Friday, June 30, 2006

Holiday Weekend BBQ

Like millions of others, I'm cooking bbq this weekend. I put 2 pork butts and three racks of ribs on the smoker at 8:15 p.m. The ribs finished up at 12:30 a.m. and the pork butts were taken off the smoker at 2:30 a.m. before I headed to bed.

I was awakened this morning at 6:30 a.m. by the smell of pork wafting through the house. At some houses it's our house it's pork juice. LOL

It's a tune up for my second contest of the year next weekend in Dundee, MI at Cabela's. It was our favorite contest last year. Not only is it the closest contest to our house in Plymouth, MI, but it was also our most successfull. I can only hope that this year turns out the same, but I'm not counting on it.

After Cabela's we have a week until our third contest of the year in Grand Rapids, MI and after that, it's off to Madison, IN in August.

Happy Fourth of July weekend!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

BBQ Contest Liability Concerns

I'm a member of the Florida Barbecue Association and Kansas City Barbecue Society and have competed in several competitions sanctioned by both organizations. In total, I'd estimate that I've competed in nearly 30 barbecue contests.

When registering for my last few bbq contests, I've noticed a thought provoking trend among contest organizers. Organizers have been including a "waiver of liability" form along with the other entry forms/registration information and the competitors are required to sign it and send it in with the entry fee.

The gist of these "waiver of liability" or "hold harmless" forms is an attempt to release the contest organizers of liability in the even that a competitor, judge, or spectator becomes ill after eating meat cooked at the event, or if spectators, judges, competitors, etc. become injured at the event as a result of the actions of the competitors.

I suspect many competitors sign these forms without even reading them. I must admit that the first few forms like this that I received, I signed without giving them a second thought, much less reading them word for word. These types of "release" forms bring to light an interesting problem for contest cooks.

The goal of many bbq contests is for the bbq contest and it's competitors to "draw" or "attract" spectators to the event. Often the event is in conjunction with a charity fund raising effort sponsored by a local civic organization and in some case the county or city municipal government.

As a non-lawyer and non-legal educated person, it appears that by agreeing to participate in these events and signing the various types of "release" forms, the competitors might be opening themselves up to the potential for liability issues if unfortunate circumstances, accidents, or possibily negligence by a cook or cook team member resulted in an injury or illness.

However, not being someone that likes to bring up the negative side of an issue without offering a solution, I would offer the following thoughts about what the bbq sanctioning bodies can do to help the cook teams, the organizers, the judges, and the spectators.

What about the possibility of the bbq sanctioning body (i.e. KCBS, FBA, MIM, etc.) negotiating a discounted "member" rate for liability insurance that the cook teams could purchase? Perhaps it's feasible that the liability policy would cover the competitors while competing in KCBS events throughout the year, and maybe even provide some benefit for those that also pursue other bbq interests such as catering, vending, instructional cooking seminars, etc.

Perhaps some readers of the bbq blog have experience with these types of insurance provisions whether for bbq contests or based on experience in other endeavors and would like to weigh in on these suggestions and/or add to the dialogue.

Comments/thoughts/e-mails are welcomed.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Grand Rapids Turkey Cook-Off

The Third Annual Grand Rapids Turkey Cook-Off in Grand Rapids, Michigan is scheduled for October 28 at the Marine Reserve Training Center. The event is a charity event benefiting Toys for Tots.

Competition categories include "Open" and "Whole Turkey". The highest combined score wins the contest.

They've added a Junior category this year for younger cookers.

There is a $25 entry fee if you register before October 15. The first 20 teams to send in the registrations and entrance fee will receive a free turkey.

Outdoor Cooking: Dutch Oven Style

I've had a 10-inch Lodge dutch oven for two years now and have really enjoyed learning to cook with it. The popularity of cooking with cast iron is on the rise.

There's even a television show on Sunday's on the RFDTV called Campfire Cafe devoted to the art of cooking with this technique.

Byron's Dutch Oven page is one of the best "how to" dutch oven web sites on the internet. He takes you from start to finish and from beginner to experienced with cooking tips, recipes, pictures and much more.

