Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Smokey Bones Chain Sold to Sun Capital Partners

The chain of 73 restaurants operated by Darden Restaurants based in Orlando, FL has been sold to Sun Capital Partners according to this article in the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

The article goes on to explain that the new owners plan to add more beer and adult frozen drinks to the menu.

I've got a suggestion for the new owners, how about focusing on improving the quality of the barbecue?

If adding drinks to the menu would fix their ills, don't you think Darden would have figured that out already?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Open Hearth Cooking in Mugnaini Pizza Oven

Mugnaini manufacturers a popular wood fired pizza oven that can be used for a variety of open hearth cooking techniques. According to the manufacturer, these ovens are listed with UL and NSF.

With models ranging in size from 9 sq. ft. to 28 sq. ft. (big enough for fourteen 12" pizzas), there is an oven that's just right for your back yard, kitchen, or restaurant.

Based on my online research, you can purchase a very nice oven for the back yard that costs in the range of $3,000 plus installation costs.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Pork, Brisket and Chicken Leg Quarters

Sometimes I forget how much I like cooking barbecue in Florida, but days like this bring everything back into focus. This picture was taken Sunday at 9:30 a.m. in my front driveway.

It was a glorious day for 'queing. December in Florida is really nice.

I injected two pork butts with apple juice with some clover honey mixed into it and rubbed them up with Smokin' Guns' Mild.

I trimmed the fat cap from the 13 lb. packer brisket purchased at the local butcher shop and rubbed it down with The BBQ Guy's Southern BBQ Rub.

I applied Smokin' Guns' Mild to some leg quarters and marinaded them in some Newman's Own salad dressing for three hours before cooking.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Instant Read Pocket Thermometer

Thermopen by Thermoworks is a useful tool for serious bbq enthusiasts. The Polder and Taylor pocket thermometers will work, but they are not true "instant read" thermometers.

The Thermopen will display the temperature reading within 3 or 4 seconds. My Taylor digital thermometer takes up to 15 seconds to register a "final" reading.
When a bbq smoker is involved, holding the door open for 15 or 20 seconds to take a temperature reading causes the cooker to cool off fast and work harder to catch up. At a bbq cook-off, this could be the difference between winning and merely a top 10 finish.
Treat your bbq cook to the best temperature instrument on the market.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

BBQ Gift Ideas

During the month or so before the holidays every year, I receive a lot of e-mails about bbq gifts. My family sends them to me, my wife asks me about them, and I receive several inquiries from visitors to this website.

This year I thought I'd put together a series of posts that provide bbq gift ideas that range in size from small to large and in price from cheap to expensive.

Let's start off with perhaps the most popular question I've received this year, "What do I get the barbecuer that already has everything?"

My response: Lodge cast iron of course.

This 4-quart Lodge cast iron dutch oven is large enough for baking, but still small enough for chili, stew, or even frying fish. The "camp oven" is my preferred style, because it allows you to put the charcoal on the lid for roasting. You can buy this oven on ebay, from Amazon, or if you live near South Pittsburg, TN -- you buy directly from the Lodge outlet store.

Accessories that will go nicely with the dutch oven include a lid lifter and lid stand. There is also a nice video by Johnny Nix that will help you barbecuer learn more about the versatility of Lodge cast iron.

If you're the type of person that likes to "see it before you buy it", Lodge products are also available at most popular outdoor stores, such as Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's.

Friday, November 30, 2007

BBQ Trivia Quiz Game

Do you think you know about bbq?

I have found a neat bbq game that you might want to try. It's surprisingly interesting. If you take the "quiz", come back and let us know how you did. (I scored 7 correct out of 10).

Thursday, November 22, 2007

BBQ Catering Worksheet

Mike Trump's bbq catering Excel worksheet has been updated. This worksheet can make you money and save you money on your next catering job. Use the worksheet to calculate the amount of meat to use, to calculate the cost per serving, figure retail cost, and ensure profitability for your next catering event.

It's also useful for family events. How many times have you cooked for family reunions and gatherings and run out of food? How many times have you blown your budget or cooked too much food? This worksheet can help solve those problems too.

Building a Brick BBQ Pit

This post originally appeared last year, but I thought it was time to bring it back to the "top of the blog".

I'm honored to bring Rich Sterling to you this week as a guest poster on the BBQ Blog (Part 1 or a 3 Part series).
If you've ever thought about, wondered about, or plan to build a brick bbq pit in the future, take note.
Thanks to Rich Sterling for sharing his experience with the BBQ Blog readers.
2/17/2006--Here in Upstate NY, near Albany, we really don't have anything available to us to just stop by and just EAT! About the closest to real BBQ in my area was a local place called "Tex's BBQ" in Albany, NY which is now out of business. Then we have Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse and NYC. We have a few local caterers that do the local benefit functions, etc. if you don't mind paying about $9.00 for a quarter chicken cooked over charcoal. That just wasn't cutting it for me so I decided to build my own pit.

With spring just around the corner, now is the time I started my research last year (2005) on "How to build a brick BBQ". I knew what I wanted but never working with bricks and mortar before in my life, I was a little nervous going into this project. I'm a computer support technician by day and an avid woodworking hobbyist. In addition to the taste of genuine slow cooked BBQ, I have always enjoyed the pleasant aroma of various woods used during an all day cookout or even a campfire. Just the same, there's nothing like the smell of fresh cut cherry in my shop when I'm working on a woodworking project. I knew I wanted to build something that would be functional as a BBQ/Smoker pit, be an asthetically pleasing focal point in my yard, AND relatively inexpensive. Basically it would have to please me AND my wife.

The following will be a series of articles on Research and Planning, Design and Design-as-you-go construction, and the best part - Using the Pit.


I surfed and surfed and came up with a few good ideas from the Internet. Another decent source of information was a paperback book called Building Barbecues & Outdoor Kitchens by Sunset books. Once I got the basic shape in mind I had to determine the overall space I had to work with. Of course, in my particular situation I had just got a stamped concrete patio poured so I knew exactly what I had to work with. (10 feet).

You must also take into consideration, your surroundings. Going with a design that includes a fireplace as mine does, it does generate some heat. You really don't want it directly under any low trees! You'll need a chimney cover to keep sparks to a minimum and to keep precipitation from entering down your flue. You should also leave plenty of space around the entire perimeter, with of course plenty of space in the front for lounging.

Since mine is on my poured patio I'm confident it can handle the weight. Concrete is cheap, go thick enough! Maybe even go wide enough to include a nice hearth area or an area for sitting, but I recommend at least a couple of feet for sparks, etc. The weight of the truck that dropped off my materials was enough to crush my driveway, no water added. Each one of those yellow bags of mortar you see in the photos are 80 pounds each. You cringe each time you have to open a new bag.

Along with the research I had to do on my initial design, I had NO experience whatsoever in masonry. If you're in the same arena as me, you might want to do a smaller practice project somewhere in your yard BEFORE mixing your first batch of mortar and going to town. If I had to do it all over again, I would have definately practiced first! Although I learned a lot by trial and error, sometimes the knowledge gained was a little too late. It made for a lot of scrubbing and cleaning in the long run
and a lot of mis-aligned or loose brick and block right from the start.

Since this IS a masonry project, I highly recommend consulting with a TRUE Mason BEFORE starting the job. I found that getting several opinions and suggestions from "ALMOST" Masons resulted in too many varying opinions and when it came down to it, in 90 degree heat, neither bickering over which way was best OR undoing/redoing work was NOT what I enjoyed the most about this project, especially with all the pre-planning I thought I had done.

