Wednesday, December 31, 2008

In the market for a bbq tow vehicle?

If you're in the market for a vehicle to haul your bbq equipment, this video might interest you.

I'll also offer a disclaimer that I do own an 1998 F-150 with the 5.4L engine and a 2004 Ford Explorer V8 . During our first several years of competition bbq, we hauled our WSM, Backwoods Smoker, and equipment in our truck bed. A few years later we graduated to a 16' Doolittle trailer that I towed with the Explorer.

If you're buying a new bbq cooker, it's wise to keep your tow vehicle in mind when making the choice. For example, you probably don't need a 1 ton dually to haul your WSMs. Likewise, I'd advise against towing a top of the line Klose offset smoker with your 6-cylinder SUV.

Think about towing capacity, braking, stability, and comfort when making your choices.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Make Your Own Bacon

Alton Brown has a recipe called Scrap Iron Chef's Bacon.

He made a cold smoker out of three book lockers/gym lockers, flexible tubing used for venting a dryer, a fan from an old computer connected to a battery, some alumimun foil, a cast iron skillet and some wood chips for smoke. He used a Polder digital thermometer to make sure the temperature was monitored. He advised not let the temp in the smoking chamber rise above 80 degrees. He is the MacGyver of food.

If you've never watched an Alton Brown episode of Good Eats, check it out some time on Food Network.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas in Tennessee

I'm enjoying a week in Tennessee visiting my in-laws who live near Manchester. It was 12 degrees this morning and is currently 19 degrees. The forecasters are predicting warmer weather tomorrow - 29 degrees. To quote Linda from last night, "There's something to be said for living in Florida during this time of year."

Tomorrow, we're going to take a drive up to Nolensville to visit my sister-in-law. I've been trying to find an excuse to visit Martin's BBQ restaurant since I found his blog two years ago. I've enjoyed reading about his experiences - good and bad. I'll try to take a couple of pictures while we're there.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Baby Back BBQ Ribs as Christmas Presents

I cooked six slabs of ribs today and thought I'd share a couple of pictures. They're vacuum sealed and in the freezer awaiting a Christmas delivery.
These ribs are without bbq sauce, since I planned to freeze them and reheat them in a few weeks. I usually reheat ribs in the microwave and brush on some sauce prior to serving them.
I cooked them 2 hours at 250 degrees. Then I wrapped them in foil with some honey, brown sugar, and mixture of apple/grape juice and cooked until the meat began to pull away from the bones.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Tax on Beef and Pork

If you're like me, you'll probably find the EPA's latest idea to tax greenhouse gases generated by livestock preposterous. The first time I read about taxing methane emissions generated by beef cattle, dairy cows, and hogs, I thought it was some sort of joke. You know...some politician's leaving his job once the new administration takes over and decided to put out a news release to get a rise out of people for self amusement. But, apparently it's a real proposal. Here's a document published on that discusses all the scientific aspects of animal "emissions".

I know one thing for sure, if they put a tax on cattle and hogs for this we'll have to add meat to the list of imported products that already includes cars, toys, textiles, appliances, etc. It will put farmers out of business entirely. It will definitely raise the price of bbq too.

The American Farm Bureau estimates "annual assessments could reach $175 per dairy cow, $87.50 per head of beef cattle and $20 per hog.

I mean seriously, $87.50 per cow and $20 per hog?! I doubt most farmers earn that much in net profit per head in the first place!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Fried turkey is faster, easier, and tastes better. After taking two turkeys to work for a department lunch, the third of the week was pretty easy.

I injected them with Shake's Honey Brine and fried them 3 1/2 minutes per pound at 325 degrees. I used cottonseed oil for the first two and peanut oil for ours. Cottonseed oil is about $15 cheaper (and I couldn't taste any difference).

Linda made rhubarb pie for desert.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

What do I Like to do When I'm not BBQing?

(Click the pic for a larger size,)

Slow Food Rebellion

You probably guessed it already, but Slow Food Rebellion bbq blog features articles about food cooked low and slow. The website's publisher, Monty, is a regular on and cooks on a an upright WSM and 24" trailer mounted Horizon offset smoker.

His whole hog article is a favorite. There's plenty of pictures.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Texas BBQ Pictures

This link was posted on by Bryan Brown. Bryan recently took a trip to Texas and was kind enough to share a link to his picture album.
Someday I hope to take a similar trip to Texas and visit some of these towns and bbq places.

