Thursday, May 31, 2007

BBQ Secrets from a World Champion is giving away their bbq secrets in this Chicago Suburban News article.

After winning the Jack Daniels World Championship, people are beginning to listen when Scottie Johnson talks about bbq.

To summarize his prize winning tips:

  • Start with a good cut of meat
  • Cook it consistently
  • Give it some flavor

Johnson recommends Sam's Club for meat purchases and is an advocate of using foil when cooking ribs to retain moisture.

These bbq tips sound pretty simple, but until you put them into consitent practice it's all just a theory. Folks, Scottie Johnson is proof that sometimes it's simple that wins bbq contests.

Ultimate Smoker and Grill

I received an e-mail today from a publicist for Oroweat, one of the sponsors of the Ultimate Smoker and Grill developed by Trace Arnold. His smoker/grill is so large, it requires a semi-truck to transport. He's developed a promotional concept that allows advertisers to promote their brand on a LARGE scale at fairs and festivals.

I've never seen this particular monster up close, but I have seen the Big Taste Grill a few years ago at the Taste of Grand Rapids (Michigan).

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Brisket Cook

Here's a picture of the brisket we cooked on Sunday. It was taken just before we wrapped it in aluminum foil for the final 2 hours. The internal meat temperature at this point in the cooking process registered 168 degrees.

I've found that wrapping in foil between 165 and 170 degrees helps speed up the cooking process and also helps retain moisture in the meat. I've tried them without foil and didn't like the results.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Brisket Barbecue

I'm cooking a packer brisket today that should be ready to eat just after the Indianapolis 500 finishes and just prior to the Coca-Cola 600 starting.

I prepared for the cook by purchasing a 12 pound packer brisket and trimming the biggest portion of the fat cap off.

My butcher always offers to perform the trimming for me, but I prefer to do it myself. By trimming myself, I end up paying for extra weight that ends up in the trash can, but in the end it's worth it because I can decide how much fat to trim off and how much to leave on. It's a delicate "grey area" because if you trim off too much, you risk drying out the meat. If you leave too much on, you will lose some bark formation on the meat itself.

I seasoned the brisket last night prior to bedtime and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight. The rub included a generous coating of sugar, Kosher salt, Spanish paprika, black pepper, onion granules, garlic granules, oregano, and three other "secret" ingredients that make my spice rub a winner on the competition circuit.

I'm cooking in my Weber Smokey Mountain today with some apple wood chunks for seasoning.

If you would like to sample the brisket rub yourself, it's available for purchase at The BBQ Guy's web site. It's earned several top finishes for me and several of my bbq friends in KCBS competitions.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Monster Pig

An 11-year old boy killed a 1,051 pound hog near Anniston, AL with eight shots from a .50 caliber handgun. Click here for the complete story.

I've seen a lot of posts on discussion boards about the photograph being a "fake". I guess some folks have come to expect the worst from people, but I never doubted it for a minute. I've been around a lot of pigs in my life and had them for 4-H projects and on the family farm. We never had any that big, but I've seen some 400 pound boars and some maybe a little bigger.

For anyone that doubts the story, the Anniston Star, Fox News, and the taxidermist that mounted the hog for the family have help provide additional creditibility to story.

The boy's father, Mike Stone, estimates the hog will produce between 500 and 700 pounds of sausage.

Operation BBQ II

Ft. Rucker, AL will host the 2nd annual Above the Best BBQ and Music Festival bbq festival later in 20o7. According to the web site "donations of rubs, sauces, utensils, picnic supplies, music, and other BBQ essentials to create packages to send forward to soldiers currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan so that they too may have a taste of the Above the Best BBQ and Music Festival".

What a great idea. I applaud their efforts. My friend that served three years in South Korea with an Air Defense Battalion used to bbq on the weekends all the time. Based on the primitive conditions he was cooking in, the pictures of the ribs he sent back looked pretty good too.

