Whether you were dining inside or taking the drive-thru at Dan's BBQ Express, there were three things that always stood out about the homey little eatery: the tantalizing, unmistakable aroma of smokehouse barbecue; the friendly staff; and of course, delicious, mouth-watering barbecue and side dishes.
Dan's BBQ was a popular restaurant on Country Club Road that flourished for more than 15 years and closed down in December when the owners retired.
Owners Dan and Ruth Williamson had a philosophy about their eatery and it served them (and their customers) well: "We would never serve you anything we wouldn't eat ourselves. We pride ourselves on mouth-watering meals served with smiles and friendly service!"
Patriotic decor graced the inside of the restaurant and messages celebrating America would often adorn the outdoor marquee.
Menu items ranged from pulled pork, brisket, sausage, and other smokehouse specialties; stuffed potatoes; sandwiches; family dinners; and other popular items such as baked beans, potato soup, green beans, cole slaw, and 10-bean soup.
How friendly were the owners and staff? They would often tell their customers to "bring your pups through our drive-thru for a special treat!"
The end of the restaurant didn't have to also be an end to great food from Dan's BBQ because the owners were gracious enough to share some of their most popular recipes with the world.
Here are a few of them. Maybe you'll make these in your own home while taking a trip down memory lane and recalling with fondness the cozy little eatery in south Lake Charles that served up barbecue with a smile and a little dose of patriotism for so many years.
RECREATE THESE DAN'S BBQ EXPRESS FAVORITES IN YOUR KITCHEN KITCHEN
1⁄2 cup sugar
21⁄4 tbsp lemon juice
11⁄2 tbsp white vinegar
1⁄8 tsp black pepper
2 10-oz bags shredded cabbage
1⁄4 cup milk
1⁄4 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 tsp salt
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
Directions: In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except mayonnaise and cabbage. Whisk ingredients together, add mayonnaise, and keep whisking until there are no lumps. Add cabbage and toss together. Chill for a few hours. Toss before serving.
1 tbsp beef base
1⁄2 cup half and half
1⁄2 cup sour cream
6 medium potatoes (5 pounds, peeled and chopped)
6 cups water
1 stick butter
1 tbsp salt
1⁄2 tsp black pepper
Directions: Combine the first six ingredients in a large pot and cover. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are soft. Turn off heat. Whisk together half and half and sour cream in large bowl. Add 1⁄2 cup of hot potato liquid to the bowl, stir, add another 1⁄2 cup until cold mixture has warmed up. Then slowly add that mixture back to the soup, stirring constantly. If you want creamier soup, break up potato chunks as you stir.
1 can whole green beans
1⁄4 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp cooked bacon, crumbled
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp water
salt and pepper
Directions: In a Teflon skillet, saute onions in butter, add bacon, cook until onions are wilted. Remove pan from heat, add vinegar, sugar and water. Stir until mixed. Return to medium heat, add drained green beans. Using tongs, toss green beans in saute mixture until beans are hot.
1 pound King's Original 10-Bean Soup Mix
2 tbsp Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
2 tbsp parsley flakes
2 ham hocks
1 10-ounce beer
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups celery
2 cloves garlic
2 cans stewed tomatoes
2 whole jalapeno peppers
2 mild banana peppers
1 pound sausage, sliced
1⁄2 pound raw deboned chicken, diced
Directions: Wash and drain beans. Combine beans, 7 cups water, beer, ham hocks, Tony Chachere's seasoning, and parsley flakes in large gumbo or soup pot. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Finely chop onions, celery, and garlic and add to soup. Dice stewed tomatoes, removing cores and add to pot along with peppers. Simmer covered for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Before adding remainder of meat, remove ham hocks and trim off fat and bone. Also remove peppers. Return ham meat to soup with bite-sized pieces of sausage and chicken. Simmer about 11⁄2 hours or until beans are soft. Serve Cajun style over rice.
16 oz Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce
8 oz apple cider
Directions: Pour both ingredients into a bowl. Use some of the apple cider to rinse the last of the barbecue sauce out of the bottle. Whisk together until blended. (It's a two-to-one ratio. Two parts Sweet Baby Ray's Sauce and one part apple cider.) If you use apple juice, it will be sweeter and thinner.