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Big Cypress couple makes dough with fall-off-the-bone barbecue

Hoggin n Boggin01BIG CYPRESS — Fledgling catering company Hoggin & Boggin Bar-B-Q is off to sweet success and not just for its tangy, mouthwatering barbecue sauce. The Tribal-family owned business’ potato salad, baked beans and frybread are just as tasty.

Here’s the proof: Tribal members and employees went back for seconds and thirds of the fall-off-the-bone pork ribs and cut-with-a-fork beef brisket at a recent Big Cypress community meeting.

“Seriously, this is good. Like, really good,” said Information Technology tech Jean Hyacinth.

Residents and tourists lined up a dozen deep for lunch and dinner at the Big Cypress 118th Anniversary Celebration. And most recently at the Big Cypress Shootout – Second Seminole War Reenactment, the meat, cooked to perfection in a 20-foot smoker painted with a pig’s face, was dished out steady and sure.

Owner Osceola Billie and manager Melanie Turtle, of the Big Cypress Reservation, admit they did not expect to become popular so fast. For the couple, who are raising nine children together, cooking has always been a matter of necessity.

“Barbecue is what we do for our family birthdays. When you have nine children, that’s a lot of birthday barbecues,” Turtle said.

Billie dreamed for years about launching a barbecue business but did not take steps needed to become a Tribal food vendor until he was ready to make it happen. In 2013, he completed all necessary certifications just in time to fire up grills at the Big Cypress 117th Anniversary Celebration.

Armed with a small grill for burgers, a large grill and the much larger smoker, Billie added more gigs at Miccosukee events in Trail. His secret ingredients are no secret at all – Everglades seasoning and seasoned salt. The trick is immeasurable – seriously. Billie does not use spoons or capfuls of anything – he simply sprinkles flavoring until he stops.

Patience is the answer to perfect meat.

“I put the meat on the grill and close it like an oven. The slower it cooks, the more tender it is and the more it falls off the bone,” Billie said.

Turtle credits her aunt Sharon Osceola for her side dishes.

White potatoes mixed with a zesty sauce and sweet pickles hits the mark for creamy potato salad. A little bit of brown sugar and a handful of bacon makes her signature baked beans a must for every plate.

But Hoggin & Boggin would not be completely family inspired without aunt Beverly Alumbaugh’s dessert-quality butternut squash frybread.

“Aunt Betty boils the squash, peels, purees and sweetens it, then adds it to ordinary dough for nothing like the ordinary,” Turtle said.

Billie said starting the company was based on his own family traditions. He grew up helping his grandparents and uncles cater plenty of barbecue parties for friends and family in Trail.

“I was slowly learning and getting better the whole time. I knew you have to start off with oak wood and cypress wood. The rest has become instinct,” Billie said.

Through February, the company was to provide on-the-scene barbecue at Brighton Field Days and a Big Cypress Preschool fundraiser, at which all proceeds were to be donated to the school.

For more information about Hoggin & Boggin Bar-B-Q, call 863-233-9502.