It doesn't list a date for the Ft. Rucker event, but last year's contest was won by Lotta Bull BBQ with Munchees Smokehouse and Woodhouse Grill finishing 2nd and 3rd overall. Last year's event was KCBS sanctioned, but it appears this years event might be unsanctioned at this point.

This Memorial Day weekend, I'd urge everyone to take a moment and consider those who serve in the armed forces and those who have served previously.

Ole Hickory BBQ Pit for Sale

There's an Ole Hickory BBQ Pit mounted on a tandem axle trailer for sale at . Based on the pictures on the auction site, it looks a little rough. The current bid is at $1,450 and the next required bid is $1,500. If I'm reading the web site correctly, this is an internet auction that ends on June 5. The winning bidder will need to make arrangements to pick-up the smoker in Witchita, KS.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Imported Meat and Food Hazards

In previous bbq blog articles, I've written about some of the suspected dangers of imported beef from Canada and other countries. Here's some more articles for your consideration regarding beef, pork, and other foods:

Chinese Catfish
Canadian beef
Chinese rice protein
Chinese wheat
Peru jalapenos
Imported feed ingredients fed to U.S. pork supply

I think all imported food or food made with imported ingredients should be labeled prominently to make consumers aware of the "imported" status. Then consumers can chose to buy it, or not buy it based on an informed decision. A more agressive food lableing law would allow consumers to vote with their checkbook.

Would you knowingly purchase imported beef, pork or chicken to feed your family if you knew it was "imported"?

Holiday BBQ Smoking Plans

It's a 3-day weekend and the weather's perfect for cooking 'que!

Linda brought home a packer brisket today that I'm going to cook in the WSM on Sunday while watching the Indianapolis 500. (Go Danica!) It should be done just in time for a nice brisket feast during the Charlotte 600 later in the evening. (Any Dale Jr. fans out there?)

I used to cook brisket flats from Sam's Club exclusively, but when they didn't have the flats one day I picked up a packer brisket as a substitute. The whole briskets ruined me for brisket flats ever since.

Don't get me wrong....the flats are more affordable, but if there's one thing I've learned in the past 5-years chasing my bbq obsession....good barbecue isn't cheap!

I'll post some pictures later in the weekend.

Build an Offset Barbecue Smoker

If you're mechanically oriented and are a good welder, or know someone who is, you can build you own offset bbq smoker. It's common to see offset smokers made from propane tanks.

Here are some links to websites that can help get you started in the right direction:

Where to put the axle
Offset Smoker Build
BBQ Smoker Plans
Forum Discussion

Here's a picture of the end result as built by Rob Bagby aka "Rub" of Swamp Boys BBQ.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Florida BBQ License Plate

I received my new personalized bbq license plate this week.

Mike Mills Apple City Barbecue Team

I ran across this video featuring Mike Mills, co-author of Peace, Love, and Barbecue and proprietor of the 17th Street Bar and Grill in Murphysboro, IL.

The video provides an intimate look "behind the scenes" at the restaurant founded by the Apple City Barbeque multi-time Memphis in May World Champion (1990, 1992, 1994) and creator of "Magic Dust" barbecue rub.

The director, Mark Dolan, has produced several other bbq oriented videos you might also enjoy.

Restaurant Management Toolkit!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

WSM Smoke Day announced the 3rd annual International WSM Smoke Day scheduled for May 26, 2007. They've got t-shirts on sale via Cafe Press to commemorate the event.

To date 251 people have announced their plans to participate in the event. Join in the fun and register today.

Virtual Weber Bullet is one of the first bbq websites that I visited back in 2000 when I decided to learn how to barbecue. The information provided on the website convinced me to make the Weber Smokey Mountain my first bbq smoker.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mothership BBQ Nashville Tennessee

Calling all bbq fans in Nashville....

Mothership BBQ has been featured on my bbq blog earlier this year and the restaurant has received rave reviews from the Tennessean, several local publications, and even a mention in the Washington Post.

You can read more about the situation on the Mothership bbq blog. But, as so often happens with a start-up restaurant, things are getting pretty tough.