Texas BBQ pictures link

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Tennessee Waltz - B. Raitt and N. Jones

If you're looking for some mellow blues-style music for your next bbq, I think I've found it for you.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational

Congratulations to 4 Legs Up BBQ for winning the 20th Annual Jack Daniel’s World Championship.

Here's a detailed listing of all the teams who competed this year. In this invitational event, just being invited is a victory.

EJ’s Q.....Athens, Ala.

Rhythm ‘n QUE.....Phoenix, Ariz.

Habitual Smokers.....Springdale, Ark.

BLQUE, CUTTIN EDGEQN.....Hanford, Calif.

Carcass Cookers.....Pueblo, Colo.
Smoke “N” the Rockies.....Pueblo, Colo.

Florida Rosa Beach, Fla.

“Team Bobby-Q”.....Chamblee, Ga.
Bub-Ba-Q.....Jasper, Ga.
Jack’s Old South.....Vienna, Ga.

“Team Ida Q”.....Boise, Idaho

Smokey Joel/Cubby Bear.....Deerfield, Ill.
Ulcer Acres BBQ.....Jacksonville, Ill.

Shigs –In-Pit .....Fort Wayne, Ind.
Show Me Your Bones.....Indianapolis, Ind.

4 Mile Smokin’ Crew.....Pleasant Hill, Iowa

Pellet Envy.....Leawood, Kan.
4 Legs Up BBQ.....Great Bend, Kan.
Smokers Wild.....Paola, Kan.
The Will Deal Catering & BBQ Co......Topeka, Kan.

Moonswiners.....Taylorsville, Ky.

Tee Wayne’s Cajun Cooking.....Saint Amant, La.

Texas Ribs & BBQ.....Centreville, Md.
Chix, Swine & Bovine BBQ.....Jessup, Md.

I Smell Smoke!!!.....Malden, Mass.
I Que.....Hopkinton, Mass.
Lunchmeat.....Rockland, Mass.

All Day Smoke.....Okemos, Mich.

Full Frontal BBQ.....Ham Lake, Minn.

Natural Born Grillers.....Olive Branch, Miss.
Ubon’s BBQ.....Yazoo, Miss.

Charlotte’s Rib.....Ballwin, Mo.
Bubba & Jeff’s BBQ.....Lees Summit, Mo.

Rogue “Q” Smokers of the Sarengeti.....Omaha, Neb.

New MexicoQ.....Albuquerque, N.M.
Outlaw BBQ.....Albuquerque, N.M.

New York, N.Y.

North Carolina
Mountain Magic Country BBQ.....Shelby, N.C.

North Dakota
Quiet Riot.....Minot, N.D.

Eagle River Barbecue.....Dayton, Ohio

Butcher BBQ.....Chandler, Okla.
Twin Oak Smokin’ Crew.....Stillwater, Okla.
Lotta Bull BBQ.....Marietta, Okla.

Ella’s BBQ.....Portland, Ore.

PA Midnite Smoker.....Willow Street, Pa.

South Carolina
Divine Smoke.....Greenwood, S.C.

South Dakota
Parrothead Smokers.....Dakota Dunes, S.D.

Smokin’ in the Dark.....Silsbee, Texas
Blazen BBQ.....Hillsboro, Texas
Smokin’ Triggers.....Alvarado, Texas
Ritter’s BBQ Too.....Point, Texas
It Ain’t Prime.....Krum, Texas
Ritter’s BBQ.....Point, Texas

The Dead End BBQ Society.....Knoxville, Tenn.
Smoky Mountain Smokers.....Sevierville, Tenn.

Checkered Pig.....Martinsville, Va.
Virginia BBQ Pirates.....Springfield, Va.
Cool Smoke.....Richmond, Va.
Stoddard and Brown.....Vienna, Va.
Dizzy Pig.....Fairfax, Va.

Smoking Ty’s BBQ.....Everett, Wash.
Dances With Smoke Barbeque.....Renton, Wash.

2Fat Bikers BBQ.....Nekoosa, Wis.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

BBQ Smoker

I think red is the perfect color for a bbq smoker. Black is nice too, but it I am continually amazed at how much attention my red cooker receives at bbq contests.

I was eating at a local bbq restaurant and saw one of these setting out on the patio next to the Old Hickory that cooks everything for the guests. When the owner walked by our table a few minutes later I inquired about the McCullough smoker. He said it's too much trouble for everyday use.

