Saugerties’ Legal Swine offers good food, but no country music

Desi Dutcher and a sample of his ’cue. (Photo by Christina Coulter)

Longtime Glasco resident and mobile barbecue purveyor Desi Dutcher has expanded his operation from catering gigs and a parked food truck in the Twin Maples area of Saugerties to a permanent storefront on Route 9W. The old Riverside Pizza, where Dutcher worked as a delivery driver as a teenager, is now furnished throughout with pig-oriented décor.

“For years I’ve been collecting pig and barbecue memorabilia because I knew for years that I’d open a barbecue place,” said Dutcher. “I’ve been an attorney for 13 years and I’ve been barbequing for 15. I would cook for my family and it was very well-received. I was already an attorney and suddenly the food truck craze hit — I didn’t have the money to open a restaurant, but I had enough for a food truck.”

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When Dutcher slathered that new food truck, now parked in front of the restaurant, with red paint six years ago, he named his business “Legal Swine BBQ” to combine his two passions.

“I had a friend who was going to invest in the food truck business,” Dutcher said. He gave me my food truck that I have now. He ultimately passed away before the business started. But I always say I wouldn’t have this business today without his help. That is why I have ‘In Memory of Jimmy Gantz’ on the side of the truck.”

To further the legal/barbecue theme, sandwiches on the menu include “The Violation,” an order of brisket and a hot link; “The Misdemeanor,” which consists of brisket and some of Dutcher’s home-cured pastrami; and “The Felony,” which includes all three items.

Also on the menu are gigantic, family-style platters: for $100, a group of people (or one — they don’t judge) can share a full rack of ribs, a pound of brisket, a pound of pulled pork, four pieces of chicken, four hot links, eight pieces of cornbread, a side order of Dutcher’s spicy kimchi pickles, a choice of four additional medium sides or two large sides and all three of the establishment’s original sauces. A half-sized version is also available for those who may be slightly less hungry.

“I’ve never been to a barbecue place where you can get one of everything they have on one platter,” said Dutcher. “I love making things that make people say, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s huge.’”

According to Dutcher, about 80 percent of the restaurant’s traffic consists of takeout orders. All of his recipes are written down, with the exclusion of his sauces and rubs, which are the integral element of his cooking. He is a self-taught cook who only started researching barbecue because he was unsure if he’d “ever had a good rib.” He then bought a cheap smoker at Lowe’s and started cooking, initially with limited success. The perfection of his recipes started with the adjustment of his dishes for his family, not all of whom shared his penchant for the wildly spicy.

“I like things really spicy, but [my mother] likes nothing spicy,” said Dutcher. “I adjusted my recipe over and over until she liked it. They’re very sweet and commercially friendly. They’re an ‘Everybody Rib.’”

Because barbecue is cooked in large portions, Dutcher was always left with more food to distribute among his friends and family, which ultimately exposed a larger and larger sphere of people in the area to his cooking. This led to the catering events, of which he estimates he’s had over a hundred, the food truck and eventually the storefront.

A family reunion to Tennessee during his formative barbecuing years led Dutcher to explore the south, cherrypicking from the gamut of barbecue styles that he utilizes in Glasco today.

“Some people ask, ‘What kind of barbecue do you do?’ I do a Texas brisket with salt, pepper and garlic and let the brisket speak for itself. My pulled pork, which is on the sweeter side and my ribs are Kansas City style — they believe in a sweet, ketchup-based barbecue sauce. I pick and choose different methods for each food. North Carolina into an east and west — the spicy sauce comes from the west and the mustard sauce came from the east.”

Dutcher’s sides include a red wine vinegar cole slaw — “I’m not a big coleslaw eater and I hate when you get that white puddle on the bottom” — baked beans with hunks of brisket, bourbon corn and macaroni and cheese with a Parmesan Goldfish crust. He attributes the success of his recipes to only cooking things that he would eat himself and his mastery of the “smoke ring,” that prized layer of red under the “bark,” or crust, in slow-smoked meats.

“The smoke ring tells you that it’s actually barbecue,” said Dutcher. “Sometimes people will come in and see pink chicken and think it’s undercooked — the smoke ring shows you that it’s real, true barbecue. I want to come up with a rhyme or something so it says something about the smoke ring so they know the food is cooked.”

The storefront plans to launch an ordering app within the coming weeks — as of now, food can be ordered and catering dates can be set by calling the establishment at (845) 444-2233 or visiting the Legal Swine BBQ Facebook page.

“We’re pretty proud of what we do here, I would say,” said Dutcher. “The only thing I won’t do is play country music here. It drives my wife crazy — she always says, ‘You have a barbecue place, you need to play country.”

There are 2 comments

  1. Steven L Fornal

    By virtue of Desi Dutcher’s stance on not playing country music alone, I’ll be trying his BBQ ASAP!

  2. James Kropp

    I’ve had his BBQ at the store, VERY good!!
    When I’m not making my own pulled pork, I get his….
    Jim K

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