Mothership could use your support. It would be great if you could take a few friends along with you when you visit. After all, we barbecuers have to stick together.

If you've ever thought about owning a bbq restaurant, albeit a minority ownership I'm sure, here's your chance.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

BBQ Restaurant Business Plan

Looking for a bbq restaurant business plan?

The folks at are offering a business plan for starting a barbeque restaurant at $25. The executive summary is posted on their website.

The Virginia Small Business Development website has a success story posted about a restaurant start-up effort. This story could serve as a checklist of sorts for things to ensure are incorporated into any type of bbq busines plan you may end up developing.

The S.C.O.R.E. website also has a success story about Bo's Barbeque.

Both of these stories seem to emphasize talking to those who've "been there, and done that" before jumping into a new restaurant business.

I ran across a Central Missouri BBQ restaurant this weekend that's seeking a working partner. The owner has an illness and is unable to devote the time required to operate the business. It would be a nice opportunity for someone who lived close by.

Restaurant Management Toolkit!

BBQ Franchise Restaurants

Are you thinking about opening a bbq restaurant? Here's a list of bbq restaurant opportunities for your research.

Dickey's Barbecue Pit franchise
Locations in Texas, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, New Jersey, New Mexico, Tennessee

Bono's Bar-B-Q franchise
Locations in Florida, Michigan and Colorado

Fat Jack's BBQ franchise
Several locations and expanding

Restaurant Management Toolkit!

Parade Magazine's Guide to Outdoor Cooking

This weekend's edition of Parade has several articles about grilling. They call it barbecue, but regular readers of this bbq blog know that they're really referring to grilling. As a reminder and for reference when reading the rest of my post: "Hot and fast" = grilling; and "low and slow" = barbecue.

According to an article titled You Can Grill Anything! by Leslie Pepper, 70% regularly grill hamburgers, 89% marinade steaks prior to cooking, and 47% grill hotdogs. According to the article 56% own a gas grill.

(For the record, I don't own a gas grill and don't plan to buy one. To me, cooking with gas is "cheating" and I really don't think it meets the true definition of "barbecue" or "grilling".)

This same issue of Parade also includes an article by Jeff Foxworthy titled Why Real Men Grill! Among other reasons, Foxworthy points that men like the danger of grilling. "If there's not a chance of calling 911, men don't want to bother cooking it!"

Joanna Prisco shares some tips for preparing potatoes on the grill and bananna's too in her article titled Hot Tips for a Fun Feast.

Sheila Lukins also shares her favorite bbq sauce recipe.

If you haven't picked up your Sunday newspaper yet today or if you didn't read Parade, check it out.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

$100,000 National Chicken Cooking Contest

The National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association co-sponsor the $100,000 National Chicken Cooking Contest. The first contest held in 1949 paid $250 for the winner. This year's event, the 47th annual event, promises a $100,000 first place prize. Read more...

This year's winner hailed from Eagle, Idaho cooked a Thai-themed stuffed chicken breast with slaw.

Start planning for next year's event by keeping tabs at . Fifty-one contestants will receive an all-expense paid trip to the event.

Also read for chicken recipes.

BBQ Contest Digest

2nd Annual Ridgefest
Friday, Oct. 12, and Saturday, Oct. 13
East Arkansas Community College

This contest will be held without the whole hog category this year and will focus on porks butts and ribs. The organizers hope to add whole hog back to the event next year with the addition of Memphis in May sanctioning. Read more...

MIM World Championship
Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18
Memphis, TN

The annual MIM World Championship of bbq is being held this weekend in Memphis, TN. Professional bbq cooks gather from around the world to compete in this long standing event. Read more...

KCBS Minnesota Championship
Friday, May 17, and Saturday, May 18
Austin, MN

Minnesota's biggest KCBS sanctioned bbq competition wraps up today at the Mower County Fairgrounds. Read more...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Soulful BBQ

Has your bbq got soul? Does it stand out in a crowd? Is it unique?