Here's another web site that has dutch oven movies you can watch online. He even has dutch oven podcasts available for the Apple iPod

Illinois BBQ Society

I received a note today from the Illinois BBQ Society announcing their new Online BBQ Bulletin Board. The web site also has some event pictures from the King City BBQ Showdown and has a 'members only' section chalked full of great information. There is a listing of contest information and hot links to BBQ Teams who compete in Illinois!

Check it out.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Better Barbecue Series: #15, Crispy Chicken Skin

It's hard to tell from the picture, but this chicken turned out very well. I've been on a quest for "bite through" chicken skin and finally found it today.

To recap the "quest" for those that haven't been following along, might be new to the blog, or who just stumbled onto my blog via a link from another barbecue web page, I've tried a lot of different methods for cooking chicken this summer.

I've tried low-and-slow, hot-and-fast, low-and-slow followed by hot-and-fast, brining with low-and-slow, brining with hot-and-fast, spraying with applie juice, spraying with lemon juice, and on and on and on. Just when I thought I'd tried everything, I hit on the answer this afternoon: grilled chicken followed by low-and-slow. It was magical.

Bite Through Chicken Skin:

I grilled the chicken the chicken on a medium hot grill for 3-minutes on each side, then I grilled an additional 2-minutes on each side.

Put the chicken in preheated Backwoods Smoker at 225 degrees for 30 minutes and then opened the draft and let the cooker temperature climb for 30 minutes.

I sauced the chicken after an hour in the Backwoods and the meat temperature was 177 degrees, which is a little hotter than I normally cook chicken, but the results were very, very good. The skin was bite through and not rubbery at all.

I think I've found my new method for chicken. It took a while, but you know what they say...."Good things come to those that wait." I guess that goes for chicken too.

Previous article in series.

BBQ Secrets

St. Louis Cardinals: An Evening at Comerica Ballpark

Jeff Suppan, Cardinal Pitcher

$20 View of Game

$20 Seat at Game

$20 Meal at Game

Detroit's Fox Theatre

I thought I'd share some pictures chronicling our weekend adventures at the Cardinals vs. Tigers game yesterday at Comerican Park in Detroit. I know, I know....there's nothing about bbq in any of them, but it was a great day to take in a ballgame and....I've got some bbq pictures to post a little later on tonight.

I'm a long time Cardinal fan that dates back to Ted Simmons, Keith Hernandez, Jack Clark, Tommy Herr, Darrell Porter, Ozzie Smith, Willie McGee, George Hendrick, Whitey Herzog, Mark McGuire, and the list goes on, an on. So when I learned that the Cardinals were coming to Detroit, I just had to go to the game. And, as luck would have it, the only available tickets were standing room only "seats".

The game didn't turn out as I expected, but we had a great view of the bullpen festivities and for standing room only seats, the view was actually pretty good.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Top BBQ Destinations

Best BBQ Destinations as recorded by for travel destinations booked 6/30/06 through 7/5/06:

CheapTickets Top BBQ Destinations

(Destination and Best BBQ Joint)

1 Atlanta, GA.................. Fat Matt's Rib Shack
2 Charlotte, NC.............. Carolina Country BBQ
3 New Orleans, LA........ ZydeQue
4 Austin, TX................... The Salt Lick
5 Nashville, TN............. Corky's Ribs and BBQ
6 Savannah, GA............ Sweet Leaf Smokery
7 Louisville, KY............. Mark's Feed Store BBQ

I can't vouch for the bbq joints, but it looks like an interesting list of places to go and things to do this summer.

If you've been to any of these locations and would like to share your experience with the readers of the BBQ Blog, we're all ears.

Let 'er Rip!

8th Annual Iowa State Barbecue Championship

I ran across this article from the Times-Republican about the big contest in Marshalltown, IA this weekend. Cooks will be competing for a chance to win $16,000 in total cash and prizes.

It looks like a whole lot of bonafide Midwestern BBQ heavyweights will be there vying for a chance at the championship.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

National Capital Barbecue Battle

The 14th annual National Capital Barbecue Battle will be held June 24 and 25 in Washington, DC. Competitors will be cooking for more than $25,000 in cash and prices and the coveted title of "National Pork BBQ Champion".