There are several good websites out there which offer great advice for the novice. In addition to your research on barbeques another good resource for methods and ideas are brick pizza and bread ovens. My original design had a small brick oven that was going on the left side. Due to space limitations and time constraints, I had to nix it in the end. Now I really wish I inlcuded it. Time is also another factor you really need to have planned out from the very beginning.

So, you have an idea in mind where do you go from there? Get some graph paper and start with a basic sketch. Next, since I'm an avid computer geek as well I open the Paintbrush program that most everyone has already on their computers and I started pulling in basic images of ideas I liked. I actually saved these files too but have since lost them because I wasn't a [i]good enough[/i] computer geek! (Long story, but Earthlink is no longer my friend!) So now I have a rough draft of what I wanted it to look like and how I wanted it to function. I was ready to start ordering materials...but how many and how much?

Some of the articles on the Internet had actually included the quantity of bricks, blocks and mortar others have used in their projects. This was very helpful and gave a good starting point. Then once I had a rough idea in mind of the quantities I thought I needed, I went to my local brick supplier. The salesman also had a way to calculate the quantity of mortar I would need based on the amount of bricks I was purchasing.

I started with (20) 80 pound bags and purchased an additional (8) bags by the time the job was complete. The other thing I had done to calculate the total number of materials was to simply count the number of bricks in a certain amount of rows, etc. and then multiply by the number of rows I thought I had to go to obtain my total height. Even with all the pre-planning I had done, I ended up making several trips to the brickyard with my own truck for additional brick and block. I beleive the total count of red "backer brick" I used was 1,000. I also used 4x8x16 hollow block for the back and sides which saved me a little. The red backer brick were .42 cents each and the block were .72 cents each. Bags of mortar were somewhere around $7.50 each.

The most difficult part to plan ahead of time was the ceiling. Again, I knew what I wanted to do but I couldn't find any detailed examples to give me an idea ahead of time on how to construct it and tie it in all together. I knew the fundamentals of how to build the ceiling so I went to my local metal scrap yard and I was able to pick up various lengths of extruded aluminum 5/16" thick angle stock. Since it was a friend that owned the scrap yard I couldn't really be choosy about the donation :)

I stopped to my local steel mill who has a scrap pile you can pick through for .50 cents a pound. There, I was to pick up some flat iron stock and some longer angle iron. These are the pieces I used across the top lenghtwise to hold up my chimney flue and my ceiling of firebrick on the inside.

Once I ordered all of my materials from the brickyard, the truck showed up a couple days later and it was all at the top of my driveway waiting for me when I got home, on a Friday no less. I thought I was golden having the whole weekend ahead of me. I had my basic idea all laid out in Microsoft Paintbrush by now, so with printed copy in hand I started dry-stacking everything. I had everything all dry stacked in 2 hours flat. Piece of cake, now all I need to do is mix up some mortar tomorrow and "glue it all together".

Yeah, right. This whole thing took me from May to July!

CONSTRUCTION: Article coming soon. Stay tuned or check out the rest of the photos at !

USE: Article also coming soon... detailed pics as the weather warms up of our spring and summer entertaining.
PS: You really will love the BBQ Pizza! It's the best :)

Want to learn how to make money online?
Click here

Want to BBQ for a Living?

You may want to read this book first.

Slow Smoked Success: Provocative Thoughts on Business, Life and BBQ

"A good piece of BBQ can be judged by many things. But the two most prevalent points are, after you eat a piece you want more. Second point is 2 hours later you should still be tasting it. BBQ does that to you, but so do many other things. This book is written to help appreciate the little things in life by drawing comparisons between good BBQ, Business and Life in general."

Lee Bentch's insightful account of his quest for barbecue offers a fresh perspective and presents barbecue for what it should

It would make a good gift for most any barbecue fan.

BBQ Books

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Peoria Custom Cookers

If you like offset cookers, then you need to take a serious look at Peoria Custom Cookers. I've noticed their advertisements in various bbq magazines for a couple of years and tonight I decided to visit their website. One word just about sums it all up....Wow!

They build offsets suitable for catering, back yard smoking, and competition cooking from big to small and just about everything in between.

And if the website doesn't convince you, I'll add this....none other than Bar-b-Quau of the KCBS competition circuit now cooks on a PCC cooker.

Friday, November 16, 2007

How to Carve a Turkey

The folks over at sent me a video providing step-by-step instructions for carving a turkey. I'll admit that I usually just slice the turkey any old way I can get it to work, so it's nice to know there are some tips available that provide just the right amount of guidance to make the eating the traditional Thanksgiving turkey just little bit easier this year.

From their website:

1. After roasting, cover the turkey with foil and let it stand for 15 minutes.

2. Transfer the bird to your largest cutting surface.

3. With a sharp, thin-bladed carving knife, find the place where the thighbone meets the body. By cutting between the joints, and not through bones, you can disconnect the bones without much fuss.

4. Pull the thigh away from the bird and slip your knife into the joint to separate the thigh from body.

5. Wiggle the drumstick to locate the joint that separates the drumstick from the thigh. Using the same technique, cut through the joint, not the bone.

6. Next use your knife to find where the wing and body connect. Slip your knife into the joint to separate wing from body on each side.

7. Now remove the breast, by cutting down the center of the bird on one side of the bone and the breast will come off in one piece.

8. Carve the breast into thin slices.

9. Repeat with the other side of the breast.

They also have a DVD available.

We plan to deep fry our turkey again this year after brining overnight in a salt and honey solution. It's become our favorite turkey recipe. I'll take a fried turkey over and oven baked turkey every time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Barbecue Digest

Here's a few bbq new articles you might be interested in.

Virginia Barbecue
I wrote an article a few weeks ago about Virginia Barbecue and the franchise by the same name. included an article on this low cost bbq franchise concept today.

Bone Daddy's at the Mill BBQ
This Saginaw, MI restaurant features bbq and live entertainment.

Above Average BBQ
Mackie Hayes, owner, sells bbq from his barbecue chuck wagon. For Mackie, it's a family tradition.

Doc's Q'in Pit Stop
This Modesto, CA restaurant uses almond wood for their bbq.

British BBQ Invasion at Jack Daniels Cookoff
American-style barbecue receives some international recognition.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Akaushi Beef and Akaushi Brisket

Akaushi brisket will set you back $60 for a 14 pounder, or to save on shipping you can buy up to three for $180.
I haven't tried it yet, but Akaushi beef originates from Japanese cattle. The largest heard of Akaushi beef in American is located in Texas (read more about it here).

This herd of beef cattle was brought to America in the early 1990's and safeguarded from American bulls for more than 10-years to preserve the Japanese bloodlines.

The largest provider of Akaushi beef in America is Heart Brand Beef, a natural, hormone free beef that is high in monounsaturated fat.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

BBQ Trailer

I like the set-up for this bbq trailer. The cooker is outside with access under the roof at the first window. The kitchen is in the middle section and the serving area is located in the second window at the rear of the trailer.

Carolina Rib King

I took this picture while visiting the Rib King, of Carolina Rib King bbq sauce fame, at the St. Pete Rib Fest today. This ribmaster was "finishing" stacks of about 20 racks of ribs by setting the sauce on a propane grill (Belson I think) prior to serving to hungry festival patrons.

BBQ Rib Festival - St. Pete Ribfest

All the way from Australia. The Australian BBQ Team was on hand to show-off their talents and the Australian way to 'que. The team captain, Paul McKay, cooking as the Australian BBQ Team sells the Aussom Aussie line of bbq sauces.

I liked the name "Fat Fred's" the best. I know for sure I would never trust a "Skinny Fred" who sells bbq.
Signage announcing their wins and honors was prevalent at almost every cook team site.