With the availability of bbq information on the internet these days, I've noticed a trend developing. It seems that folks new to the hobby are missing some out of some the things that made southern-style bbq an authentic, and uniquely "American" food. I'm not talking Lionel Ritchie and Barry Mainlow here. Nope. I'm referring to the James Brown, Al Green, Rod Stewart, and Charlie Daniels type of soul--the "real" deal.

With a little practice and basic bbq knowledge, almost anybody willing to spend $220 on a Weber Smokey Mountain, $12 on a shaker of Bad Byron's Butt Rub, and another $10 for some Blues Hog BBQ Sauce can turn-out some pretty good 'que.

This article isn't about the garden variety bbq that's so sweet you've got dentists lining up around the corner and down the block waiting to see you. It's not about the bbq that keeps modern day sugar plantation farms chomping at the bit awaiting your next order. You's easy to copy another person's recipe and it's easy to gravitate toward the type of bbq that is most forgiving--"sweet bbq"--but it's another thing entirely to step out of the bbq mainstream and come up something new exciting and different.

So cut back on the sugar and turn up the heat a little bit. Add some vinegar to your sauces, add a little mustard, or develop your own unique signature combination of spice seasoning that sprints ahead of the pack. Add some soul to your next bbq.

And if you're still not yourself a favor and pick up a James Brown CD the next time you're at Target. It just might add that soulful touch you're bbq is lacking.

Start a Catering Business!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Smokey Bones: Going Out of Business

According to a news release yesterday, Darden Restaurants is making plans to close 56 of their Smokey Bones bbq concept restaurants citing performance as a deciding factor. Darden is seeking a buyer for the remaining 73 bbq restaurants.

I used to live a couple miles from one of the first Smokey Bones ever opened in Casselberry, FL. The restaurant seemed to be busy most of the time, but the article explained that frequency of returning visits is lower than in its other restaurant concepts.

It kind of makes sense to me. Compared to their other successful concepts including Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze, and Red Lobster, I understand that customers would be more likely to visit Olive Garden for lunch more than once per week and I guess I understand the Bahama Breeze popularity.

Although I'm a bbq nut, I have to admit that I don't eat bbq more than once per week. I'm probably not a "typical" Darden customer though. I make my own bbq and don't eat at Olive Garden or Red Lobster more than about once per year. Olive Garden is popular for lunch with my co-workers, but I don't personally know anyone that actually eats at Red Lobster regularly.

Could it also be that the profit margins for bbq are less than the profit margins for for seafood and pasta dishes?

Paula's Party on Food Network

(May 14, 2007 – Memphis, Tenn) Paula Deen, the queen of Southern cuisine says you have to pick a side, fried or barbecued, when it comes to southern cooking. Deen invited Memphis restaurateur of the year, Patrick Neely, co-owner of Neely’s Bar-B-Que and his family to her show, “Paula’s Party” to cook their favorite barbecue recipes. The episode called, “Fried vs. BBQ” will air on Friday, June 1 at 8 p.m., CDT on Food Network.

Patrick and his wife, Gina, Patrick’s two brothers, Anthony and Mark along with their mother, Lorine joined Deen and her two sons, Jamie and Bobby for the episode. The show features several Neely’s Bar-B-Que recipes such as barbecue spaghetti and pork ribs. “It was a big party in Savannah, when we filmed the show with Paula,” said Patrick. “She really enjoyed the different Neely’s recipes that truly reflect Memphis barbecue.”

Last summer in Nashville, Jamie and Bobby Deen featured Neely’s Bar-B-Que on their Food Network Show “Road Tasted”. In September 2006, Paula visited Neely’s in Memphis during her appearance at the Mid-South Fair.