Mine is perfect for bbq contests, but if I had a restaurant I guess I'd have to pony up $20,000 or so for an Old Hickory.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

La Caja China to Sponsor Mike Harmon at NASCAR’s O’Reilly Challenge in Texas

(Vocus) October 23, 2008 – La Caja China, whose roasting boxes have been used by countless celebrity chefs and featured on The Food Network, is proud to announce the sponsorship of Mike Harmon’s No. 84 car in the NASCAR O’Reilly Challenge at the Texas Motor Speedway on November 1.

The O’Reilly Challenge will attract drivers from all NASCAR divisions in search of a prestigious visit to Victory Lane following the 300 miles of NASCAR Nationwide Series action.

This is the first NASCAR sponsorship for La Caja China in its 20 years in business. Owner and President Robert Guerra will be on hand to see the race, as will Alfredo Agonizante, Director Motor Sport Marketing for La Caja China . They will be joined on race day with their partners, Track Side 1 and Tailgater Monthly.

“We are excited to be associated to NASCAR” Guerra said. “Not only are we huge fans, but we feel that NASCAR represents the essence of what La Caja China stands for in terms of quality and entertainment at affordable prices.”

It’s ironic that the O’Reilly Challenge is in Texas , as the Lone Star state is quickly becoming one of the most popular places to find a La Caja China grill.

For 20 years, La Caja China has been synonymous with the best tasting homemade grills and barbeques in the world. La Caja China offers three top-of-the-line roasting box grills at affordable prices, ranging from $249 to $349. They are perfect for parties and large gatherings, as box grills can perfectly cook a 100 pound pig or 6-8 turkeys. They are great for roasting chicken, cabrito and all other types of meats.

La Caja China boxes have been featured on The Food Network and have been used by celebrities like Bobby Flay, Al Roker and Tyler Florence. And now the best grill in the world has partnered with the greatest sport in the world.

“We encourage all NASCAR fans, whether at the race or at home, to cheer on Mike Harmon to victory, and then enjoy a perfect celebration dinner with a La Caja China box!” Guerra said.

For more information, please visit

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chicken Brine Recipe

Like many people, I usually marinade my chicken thighs in Newman's Own salad dressing. This weekend I experimented with a vinegar brine that tasted pretty good.

Chicken Brine
  • 2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sea salt
  • Add enough water to cover chicken
  • Refrigerate for 3 hours prior to barbecuing

It's simple. It's easy. It's good.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Low Country Boil Recipe

I spent some time vacationing with my parents this weekend and took the opportunity to work in some outdoor cooking along the way. Here's a picture of a Low Country Boil we prepared for supper Sunday night. I've included the recipe below.
Low Country Boil
1 bag frozen shrimp (peeled)
1 bag frozen sea scallops
6-8 medium sized potatoes (quartered)
1 bag baby carrots (peeled)
1 bunch of broccoli
9 half-ears of corn
Add 2 gallons of water to a large pot. Pre-heat water to a rolling boil and add potatoes. Add 4 -5 tablespoons of Old Bay Seafood Seasoning stir gently (more if you like it a little hotter). Once potatoes have cooked for 30 minutes check for doneness. Add carrots.
Wait 10 minutes and add ears of corn (halves).
Add sea scallops. Add broccoli. Add shrimp. Stir gently.
Check potatoes for doneness.
Serve with your favorite cold beverage and add additional seasoning to taste.

Competition BBQ Secrets

Silicone BBQ Basting Brush

I've got a couple silicone basting brushes in my collection of bbq utensils and wholeheartedly endorse them. If your tired of bristles in your bbq, this is the solution you've been waiting for.
This Grill Friends angled silicone basting brush is sweet. The silicone bristles will not melt or fall out, and the long handled brush is angled for ease, comfort and safety over your hot barbecue, designed to keep your hands away from the heat. The bristles are dishwasher safe as well.

Friday, October 10, 2008

New Weber Smokey Mountain

According to the folks over at the Weber Stephens Company is going to introduce a new, bigger, WSM this month. The current 18 1/2 inch WSM that is 41 inches tall is great. I have one in the garage, but a new 22 inch version would even better.

I haven't seen one yet, but the new model promises many additional features that bbq cooks are going to love.

The door is supposed to be bigger to offer better access from outside the cooker and there is a new mechanism that will help the door seal tighter.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Local Bar-B-Que Restaurant

We were in St. Petersburg this afternoon and stopped by Fred Fleming's bbq place for lunch. Linda had the brisket and I had pulled pork.

I preferred the brisket to the pulled pork sandwich. The brisket was moist and tender, but there was very little bark. My sandwich was a little on the dry side and needed quite a bit of bbq sauce to perk it up a little.

The baked beans were good.

