Monday, January 29, 2007

Pork Loin Rub

Linda cooked a pork loin this weekend and we just had some leftovers tonight. I especially liked the rub she used and thought I'd share it here.

(As tested by Susan Selasky and published by the Free Press)

1 tsp cumin
2 tsp ancho chili powder
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Lakeland Pig Festival

Congratulations to the top ten teams at the KCBS sanctioned event held today at Tiger Town in Lakeland, FL.

1. Cool Smoke
2. Smok'in Cracker
3. Bar B Quau
5. Smoke-N-Suds
7. The ABS Cooking Team
8. Bill and the Dixie Chicks
9. Firehouse BBQ
10. Fast Eddy's BBQ
11. Swamp Boy's BBQ
12. Parrothead Smokers

Friday, January 26, 2007

Promoting BBQ Contests

I'm in favor of anything, anyone, and any idea(s) that will have a positive effect on the sport of bbq.

I enjoy the challenge of competing against others to prepare bbq samples that are judged the "best" at any given event. I enjoy traveling to new places and meeting new people. BBQ has been good to me. However, I am not in favor of policies, agendas, or people that create a windfall for one group of competitors and a disadvantage or difficulty for another group of competitors. I would like more and more people that see media coverage of bbq contests on Internet websites, on television programs like those on Food Network or Travel Channel, or in magazines/newspapers to become involved in the sport.

I've been reading some of the discussions over at The BBQ Forum with great interest this week. There have been many threads about the rumored and proposed "changing trends" in the professional sport of competing in KCBS sanctioned bbq contests.

I can see the pro's and con's of almost all the discussions and feel that discussions to generate new ideas are good. As anyone that has ever worked with or as a part of a large group or corporation knows, some of the best ideas come during informal casual conversation.

So....along those lines, I'd like to offer yet another idea for consideration.

Why not create a separate parking lot for RV's at bbq contests? I'm not referring to small trailers that serve as kitchens and commisaries, but rather to the large 35 and 40-plus foot rollling mega-mansions that are gaining popularity at contests. Some of the rigs are priced upwards of $750,000.

In my personal opinion, if I were a spectator attending a bbq contest with thoughts of future competion in the sport and I saw a row of luxury RV's at an event, I'd begin to question whether I could really afford the sport.

And if we want to promote the sport of bbq to spectators and potential sponsors at the bbq events, what better way to promote to free exchange of bbq information than to remove the RV's from the cooking area so competitors are more accessible for spectators who want to ask questions about our wonderful sport?

At the American Royal a few years ago I actually witnessed three RV's parked in a sort of triangle, which I'm sure was aimed at preventing passers-by from bothering the competitors. These were some of the "big" names of the sport who I looked up too at the time. It made me question how "approachable" we as contest competitors actually are. In this particular example at the American Royal it was the opposite; they were anything but approachable. They had made themselves "unapproachable" on purpose.

Oh well, I'll put my soap box away for today. Just some food for thought.

What do you think?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Links to BBQ Assocations

If you're like me, you probably get the bbq blues sometimes during the winter. A little cold weather doesn't stop me from cooking some 'que, but at this time of year the competition season seems pretty far away. I know it will be here soon enough and in some areas of the country has already started, but for the rest of's a collection of links to various bbq associations and societies on the World Wide Web to help you plan out your upcoming contests in 2007.

If I've missed any, please let me know.

Weber Charcoal Chimney Fire Starter

Whether you cook on a kettle grill, a park grill, a water smoker, or a custom rotisserie, the Weber Chimney Starter is a safe and effective way to start a fire.

Say no to lighter fluid and say yes to wax fire starter sticks. Lighter fluid can add an additional flavor to food that you didn't count on.

The aluminized construction of the Weber charcoal chimney not only looks good, but it lasts longer than some of the "cheaper" bargain store styles. It's high capacity will heat a 22 1/2 inch kettle grill to cooking temperature in no time flat.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Southern Illinois Bluegrass & BBQ Festival

We received our first contest announcement for the upcoming 2007 competition season today here on the bbq blog.