Neely’s Bar-B-Que has two Memphis locations, 670 Jefferson Avenue and 5700 Mt. Moriah and one location in Nashville, 2292 Metro Center. They also have a large catering division and barbecue stands in FedEx Forum. In addition, you can purchase Neely’s Bar-B-Que sauces and seasonings in your local grocery store or online at

Start a Catering Business!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Peg Leg Porkers and Martin's BBQ

I featured Martin's BBQ in Nolensville, TN a couple of weeks ago in an article about starting a bbq restaurant from the ground up. Today, Martin's BBQ has gained even more notoriety via an article in Nashville's biggest newspaper, The Tennessean.

Pat Martin has teamed up with Carey Bringle of Peg Leg Porkers to compete in Memphis in May later this month.

Martin and Bringle have been doing practice cooks every night this week to prepare for the contest and with a budget of $16,000, they can afford to. Funding for the team comes from sponsors and from team members who pay $325 for a spot on the team.

I've never competed in a Memphis in May (MIM) contest. I guess I always just assumed that they are priced beyond my bbq budget allowance. Now I know they are. I'll stick to KCBS and FBA.

Start a Catering Business!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

BBQ Concession Trailer

We built our own trailer for bbq competitions at a cost of $7,500. It's a 16 ft Doolittle that's perfect for us. It's still a work in progress, but we've used for two seasons now.

Here's a link to a company that specializes in building concession trailers in all shapes, sizes, designs and layouts. They've got a porch concession trailer that would allow for mounting a cooker on the back.

Olympia Blends Products and Services LLC

Based on the information on their web site, the trailer comes with linoleum, vinyl wall covering, grey water tank w/vent, fresh water tank, hot water heater, 100 amp wiring and GFI plug, etc.

It looks pretty nice. You might build it for less, but the headaches you'll run into might be worth the money!

Start a Catering Business!

BBQ Sweepstakes

Food Network is sponsoring a bbq sweepstakes.

According to their web site the winner is eligible for a $65,000 cash prize that can be used for a backyard kitchen makeover.

If you had $65,000 for a backyard makeover, what bbq equipment would you purchase?

As for me, I'd purchase one of each of the following for starters:

charcoal fired insulated upright bbq smoker

rotisserie bbq cooker online brochure

pellet smoker with temperature control

So far I haven't spent $20,000 yet. Isn't this fun?

Now if I can just be lucky enough to win!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Spectator Friendly BBQ Contests

I followed the Office Depot show car south on I-75 from Tampa tonight. The crew-cab truck had flames across the hood and the triple-axle trailer was flawlessly lettered and painted to showcase Office Depot and the # 99 Ford Fusion driven by NASCAR's Carl Edwards -- the back flipping Missourian -- from Columbia. I don't remember the lettering exactly, but the trailer said something on it about "fan experience".

It got me thinking about possibilities for bbq contests. Wouldn't it be great if bbq contests had an element of "fan appreciation" or "fan participation"?

During my visit to the American Royal a couple years ago I was a little confused about why so many thousands of people willingly paid more than $10 to enter the contest site and watch others having a good time. Most of the cooking sites at the Royal appeared to be little more than "private parties". The vast majority of cooks had no intention of interacting with spectators. Regrettably this phenomenon is not restricted to the Royal. It happens at contests throughout the country.

Rather than just pointing out the obvious -- that most bbq contests are not spectator friendly --I'm all about offering possible solutions here on the BBQ Blog. So here goes....

In addition to the professional and backyard categories at sanctioned bbq events I'd propose a new category that allows for more direct spectator participation. I'd recommend creating a kettle grill category that caters directly to the spectator that wants to participate, but who is unsure how to get started or those who are too timid to interrupt the cooks that don't really want to be interrupted anyway to ask questions.

In the kettle grill category, contestants could simply show up at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning with their kettle grill, a bag of charcoal, their meat of choice, and whatever supplies they chose to bring. The entry fee should be something like $25, or maybe even less, to remove the barriers to entry for the casual backyard cooks. This kettle grill category would cater to meats that take a short time to prepare like chicken, steak, hamburger, or possibly ribs. As luck would have it, these meats are also more familar to beginning wannabe professional bbq cooks.

