snack treats.
“They come out just like sticks of candy,” Ross explained. “They’re awesome.”
Here on the Hill, Ross relishes any opportunity to commune with fellow grilling enthusiasts.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas
“Gohmert likes his ribs,” Ross said, referring to the conservative firebrand renowned for his Capitol Hill cookouts .
“Texas barbecue is some of the best,” Ross conceded. “They do a great brisket.”
Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala.
Ross once gathered with Roby and Rep. Austin Scott, R-Ga., at the American Legion outpost just steps from the Capitol (224 D St. SE, to be exact) for an informal barbecue battle.
A Roby aide said the food fight took place in November 2013, and said the Alabama Republican showed up with ribs and chicken and walked off with some sort of prize.
“Rep. Roby is actually a really good cook and loves to grill,” Team Roby said, ticking off a laundry list of proteins (“steaks, chicken, Boston butt or pretty much anything”) that have found their way across various cooking surfaces.
Awards notwithstanding, Ross remembers having a great time.
“It was good camaraderie is what it was,” he said of the homegrown challenge. “We might do it again this year. We just haven’t gotten around to doing it.”
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