Here's a picture of the grills used to warm up the ribs just prior to serving at the Blazin' Bronco BBQ & Rib Company. All the ribs appeared to be pre-cooked and then sauced and reheated as they were sold later in the day. Double click the picture and take a closer look at the stack of ribs on the table in the rear of this picture. There must have been at least 100 racks of ribs covered in plastic ready for reheating.

Blazin' Bronco BBQ & Rib Company was the most popular team at the event. At one point I counted a line of more than 50 people waiting in line at their booth.

All the way from Spartunburg, S.C., the Rib King was in attendance. The proprietor, Solomon Williams, sells Carolina Rib Sauce at specialty stores throughout the country.

Here's a picture of Boss Hogg's display booth.

A picture of the bbq mid-way at 11 a.m. when things were just cranking up. Later on this alley was a mass of people waiting in line for some barbecue. Prices for ribs ranged from $20 for a full rack, $14 for a half-rack, and $9 for a one-third rack.

Banners, banners, and more banner at the Bibbs & Ribs booth. We had some ribs from this team, which were pretty good overall. The sauce was especially good.

This 1952 Ford long bed truck caught our eye. This F-6 model is a 2-ton with 14,000 GVWR.

Master's Degree in Barbecue Cooking

Seth Godin wrote an article on his blog last year that has popularized the premise that you can develop the same amount of knowledge by reading 30 - 40 of the best business books, as you can by spending $150,000 and 2-years of your life to earn a traditional classroom MBA.

This Business Week article features a discussion of the Personal MBA, and it's inspired me to develop my own list of the best barbecue books, so you can earn your own Master's Degree in Barbecue Cooking (MDBC).

I will start the list with three of my favorite barbecue books:

...but I need your help.

My personal collection of barbecue books includes nine or ten books about barbecue and grilling. Not all of the books are what I'd describe as "required reading" for a MDBC degree, so I've left those that are less than my favorites off the list.

Please submit your own suggestions for bbq books that you would consider "essential reading" for anyone that is serious about dedicating themselves to learning the art of barbecue cooking by clicking the comments link below .

Suggestions from readers:

Old Town Chili Cookoff - Kissimmee Florida

I received the following e-mail from the organizer of the Old Town Chili Cookoff being held 12/2/07 in Kissimmee, FL. I thought I would share it for any chili fanatics that might be reading.

If you have a cooking contest event that you'd like to see posted here, please let me know.

December 2, 2007

Old Town Truck N’ For Toys
Chili Cook-Off
5770 W. U.S. Highway
Kissimmee, FL

Name: _____________________________________________
Chili Name: __________________________________________
Address: ____________________________________________
Phone#: ____________________________________________
E-Mail: ____________________________________________

Turn in for judging: 1:00P.M. Entry Fee: $20.00

Make checks payable to: Devereux of Florida (Charity of the day)

Mail entry form and check to: Candace Knight Arevalo
1385 Pinetta Circle
Wellington, FL 33414

CASI Sanctioned - CASI Rules. Chili Appreciation Society International – Top ten winners receive points towards going to the World Championship in Terlingua, Texas in November 2008. You do not have to be a member of CASI to participate in the chili cook-off. To learn more about CASI and CASI rules go to

This will be a fun event. Radio Disney and Entertainment until 6 PM the day of the chili cookoff. Old Town looks like an old town with bars, restaurants, and shops all down each row. There are rides for the kids at the end of the town. All the hotels listed below are walking distance from Old Town. Everyone stay at one of the hotels across the street. Cooks party Saturday night at The Blue Max in Old Town.

All Disney parks are right down the road so maybe you can plan a little vacation at one of the parks while your there.

Hotel accommodations walking distance from Old Town:
TROPICAL PALMS (Cabins and RV’s)

Hope to see you there,
Candi Knight-Arevalo

Friday, November 09, 2007

BBQ Ribs for 750 Guests

Recently I received an inquiry about the feasibility of providing bbq ribs for a group of 750 people. Although I was flattered to be considered for such a large event, I don't have the proper equipment to prepare ribs in such large quantities and decided to decline the opportunity. However, it got me thinking about the possibilities.

If my arithemetic is correct, it takes 2,250 "bones" to serve 750 people (750 servings multiplied by 3 bones each). Each rack of ribs has 13 bones, so 2,250 divided by 13 results in 172 racks of ribs.

I have two medium sized smokers with a total of 11 shelves will hold three racks of ribs each for a total capacity of 33 racks. Cooking ribs in such large quantities calls for a little creativity. Instead of placing the ribs flat on the racks, as is customary, I could triple the smoker capacity by using rib racks and cook 9 racks of ribs on each smoker shelf and raise the overall capacity to 99. But, realistically, to cook ribs for 750 people I would need two more smokers.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Meat Safety

Improved technology has now made it's way into your grocer's meatcase and it appears that we can no longer judge our meat by color alone. As reported in this article from ABC News, a nice red color doesn't always mean the meat you're buying is void of harmful bacteria.

The meat packaging industry is now using carbon monoxide to preserve the deep reddish color for consumers. The carbon monoxide helps the meat maintain the fresh look longer.

Another article from The Washington Post discusses whether the FDA should consider banning carbon monoxide treated meat from grocer shelves. Meat packers use this technique because it improves profitability. If consumers have a choice between purchasing a nice reddish color meat versus one that is not "fresh" looking (i.e. a color less than red), they'll most likely purchase the "redder" color every time.

The Consumer Federation of America is a consumer group that has petitioned the FDA to eliminate the use of carbon monoxide in meat packing. Seventy-eight out of a hundred people surveyed believe using carbon monoxide to treat meat is deceptive, according to a CFA press release dated September 2006.

I am in agreement that it's deceptive and believe the FDA should require labels on all meat that is packaged using these techniques to help maintain the appearance of freshness. And while they are at it, they should also require labels for any meat that is imported from outside the U.S.

This development is another example of the trust we place in those who prepare our food. I don't go to just any doctor that puts up a shingle and I don't buy my meat just anywhere, certainly not from a door to door salesman; and you shouldn't either.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Learning to BBQ

There is so much information available on the internet via web sites like The BBQ Forum,, and other web sites like The BBQ Blog that it's almost possible to learn how to bbq without ever leaving the house.

You can get a Weber Smokey Mountain (WSM) delivered from and then order your delivery of bbq rub from After a quick trip to Sam's Club for meat, lump charcoal, and supplies, you'll be cooking better than restaurant-quality bbq in no time.

There's no doubt that the web helps flatten the learning curve for those new to the bbq hobby. The quest for competition quality bbq that used to take 5 - 10 years to learn by hit or miss experimentation has been and can be shortened into 6 - 8 months. I've heard tell of some people that have started serious bbq cooking in February and by August they were competing in sanctioned bbq contests (yours truly included). I also know several people that recorded category and top 5 finishes within their first couple of contests (we won 1st place chicken in our second event). I say this to make the point that although the internet is a wonderful tool to research and learn, it can sometimes hamper a bbq team's development at the same time.

When learning anything new, some of the most valuable lessons are learned during that "newbie" time period when you "don't know what you don't know" (to borrow from Darrell Waltrip). During this experimentation period, new cooks are free to try anything and everything and they haven't yet developed tunnel vision when it comes to bbq.

Using a certain spice rub or sauce just because so and so does it and wins alot, is not necessarily the best approach to take. Although so and so might use a certain brand, the real "secret method" is the other stuff they add to it like honey, jelly, sugar, etc.; and sometimes those "additives" make the difference between winning occasionally and winning consistently.

It's human nature to want to take the easy route, but when it comes to consistently producing prize winning contest entries; I'm just not sure "easy" always wins.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

BBQ Blog Digest

Here's a few noteworthy posts from the blogosphere about barbecue:

Serious Eats discusses how to eat out like a local.

