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Kitchen Stock | May/June 2023

Cowboy approved recipes used by our favorite country cooks.

In the kitchen with Brian and Kathy Brandt, Mustang Sally BBQ of Marshall, Minn.

Tell us about yourself.

"We are Brian and Kathy Brandt of Mustang Sally BBQ. We are a bit different from the great farm and ranch cooks usually featured in Kitchen Stock, but our roots run deep in farming and agriculture. Brian grew up near Truman, Minnesota, on a crop and sheep farm, raising and showing four breeds of purebred sheep. He has an animal science degree from North Dakota State University and retired from a 35-year career in agricultural lending. Kathy was raised on a crop and beef farm near Clearbrook, Minnesota. Her brother, Kelly Nordlund, and nephews, Mike and Sam, operate Nordlund Stock Farm, raising Red and Black Angus. She has a home economics education degree and Master of Education degree from the University of Minnesota. Prior to her retirement, Kathy managed the Schwan Food Company test kitchen and finished a 25-year career with the University of Minnesota Extension as a food safety educator."

How did you get started in the BBQ business?

"Our BBQ journey began in 2007. Brian helped organize a Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) contest at the local university and we were hooked! We cooked in over 60 contests in the upper Midwest before retiring from competition in 2021. Being both lucky and skilled enough to win multiple grand and reserve grand championships we were invited to the American Royal World Series of BBQ contest in Kansas City, Missouri. This is the largest contest in the world with nearly 600 teams competing where we finished 12th in the world in the pork category. KCBS contests consist of cooking chicken, pork ribs, pork shoulder, and beef brisket; all smoked and presented within a specified 90-minute window of time to certified BBQ judges.

Giving back to our community has always been important. We have donated numerous BBQ dinner parties to Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) arts, music, and athletics programs and have helped raise over $75,000 in college scholarships for students.

We have since started our own registered Minnesota Cottage Food business called, of course, Mustang Sally BBQ. We sell a line of BBQ seasonings as well as savory and sweet treats like smoked nuts and truffles. We enjoy coming up with new ideas to test out and share with others."

What is your least favorite job in the kitchen?

"In the kitchen or at a BBQ contest…it’s always cleanup!"

What is your most requested dish?

"Kathy’s family recipe for Swedish meatballs is a family favorite especially at Christmas and Brian’s smoked meatloaf and brisket are always on the request list. Because meatballs, smoked meatloaf and brisket are favorites to eat, they’re also favorites to make!"

What is your favorite cooking tip/trick?

"Everyone has favorite recipes but don’t be afraid to experiment a little. Have fun and try different things! Take notes when trying something new so that the tweaks you make are written down for the next time. And…have a reliable thermometer!"

Where did you learn to cook?

"We both had mothers who were great cooks. Growing up on farms, there were always meals to make and goodies to bake. Starting at a very young age, Kathy worked alongside her mom daily and this allowed for lots of practice. She’s an experienced, excellent cook and baker. Growing up Brian was more involved with chores and farming, so he didn’t spend much time with food prep. Over his adult years he’s developed into an excellent pitmaster, cook, and baker."

We hope you have fun with our recipes during grilling season!

Photos courtesy Brian and Kathy Brandt

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