Here's the directions to the event.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

BBQ History

If you enjoy television programs about BBQ like I do, then you'll probably want to make note of one The History Channel will be presenting on Wednesday, June 28 at 10 p.m.

The program will feature a history of bbq after World War II and explore America's facination with backyard barbecues. The program guide mentions a visit to Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City and some discussion about barbecue contests.

It sounds like a pretty interesting program for bbq fans.

BBQ Secrets

Monday, June 19, 2006

Plant City Pig Jam

Plan to attend the 4th Annual Plant City Pig Jam State BBQ Championship on Saturday, November 18, 2006 at 10:00 AM in Plant City, FL.

Pig Jam is sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. Contestants will compete for cash and prizes in professional, amateur and kids’ barbecue competitions throughout the event.

Guests will be able to purchase some of the country’s best BBQ ribs, pork, beef brisket and chicken, plus there will be live entertainment, a rock-climbing wall, moonwalks and other activities.

For more information, contact the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce at 813-754-3707, or log on to

BBQ Secrets

Sunday, June 18, 2006

BBQ Taste Test

The summer 2006 issue of Cook's Illustrated includes the results of a bbq taste test they performed recently.

Winners included "Original Rib Style" TEXAS BEST Barbecue Sauce and "Original BBQ Sauce" from Kraft's Bull's Eye line of sauces.

Check out the link to the magazine above to see the list of contenders.

BBQ Secrets

Bulls Eye Barbecue Sauce

I received two 18-ounce bottles of the new Bull's Eye Barbecue Sauce in the mail on Friday.

Bull's Eye recently introduced four new flavors:

Steakhouse BBQ with A.1.
Smokin' Chipotle BBQ
Raging Buffalo BBQ
Sweet & Sticky BBQ Rib Sauce

The folks at Bull's Eye were kind enough to send me complimentary bottles of the Steakhouse BBQ and the Raging Buffalo to try out.

I've been busy this weekend and haven't felt like pulling the grill out for steaks or wings, but it's definitely on my list of "to-do's" real soon.

BBQ Secrets

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Henckels Stainless Steel Meat Cleaver

I can personally vouch for the quality of this Henckels meat cleaver. I've owned one for three years now and love it. I've owned other cleavers, but honestly believe that this may be the last one I ever purchase. It's just that good.

This cleaver chops through joints and bones with ease. The cleaver has a 6-inch forged stainless-steel blade and a black plastic, three-rivet, full-tang handle. The best part--this cleaver has lifetime warranty.

J.A. Henckels has long been known for crafting some of the world's finest cutlery. It's an ideal knife to add to your cutlery collection.

Click here to purchase this meat cleaver.

BBQ Secrets

Organic BBQ Sauce

Most bbq sauces available in the big grocery store chains these days list high fructose corn syrup as a primary ingredient. If you're like me you'd probably like to keep your soda pop separate from your bbq sauce, and that's where Consorzio Organic BBQ Sauce can help.

This bbq sauce was developed by Michael Chiarello of PBS notoriety.

Consorzio products were originally created by renowned Napa Valley chef and author Michael Chiarello of the PBS TV cooking series "Season by Season." The fresh, bold flavors of Michael's Napa Valley home provide the perfect inspiration for his creativity.

Michael first developed flavored olive oils and sold them out of the back door of his restaurant. It wasn't long before local specialty stores became aware of these products and encouraged Michael and his partners to make them widely available.

So, Michael joined forces with a few partners to form Consorzio. (The word "consorzio" means "gathering" in Italian. It is a place where cooks and farmers gather to buy and sell fresh fruits and vegetables.) Their goal was to make all-natural, bold-flavored products that make cooking convenient. Today, Consorzio is the largest producer of flavored olive oil in the U.S., and the line also includes dressings, marinades, and barbecue sauces.

Product Features

-Case of six 12-ounce bottles (total of 72 ounces)

-Bold, tangy, sweet flavor, with just a kick of chile pepper

-Certified organic by Quality Assurance International, all-natural

-Great with chicken, beef, or pork

-Baste with barbecue sauce during last five to 10 minutes of grilling

Label Information

Ingredients: Water, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Tomato Paste, Organic Vinegar, Salt, Organic Spices, Organic Chili Pepper, Natural Smoke Flavor, Caramel Color, Organic Cayenne Pepper. Contains at Least 95% Organic Ingredients.