"Pull off the highway, engage a local. At the gas station, talk to not only the attendant but to the two or three local people standing at the pumps next to you. Ask them where they like to eat. Make it clear you aren’t looking for a chain—you’re looking for their best local food. Locals know the spots where prices are low, flavors are bold, and where everyone gathers." has a article that rates New York City's best bbq.

"...New York has also experienced an onslaught of barbecue restaurants. Some have been deemed "authentic" by fans; some lack any resemblance to a Texas or Carolina outpost, but make up for it in taste. (And there are some that just plain suck.) "

And last, but not's a bbq video trailer I found on You Tube titled Inside the World of Championship BBQ

Aging Beef

According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, beef flavor improves with age.

Their website explains that it's typical for beef carcasses to be aged about 7-days prior to butchering into retail cuts. The article goes on to explain that aging beef is more effective for older cows and for beef that is darker in color.

"in carcasses where lean was lighter in color, tenderness continued to improve during up to 16 days of aging....maintain the temperature at 30 to 35 degrees F while the beef carcass is being aged"

To learn more about the advantages, disadvantages, and risks associated with the aging process, visit the University of Minnesota Extension via the world wide web.

Competition BBQ Secrets

Monday, October 29, 2007

BBQ Hall of Fame

Ray Basso, well-known publisher of and several other bbq websites, designed another website that features bbq -- The Barbecue Hall of Fame.

From the website:

"The Barbeque Hall of Fame is a project to designed to preserve the contributions of some of the most important people in barbeque. In order to be listed in this web page, all nominees have to go through a process before being accepted to the BBQHOF."

This project is sponsored by and is just getting started, but one of the first honorees is Arthur Bryant, Kansas City BBQ restauranteur. Arthur Bryant is honored in the businessess category and in the cooks category.

ProQ Water Smoker

There's a new bullet smoker in town folks. It's called the ProQ and is brought to you by Pro BBQ LTD.

I haven't seen one up close yet, but based on the pictures and brochure on the website they look promising. Their modular construction offers the flexibility to grill, roast, and smoke with the same basic unit.

The basic unit comes with a bottom section for the charcoal grate, middle section for the cooking grates, and top lid. You can add additional capacity by adding the optional "stacker" section.

Models available include the Amigo, Buckaroo, and Frontier, with the Stacker option to add additional capacity.

Atlanta BBQ Club

Some guys in Atlanta have organized a bbq club that celebrates the barbecue artform. Membership has it's perks too. For $25 members receive discounts at popular bbq restaurants, a bbq map that identifies bbq restaurants in the Atlanta area, invitations to a once per month "meating", and tips about cooking bbq; among many others.

Now why didn't I think of that?

The website features links to Thompson Brothers BBQ, Hambones, and Fat Matts Rib Shack in the greater Atlanta area.

Bloody BBQ Chicken

It's almost painful to type the title to this article and I realize it's not very appetizing, but this topic is gaining more and more press in bbq circles.

We've had a good amount of success cooking bbq chicken in FBA and KCBS sanctioned contests. We've always cooked our chicken thighs "low and slow" to an internal temperature of 170 degrees. To this point we've never had an issue with the judges and I hate to jinx it by talking about it, but it's a topic worth exploring.

There's a discussion at that talks about removing the veins in chicken thighs to help reduce the effect from "clotting" that even can cause blood to appear in chicken cooked to a conservatively high 180 degrees.

It sounds like I need to start paying more attention to my chicken thighs and try to "devein" them before my next cook. It can't hurt.

Competition BBQ Secrets

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Veranda Smoker Cover

If you own a "bullet" smoker like the Weber Smokey Mountain, as known as a WSM, the Veranda Smoker Cover is a nice addition to your bbq collection.

Although the WSM is very hardy and can be left outside for short periods, prolonged exposure will corrode the air vents and the door latch mechanism. A smoker cover like this one available on, will protect your bbq investment.

BBQ Contest in Panama?

The Florida BBQ Association is scheduled to sanction a bbq contest in the country of Panama next year. I checked the list of contests on their website, and it's not yet listed, but Chuck Ray of the FBA confirmed theses plans during a recent judges meeting at Pig in the Park.

The FBA currently has more than 300 members and is adding 6 new contests to their schedule in 2008. They've sponsored contests in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee during the past seven years and now they've scheduled their first international event.

Panama Canal anyone?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Hot Chili Pepper

There's a new hot pepper on the scene. Previously, the Red Savina was considered the hottest chili pepper on the planet, but researchers at New Mexico State have crowned a new "world's hottest pepper" -- the Bhut Jolokia, twice as hot as the Red Savina.

To determine the level of heat in peppers, scientists measure the amount of capsaicin.

Competition BBQ Secrets

Pig in the Park - Florida Barbeque Association

I spent the day at Pig in the Park in Kissimmee, FL. This bbq contest sanctioned by the Florida Barbeque Association, was held at the Osceola Heritage Park. The event had 25 professional and 8 backyard cook teams.

The event also featured a monster truck show, a motorcycle daredevil demonstration, a classic car show, local vendors, and displays from non-profit organizations.

I haven't judged an FBA event for a 2 1/2 years and I'm surprised at the dramatic increase in the overall quality of the judges' samples.

I took these pictures of these nice looking concession trailers just prior to leaving the event.
Congratulations to Swamp Boys -- Grand Champions.

Competition BBQ Secrets

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jon El's BBQ - Boonville Missouri

Linda and I visited my parents, sisters, and brothers in Boonville, MO last week. There's a new bbq restaurant that opened this year on Route B near the I-70 overpass and we stopped by for lunch on Thursday.

It's kind of funny now that I've become a bbq afficianado, because growing up in Missouri I never ate bbq in a restaurant. I didn't know there was such a thing.

The location is great and decor is about what you'd expect from a small town restaurant or cafe. The restaurant has seating for about 30 people and plenty of parking.

I had beef brisket and several in our group had the bbq pork. For $7.95 the portion sizes are good. The marcaroni and cheese and the french fries were popular side items, but the bbq was dissapointing.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

How to BBQ

For those new to cooking barbecue, or new to competing; I've posted these how-to BBQ tips over at and thought I'd share them here as well.
How to keep BBQ hot if you're not quite ready to eat it...
use an ice chest/ice cooler. Put some hot water in an empty ice chest, close the lid and let it set for 3 or 4 minutes. Drain the hot water and you've got yourself a portable BBQ warmer. We've kept pork butts warm this way for 6 or 7 hours.

How to keep your hands clean when cooking BBQ...
use powder free latex gloves. They come in packs of 100 at the local Sam's and will keep your hands clean. You'll maintain good sanitary practices too.
How to keep your spouse interested in the BBQ hobby...
get him/her involved in it with you. It's a lot of fun. You meet nice people and it's something you can do together.

How to keep your BBQ expenses in line with your budget...
research all your purchases thoroughly. Make sure your purchase will do what you want it to do BEFORE you purchase it. For example, if you want to learn to cook whole hogs, you probably need to consider a big cooker or if you want to cook 10-15 racks spare ribs every weekend you're going to need something bigger than a WSM.

How to continually improve your BBQ recipes...keep records of your cooking efforts including cook times, prepping techniques used and especially measurements for sauces or rubs and spices used. When you tweak the recipe for taste, only change one thing at a time--change the cook time, change the rub, change the sauce, but try to avoid completely changing everything all at once. Small changes to your technique and recipes will help you focus on the effects better and you'll be able to fine tune the product quality more efficiently.