It's kind of funny how your tastes change after you learn to make traditional style barbecue on your own.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Tampa Area BBQ Restaurant

Last fall Linda and I scouted out some of the bbq restaurants in the St. Petersburg/Brandon/Valrico Florida area and wound up eating at Jaymer-Que in Valrico.

The St. Petersburg Times featured Jaymer-Que in an article earlier this year. I found it informative and refreshing. Besides filling in some of the blanks I'd wondered about, the article confirmed what our visit revealed - the folks at Jaymer-Que are good people.

The restaurant is located on Lithia-Pinecrest Road in Valrico. It's a strip mall location, but it has a nice atmosphere. You can eat inside or outside on the side patio. I had brisket and Linda had the pulled pork. Both were pretty good and the staff was very friendly and attentive.

If you're in the area and looking for something to eat. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Charcoal Maze

If you're having difficulty maintaining consistent and even burn times in your upright cooker, a simple charcoal maze will probably solve your problems.

The charcoal maze pictured is made from plain old sheet metal and the grate between the charcoal and the ash pan is constructed from expanded metal.

There is about a 2 inch gap between the grate and the ash pan.

This cooker also has 1 inch of insulation throughout the walls and doors, which makes it very efficient. In warm weather I can cook for 20+ hours on one load of charcoal.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Barbecue Pork

Here's an interesting graph that summarizes a pulled pork cooking session I did.
I did not record the cooker and meat temperature at strict intervals, which looks a little funny on the graph. I am sure that the meat temperature reached 140 degrees or more within the 4 hour health department guideline.
The temperature decline at the end of the session represents the "rest period" before pulling it apart for supper.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cooking for Real with Sunny Anderson

I've been enjoying some vacation days at home this week. A little cleaning, a little cooking, and some yard work later I sat down and watched some TV yesterday.

I ran across a new Food Network program that is totally fresh and happening. It's called Cooking for Real and it's hosted by Sunny Anderson. She made some cider brined fried chicken and cabbage slaw that looked intersting. After cooking it myself, I'm a big fan of Sunny Anderson.

I made Sunny's fried chicken for supper last night. Linda loved it so much that she proclaimed it the best fried chicken she'd ever eaten. If you're looking for a crispy and crunchy fried chicken recipe look no further. Read the recipe.

I cut back on the cayenne and used 1 tablespoon each of black pepper, white pepper, and cayenne, which turned out well.

Note: The pepper goes in the egg wash instead of the flour/corn starch. Also, instead of rolling the chicken in the flour, you've got to try the brown paper bag shake method. It really works.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sponsorship for BBQ Contests

I am pulling out my soap box this morning. I've been thinking about this for a few weeks now and need to get some things off my chest.

I am a member of two bbq sanctioning bodies -- the Kansas City Barbeque Society and Florida Barbecue Association. To get directly to the point...I believe both organizations need to focus more attention on helping cook teams find affordable ways to compete in their contests.

I've written about my own personal strategies to reduce costs and increase revenues from my contest efforts on this blog in the past, but it's not an isolated problem. Affordability issues affect all teams that compete.

To my knowledge neither sanctioning organization has ever held any training seminars that offered step-by-step guides to assist the individual cook teams in obtaining sponsorship for local, regional, or national contests. Doing so would have a three-fold benefit:

1) individual cook teams would have additional methods for offsetting competition expenses

2) sanctioning bodies would benefit by increased participation in bbq contests

3) contest organizers would receive more participation and increased revenues

I'd bet that I'm a pretty good cross-section of the barbecue population that competes in bbq contests on a semi-regular basis. I've competed in at least 25 sanctioned bbq contests during the past several years. I driven thousands of miles to get to them and spent more than $20,000 on bbq related events and equipment.

I've met some nice people. I've seen some nice areas of the country that I would have never visited if they hadn't sponsored a bbq contest. And, I've helped raise money for many, many charitable and municipal organizations. However, if something doesn't change, I'm going to have to stop doing it and I suspect that there are hundreds, if not thousands of teams like mine who have reached the same cross-roads.

The price of gasoline, meat, supplies, lodging, vehicles, contest entry fees, and cookers have continued to rise while the prize money awarded has remained stagnant on the whole. If you don't win first or second overall, you're in the hole at the end of the weekend.

I am not a professional marketer, but I am guessing that the membership of KCBS and FBA has many professional marketers in the ranks who would be willing to offer assistance. If not, I would think that a portion of the membership or sanctioning fees should be allocated to preparing downloadable materials that could be used by cook teams to solicit local and regional sponsorship. Who else other than the sanctioning bodies can provide the kind of economic data that would strengthen the sales pitch to potential sponsors?