Jim 'Rhino' Reincke, Co-Chair of the Southern Illinois Bluegrass & BBQ Festival sent me a quick note regarding the Southern Illinois Bluegrass & BBQ Festival this evening. The organizers have been in 'gear-up' mode for a couple of months now for the 2007 event.

In only it's second year of KCBS sanctioning, the event has been designated as a State Championship.

The 2007 prize pool:

  • $1,500 for Grand Champion (and a winner's banner)
  • $800 for Reserve Grand (and a winner's banner)
  • Top 5 places in each category receive cash
  • Top 3 in each category receive banners
  • Top 10 receive plaques

Jim invites all the BBQ Blog readers to "come on down to Salem, Illinois (4 hours south of Chicago) the weekend after Labor Day (September 7th & 8th) to discover the hospitality experienced by Dr. Chuckie, Shig's-N-Pit, Bar-B-Quau, Ulcer Acres, Dr. Porkenstein, and others!"

If you'd like additional information regarding the contest, please visit the contest web site for all the details and an online application.

2007 Detroit International Auto Show

Borrowing a few styling queues from last year's popular Ford Super Chief, the new F-450 is one tough looking truck. Want to learn the "Truth About Trucks"? Click the link to see it for yourself.

The perfect bbq tow vehicle--2007 Ford F-250 Extended Cab Four-Wheel Drive, blue over silver two-tone paint scheme.

Some bbq teams are known for using golf carts to transport their entries. How about a Polaris four-wheeler? I'll bet you'd never be late to turn-ins with this baby.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Pulled Pork Sandwich

In honor of the first substantial snow fall and coldest day of the year, I took the opportunity to prepare one of my favorite summertime treats--pulled pork sandwiches!
The sandwiches were served on whole wheat buns with Fat Johnny's Bastardized Piedmont BBQ Sauce on the side accompanied by a summertime salad combination of black beans, corn, and chunks of tomatoes.
Ummmm! Good.

Insulated BBQ Smoker

I'm cooking four pork butts today for a friend at work. It's kind of my last bbq hurrah here in this Michigan weather.
When I fired up the smoker at 8 a.m. the outside temperature was 21 degrees. By 9 a.m. my cooker was holding steady temps near the 210 range. That's a testimony to the flexibility insulated bbq cookers provide that the "tank style" offset cookers don't offer.
The picture above was taken in April a couple of years ago with 80 degree temps, but this is the best photograph I have of my insultated smokers.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Taste of Grand Rapids KCBS BBQ Contest

I received an invitation for the 2007 Taste of Grand Rapids in the mail today.

The flyer listed some upgrades the organizer is planning for the 2007 event, which include the proximity of restrooms, location of the ice supplier, and more time between turn-ins for the main contest categories. I applaud the upgrades. It looks like they are arriving two years too late for us though. We competed at the event in 2005 and 2006, but we're going to miss it this year.

We're heading back to the Sunshine State soon where it almost never snows, where folks worry more about mosquitoes than potholes, and where the bbq events provide access to electricity and a ready availability of water for bbq contest competitors.

Monday, January 15, 2007

BBQ Reality Show

There appears to be a reality show for just about everything these days. People living in remote areas trying to survive, strangers living together in houses under a watchful eye, people competing for jobs, competing for modeling contracts, etc. I'm waiting for someone to host one for bbq contests.

It could work like this....

1. Get together a group of 50 people who have never cooked bbq before.
2. Organize them into 10 teams of 5 people each.
3. Take them to a bbq cook-off.
4. Assign each team a bbq "consultant" at the event.
5. Teams would be give tokens (aka lifelines) that allows the teams to ask three questions of the "consultant" at pivotal points during the event.
6. Consultants could spend a maximum of 10 minutes explaining or demonstrating the method to use.
7. The teams' entries could be judged right along with the other contest entries and the highest score wins. Or, there could be a separate "amateur" category like the backyard division seen at some events.

The organizer would need to provide a few basics for each of the teams such as a cooker, basic utensils, a prep table, cutting board, hand washing station and some type of shelter. To keep it as fair as possible, the cookers would need to be the same type or brand, such as all WSM's, or all offsets, all pellet get the idea.