Competition BBQ Secrets

Sarasota Ribfest

Linda and I attended the ribfest in Sarasota yesterday and learned a lot about how not to organize a bbq festival.

It was the first "ribfest" we've attended in person and we were excited about the experience. The ones I've read about and seen on television were boisterous affairs and well promoted with large crowds of spectators. Unfortunately, we left festival sorely dissapointed.

The event was held at the old Sarasota fairgrounds and admission was $7 per person. We paid our money and entered the event. They only had three vendors cooking bbq to go along with a beverage vendor, a hot tub distributor, and someone giving camel rides. The bbq was terrible, but you could eat it in an air conditioned building while listening to live entertainment.

Competition BBQ Secrets

We watched many, many dissapointed faces enter the event, hopeful for a real "ribfest", but almost angry to find a hodge podge festival that appeared "slapped" together at the last minute.

Next year, if there is another year for this event, they need to add 10-15 more rib vendors and promote the event better on television, in the newspaper, and on radio. It was so poorly attended that at one point I counted more police at the event than people eating bbq.

I applaud the air conditioned facility, but give a big thumbs down for the event overall. We should have saved the $35 we spent at the event and $25 we spent for gasoline and stayed home.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

BBQ Restaurant Menu

If a fellow was to purchase a bbq restaurant and the menu included Philly cheese steaks and traditional hamburgers, I'm thinking the first step to improving the business foot print and credibility would be to get rid of the Philly cheese steaks and hamburgers from the menu.

Do you agree?

Also, I'm thinking that if the restaurant is closed on Sundays, the second step to improve profits would be to open on Sundays.

Am I on the right track here?

The business was established in early 2007 and is apparently not meeting the owner's expectations. I've not eaten at the restaurant yet at this point, but I'm thinking that part of the problem is that they serve a lot of non-bbq items. The owner is also talking about adding breakfast to the menu.

From my personal viewpoint, a bbq restaurant should serve bbq and only bbq. I can see hotdogs for the children's menu or possibly fried chicken, but not Philly cheese steaks.

If a guy just had to have hamburgers on the menu, I'd prefer a "bbq hamburger" and not the traditional McDonald's variety burger.

Here's some more details about the business I'm referring to:

Asking Price: $62,000 (cash, no terms offered)
Gross Revenue: $172,784 (annualized)
Cash Flow: $31,460
Inventory: $2,000 (Included in Asking Price)
FF&E: $15,000 (Included in Asking Price)
Rent: $1,700 per month and 1,100 sq feet with parking

Competition BBQ Secrets

Sunday, October 07, 2007

American Royal Invitational

Congratulations to Great Grills of Fire and Jiggy Piggy for their respective, grand champion and reserve grand champion, victories this weekend at the Invitational American Royal bbq contest in Kansas City. For anyone that is not familar with the Royal, it's the grand daddy of them all for bbq contests.

Congratulations are also in order for Lutz's Famous BBQ for Chicken, Smokin Triggers for Ribs, Pork Me Purple for Pork, and Grillas BBQ Team for Brisket.

I also applaud the recent redesign of the KCBS website at

Click here for results from the open event held on Sunday.

Competition BBQ Secrets

Memphis BBQ Network

A group of contest judges and long-time bbq enthusiasts have banded together to form a new bbq sanctioning body known as Memphis Barbecue Network.

A recent edition of the Barbecue News announced that the Memphis in May organization is changing their methods of operation and strategy for bbq contest promotion. A letter was mailed to cook teams announcing the changes.

I don't compete in MIM contests, but I found it unusual that they chose to announce the changes without specifically explaining how they plan to "expand the scope" of their organization. I also wonder if the changes they announced has anything to do with the changes the KCBS announced earlier this year.

Sunshine State Chili Pod

I received an e-mail this afternoon announcing the Sunshine State Chili Pod. I thought I'd include some contact information here for anyone interested. It's chili contest information, but I consider chili cook-offs close cousins of bbq cook-offs.
Here's some history of the organization from the website:

"The Sunshine State Pod was seeded in 2001 by a vote of the Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI) Great Peppers. We are the sponsoring body for CASI cook-offs within the state of Florida. The pod was started up by Bill Garbutt, Tom Ince, Myrna Ince, and Ken Rodd. The Pod's mission is to promote chili and raise money for charitable organizations thru chili cook-offs."

For information contact Candi at The website provides more information and pictures about chili cook-offs in Florida with pictures and a membership form.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Shane's Rib Shack

Linda and I had lunch at Shane's Rib Shack yesterday. We ordered the large sampler platter, which included a 1/3 rack of ribs, about a 1/2 pound of chopped pork, and 6 fried chicken fingers. The large platter also comes with a choice of two side orders. We chose the fried okra and baked beans for our lunch.

Before I describe our impressions of the meal, I'd like to give you some background on Shane's. According to the website, Shane is a real person that used to have a corporate job. He took an old family recipe for bbq sauce and created a chain of bbq restaurants that is spreading it's influence across the country.

Getting back to our lunch was dissapointing.

The bbq sauce was good, but the ribs weren't much more than luke warm. They were charred with some type of black substance that reminded me of steaks that I used to cook on the grill when I was about 13 years old. The ribs were on the dry side and absent of any smoke flavor or smoke ring. The chopped pork wasn't warm at all--actually c0ld--but it did have a nice hint of vinegar flavor. The chicken fingers don't belong on the menu at a bbq restaurant, but I realize that kids like chicken so that probably explains why they are included on the "bbq sampler" platter. When I was a kid, I'd have rather eaten bbq, but I realize most kids like chicken tenders. The fried okra and baked beans were the best part of our lunch. I recommend the fried okra. It wasn't as good as home cooked, but it was close.

I realize that my experience is based upon one single restaurant on one single day, so I'll probably give them another chance sometime, but our lunch experience yesterday was a huge dissapointment.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Famous Dave's Barbecue

CNBC's The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch featured Dave Anderson, founder of Famous Dave's, on tonight's program. His company has expanded from one restaurant in a town of 1,800 people and today it's expanded across the country and reported sales of $400,000 million last year.

The decor reminds me a lot of Logan's Road House and even Cracker Barrel in certain aspects, but it's hard to argue with Mr. Anderson's success in the bbq world.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

BBQ Smoker Surprise

A man purchased a second hand bbq smoker and found a human leg inside. This article explains the details regarding the unusual discovery.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Backwoods Smoker

I spent some time visiting the Backwoods Smoker website today.

The Backwoods Smoker "Party" was my first real smoker. I paid $700 for it five-years ago. They've added some newer models in the last few years including the Jr. Pro, Piglet, Chubby and Fat Boy. The Party has been reformulated to include the previously optional upgraded stainless steel door and upgraded charcoal grate as standard options.

The web site has been redesigned too and now includes an owners gallery.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Virginia Barbecue, in Florida?

While riding my motorcycle near Ellenton, FL this afternoon I drove by Hickory Hollow BBQ on Highway 301 and couldn't help but notice the description on the sign proclaiming something about serving authentic Virgina barbecue. I'm not familar with exactly what makes bbq in Virginia different than bbq in other states, but I couldn't wait to get home and "google it" to see if I could figure it out.

A search for Virginia BBQ returned information about a Virginia bbq restaurant franchise opportunity. For a $20,000 franchise fee they will sell you a franchise for their bbq concept. The Washington Post wrote an article about one of the first franchisees recently.

I found web sites about authentic Virginia hams from the Edwards family and a link to Alicia's Recipes, which has a recipe specifically for West Virginia barbeque. I've got to tell you that if Virginia bbq is like the western variety talked about at Alicia's, I'm not sure I want any because Alicia likes to cover her bbq meat with water, bring it to a boil, and simmer it until tender. Par boiling isn't my idea of authentic anything.

