Pete’s Firehouse BBQ, a Pit Master comes to the market.

You have had a late Friday night, and a doughnut and coffee just are not going to cut it, what do you do?

Hit the Farmers Market in Old Town Temecula and find your way to the Firehouse BBQ stand and ask for a couple barbecued sausage sandwiches. The sausage is a little salty, and smoky with the tang of the BBQ sauce on a sweet roll, the perfect breakfast food. They hit the spot in only a way that good barbecue can, and are cheap to boot.

Pete Lent manning his booth at the Farmers Market. Photo by Crispin Courtenay

How good are they?

I had to pry the remnants of one, out of my taste testers hand…and I could see why. It was the perfect breakfast food. The only thing that would have made it better was an ice cold lager.

Pete’s Firehouse BBQ is like many well meaning projects started by a man finding himself with a little extra time on his hands, it has grow beyond all original expectations. It’s success is causing a little consternation on Pete’s part in order to stay ahead of the growth and try to be many places at one time. These are nice problems to have, if the BBQ business was all he did, however Pete is a full-time employee of the fire department, so there is a definite juggling act trying to manage his time. The business is operated by Pete and his wife Melissa.

Pete has been cooking barbecue food for years. Spured on by family and friends he started competing about a year and a half ago, and has been placing very well in a field of well-entrenched competitors.

During competitions Pete noticed that he had noticeably longer lines than his competitors, which lead him to believe that he might be able to make a little money by offering his food for sale. He started catering for smaller events, and now has the capacity to cater for groups of 25 – 200. A few months ago Pete’s Firehouse BBQ took to the Old Town Farmers Market, and can be found there most weekends when there are no local BBQ Competitions.

As the result of the recent BBQ Competition at Oak Mountain Winery Pete’s Firehouse BBQ has been invited back to cook for the next two weekends from 12:00 – 5:00. This is great news, as you can enjoy the BBQ without the market crowds, take in the great vista and sip on some very nice wine. Oak Mountain’s gain, is the Market’s loss, as Firehouse BBQ can currently only field one event at a time.

Pete’s Firehouse BBQ takes their show on the road every Saturday to the Temecula Farmers Market. The real action begins around 6:00pm the night before. That’s when the Trager smoker is loaded with up to 120 pounds of brisket and pork shoulder. The cooking process takes between 11 – 14 hours.

The resulting barbecue is moist and tender with a delicate smoke which is by no means overpowering. This is a result of using a 50-50 blend of hickory and apple wood pellets.

Trager BBQ and Smoke Box

Now this is one cool unit, and Pete Lent happens to be the local distributor. It is fired completely by wood pellets, which themselves are completely recycled from hardwood sawdust. The wood pellets are placed in a hopper which are drawn down to a firebox by an auger. The firebox is maintained at a predetermined temperature which is maintained automatically by the electronic controls. The unit is unique as it has a very low 250 degree temperature smoke range, which can be increased to 450 degrees for high temperature cooking. Residential units start at $399 and go to $1,999, which is easily comparable to any well built traditional BBQ.

Localvore and Realist

When Firehouse BBQ began selling food at the market, they offered whole wheat and potato flour buns. No one wanted these healthy choices, everyone was demanding plain white bread. Rather than fight his customers, Pete gave them what they wanted.

The beef and pork used for Firehouse BBQ is sourced all the way from the table next to his at the market. The cattle are raised in Wildomar, at MM Livestock Company and the pigs are raised further North, closer to a processing facility by the same owner. Pete has looked at using free range chicken, however the price would be prohibitive, so he relented and uses standard chicken for his sandwiches. Lettuce and veggies are sourced from the market that day when in season.

Dry Rubs

When Pete started entering BBQ Competitions, he made his own dry rubs. These quickly proved as popular as the BBQ he cooks. Two styles are currently available: Santa Maria Style which is a savory rub and is great on beef (my photo) and Original Style, which is a sweet rub, great for pork and chicken.

Want to know the secret ingredients?

Well there are none, all ingredients are listed on the side of the containers.

As this article was going to press I received a note from Pete:

“I just learned this morning that our Pete’s Firehouse Rub (original)was used by the BBQ team that won the “Grand Championship” award at the Stagecoach Music Festival BBQ Competition on Saturday. This is a very big win for our products.”

On to the Food!

We sampled the works, as Taste of Temecula is not well known for moderation!

Bring an appetite, as these are 1/3 pound sandwiches, and when you add baked beans and coleslaw, you will need room.

Here is the works for the taste test. Photo by Crispin Courtenay

Beef Brisket

Another interesting factoid. Pete uses the marinade from John E. Burns, another neighboring vendor at the market to marinade all of his brisket. He also uses the sauces as his house BBQ sauce. The meat is fork tender with a nice smokiness. Served with coleslaw on top, which simply rocks.

Pulled Pork Taco or Sandwich

Tough call which was better the pork or the beef, I had both, so I can avoid the hard call.

Smoked Chicken Taco

This is some of the softest chicken you will ever have the pleasure of eating, served with a chipotle mayo that has a little kick, again with coleslaw in the taco.

Sausage Sandwich

The aforementioned now infamous smoked sausage.

Home made coleslaw

It’s better than the one your Mother makes!

Smoked Pork and Beans

Fantastic  we had to ask for seconds. Hint of sweetness, with truly awesome smoked pork.

All sandwiches are served without BBQ sauce as this style of BBQ does not require a sauce. However a regular and spicy sauce are available for all your saucy goodness…don’t worry, Pete won’t judge you.

All items are available gluten free or even in a lettuce wrap.

Want to enjoy Pete’s food at home. Everything is available to be purchased by the pound and is an excellent value.

Can’t decide?

That’s ok, they give out free samples, hard to go wrong with ‘free’, and taste before you buy mentality.

What’s the difference between Pete’s Firehouse BBQ’s competition barbecue and what he serves at the market?

Pete was very candid: “MSG. Competition Judges look for a certain taste profile and an injection of a marinade containing MSG is what they will rank higher.

Visit Pete’s BBQ at the market or at Oak Mountain this weekend, or even see him at Field to Fork.

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