As I think back to the first couple of events we entered and how confused we were about how to approach some of the basic bbq tasks, I think this would make some very entertaining television for food enthusiasts. I know we "entertained" some of the contest regulars at our first event and we're probably still providing occasional amusement to on-lookers for some of our un-orthodox approaches.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Cooking Up a Story: 2 Fat Larry's

There's a new episode featuring bbq posted on the Cooking Up a Story website, hosted by Rebecca Gerendasy

This episode features Larry Mayes, of 2 Fat Larry's competition team. Larry's rib rub is also posted on the site.

You can learn more about Larry on NOW YOU'RE COOKIN: Inside The World of Championship Barbecue, a barbecue documentary featuring Larry Mayes. Click here to purchase the bbq documentary.

Government Subsidies Cause Beef and Pork Prices to Rise for Barbecue Enthusiasts

Brace yourselves barbecuers, because the prices of pork butts and beef briskets are likely to continue rising.

The popularity of ethanol for fuel programs initiated by the government to combat rising gasoline prices are contributing to rising demand for corn. Cattle and pork producers will demand higher prices for their products, or be forced out of the industry.

According to an article posted at,

"The ethanol industry receives government subsidies of $1.53 per bushel of maize and a blender’s tax credit of $0.51 per gallon of ethanol and there’s a federal mandate on ethanol production." These incentives have the ethanol industry growing at an almost unbelievable pace," said Gene Gourley, a pork producer and swine nutritionist from Webster City, Iowa, testifying on behalf of NPPC and IPPA. "New plants are springing up everywhere, and they’re using a lot of corn."

These government subsidy programs are robbing from Peter to pay Paul, it appears. Subsidizing one agricutural industry (corn production) in spite others (beef and pork production) will likely lead to higher costs for barbecuing meat.

Basic economic forces of supply and demand will put dual upward pressures on prices for meat. As costs of production increase, one of two things will happen: 1) the smaller beef and pork producers will leave the industry, or 2) the costs will increase for producers still in the industry. Neither scenario looks postive for barbecuers.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

BBQ Blog

If you're searching for bbq blogs to read this winter, be sure to check out Paddlin Pigs BBQ blog. I ran across a post about it over at BBQ Brethern and surfed on by to check it out.

I haven't read a lot of the articles yet, but as I skimmed the site this evening I noticed some interesting bbq pictures. There are several "non-traditional" bbq posts and pictures as well that discuss ways to use bbq meat on pizza, for sandwiches, in black-eyed peas and for submarine sandwiches.

And if you want to join in the fun and write your own bbq blog, you can start one for free at Blogger or Word Press.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Grades of Beef

According to the USDA's Agriculture Marketing web site there are 2 types of beef carcass:

1) heifers, steers, cows
2) bulls

Prime, Choice, Select, Standard and Utility quality grades apply to #1; and Prime, Choice, Select, Commercial, Utility, Cutter and Canner quality grades apply to #2.

The "grades" of quality are based on marbling, color and firmness of the carcass.

Click here for more specific details from the USDA.

Personal Chef Training

Food Network has brought a lot concentrated and focused exposure to culinary arts careers. Shows like Recipe for Success and Iron Chef America have fueled the desire for thousands of "culinary enthusiasts" to explore cooking as a career. Make no mistake, cooking in a restaurant setting is hard work.

What options are available outside of working in a "traditional" restaurant setting?

According to Culinary Business Academy founders David and Susan McKay, the academy is dedicated to teaching the science of cooking as a business. Headquartered in New Mexico, the academy offers courses in Personal Chef, Commercial Kitchen, Catering and Entertainment cooking.

For chefs that have already completed some professional training, the U.S. Personal Chef Association provides support, certification courses, information about liability insurance, and networking information for its' members.

Search for BBQ Blogs on Google Blog Search

Monday, January 08, 2007

KCBS Board of Directors Annual Elections

This year the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) is conducting their election of officers online. As I understand it, KCBS members without Internet access can request a ballot to vote via mail by contacting the KCBS offices, but members are encouraged to vote online if at all possible.

This time of year is also the right time to update your KCBS membership records with new addresses, phone #'s and e-mail addresses that may have changed since your membership was last renewed.

Stand up an be counted, vote today!