I also discovered the online home for the Silver Pig Barbeque, which has an interesting logo on their web page that reminds me of life on the family pig farm dating back about 25 years.

I tried and tried, but apparently Google hasn't discovered authentic Virginia barbecue yet, because after 30 minutes of searching, I did not find the essence of what makes Virginia so much different than Florida bar-be-que.

I think the folks at Hickory Hollow Barbecue need to review their marketing techniques. I wonder how many others like me don't really know Virginia bbq from any other 'ole bbq sold on the side of the road. Other than the owner being from Virginia, I haven't the slightest idea what it really means.

Can you help a BBQ guy out, and help me understand?

Barbecue Charcoal Trivia

Henry Ford invented charcoal briquettes as a by-product of the automobile manufacturing process. Ford created the briquette from wood scraps and sawdust at his car factory. E.G. Kingsford bought the invention and put the charcoal briquette into commercial production.

Henry Ford is also credited as the inventor of the automotive assembly line as we know it today.

If you ever visit Detroit, MI, take the time to visit the Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI. You'll be glad you made the trip.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Stuffed BBQ Pork Loin

I cooked a stuffed pork loin today based on the Pork Loin Mexicana recipe printed in the Smoke & Spice book by Cheryl and Bill Jamison.
I started with a 3 lb. pork loin. Then I added a sweet spice rub and stuffed the loin with chorizo sausage.
I cooked the pork loin on the Weber Smokey Mountain for 2 hours at 225 degrees and mopped with the Mexican Mop at 30 minute intervals.
At that point I wrapped the pork loin in aluminum foil and let the cooker temperature rise to 300 degrees. I added the fruit salsa topping and cooked the loin for another 45 minutes to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
If you're looking for new way to cook your next pork loin, try the Pork Loin Mexicana recipe.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Why I compete in barbecue contests

There have been some discussions this week on some of the bbq forum message boards about the primary reasons why competitors participate in sanctioned bbq contests. Answers to that question have ranged from learning to cook better, spending time with family and friends, for business opportunities, and to earn prize money. After considering these discussions for a couple of days I have reached some conclusions of my own.

1) Learning to cook better: My quest to learn how to cook southern style barbecue started on the internet almost 7-years ago after a visit to Smokey Hale's website. I used my kettle grill, Kingsford charcoal briquettes, and an aluminum pie pan filled with water to cook some pretty good pork roasts. I still like a good pork roast with a mustard based bbq sauce. Cooking in contests have helped me flatten the learning curve and focus my efforts to improve the final product. My bbq has improved dramatically.

2) Spending time with family and friends: I cook in bbq contests with my wife, Linda. She's been there with me from the beginning. She has been there for all the Saturday and Sunday afternoon practice cooks. She has been there for all the contests we've cooked and she has been there as we have spent a large portion of our discretionary entertainment budget on bbq supplies, equipment, and tools for these past five or six years.

I've met some great friends at bbq contests. Weapons of Mass Barbecuing, ZZ Que, Pork of the North, All Day Smoke,, and Kick the Tire Light the Fire immediately come to mind.

My familly has also been supportive of my efforts. Besides my brothers and mother who have helped me market The BBQ Guy's spice rubs my dad has also spent a lot of time helping me convert a run of the mill cargo trailer into a rolling bbq contest kitchen.

3) Business opportunties: My contest efforts are coupled with promotion of and my bbq blog. I continue to be surprised at the ability of the internet to cross social barriers and territorial boundries to promote bbq to thousands of people across the country and even around the world through my websites. There are many websites about bbq. I'm just happy to have two of them that are somewhat successful. I attribute their success to my participation in bbq contests.

4) Earning prize money: Let's face it, bbq contests are very expensive for the average competitors. The typical team will spend at least $250 on meat, $200 in entry fees, $200-500 on transportation, food, lodging, and supplies to attend an event. These figures can vary a little by region of the country and distance traveled, but they are typical based on my own experience and research. Without the ability to earn prize money and recoup some of these expensives, participation in bbq contests would be cost prohibitive for me and many others. As long as there are entry fees, travel costs, and meat expenses, I believe there has to be prize money. If I don't win some money, I simply cannot afford to compete as much.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Churrasco - Brazilian Barbecue

I made some great tasting churrasco (pronounced shoe-hoss-koo) for Labor Day. It was the best tasting steak I've ever eaten and very simple to make.
According to Wikipedia, a churrasco is a Brazilian term for barbecue and this traditional style of preparing beef appears to be popular in Argentina also. The kind of meat varies and the methods of preparation have slight variations, but churrasco is also widely known throughout Latin America.

The basic gaucho recipe consists of salt, garlic, and water used to baste steak filets. In some countries skirt steak, flank steak, and tenderloin beef are used. The meat is skewered and cooked directly over fire and is turned periodically to prevent burning. After the meat starts to brown it's basted with the salt and garlic mixture. This is typically at least a two hour process.

It's difficult to prepare real churrasco on a kettle grill because the meat is placed too close to the fire. A churrasqueira is a purpose built grill that is often used to prepare churrasco in the back yard. For those a little more ambitious and who want to prepare large quantitites of churrasco for a restaurant or catering operation, JR Manufacturing has a large model that looks promising and has some nice pictures too.

For personal use Fogazzo offers a smaller model that is perfect for backyard use. By the way, Fogazzo also offers some nice looking pre-cast materials that will help you build your own outdoor oven, even if you're not a brick mason.

Monday, August 27, 2007

BBQ Ribs

Here's some ribs from a test cook we did on Saturday. The ribs were made with two different types of rubs and two types of bbq sauces.

Our favorite included Ole Ray's Apple and Cinnamon sauce with Blues Hog bbq rub. The sweetness of the Ole Ray's sauce combines nicely with the Blues Hog rub.

The ribs were cooked for 3 hours meat side up, wrapped in a honey and dark brown sugar mixture with a little apple juice and then foiled for an hour. I unfoiled and applied finishing sauce for the last 15 minutes. They came out tender and juicy just like I like them.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

BBQ Pork Ribs and Boston Butts

For stock car racing fans there are very few NASCAR races that compare to the night race at Bristol and for southern bbq fanatics there isn't anything that comes close to good old fashioned bbq pulled pork and ribs. And when you combine the had better watch out because things just might get out of hand! I'm in the middle of preparing some pulled pork and bbq ribs for tonight's festivities.
It's also a good time to test some new competition recipes and validate some of the old standbys. We'll be eating well this week. Ummm...leftovers!

Electronic Temperature Controllers

I have mixed feelings about electronic temperature controllers used in conjunction with bbq cookers. I do not currently own any type of thermostat control device used in conjunction with any of my smokers, but I do understand why some folks like them.

I personally know someone that owns a Backwoods Smoker, a WSM, an original FE pellet cooker, a Dominizer, a Stumps, and a Caldera knock down design "box" smoker. All are good smokers and all cook excellent bbq, but some are newer designs than others and some have more little tricks and gadgets involved than others.

I tried to convince myself that I need to give in and purchase an electronic temperature controller too, but reached the conclusion that it's something I just don't need. My cookers will hold a steady temperature for hours and hours on end without a thermostat to control them.

As far as I can tell, there are only three reasons you absolutely have to buy a thermostat controller for your bbq cooker.

1. You like to play with the newest and most trendy "gadget" available.
2. You have a lot of extra money burning a hole in your blue jeans.
2. You own a bbq cooker that is so poorly designed it won't hold a steady temperature without an electronic thermostat.