The prizes could be a simple winner take all $100-$150. Best of all, the organizer could possibly get a local business to sponsor the entire category. The category could be featured prominently with bleachers set up around the kettle grill "coral" for a birds eye view of the action. There could be a master of ceremonies to explain what's taking place for spectators and they could walk around and interview the cooks in action.

A kettle grill category would be a very good thing.

Start a Catering Business!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Dr Pepper, 7UP and A&W Root Beer Sauces and Marinades

Chicago, IL, May 7, 2007 – Vita Food Products, Inc. (AMEX: VSF) and Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages (CSAB) today announce a new line of savory soda-flavored sauces and marinades available just in time for this year’s summer grilling season. The licensing partnership between CSAB and Vita Food Products will introduce flavored barbeque sauce and meat marinades that feature the popular sodas Dr Pepper®, 7UP® and A&W® Root Beer. The full line of quality, original barbeque sauces and marinade products will be flavorful and fun – just like the sodas that consumers love.

“Through the years, soda-flavored barbeque sauces have become a great American tradition in culinary creativity. We’ve talked to consumers at length regarding the kinds of foods and flavors they enjoy, and as a result, created this line of barbeque sauce and marinade products infused with some of America’s favorite soda brands, Dr Pepper, 7UP and A&W Root Beer,” said Megan May, associate licensing manager, Cadbury Schweppes Americas Beverages. “With such exciting flavor combinations, we are confident that consumers will enjoy these soda-inspired creations.”

The full line of Dr Pepper, 7 UP and A&W Root Beer sauces will be available in grocery, gourmet and convenience stores, as well as in casual dining restaurant chains this summer. Additionally, Vita Foods will sample the products at this spring’s Fancy Food Shows in Chicago and New York.

For more information on the new line of sauces and marinades, visit

Sunday, May 06, 2007

BBQ Contest Results

Smokin' Blues, Bikes, and BBQ - St. Cloud, Florida

Grand Champion:
Reserve: GB's BBQ

3. Naked Bones BBQ
4. Junkyard Dogs
5. Brother's BBQ

Quincyfest Blues and Barbecue Contest - Quincy, FL

Grand Champion: Huff and Puff
Reserve: Big Daddy Q

3. Swamp Boys
4. Q4U
5. Glorybound

Visit for a list of upcoming FBA events.

Start a Catering Business!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Gates BBQ Sauce

A friend of mine shared a bottle of Kansas City's Own Gates Original Classic bbq sauce with me recently. I'm looking forward to giving it a try.

You can buy your own bottle of Gates online or at any of the six Kansas City area locations and several grocery stores.

Start a Catering Business!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Florida BBQ

This weekend is a good weekend for bbq competitions in the State of Florida. There are two contests sanctioned by the Florida Barbeque Association (FBA) in St. Cloud and in Quincy; and a third in Cocoa Beach sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

Linda and I just returned from the 4th Annual Smokin' Blues BBQ Competition and Bike Rally in Saint Cloud, FL. We drove over from Tampa after work and spent a couple of hours socializing with competitors.

I had a real nice conversation with an old friend about the quality of competition teams in Florida. He pointed out to me that the quality of competitive bbq has improved dramatically in the past 4-5 years as the Florida Barbeque Association has continued to grow with more members, more contests, and more organizers coming on board.

Long time FBA teams have performed well in competitions inside and outside of Florida. The future quantity and quality of barbecue competitions in secure.

Now if we can just do something about those pesky gasonline prices.

Start a Catering Business!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

BBQ Cooking Class

Learn competition bbq from several of the best bbq cooking schools and contest cooks in the country. These professional bbq chefs reveal their secrets to those who want to learn about competing in and winning bbq contests at the highest level.
You can spend years learning on your own by trial and error, or you can spend a few hundred dollars and take a short cut to higher scores. I personally know several competitors that were middle of the pack competition teams that leap-frogged to consistent top two or three finishes immediately after completing a bbq class.

Start a Catering Business!