And if you're not a member of the KCBS, now is the perfect time to sign-up for membership. Membership entitles you to receive a copy of the society's monthly newsletter; the Bullsheet.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

URal Motorcycles

I don't know what it is about these Russian motorcycles that makes me want to put them on a bbq blog, but here they are anyway. I just think they are cool.

They're fairly affordable for a motorcycle and sidecar combination. I watched a video on them and they are very off-road capable as well.

Linda doesn't ride standard two-wheel motorcycles, but said she might ride in one of these. Now if I could just find some more room in the motorcycle budget left over from the bbq budget.

Here's one in basic black--"bbq black" even. With only 749 cc, I'm not sure they'd have enough ummmmph to tow a bbq trailer, but a motorcycle with sidecar for under $10,000 is still pretty interesting.

"Six Degrees of Separation" -- Barbecue Style

Linda and I attended the Cycle World bike show today at the Rock Financial Expo Center in Novi, Michigan. They had a Newmar motor coach on display that was called the All Star Cycle Hauler Edition. Newmar is a premium manufacturer of motor homes and luxury coaches. The slide-outs open up at the rear of the coach and you can ride your motorcycle up a ramp and store it inside the coach (no trailer to tow behind). All of this is available for the low, low price of $255,000.

When Linda saw this she immediately thought of the possibilities for an "All-Star Mega BBQ Edition". She envisioned running smokestacks through the ceiling for smoke ventilation. I've taught her well, haven't I? We purchased two Mega Millions lottery tickets last night, so now all we have to do is win and Linda can have a rolling bbq palace (wink, wink). We could do some serious damage with a $122 million budget. I think I could even make due with the $50 million that might be left over after paying all the taxes.

I have a 2000 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Classic V-Twin and haven't been able to ride much this winter, but seeing the new model Harley's, Victory's and various other customized show quality motorcycles on the display has me yearning for spring time again.

This "V2K" Motorcycle Cruiser Project Bike was built by Stephen Garret Design (

This Argo 8 x 8 Amphibious ATV would make a great bbq vehicle. It's powered by a "4 cycle overhead valve V-Twin liquid cooled 674cc, Kohler Aegis LH 690 engine with electronic ignition, solenoid shift starter, fuel accelerator pump and full pressure lubrication" . This ATV is just what the serious barbecue enthusiast needs for those "backwoods barbecue events".

Can you imagine the customized paint job these guys could put on a bbq smoker? My Backwoods Party would be unrecognizable with one of these high dollar metallic designs. This $250,000 award winning customized Yamaha V-Star called the "Nehmesis" was built by Sam Nehme at BMS Choppers in Florida.

Government to Increase Imported Canadian Beef

According to an article in the Casper Star Tribune, the Bush administration is seeking to increase imports of Canadian beef into the U.S. in spite of the fact that Canada discovered 5 new cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as "Mad Cow Disease".

The Food and Drug Administration's website lists imported Canada ruminant products as as "BSE affected or at risk"; including "ruminant beef products". The FDA issued an Import Alert #17-04 dated 5/20/03 that lists Canada and appears to be an update to a previous ruling in 1998 that restricts

"the importation of ruminants, meat and meat products from ruminants, and certain ruminant products and byproducts not nly from countries and other regions in which BSE is known to exist, but also from countries and other regions which, because of import requirements less restrictive than those that would be acceptable for import into the United States and/or because of inadequate surveillance, present a significant risk"

I find it confusing that our government is considering increasing importation of products that are grown in our own back yard...let alone products that could pose a potential risk to consumers.

Scientists are experimenting with various methods of reducing the risk to consumers through various regulations, but as this Scientific American article explains, the preventative solution may reside in "cloned" beef. It remains to be seen whether U.S. consumers will accept cloned beef on a large scale, but it may prove to be a viable solution to reduce risk of BSE (Mad Cow disease) in the U.S.

In my view, another obvious safeguard for U.S. consumers is to not import beef from Canada or any other country that has demonstrated an established a pattern of BSE tainted beef during the past 10-years. At a minimum, I hope the government requires labeling of imported beef with it's country of origin at the supermarket, so consumers can make an educated decision when purchasing it.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Plans to Build a Cold Smoker

How to Build a Cold Smoker and Smoke Sausage Like a Pro

Wedliny Demowe has a website that is one of the best "how to" cook smoked meats I've read in quite some time.

