Saturday, November 26, 2005

I'm adding a new feature to my bbq web site this week: "The BBQ Guy's U.S. Barbecue Stock Index".

This stock index was contrived by to formulate a methodology for tracking the overall health of the barbecue hobby comprised of industries and companies that have a direct impact on the recreational back-yard barbecue cook, barbecue restauranteurs, and serious competition barbecue cooks. has taken a seat-of-the-pants approach to researching the twelve stocks that comprise the "The BBQ Guy's U.S. Barbecue Stock Index" based on years of experience in preparing barbecue, eating barbecue and researching the viability of the barbecue industry. Based on this highly unscientific research, the following stocks have been identified as significant indicators of the barbecue industry as a whole.

U.S. Barbecue Index
(Provided courtesy

Archer Daniels Midland................$ 24.52
Clorox Company............................$ 54.29
Darden Restaurants......................$ 36.09
Famous Dave's of America...........$ 10.93
Fleetwood Enterprises..................$ 11.13
H.J. Heinz Company......................$ 35.70
Hormel Foods Corporation...........$ 32.62
Pilgrim's Pride Corporation..........$ 31.97
Seaboard Corporation...................$1,685.00
Smithfield Foods............................$ 30.38
Tyson Foods...................................$ 16.78
Wal-Mart Stores............................$ 50.49
Index Total...........................$2,019.90

Be sure to check-in at for periodic updates.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Famous Dave’s
36601 Warren Road
Westland, MI 48185
(734) 595-1000

After a quick visit to the Westland Mall on 11/25/05, my wife Linda and I stopped by the Famous Dave’s restaurant for lunch.

As we entered the front door, we immediately noticed that the interior decorators had gone to a great deal of trouble in an attempt to duplicate the atmosphere one might discover in a bon-a-fide southern-style BBQ place, even though most of the items appeared to be reproduction items. I’m sure it’s hard to find genuine southern artifacts for display like that, but some of the items were obvious store-bought wannabe antiques.

We were greeted by the hostess and seated at a booth in the front dining room. The booths, tables and chairs in the dining room were made of wood and covered in red and white vinyl checker table cloths and floor was very clean. The numerous windows let in lots of natural sunlight and made a very pleasant impression. The dining room was filled with blues music emanating from several stereo speakers mounted strategically throughout the dining room. Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimmy Vaughn, Buddy Guy, B.B. King and Albert Collins were some of the artists I recognized.

Linda made a comment to me that for a bbq restaurant there was an absence of any smokey aroma she expected. When the waitress arrived at the table after we’d been seated a short time, Linda asked, “How come I don’t smell any smoke?” The waitress replied, “Did you want to set in the smoking section?” Neither Linda nor I smoke cigarettes, but after Linda explained that she was referring to bbq smoke from burning wood or charcoal, the waitress struggled to explain that she shouldn’t expect to “smell” smoke because the smoker was “in the back”. I think the waitress missed the point of the question entirely, but after a period of awkward silence and Linda trying to explain that she thought bbq cooked with burning wood or charcoal would produce at least some amount of smoke fragrance, we proceeded to place our order.

The waitress did an excellent job explaining the main menu items and accompanying side order choices. The restaurant menu has a lunch section and a dinner section, but customers can order from either one. The waitress explained that the lunch items are served in smaller portion sizes and are slightly less expensive. Famous Dave’s offers appetizers, soups, salads, fish, burgers in addition to the “classic” bbq items. The “All-American BBQ Feast” serves 4-5 people for $53 and the menu also detailed a ”Feast for Two” for $30 in addition to various other combinations annotated as “combos”.

Linda chose the “Georgia Chopped Pork” sandwich and I ordered the “Texas Beef Brisket”. Side choices included corn bread muffin, potato salad, creamy coleslaw, corn-on-the-cob, fries, apples, baked potato or beans. We both had the beans, and I added potato salad.

As we waited for our order we sampled the selection of sauces on the table which included traditional Heinz ketchup, “Devil’s Spit”, “Texas Style”, “Georgia Mustard”, “Rich and Sassy” and “Sweet and Sassy”. I liked the two sassy selections best.

After just a very few minutes the waitress brought our meals. The chopped pork was served on a traditional hamburger bun and sauced with the “Sweet and Sassy” barbecue sauce. My brisket slices were served on a slice of Texas toast, with a little “Rich and Sassy” barbecue sauce on top, and accompanied by a corn muffin and corn-on-the-cob in addition to the potato salad and beans I ordered. The chopped pork sandwich looked very tasty and Linda confirmed that it exceeded what she has come to expect from a commercial bbq restaurant. My sliced brisket was a little different from what I would cook at home and had no visible “bark” or bbq spice rub whatsoever, but it was good nonetheless. We were both satisfied with the meal and agreed that it’s head and shoulders above any other barbecue we’ve sampled since moving to the Detroit area.