If you agree that there is a disconnect, I'd enjoy hearing your thoughts and ideas. Or if you disagree with me and think that sponsorship for individual cook teams has nothing to do with the sanctioning body, I'd also enjoy hearing from you.

In the end, there is another alternative, although I know it's probably not practical or viable economically given the approach the contest organizers are currently taking -- reduce the entry fees to $0 and increase public participation in the contests to offset the lost revenue.

You'd be surprised how far that $250-$300 would go toward increasing cook team participation. In this manner even a top three or four in a category or two would have meaningful effects to help defray cook team expenses.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Marcia Ball - Peace Love & BBQ

Looking for some music to barbeque by? Look no farther than Marcia Ball's Peace Love & BBQ. Here's a couple of videos from You Tube featuring this Louisiana blues woman.

Lauderdale Slow Cookin' KCBS Event

The KCBS Barbeque State Championship presented by East Coast Eventz, Inc. is being held November 14 -16 . The bbq contest will award $4,000 to the grand champion and $2,000 to the reserve grand champion. Category winners receive $500 for first place.

The entry fee for the bbq contest is $245 for KCBS members who enter early. Early entrants who are non-KCBS members can register for $280. The event is being held at the War Memorial Auditorium located at 800 NE 8th Street in Fort Lauderdale, FL near Sunrise Boulevard.

FBA Triple Crown BBQ Competition

I received a flyer in the mail today announcing the Southern Pines Blues & BBQ Festival on December 12 - 13. The list of entertainers looks promising and includes Larry McCray, Johnnie Marshall, and Damon Fowler. A $10 ticket price provides admission for the entire weekend.

The winner of the FBA Triple Crown competition will receive a Willie Nelson autographed guitar and $2,000. The weekend event is sponsored in part by Old Whiskey River Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and the Perry-Taylor County Chamber of Commerce.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How to Prepare and Cook BBQ Brisket

As loyal readers of the forum probably already know, brisket has become one of my favorite barbecued meats.

1. I started off with a visit to my local butcher and picked up a 16 lb. untrimmed brisket. I used to cook the brisket flats from Sam's Club, but after switching to "whole" briskets a few years ago, my results improved tremendously and so did my bbq contest results. A large, untrimmed brisket will cost $30-$35 depending on the weight and depending on whether it's a Certified Angus Beef (CAB) brisket. If it's available, I prefer CAB.

2. Last night I trimmed off some of the excess fat cap on the brisket, pierced the brisket with my Jaccard and rubbed it liberally with my Southern BBQ Rub. If you don't have a Jaccard, you can use a fork and pierce holes in the meat, which will allow the bbq rub to better penetrate the meat.

3. I placed the brisket in a double thickness plastic garbage bag and refrigerated it overnight. This allows time for the seasoning to penetrate the meat and also makes getting it on the cooker faster when it comes time to start the cooking process.

4. This morning I pre-heated the Weber Smokey Mountain to 250 degrees, added water to the water pan, removed the brisket from the refrigerator, and placed it directly on in the WSM. The health department recommends that meat spend less than 4 hours in the danger zone (i.e. internal meat temperature higher than 40 degrees and lower than 140 degrees.)

(I do not subscribe to the theory that allowing the meat to rise to room temperature will somehow improve the cooking results. I think it allows the potential for meat spoilage, although I’ve seen World Champion Barbecue Teams do it at competitions.)

5. Maintain cooker temp as low as possible near 190 degrees for as long as possible. I've found that the slower I can cook the brisket, the more consistent my results are.

6. I foil the brisket after about 5 hours, or once the bark begins to form.

7. I spritz with apple juice a few times during the cooking process as well. This seems to help with bark formation.

8. I continue cooking until the brisket temperature reaches 198 degrees.

9. I let the brisket set in an Igloo cooler for 3 - 4 hours before slicing it up.

10. After slicing, I sauce with my favorite bbq sauce. A brush works well for saucing each individual slice of brisket for even coverage.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Chicken Bleu Breasts and Sparkling Potatoes

Place chicken wrap between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pound flat with a rolling pin until 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add boiled ham to center, sprinkle ham with 2 TBSP shredded Swiss cheese and 1/2 TSP of chopped chives. Roll up chicken, wrap in plastic and chill for one hour.

I used sandwich sliced ham. You can use boiled ham or cubed/chunked ham as alternatives.

I pre-heated two Dutch Ovens--10 inch on left and 12 inch on right.