Directions: Shake well before using. Refrigerate after opening. Discard sauce used to marinade meat. Do not reuse. For Best Results: Baste with sauce during last 5-10 minutes of grill time to avoid burning.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Billy Joe Shaver

I try to keep the posts on this blog bbq related in one way or another, but I've been hunting and pecking on Google tonight and ran across Billy Joe Shaver's website.

He's probably the "Biggest Country Music Artist You've Never Heard Of", a phrase coined by journalist, Dan Rather; and actor Robert Duvall is a big fan of his song writing ability. Billy Joe's music is classified as "Americana" by the music industry and doesn't get much air time on most country music stations.

I recall a 60-Minutes interview with him last year that was really quite profound. Billy Joe has been featured on the popular CMT program "Crossroads" and is currently getting air time on Sirius Satellite radio's Outlaw Country channel 63 for his re-recording of a previous smash hit, now a classic--"I'm Going to Live Forever"--with Big and Rich.

I'll sign off now with words from another of Billy Joe's best-known songs, "Try and Try Again":

"If at first you don’t succeed, just try and try again. If all you do is lose, you better find a way to win. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again."

Hey, what do you know, there's the bbq contest tie in.

Purchase Billy Joe Shaver's music

Grilling Tips

I do not own a propane grill (and have no intention of ever owning one), so this list of grilling safety tips might surprise some of my regular readers, but most of the following list also apply to charcoal grilling; and to low and slow cooking.

From the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association:

1. Position your grill/smoker in open areas away from buildings and high traffic areas.
2. When lighting a gas grill, always keep the lid open.
3. Check propane tank levels before the day of the barbecue.
4. When grilling/smoking, wear clothing that does not have hanging shirt tails, frills or apron strings.
5. Marinate foods ahead of time. Always marinate in the refrigerator, never on the counter.
6. Trim the excess fat from meat to avoid flare-ups.
7. Place vegetables and fruits at the outer edge of the grill to prevent burning.
8. Always use long-handled barbecue utensils to avoid burns and splatters.
9. When grilling/smoking, use tongs or spatulas to move or turn meats instead of a fork to minimize the loss of juices.
10. Use a meat or “instant read” thermometer to ensure meat is cooked thoroughly. As a guideline, poultry 180°F (breasts 170°F); beef, lamb, veal roasts/steaks 145°F to 160°F; any burgers 160°F; all pork 160°F.

A point of additional information for those that regularly cook beef brisket and pork butts/shoulders: the temperature guidelines still apply, but for pulled-pork and tender-sliced brisket, cook those cuts of meat to at least 192 degrees or until tender.

BBQ Secrets

Thursday, June 15, 2006

BBQ Contests

BBQ contest season is well underway and many competitors are gearing up for a busy string of contests during the summer months.

It's never too late to join in the fun! The KCBS Bullsheet and National Barbecue News have extensive listings of scheduled bbq contests and contact information.

Besides entry fees and contest meat, here's a short list of items to put on your bbq packing list, whether it's your first contest, or whether you've done more than fifty. I've posted this list before, but I've added some new items based on some recent experiences.

If you see some I've missed, please let me know.

Ice Chests
Electric cords
Wash Basins
Electric Box Fan
Lawn Chairs
Cutting Boards
Paper Towels
Dish Cloths
Dish Towels
Heavy duty oven BBQ mitts/gloves
BBQ Utensils
Dishwashing Detergent
Sleeping Bags
Extra Change of Clothes (or 2, or 3)
Extra Shoes
Rubber Boots

For a more complete listing of items you might need, Smokin' Guns BBQ has put together a very good contest checklist that you might find helpful.

If you have additional questions, feel free to ask.

Heavy Duty Smokers

I ran across a new bbq web site (new to me at least) today for Heavy Duty Smokers, a competition bbq team from Michigan.