The site's primary focus is on making sausage and it covers the in's and out's of meat selection, curing, mixing, stuffing, drying, smoking, cooling, and storing sausage. There's a lot of pictures of the entire sausage making process from start to finish. It's basically a sausage makers' encyclopedia of the basics of sausage making, which covers about 50% of the sites content. The other 50% of the content focuses on the techniques used to smoke and cook meat.

There are plans to build a concrete block smoker using prefabricated 8 x 8 x 16 concrete masonry blocks without using mortar. You don't have to be a brick mason to build a very nice smoke house. There are a lot of diagrams and explanation for the theories behind fire pits including explanations of draft, baffles, and grates.

The site has a large photo gallery with smokers and fire pits in every imagineable size, shape and construction technique you could think of. The gallery features metal sheet cold smokers, brick and stone smokers, and other home made vertical barrel smokers that are every bit as effective as anything you could buy for up to about $1,000 from a manufacturer.

As I've always said....if you want to learn to smoke meat go to the source. Well folks, Wedliny Demowe's web site is a pretty good source for cold smoking.

Fantasy BBQ League

I've been working on the Fantasy BBQ League for the upcoming 2007 KCBS competition season.
My attempt at fantasy bbq will be fairly simple. I'm developing an Excel spreadsheet to keep the tally from contest to contest and will include the following 10 contests in this year's league:

03/08 - 03/10 2007 Mobile, AL
Mitchell Co. BBQ Championship & Hog Wild Festival

04/20 - 04/21 2007 Bentonville, AR
Fire Up Your Grill, Benton County Ducks Unlimited

05/03 - 05/05 2007 Huntsville, AL
Whistle Stop Festival & Rocket City BBQ

05/18 - 05/19 2007 Sevierville, TN
Bloomin' Barbeque & Bluegrass

05/18 - 05/19 2007 Kansas City, KS
2nd Annual Oklahoma Joes BBQ Cookoff & 2007 World Brisket Open

05/25 - 05/27 2007 Kansas City, KS
Great American Barbecue Contest

06/07 - 06/09 2007 Des Moines, IA
Great Pork BarbeQlossal

06/15 - 06/16 2007 Bardwell, KY
Kentucky Big Rivers BBQ

06/22 - 06/23 2007 Lawrenceburg, TN
Wild Turkey Bourbon TN State Championship BBQ

06/29 - 06/30 2007 Albertville, AL
The Taste of Freedom Barbeque Cookoff

Limiting the league to 10 contests will make it more attainable. Unfortunately, I'll also have to limit the number of participating teams to a maximum of ten.

Scoring for a win in any of the four traditional KCBS categories:

First place = 10 points
Second place = 9 points
Third = 8 points
Fourth = 7 points
Fifth = 6 points
Sixth = 5 points
Seventh = 4 points
Eighth = 3 points
Ninth = 2 points
Tenth = 1 point

Scoring for an overall champion or reserve grand champion victory:

Grand Champion = 2 bonus points
Reserve Grand Champion = 1 bonus point

Points will be recorded according to the order of finish posted at the KCBS web site.

To "enter" your team for a particular contest, bbq team managers will need to submit their picks for a particular contest 24 hours prior to the event. The BBQ Forum's traditional "roll call" discussion can assist in allowing managers to know who's participating at a particular event.

If you'd like to participate in the league, or have suggestions that will help me maintain the league, please send me an e-mail or post a comment by clicking on the comments link at the bottom of this post.

At this point my league has 3 participants signed-up. We need 7 more.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Flower Pot BBQ Smoker

Newell's BBQ Blog has some pretty neat pictures of bbq smokers he built out of simple garden variety materials. There are posts including a bbq smoker made from a flower pot and another made from a trash can. also has a version of the flower smoker posted with pictures of some ribs cooked in the improvised terracotta smoker.

Never Trust a Skinny Chef has more pictures of another terracotta flower pot used as a smoker.

And lastly, here's a series of photographs featuring Alton Brown's version of the infamous smoking flower pot complete with an optional slide show.