Competition BBQ Secrets

Citrus BBQ Sauce

Since we live in Florida and for a little something different, I made a citrus bbq sauce recipe based on the recipe located on the back of the Dixie Crystals dark brown sugar box.

Tangy Orange Barbecue Sauce
1 regular can orange juice concentrate
1 small can tomato sauce
1 small can tomato paste
1 cup dark brown sugar
6 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp brown mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tsp hot sauce
2 tsp salt
4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves crushed garlic
Simmer in covered sauce pan for 20 minutes. Be careful not to scorch.

(The basic recipe comes from R. and D. Herring in Richmond, TX, but I did not follow it exactly as written.)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Where to buy knives

For a bbq afficianado, high quality knives are a necessity. They are safer to use and stay sharper for longer time periods. As an example, the last thing you want when slicing St. Louis spareribs is for the handle to break, or a slip that causes unnecessary injury.

The Knife Merchant online is an excellent source for your next knife purchase.

They carry a wide variety of knives including Global, Kyocera, Wusthof, Forschner, Messermeister, Shun, and many others.

I recently did a search for standard meat cleavers on their web site. Click here to read the results.

BBQ Tri Tip Bottom Sirloin Beef Roast

I decided to barbecue something different yesterday and since I've never cooked Tri Tip Beef before, I picked up a 2 1/2 pound Tri Tip Beef Roast at the local meat market. Tri Tip is also known as "Bottom Sirloin".
Santa Maria Tri Tip is really more a particular style of grilling than an exact recipe, but if you do a quick Google search for Tri Tip Recipes, you'll find at least a hundred web sites that detail the Santa Maria style for cooking this particular cut of beef. Most recipes recommend using a a bbq grill with an adjustable grate and oak wood for flavor. I decided to use my Weber Smokey Mountain.
I prepared a simple beef rub and liberally seasoned the meat.
Tri Tip Rub
2 tbsp Kosher salt
2 tbsp garlic salt
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp black pepper
I prepared a 225 degree fire and added some apple chunks for seasoning.
I placed the tri tip roast on the lower grate in the WSM. The tri tip was cooked for 15 minutes on either side to help seal the juices. I inserted a temperature probe and cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, which took about 45 minutes.
BBQ Tip: Tri tips are not a well marbled as a brisket or pork butt, so you'll get better results if you cook this cut quicker than you would typically cook using the WSM. I opened the bottom air vents and let the cooker temperature rise to 300 degrees.
If you want a medium rare tri tip, you may want to pull the meat off the grill a little earlier because the meat continued to cook while resting. By the time I sliced it open, the tri tip was closer to medium well than medium rare, which is what I actually wanted anyway.
I sauced my tri tip with Ole Ray's Apple Cinnamon Barbecue Sauce.
If you try this recipe, you'll want to flip the meat periodically to ensure it doesn't burn on either side. I flipped it about every 20 minutes in the WSM and it came out perfectly.

Friday, August 10, 2007

National BBQ Rankings

I don't know about you, but I always enjoyed reading the box scores for sporting events. I like seeing who did what...who is hot and who is not...etc. I love statistics and trying to find the hidden meaning in them.

I've always wondered why the Team of the Year standings weren't published at for sanctioned barbecue events. The Florida Barbeque Association has provided event by event scores and Team of the Year standings on their web site for years. In fact, they usually have them posted within 24-48 hours of the event conclusion.

Some loyal barbecue fans over at the National BBQ Rankings web site have started a valuable service for bbq fans. launched recently to provide an online source for KCBS Team of the Year standings on a week by week basis. I applaud the effort. Now we'll be able to follow along throughout the year and see what teams are on the rise and which ones are on the decline for KCBS Team of the Year.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Peck's Chicken

Linda and I ate lunch at a restuarant called Peck's Flame Broiled Chicken yesterday for lunch. It's a nice looking "bbq style" restaurant near our house. They have seating outside for about 15 people and inside seating accomodates up to 30 people. I had ribs and Linda had chicken.

While there, I noticed a brochure advertising a "ground floor" opportunity to start a Peck's Fame Broiled Chicken restaurant. The brochure advertised a "variety of investment options" including "management/ownership and geography territory exclusive right packages".

The restuarant near our house is apparently the 2nd location in existence, so this is truly a ground floor / start-up opportunity.

For anyone looking for a restaurant start-up opportunity, you might want to learn more about Peck's Flame Broiled Chicken.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Griller Grouper Sandwich

While this definitely fits more in the "grilling" category than the type of traditional hard core barbecue that I usually cook, I do enjoy a grilled grouper sandwich from time to time. As luck would have it though, when I order a grouper sandwich at a local restaurant I might not always be getting the "real" deal.

It seems that some restaurants who were charging premium prices for grouper were actually serving a fake grouper. But, that may have been a blessing in disguise because some published reports claim that due to the level of mercury contamination in grouper, it's not healthy to eat it more than a couple times per month.

To read more about the "great grouper controversy", visit the St. Petersburg Times newspaper.

It turns out all this fake grouper has improved the overall quantity of "real" grouper stocks at your favorite fishing spots.

BBQ Blues

Hey bbq friends and neighbors. I'm sitting out on my patio this a.m. surfing the web on my new Dell Latitude D830 laptop (like it a lot). I had a medical procedure a while back and I'm still not up to cooking barbecue this weekend.

I've been visiting my usual bbq favorite sites including The BBQ Forum, White Trash BBQ, Florida Barbeque Association, and Kansas City Barbeque Society and thought I'd listen to a little blues music. I ran across an online radio station I wanted to share call Blues Man . In the past few minutes I've listened to classic by blues heavy weights like Billie Holiday, John Lee Hooker, and Johnny Winter. They throw in some little known/unknown artists too like Big Mike Welch (not too bad at that).

If that's not you particular flavor for blues, then here's another option....Pandora Radio . I typed in Stevie Ray Vaughn in the search box and it searched for stations that play that type of music. Within seconds I was listening to Lonnie Mack singing "From Nashville to Memphis" and next Albert Lee playing "That's Alright Mama: From Country Fever to Black Crow". I really like this service from Pandora Radio. I guarantee I'll be a regular user.

Do you have some favorite bbq music online stations you'd like to share?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Cheaters, Cheaters Everywhere

Point shaving in college basketball. Unethical NBA referees. Steroids in Major League baseball, track and field, the Tour de France, Boston Marathon, triathlons, and on and on and on. Cheaters are everywhere these days.

Whatever happened to good old fashioned compeition? You know....the kind where the best team wins.

Recently I was asked if I've ever witnessed cheating at bbq contests.

I don't necessarily think it's common place, but I'm sure it does occur. I've seen some things that are questionable at several contests ranging from a team using a crock pot to heat their bbq sauce before dipping their chicken in it a few minutes before turn-in to a team showing up to a KCBS sanctioned event at 6 a.m., cooking all four categories and finishing in the top-5 overall.

I've also witnessed some questionable meat inspectors who didn't actually inspect the meat being cooked before it was prepped. I've seen meat sitting out at room temperature from 10 p.m. at night, when the team went back to their motel to sleep, until they returned to put it on the cooker at 5 a.m. (they were awarded Reserve Grand Champion at the event).

The bottom line.....whether it's bbq, baseball, basketball, football, cycling, track and field, or whatever; some people will go to great lengths to win-at-all-costs. My take on it....if you need the money that bad, you can have it. I prefer to win the old fashioned a result of my own personal efforts and dedication.

But the biggest thing that irks me in particular at a bbq contest are quiet hours violations. At one contest the team next to us stayed up all night playing their loud music and drinking so much they were too drunk to cook. Just before their wives came the next morning they started being real nice to Linda (hoping she wouldn't mention it to their wives).