The Heavy Duty Smokers team is comprised of Hayden Powers and Michael Terry. They cook on Big Drum smokers and I believe used to help out with the Great Lakes BBQ and Feed Company contest effort last year.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

BBQ Side Dish - Potato Salad

What's better than a bbq pork sandwich and either a side dish of baked beans or a large helping of potato salad? In my view...a bbq pork sandwich and side orders of both baked beans and potato salad!

The baked beans recipe will have to wait for another day, but I ran across a recipe today in the Wichita Eagle for potato salad that looks good. I haven't had time to try it out yet, but here it is if you'd like to add it to your recipe collection.

Home-Style BBQ Potato Salad

3 lbs. small red potatoes, quartered
½ cup olive oil
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons ground mustard
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups thinly sliced celery
1 cup coarsely chopped red bell pepper
½ cup chopped red onion

Bring potatoes to boil in slightly salted water in large saucepot. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until fork tender. Drain well. Cool slightly.

Mix oil, ketchup, vinegar, mustard, black pepper and salt in large bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Add potatoes, celery, bell pepper and onion; toss gently to coat. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.


Recipe courtesy Witchita Eagle and

The 6/13/06 issue also contains recipes for a Greek pasta salad and deviled eggs.

If you've got a favorite bbq side dish recipe that you would like to share, feel free to post it as a comment, or e-mail me and I'll post it for you.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Better BBQ, Article #14 in a Series

A few simple steps can make a big difference in the results you achieve when cooking bbq for guests or in contests, grilling hamburgers and hotdogs in the backyard for a quick weekend meal, or when cooking for the family on a day-to-day basis.

1. Sort through your cooking items and discard things you no longer use.

One of the biggest frustrations when working in the kitchen is not being able to find the items you need when you need to use them. How many times have you searched for a pot, a pan, a utensil and not been able to find it? Discarding items you no longer want or need, will make it easier to find the things you use regularly.

2. Organize your work area.

For bbq, a plastic shelving unit manufactured by Rubbermaid is perfect. They are available at Home Depot, Sam's Club, Wal-Mart, Targe, etc. Organize the knives, utensils, oven mitts, supplies and materials you regularly use in their rightful place. When you've finished using them, put them back in the same place. It will make finding them easier the next time you need them.

3. Clean up your work area.

There's nothing more unsightly than a sloppy cooking area besides perhaps an unclean cook. Use proper sanitation methods and keep the work area clean. Enough said.

4. Put everything in its place.

Develop a standard and adhere to it. Don't settle for the status quo. Establish a new standard of a tidy, well-kept work area.

5. Maintain the discipline to follow this routine regularly.

After you've followed the previous four steps, this one is easy. Since you taken the time to get organized, establish a regular routine for keeping things that way. Usually that means cleaning up after you've served the meal. Don't let the dirty dishes set around. It will make your guests nervous and it will frustrate you in the long run. Besides, after working all day, who likes to come home to a dirty sink full of dishes?

Read the previous article in the series.

Big Apple BBQ Pictures

My faithful bbq correspondent has come through again. These pictures were taken yesterday at Big Apple BBQ in New York City.

Here's an account of her experiences after one week in NYC.

Howdy everyone!!!

I have survived my first week in New York City. And wow, has it been interesting. I got lost on the subway for the first time, I took a cab at midnight, I saw Kenny Chesney, Diane Sawyer, Charlie Gibson. I met Robin Roberts (she said my accent was cute). I had the most amazing cupcake of my life, and I saw my first Broadway show.

Last night, we saw "Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels", it was a musical about two con men and it was phenomenal!!! Yesterday, we also went to the Big Apple BBQ and you will never believe this, but they were actually running out of BBQ. By 4:30 p.n. there was only one vendor still selling pulled pork (sorry Uncle Brian, but I'm just not a fan of brisket). There were so many people at the BBQ- they had live music and all sorts of other stuff.

Friday night, we went and had wonderful cupcakes at The Magnolia Bakery- I think it is very renowned, rumor has it is has been on the Food Network. After that we went to "The Meat Packing District", which is supposedly a hip area of Manhattan. I found that hilarious, and could not say it with a straight face.

Today we are off to see the World Trade Center and then later tonight, we are going to stake out the red carpet at the Tony Awards, and while I'm not fluent in Broadway goings-on, my roommate tells me Julia Roberts and Oprah will bethere (that sold me).