After flouring, egg washing, and rolling in bread crumbs, I added the chicken to the 10 inch oven. I cooked for 25 minutes with the lid on and turned once after 15 minutes to brown both sides of the chicken breasts.

For the potatoes, Linda scrubbed with skins, browned 1 LB of bacon, drained grease, mixed in onions, mushrooms, and added the potatoes to the 12 inch oven. I then added 12 ounces of Sprite, 1 TSP of salt, 1/2 TSP of pepper. I cooked for 30 minutes with the lid on.

I added parsley and cheddar cheese when serving the potatoes and, although not pictured, Linda made homemade bread.

Are you hungry yet?

Recipe for Chicken Bleu Breasts and Sparkling Potatoes courtesty of Lovin' Dutch Ovens by Joan S. Larsen.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

BBQ Pork Butt Prep

I prepared 6 pork butts for an appointment with the smoker.
Pictured clockwise from the top left: Cabela's meat injector, two 32 oz containers of apple juice/honey/bbq rub liquid injection solution, two containers of bbq rub, and two pork butts package in cryovac purchased from Sam's Club.

BBQ Secrets!

Friday, August 29, 2008

My BBQ Blog at

Kevin Bevington, creator of , redesigned and relaunched his bbq website earlier this year. If you haven't visited the site for a few months, I'd encourage to stop by and check out the new design.

I've been contributing to as a guest blogger for several weeks now and wanted to share an excerpt of one of my recent posts about our chicken turn-in box:

A few years ago while competing in a barbecue event in Arcadia, Florida the unthinkable happened while preparing our chicken turn-in box. We prepared fantastic turn-in samples and were sure we had a good chance to win, but after placing the samples in the box and closing it I discovered that our box had been damaged.

I froze for a few seconds and wasn’t sure what to do next. Should I turn in the sample anyway and take a chance that the box would be disqualified? Should I throw in the towel for the chicken category and start preparing for the rib turn-in?

Read the rest of the article here

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pork Tapas, Bell Peppers, and Potato Wedges

Here's a quick and easy recipe for tapas-style grilled pork.

1. Start with 1 pound of pork sliced into 1 inch cubes.

2. Brush with marinade mixture and refrigerate until ready to cook. For best results, marinate the pork in the refrigerator overnight.

3. Place pork on skewers and cook on a charcoal grill for 10-15 minutes. Turn frequently to prevent burning.

Marinade Mixture

1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp cummin
1 tbsp ginger
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
Juice from 1 lemon
3 tbsp olive oil

Roasted bell peppers make a nice side dish.

Just slice and brush with a little olive oil and Sherry Wine Vinegar. Sprinkle with a little garlic and serve.

I also made some potato wedges. Fry for 10-12 minutes in a frying pan and sprinkle with paprika, cummin, and salt.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Improve Your BBQ Results

One of the easiest and quickest ways to improve your bbq is to begin documenting your cooking sessions in a bbq journal. A spiral notebook or three ring binder will work well. Some also use a computer document instead of pen and paper, but it's not quite as portable unless you have a laptop.
At contests, I keep a journal for each meat. I keep track of everything following the arrival at the contest. I pay attention to the time we prepare each meat for marinating. I carefully document the cooking start times for each meat, the weather conditions, the outside temperature, and the cooker temperatures.
I also document the critical times for the various meats. For example, I start my briskets fat side up and document the time I flip them to fat side down. (This particular tip has paid big dividends for me in contest winnings.) I document the times I spray the various cuts with apple juice. I pay particular attention to when I wrap the briskets and pork butts with aluminum foil.
After a few cooking sessions, you'll be able to improve your results dramatically by tweaking your start times, temperatures, and methods based on your historic results. Barbecue is more art than science, but anytime you can add a little science to the art, it will reap dividends in the long run.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Jambo Pits is going strong. Besides offering contact information for its proprietor, Jamie Geer, the website also features a photo album for the works of bbq art that he builds.

I first saw one up close in Brooksville, FL back in 2001. Smokin Triggers used it to win the event. Some of the best bbq teams in the country cook on them and just about everyone else wishes they did.

I'd like to park a Jambo Pit in my own garage someday. But even if I did own one, I'm not quite sure I could make myself mess it up by cooking on it.

Click here for more pictures of Geer pits.

NFL Gameday Cookbook

Monday, August 18, 2008

Naked Chicken Thighs

In the quest to find the perfect bbq spice rub and sauce combination, we barbecue fanatics sometimes overdo them both and end up with bbq "candy".