Sunday, July 29, 2007

BBQ Rub Secret

Do you have a favorite bbq rub? Are you wishing that it had a little more salt flavor or wish it was a little sweeter?

Instead of buying more rub, tweak the rub you've been using by adding a little more salt, more sugar, or a little of both.

I started out my bbq hobby with Head Country All Purpose Seasoning. It's a basic bbq rub that has been used in bbq competitions with much success. In fact, I predict it's the basic formula that many, many bbq teams are using for their brisket rub. It's a little tame for my tastes, but that's easily cured by adding some white pepper, a little more cayenne, or fresh ground pepper to the mix.

For bbq spare ribs, try equal parts Head Country and brown sugar. If you don't get the results you hoped for add more or less sugar and try it again.

If you'd like to buy some of my personal brisket rub, visit You won't be dissapointed.

BBQ Blog Statistics

The BBQ Blog is grateful for each and every visitor that drops by to check us out. I'm always amazed at how many international visitors the blog receives. I thought I'd share some statistics to demonstrate just how popular the sport of bbq has become around the world.

If you have a bbq oriented web site and would to exchange links with us, please send me an e-mail or leave a comment below.

Competition BBQ Secrets

Friday, July 27, 2007

Home Grown Honey for Barbecue

I suspect that most barbecuers use honey in their bbq process at some point. Whether they add honey to a commercial bbq sauce to "improve it" or whether they make their own bbq sauce from scratch, there's most likely some honey involved.

I've made posts in the past about knowing your beekeeper and buying local honey. Today I thought I'd share a little knowledge about becoming a bee keeper and having your own "private" supply of honey in your backyard.

The University of Georgia offers a "how to" institute and education program called the "Georgia Master Beekeeper Program" and makes lecture notes available to anyone that wants to read them. They also have some pictures from previous institute programs. There's a vast range of information available about honey bee biology, preparing to keep bees, and other winter and spring management considerations. It probably won't enable you to start your own hives, but it's definitely a good place to start learning about bees.

My brother-in-law and nephew keep bees at my father-in-laws farm in Tennessee and based on about 7-years of observation, keeping bees is a lot of hard work during certain times of the year, but very rewarding at harvest time.

We've become their best customers and purchase more than $100 of Tennessee clover honey each year. It pays to be nice to your beekeeper. Store bought honey just doesn't measure up.

BBQ Secrets!

BBQ History

History of Barbecue in the South

A University of Virginia graduate student has prepared a thesis documenting the origins of barbecue in the south. Whether you are barbecue pro or amateur, backyard cook or barbecue expert...the attached article will teach something you didn't know about barbecue.

She has documented barbecue from a historical perspective and also included some recipes .

There's even a barbecue bibliography if you would like to research the subject further.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

BBQ State Championship

I've noticed a trend developing in bbq contests. There are multiple contests that are called "state championships" in the same state.

The declaration as a "state" championship suggests that winning that contest makes you THE state champion. Imagine winning the "state championship" and later finding out that there are 4 - 5 other teams certified as "state champions" in the same state.

If the state champion from each of the 50 states advance to a national championship such as the American Royal , I'd expect there to be a maximum of 50 teams in the national championship event.

Multiple champions from each state at multiple contests that are called "state championships" kind of lessens the significance of the accomplishment in my mind.

Does the NFL crown multiple Superbowl Champions? Does MLB crown multiple World Series champions? Does more than team win the College Football National Championship?

Then why do bbq sanctioning bodies feel the need to crown multiple state champions?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Alton Brown: Feasting on Asphalt

Don't you just love Alton Brown?

I watched the Food Network program Next Food Network Star marathon yesterday. Alton Brown was featured heavily in a couple of episodes.

Besides his regular Good Eats and Iron Chef America programs I really enjoyed Feasting on Asphalt episodes last year.

The second season of Feasting on Asphalt begins later this month. If it's anything like last year, it's going to be a "must see". I envy the guy. Not only does he get to eat at some cool restaurants in out of the way places, but he gets to ride his motorcycle around the country and get paid for it!

If you're in Nashville or will be there on August 12, you can get up close and personal with Alton Brown at Gaylord Opryland Hotel. He will be featured as part of the celebrity chef series.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

How to BBQ Like a Pro

A lot of would be bbq competitors are a little apprehensive about entering their first bbq contest. It's natural. The fear of the unknown is a powerful emotion.

Rule #1: Don't believe anyone or anything you read on bbq message boards until you've had a chance to try it out for yourself first.

What started out as a "how to" phenomenon on the web has turned into an ego-fest on some of the discussion groups. As a guy that grew up in Missouri and someone that has spent the last several years reading about bbq on the web, sometimes you've got to "Show-Me" before I fully embrace and believe the advice I read about on discussion boards as THE ONLY definitive method for cooking barbecue. There's more than one way to cook prize winning barbeque. Just because Billy Joe Bob Smith cooked in two or three bbq contests 10-years ago and won a few trophies, that doesn't make him the bbq "authority".

Rule #2: Keep your cooking area neat and clean.

There's nothing less appealing about cooking food than an unclean cook or an unclean food prep area. If you want to be taken seriously as a bbq competitor, you need to keep your cooking area clean.

Rule # 3: Set a budget and stick to it.

Competitive barbecue is one sport where bigger and more expensive is not always better. There are people cooking on $250 smokers they transport to bbq contests in the back of their mini-vans and pick-up trucks who are beating the living daylights out of the $20,000 rotisserie smokers mounted on trailers and people driving $150,000 motorhomes. You don't have to keep up with the bbq Jones to compete in bbq contests.

Rule #4: Establish realistic goals and practice, practice, practice.

It's very difficult to win a bbq contest. There's 1 chance in a 1,000 that a bbq team is going to win the first bbq contest they enter. After you compete for a while, you'll begin to make subtle changes to your technique that gradually improve your results.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

BBQ Concession Trailer For Sale

If you're looking for the ultimate bbq concession trailer eBay is a good place to start your search. A local company located in Brandon, FL, Olympia Blends Products and Services, LLC has a brand new 8 X 32 ft bbq concession trailer for sale on eBay. They also sell an eBook about starting a concession business that sounds promising.

Here's a list of some of the NSF certified equipment installed in the Wells Cargo trailer posted in the advertisement:

-NSF APPROVED 96” long commercial hood system with grease extracting exhaust fan
-NSF APPROVED commercial stainless steel 23 cu. ft. stand up refrigerator manufactured by True, model T-23
-NSF APPROVED commercial stainless steel 23 cu. ft. stand up freezer manufactured by True, model T-23F
-NSF APPROVED commercial stainless steel 23 cu. ft. solid door stand up heated cabinet manufactured by True, model TH-23
-NSF APPROVED commercial 2 well LP steam table (spillage pans and inserts not included)
-NSF APPROVED 18” stainless steel work top table with an adjustable underneath shelf
Three - NSF APPROVED commercial 40 LB LP fryers with 2 baskets each
-NSF APPROVED 36” commercial LP flat top griddle
-NSF APPROVED 36” commercial stainless steel equipment stand with an adjustable underneath shelf for griddle
-NSF APPROVED commercial LP Ole Hickory Smoker with revolving racks and foot switch, model EL-IB (includes smoke extractor and cook and hold gauge to monitor meat - cooking capcity: Ribs (3 & down) - 60, Baby Back Ribs - 90, Boston Butt - 50, Turkey - 30, Chicken (whole) - 50 (half) - 135, Brisket (12 lb) - 40, not to mention you can access this smoker from the inside of your concession so you don't have to walk in and out of the unit to feed your customers
-96” long stainless steel backsplash under the hood
As they say, "quality doesn't come cheap."