Like many folks that bbq, I am often caught up in daydreaming about someday arriving to a bbq contest in the latest and greatest luxury coach on the market made by Thor Industries, Winnebago, Fleetwood, or a host of others.

Last summer during a trip to the Gilmore Auto Museum in Hickory Corners, MI (near Kalamazoo) it became apparent just how far designs of recreational vehicles and travel trailers have advanced during the past several decades. This single-axle travel trailer on display at the museum has linoleum on the floor and wood throughout the interior.

Here's a picture of my personal favorite bbq transport vehicle; a beautiful red American Eagle luxury coach.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

BBQ Smokers

The debate over whether offset smokers such as Lang, Klose and Bates are better cookers than upright smokers such as Backwoods and Stump's continues.

I have nothing against either type of cooker. They're all good. Both have their advantages and disadvantages in certain situations.

Let's list some of the advantages shared by the offsets:

- lots of cooking area
- a more "traditional" cooking method
- flexibility for moving meat closer/farther from heat source

Here's some advantages of the upright design:

- more efficient in more types of weather
- heat rises so they reach cooking temps faster
- insulated for cooking in cold weather (Backwoods and Stumps)
- use less fuel per cooking session on average
- once they're hot they stay hot longer
- require less monitoring when cooking

Disadvantages shared by offsets:

- most cost more than uprights, takes more materials to construct them
- big, heavy, require a tow vehicle to transport them more than a few feet
- require a larger area to store them when not in use
- not "ideal" for apartment dwellers
- not ideal for folks that don't own a truck or SUV to tow them with
- you have to haul lots of wood or other fuel with you when cooking
- offsets require closer monitoring when cooking
- possibility for setting the grass on fire is greater (I can attest to this one)
- tires, wheel bearings and maintenance requirements
- since they're often stored outdoors, require painting more often

Some manufacturers have been compensating for some of the disadvantages shared by offsets by relocating the fire box beneath the cooking grates and installing a rotisserie mechanism to "rotate" the meat, but this brings into play an entirely different set of possible downside risks, which I'll save for another post.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Big Apple Barbecue Festival

The BBQ Guy's roving barbecue reporter is at the Kenny Chesney aka "Hillbilly Rockstar" concert at the Good Morning America show as I write this, but plans for tomorrow call for a visit to the Big Apple Barbecue festival in Madison Square Park. Here's an article on the festivities from the New York Sun and another article from the

It sounds like she's having a great time in New York so far. She's trying to stick to the subway as much as possible to conserve funds for eating bbq (priorities you know), but from time to time she has had to resort to cab rides due to time-of-day considerations.

Hopefully if everything goes as planned I should have some pictures from the bbq event posted later this weekend, or by the first of the week at the latest.

She also said something about going to check out Virgil's BBQ near Times Square.

BBQ Secrets

Competition BBQ Trailer

If you're in the market for an enclosed bbq trailer, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind as you shop various manufacturers and trailer styles.

Your main considerations for purchasing your trailer probably fall into two areas: flat bed versus enclosed trailer; and single-axle versus tandem axle.

As a bbq competitor, the enclosed trailer is definitely the way to go based on my personal experience. It offers you a dry place to sleep, a warm place to prep meat and turn-in boxes, and you can lock it up and feel secure when traveling, or if it's parked in a remote location for an extended period of time.

That leaves you with a decision about whether to purchase single-axle or tandem-axle trailer. I've put together a chart (see below) based on my personal observations and thought processes that might help you decide.

I feel that the tandem-axle trailer offers much more stability on the highway, a certain amount of safety if you should have a flat tire (four tires are better than two), and I think they are constructed better overall versus most single-axle trailers I've seen.

To illustrate my point, I was following a single-axle trailer today. I won't mention the manufacturer, but as we approached a railroad tracks at 20 mph I noticed that the driver towing the trailer made no attempt to slow down at all. He didn't touch the brakes even slightly. The trailer actually bounded completely off the ground and then each of the tires took turns skipping off the ground until both tires were safely on the ground after we'd traveled 100 ft or so past the railroad tracks. I hope the trailer was empty because if there was anything in it, I don't even want to guess what shape it's in at this point. I actually thought the trailer was going to turn over. In that situation, a tandem-axle trailer would have been much more stable and all four tires would not have lost contact with the ground.