The waitress brought Coke and Diet Coke refills without us having to ask and the receipt totalled $21. We left a $3 tip and left, pleasantly surprised.

On a scale of 1 through 10, I’d rate the overall dining experience an “8.5″ and the barbecue as “good”. Linda made several positive comments on the way back to the truck regarding the good quality of service provided by the waitress.

Brian Pearcy
“The BBQ Guy”
Member Kansas City Barbecue Society
Member Florida Barbecue Association

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Do you have BBQ contest fever?

If you've every considered competing in a bbq contest I would encourage you to jump in and try it out. You'll have fun, you'll meet a lot of people, and you'll challenge yourself to improve you bbq cooking abilities. Best of'll give an excuse to cook more often, because you're going to need to practice a lot. The neighbors will love you for it because there will be lots and lots of leftovers from the practice cooks and from the contests.

You don't have to spend a lot of money to do it either. A Weber Smokey Mountain and a kettle grill or two will get you started. A low budget set-up would be to purchase 2 WSM's and use your kettle grill for chicken, or if you're already an avid qu'er, you could purchase a Backwoods Party or Competitor Model.

I use a Backwoods Party and a WSM, with pretty good results. I've placed well in some contests and can honestly say that I doubt if the cooker has very much to do with the quality of my contest results. I need to better utilize those cookers to their fullest potential.

My wife and I got started with a total cash outlay of about $1,500 and then budgeted about $500 per contest for entry fees, gas, meals, and contest meat. In the beginning, the odds of winning grand champion are not very good unless you're on top of your game, should have some fun and learn alot. Best of all, you'll meet a lot of really nice people.
BBQ Contest Cooking Schedule

For those that aren't familar with the level detail that goes into preparing for a bbq contest, I wanted to share the schedule we use to ensure that our contest entries are ready for the judges on time. The schedule below is a guideline we use at KCBS contests. Like any schedule, it's a guideline and not necessarily the exact step-by-step method we might use, but it's very close.


8:00 Arrive
9:00 Set-up
12:00 Prep Meat
2:00 Purchase Ice
4:00 Attend Cook's Meeting
5:00 Eat Supper
6:00 Get some rest
10:30 Start cooker



12:15 Begin Cooking Briskets
1:15 Begin Cooking Pork Butts
3:00 Spray Apple Juice on Briskets
4:00 Spray Apple Juice on Briskets
5:00 Spray Apple Juice on Briskets
6:45 Light Fire for Backwoods to Cook Chicken
6:00 Wrap Butts at 160-165 degrees (5 hours max)
6:15 Wrap Brisket at 165-170 degrees (6 hours max)
7:40 Begin Cooking Ribs
8:30 Prepare Lettuce and Parsley for Turn-in Boxes
9:10 Foil ribs (w/juice, meat side down)
9:15 Begin Cooking 12 chicken Thighs (biggest)
9:30 Begin Cooking 12 chicken Thighs (smallest)
10:15 Turn ribs meat side up, add dark brown sugar in foil
11:00 Sauce Chicken Thighs (target temp is 150 degrees)
11:10 Check ribs for doneness
11:15 Heat Rib Sauce
11:30 Unfoil ribs and sauce, low heat
11:45 Prep Chicken Turn-in Box
11:50 Sauce Ribs
12:00 Turn-in Chicken
12:10 Heat Brisket Sauce
12:15 Slice Ribs and Prepare Rib Turn-in Box
12:20 Make Pork Butt Sauce
12:30 Turn-in Ribs
12:45 Prep Pork Butt Turn-in Box
1:00 Turn-in Pork Butts
1:15 Prep Brisket Turn-in Box
1:30 Turn-in Brisket
2:00 Pack and Load to prepare for returning home

If there's ice cream available, we usually eat a big helping after everything is done. It really hits the spot in hot weather.
First Snowfall

We had our first significant snow fall yesterday and today the wind is gusting between 20 and 40 mph. It's a winter blast just in time for the weekend.

We usually deep fry the turkey, but this year we're going to try something different. Rather than tracking snow into the house today by cooking outside, I've decided to do what most folks do and cook the turkey in the oven.

To get my barbecue fix for today I think I'll watch a barbecue video or two.