This past weekend I decided to experiment with chicken thighs without using spice rub and with very little bbq sauce added.

I've been marinating my chicken thighs and drumsticks in Newman's Own Olive Oil and Vinegar since the beginning, but after spending some time thinking about it this weekend I realized that I have never really experimented to identify exactly what the dressing adds to my chicken recipes. I just started using it because I read about it on the web at some point and followed suit.

The thighs in the picture were not trimmed and squared up properly for a bbq contest turn-in, but they were fine for eating here at home.

The thighs and dressing were placed in a 2 gallon plastic bag and were marinated for 4 hours in the refrigerator. I pre-heated the WSM (without the water pan) to 275 degrees and put the chicken on for cooking. The naked thighs were cooked for 1 1/2 hours to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Near the end I brushed on a little bbq sauce for a little flavor, but as you can see from the picture there was very, very little sauce used. That really wasn't the main point of this test anyway.

What did I learn?

The salad dressing helps keep the chicken moist while cooking, but adds very little flavor. The thighs were juicy and tender, but were quite bland. Based on my test, I doubt that it matters what kind of salad dressing is used for a marinade. Anything with olive oil and a little vinegar will probably work fairly well. I don't think the Newman's Own is an absolute requirement.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

On a BBQ Mission

Have you ever met someone that every time you talk to them the conversation inevitably turns into a series of unending statements such as, "When I have more time......I'm going to...(do this or that)" and "One of these days when I get things lined out....I'm going to...(do such and such)" and "When I get some money saved up....I'm going to...(go meet so and so)"? I'm sure we've all met people like this in our travels whether it's at work, family reunions, class reunions, converstions with neighbors, folks at church, or sometimes even our own spouses.

Barbecue is no different. I meet people at bbq contests, on discussion boards, and via e-mail correspondence that use similar phrases and expressions when talking about their infactuation with bbq as a competitive sport.

I mean no disrespect to anyone when I say this, because I've had these same traits myself from time-to-time, but I'm proud to say that for the most part...I'm in the process of doing, or I've already done many of the things "I've always meant to get around to."

Don't sell yourself short on barbecue. Don't let the naysayers intimidate you, chastise you, or "rain on your parade".

If you've always had a desire to purchase a "real" bbq cooker, whether it's a Lang, Klose, Backwoods, Stumps, or one of the various styles of pellet cookers on the market; bite the bullet and do it. If you've always had a dream of owning your own restaurant, or to start a catering company...develop some goals, write a plan, tie them to a definitive time schedule, and get started on your journey.

It's time to get off the porch and get fired-up about bbq. Don't let it pass you buy. It's fun. It's challenging, but perhaps most of all, your abilities to learn new things and to meet interesting new people will surprise you.

But, when you really get down to it and boil it down to the brass tacks perhaps the most compelling reason is that there's really and truly nothing stopping you.

All things are possible.

NFL Gameday Cookbook

Monday, August 11, 2008

Florida Chili Cookoffs

For all the chili heads that read the bbq blog, I'm going to pass along some information that was passed along to me today regarding CASI chili events in Florida.

The Florida State Open Chili Championship will be held October 4th this year. So get your recipes ready.

Oct. 4, 2008 - DeLand, FLA. CASI. Florida State Open Chili Championship, 7th Annual Great Bowls of Fire Chili Cookoff. Visit their website: Contact Sally Bohon at or Candace Knight Arevalo at for more information.

Oct 11, 2008 - Homosassa FL CASI. Southeast Chili Cookoff. Held at Natures RV Resort on the waterfront. Contact Candace Knight-Arevalo for more information.

Oct 12, 2008 - Homosassa FL CASI. Sunshine State Chili Pod Cookoff. Contact Candace Knight-Arevalo 561-795- 5888, Visit their website:

Nov 1, 2008- Terlingua TX CASI. Terlingua International Chili Champ Cookoff. Held at Rancho CASI De Los Chisos. Contact Alan Dean for more information.

You can find out more about chili cook-offs in Florida at the Sunshine State Chili Pod website.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Barbecue Food Safety

Nothing can ruin a fantastic day of barbecuing faster than someone getting sick after eating food you prepared. Whether you are grilling in the back yard, catering for a group of friends and family, or preparing bbq food in a restaurant for hundreds of customers each day, you need to follow safe food preparation techniques.

Keeping it cold

When shopping for food, purchase meat and poultry just before you leave the store. Food in the grocery store is stored at temperatures of below 40 degrees and needs to maintained below 40 degrees whenever possible. Food should be referigerated after the drive home as soon as possible. Allowing the temperature of the food to rise above 40 degrees for any length of time increases the possibility of bacteria growth.