If you're still undecided, talk to some folks that have driven both types of trailers out on the highway. I think you'll find out real quickly that most people that tow trailers for distances farther than just around town or back and forth to Lowe's and Home Depot are going to recommend the tandem axle trailer every time.

The heavier trailer does require a bigger tow vehicle, but the safety and security are worth it.

BBQ Secrets

Blue Ridge BBQ Festival

Some of the nation's most successful bbq contest pitmasters will make their annual pilgrimage to Tryon, N.C. to compete in the Blue Ridge BBQ Festival for a total purse of $20,000.

History of the event from the web site and here's another article from the Tyon Daily Bulletin.

This contest is on my "dream list" of contests that I hope to attend in the future.

Good luck to all the competitors!

BBQ Secrets

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Illinois BBQ Society

I received a nice e-mail today from Jim Reincke from the Illinois BBQ Society. I've included it below for your reference regarding this new bbq society promoting bbq in Illinois.

I am writing to let you know of a new BBQ group starting in Illinois. The Illinois BBQ Society is launching and open for membership. We do have an online home in development at for anyone interested.

Within the next year, we hope to build our membership, help promote Illinois contests, build awareness for BBQ as a hobby and sport, and even produce the Illinois State BBQ Challenge & Governor's Cup Cook-Off.

Thanks so much for all you do in BBQ!

Jim Reincke
Illinois BBQ Society

I haven't been able to read the entire web site, but at first glance it looks pretty good. I noticed a message board, an events listing, on online store, links page, and some bbq downloads.

BBQ Secrets

Monday, June 05, 2006

New York City BBQ

My niece just started a 2-month internship at the Good Morning America television program in NYC.

She has graciously agreed to provide some guest blog posts regarding her experiences with NYC BBQ from the perspective of southerner that's eaten Tennessee bbq for going on 20 years now.

I am not sure how many NYC readers we have here on the BBQ Blog, but if there are any out there, my niece is looking for some suggestions regarding bbq restaurants she should check out while in the Big Apple.

And she is really getting excited about the Big Apple Barbecue party this weekend. Stay tuned for pictures!

Restaurant suggestions so far:

Blue Smoke
Dinasaur Bar-B-Que
Virgil's Real Barbecue

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Chicken Test

I fired up the Backwoods Party this afternoon and cooked some chicken thighs. The Backwoods was preheated to 300 degrees with some Royal Oak lump charcoal before I put the chicken thighs on. I had high hopes that a higher heat threshold would help the skin crispen up a little more to yield the ever challenging "bite-through" texture that's the talk among many competition cooks lately.

I was able to attain 170 internal meat temperature in 1 hour's time, versus my normal 2 1/2 hours, and the skin was perhaps a little more crispy, but unfortunately it wasn't the "magical" bite-through skin I'd hoped for. Also, the chicken dried out a little more than normal and was not up to par with what I normally cook.

I guess now I'll tweak things a little bit and start off smoking low-and-slow and then finish at high heat for the last 15-20 minutes. Maybe that will get me a little closer.

BBQ Secrets

Old Smokey Boys BBQ Team

I ran across some pictues today of a nice looking bbq smoker and bbq logo for the Old Smokey Boys BBQ Team from Loretto, Tennessee.

Go Vols!

BBQ Secrets

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Better Barbecue Chicken: Article #13 in the Series

I've had pretty good success in Florida competitions with slow-cooked chicken. Like a whole lot of people, I marinate chicken thighs in salad dressing and cook them low and slow for about 2 1/2 hours at 225 degrees, sauce them, and turn them in. They are always tender, always juicy, and the results are always consistent and very predictable for us.

After moving to the Mid-West two years ago, I've noticed that my chicken doesn't score as well here in KCBS contests. It's the same chicken--tender, juicy, same seasoning and sauces--instead of winning or top-5, it's been landing us closer to mid-pack in the contests.

