Is Big Nugg a Chicken McNugget's big brother?
That idle thought was quickly dispelled when I arrived in Big Nugg BBQ Company’s sit-down dining area inside (next to the meat section) and met Eric Dorman, chief cook and proprietor. A barrel-chested husky Dorman told me with a rueful grin, "It's a high school nickname that I couldn't shake."
After high school, Dorman's next stop was culinary school.
"Ever since I was a kid, I really got a kick out of barbecuing,” he said. “It's pretty much been a constant in my life."
Growing up, Dorman had friendly barbecue competitions with his father.
"The proof was always in the taste test,” he said
The competition made for delicate, suspenseful moments in the father-son relationship, Dorman remembers.
"But I knew I was onto something when my dad, who'd won professional barbecue cookoffs himself, stood a moment after trying a dry-rub formula I came up with--and still use around here, and told me, 'Boy, you're onto something,'" he said.
Dorman researched, experimented, and road-tested many more sauces and dry rubs out on the professional BBQ competition circuit and won several. Today, the proof is still in the taste.
The original "Q" sauce continues to be a hit with Dixonites. And now Dorman has added a spicier Chipotle Q sauce option along with the dry rubs (various dry powders composed of a secret mix of spices rubbed into raw meat before hours of slow-cooked BBQ goodness ensue in Big Nugg's custom-built wood-fired broiler parked out front).
Speaking of meat, Dorman declares, "If I won't eat it, I won't serve it."
Harris Ranch provides 80 percent of the raw cuts that make up the Big Nugg menu. From pork spare ribs to pulled pork, BBQ chicken and hot links, to a huge range of sandwiches, the organic-fed, free range Harris Ranch meat perfectly complements Big Nugg's sauce and dry rub concoctions. Dorman also deals with Dixon-area ranchers for specialty cuts.
Asked what the secret ingredient he's spent so many years perfecting could be, Dorman shrugs his beefy shoulders, allows a little smirk to twitch and replies authoritatively, "Love."
By the way, the Big Nugg sit-down dining area is probably the only one-stop place in Dixon where a husband can enjoy a leisurely BBQ repast while his wife grocery shops.
Big Nugg also provides catering service throughout the Greater Dixon Area. More information available: www.bignuggbbq.com
Big Nugg BBQ Company
925 North Adams Street
(Inside Hometown Market)
Hours of Operation:
9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Monday - Friday; 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Saturday