Be sure to check them out on the catalog page of

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Turkey Dinner

Thinking back to my days of listening to University of Tennessee football on the car radio while working at the car dealership on Saturdays, I recall hearing their long time play-by-play commentator, John Ward, say this during the introduction for every broadcast......It's TURKEY TIME across America!

Or, was that FOOTBALL TIME in Tennessee? (I know, I know, it's been a rough football year in the Volunteer State, but I'm not giving up on them.)

We've thawed the turkey, washed the turkey, made the brine, chilled the brine; and we're getting ready to let the osmosis process begin as the turkey soaks in the brine solution overnight. We're going through all this effort so the turkey will be full of flavor for cooking tomorrow, or maybe it's just so I have something to do and get a few brownie points with Linda--you tell me.

Hope you have an enjoyable Thanksgiving Holiday and enjoy your turkey, ham, or other main course of choice before watching football all afternoon!


Brian and Linda

Monday, November 21, 2005

Outdoor Cooking Group

I know this isn't strictly a bbq group, but it's a kindred cooking method -- dutch ovens. I have a cast iron dutch oven from Lodge that I received as a gift last year. I really enjoy cooking with it.

I was pointed toward this group on Yahoo by someone from the International Dutch Oven Society that used to live in Michigan. There are lots of pictures of dutch oven meals, techniques and recipes.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

BBQ Chicken

I finally got around to the brining experiment with some chicken thighs today.

(The picture on the right is a practice presentation and not an acutal competition turn-in box.)

I did some with a kosher salt, pickle spice, bay leaves, tender quick, honey brine and some more with a kosher salt, sugar, cloves, molasses, bay leaves, oregano, black pepper brine. I brined them both for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Both versions were decent, but I think the next time I do the honey brine I will let it soak in the brine about 15 - 20 minutes longer and see if that gives it a more intense flavor.

I rinsed the thighs thoroughly before cooking and cooked them in my WSM sans water in the water pan. I just put foil over the empty water pan (to catch the drippings) and cooked for 1 hour and 30 minutes (169-170 degree internal meat temperature). Next time I'm going to experiment with skin side down for the first 30 minutes of the cook to see what effect that has on the skin.

So far my experimentation with brines has not provided the skin texture I'm looking for, but I'm going to keep tweaking until I hit on the right combination.

I'll post updates from time to time.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Insulated, upright, barbecue cookers

I knew this day was coming. I've braced myself for it since April 30 (the last cold day here in my part of Southeast Michigan). It was 19 degrees last night with snow flurries and I don't think it was much more than 25 degrees for a high temperature today.

Weather like this would make it pretty near impossible to do much barbecuing with a log burner offset cooker. For cold weather barbecue cooking, it's pretty hard to beat an insulated cooker; and better yet, an upright insulated cooker.

I'm not a scientist, but it didn't take me long to figure out that cookers with the heat source below the cooking grates are more efficient than cookers with the heat source adjacent (offset) to the cooking grates.

I can cook pork butts or briskets on about 10 lbs of charcoal for 9 or 10 hours using sand in the water pan and with water in the pan it takes around 13-14 lbs of charcoal.

Last winter I cooked several briskets in temperatures near 10 degrees with little trouble. If you are in the market for a new cooker for next year's competition season, be sure to check out the insulated cookers on the market: Backwoods, Stumps, and Dominizer are a few of the ones I am familar with and I'm sure there are others. Give them a serious look. You won't regret it.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

BBQ Spice Rub Distributors Needed

I have a business proposition for you. Whether you are a bbq contest competitor, backyard cook, promoter of bbq books or other bbq products; becoming a distributor for the "Original Spice Rub" should help diversify sales revenues and increase your profitability.

Our goal is to add from 3 to 5 additional distributors by year end.

Here are the details of my proposal:

• The 13 oz. bottles include a professionally designed product label that contains an ingredients list and a nutrition statement.
• I will provide my bbq rub to you at a wholesale discount price so that you can mark it up and sell it for a profit.
• Similarly packaged bbq spice rub products are currently being sold by retailers for anywhere between $9.00 and $12.00 per bottle.
• The return on investment for this opportunity is tremendous because the product development, packaging, and test marketing has already been conducted. This bbq rub is a proven bbq contest winner.
• There are no territory restrictions, so you can sell it where ever else you want to.
• I plan to add additional products in the future, including a spice rub specially formulated for beef.

I look forward to our partnership and hope that you will agree to be my distributor in your local market.


Brian Pearcy
Member KCBS and FBA

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Brined Chicken:

I'm going to try a chicken brine this weekend. Anyone have a good brine recipe for chicken?