The one thing that I have had to change is the brand of chicken I cook with because I have not been able to find Sanderson Farms chicken here in Michigan (sold at Publix in Florida), but I do use "Amish" chicken, aka "natural". The only difference I can detect is that what's sold here as "Amish" are smaller pieces of chicken than the Sanderson Farms I cooked in Florida.

I did some tests during the offseason with brines and to be perfectly honest, I was not impressed with the results. The skin was actually worse with a brine than without. I hear bbq cooks talk about how it's the "thing" to do for chicken and that so and so won this contest and that contest, and they use a brine and high-heat. Up until now, I've resisted the "chicken brine rage" and stuck the tried and true (and let's not forget the all-important "consistent") chicken cooking methods.

I'm still not going to give in completely though. My test tomorrow (and for the next several cooking sessions) will be to pre-heat the cooker at 300 degrees once the temperature levels off, put the chicken on, and cook it at the higher heat levels. I cook chicken in a Backwoods Party, so I may also experiment with and without the water pan (I use sand in it instead of water). I am pretty sure I already know that it won't be as consistent at first as my low and slow technique, but maybe it will help me figure out the "bite through skin" that the judges seem to be penalizing us for.

To read the previous article in the series, click here.

BBQ Secrets

Friday, June 02, 2006

Kyocera Ceramic Knives

I have not yet owned a ceramic knife, but you know what they say....never say never.

I've been checking out some sales literature passed out at the Bodacious Blues BBQ Contest a few weeks ago and am intrigued by the advertised quality and versatility of the kives.

The purchase of Kyocera knives comes with "complimentary sharpening" via the company's Irvine, CA offices. Customer's pay the shipping and handling and the knives are professionally sharpened. The brochure says the ceramic blades hold an edge 10-times longer than a traditional knife.

Ceramic knives are advertised as "50% harder than steel" in the sales literature.

I haven't taken the time to investigate prices for the KT-155-HIP-D, or the KC-130-WH, or even the FK-100-BK, which I must admit would look mighty nice in my bbq supply cabinet, but I assume that knives of this quality are not inexpensive.

BBQ Secrets

South Carolina Festival of Discovery BBQ Cookoff

I received an e-mail from Angie Jones today announcing the Festival of Discovery BBQ Cook-off. The Greenwood KCBS bbq cook-off is a South Carolina State Championship event and a KCBS Qualifier.

The winner receives an invitation to participate in the American Royal contest and will be entered into a drawing for a chance to compete in the World Championship in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

This event is sanctioned by KCBS and features teams from Greenwood County, as well as throughout the United States. Festival goers will be invited to join in the fun during the Taster's Choice competition. This year, the festival will be giving away $8,000 in cash prizes!

The festivities will include a partnership with Big Show Foods that features a John Boy and Billy Grillin' Sauce Backyard Grillin' Competition.

I wish South Carolina was a lot closer to Michigan. This one would be on my personal list of "must attend" events.

BBQ Secrets

Barbecue on

National Public Radio has posted an article on their web site written by Jason Sheehan, a journalist for Westward, a Denver newspaper. I often listen to All Things Considered on NPR during my commute home from work. I don't often visit the NPR web site, but there are several bbq articles in the This I Believe section of the site.

Other barbecue articles at

Barbecue Bootcamp
Tips for Easy, Delicious Barbecue
BBQ Critique
A Hobby, a Calling: Barbecue
Uncle Johnny's
BBQ Book

BBQ Secrets

Thursday, June 01, 2006

USDA Quality Grading Chart

Check out this concise, but thorough explanation about the USDA beef grading system.

This web site has an explanation of how meat inspectors determine the "grade" for a cut of beef.

BBQ Secrets

Payne County Rust

Shane Lansdown of Stillwater, OK has put together a nice collection of bbq recipes, photos, and how-to's about bbq on his web site called Payne County Rust, check it out.

Here's a link to his web log titled the "Back Yard Series".

BBQ Secrets

Southern Illinois Bluegrass & BBQ

I received an e-mail last night regarding the Southern Illinois Bluegrass & BBQ festival in Salem, Illinois beging held on the weekend of Sept. 7, 8, and 9, 2006 sponsored by Tour Salem.

Applications and Online Registration are available on the festival website.

BBQ Secrets