Vacuum seal bulk purchases

I often purchase food in bulk to save money. Meat that is not going to be consumed within a couple of days should be frozen. I like to vacuum seal large quantities into smaller packages. For example, if we buy a package of 16 pork chops, I split the chops into packets of 4, vacuum seal them, mark the package with the date, and then place it in the freezer until we are ready to prepare them.

Avoid cross-contamination

As meat begins to thaw, juices can sometimes escape the packaging and cross-contamination can occur. Vacuum sealing is another way to help prevent cross-contamination between meat and poultry when storing or transporting food. When handling chicken, thoroughly wash your hands and any knives and utensils with hot, soapy water before using the utensils to cut other meat.

Marinate Properly

Always marinade meat and poultry in the refrigerator. Contrary to some advice I've read recently on a very popular bbq forum, never, never, allow meat to marinade at room temperature. Meat should be marinated in the refrigerator. When removing marinated food from the refrigerator, place it directly on the smoker or grill for cooking.

Cooking temps

Pre-heat your cooker to ensure that you attain a 140 degree internal meat temperature within 4 hours. Do not allow meat to remain in the danger zone (i.e. greater than 40 degrees and less than 140 degrees) for more than 4 hours.

For more food safety tips and information, there's a nice article on the USDA website that should help.

NFL Gameday Cookbook

Blog About BBQ?

Do you have a bbq blog? In the next few days I'm going to be refreshing my list of bbq links and sites. If you are interested in exchanging bbq links, please let me know.
Please send me a picture of your bbq logo or bbq contest team banner, if you have one, and I'll try to use that as well.

If you don't have a bbq blog, now is a great time to get one started. It's free with Blogger and pretty simple to set-up. You don't have to be an expert in html programming to get started. With Blogger everything is set-up in templates and menus. You select the one you like and you're set to go. All you have to do is prepare the content for your site. Check the menu of blog links in the right hand margin for ideas on what yours might look like if you decide to publish your own.

Jump on in! Let's cook some 'que.

BBQ Appearance Scores

The most effective tool for improving your barbecue contest results is a a digital camera. Forget about the secret rubs and sauces and all the time wasting and money wasting gadgets for sale. If the best barbecue in the world doesn't look good in a turn-in box, it's probably not going to win 1st place.
The Canon Powershot at the left costs less than $260 at Amazon and can be purchased at Wal-Mart and Target too. Linda and I have taken a lot of bbq pictures with it.
If you are not already doing it, take a picture of your turn-in boxes just before you close the lid. When the box is opened for judging, that picture is what they're going to see. After you get your results from the event, whether they are positive or negative, the digital picture can help you make adjustments for the next event. You can download the pictures to you computer at home and then you'll have the entire season of turn-in boxes for reference later. Over a period of three or four contests, I am sure the camera will provide you with ideas to improve your appearance scores and win more prize money.
A digital camera can also help you with your at home practicing. Get some boxes and practice setting up boxes when you do your practice cooks. Take pictures of them and compare them with your next practice cook or to your next contest boxes. I promise it works.
Here's a picture of a first place brisket box.
If you're looking for an all around top of the line point and shoot camera, consider the Panasonic FZ50.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Arizona Barbecue

AZ Barbeque has relaunched their website. They've put a lot of hard work into the re-designed site and they've changed its' overall look. The site now offers discussion forums, a barbecue store, a bbq blog, photo gallery, and a bbq team section. is all about BBQ in Arizona and they're looking for new members. I encourage you to check out their new website.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Eastern Carolina BBQ Throw Down

The Eastern Carolina BBQ Throw Down is scheduled for October 10-11 in Rocky Mount, NC. The grand champion will earn $3,000 with reserve grand champion earning $1,500. First place in each category will receive $500. The showmanship winner receives $250.

Teams can arrive as early as Wednesday and stay until Sunday. This KCBS sanctioned event will also feature an optional showmanship category.

The contest entry fee is $250 for a 20 x 35 cooking space. Electrical service costs an additional $25, but can be offset by the $25 early bird discount for entries received prior to August 1. The deadline for entries is September 15. For questions, e-mail

Monday, July 21, 2008

Dutch Oven Breakfast

My dutch oven gear.

12 inch and 10 inch dutch ovens.

The bacon has been browned. I'm adding the onions, green peppers, and red peppers.

A close-up after the hashbrowns and chunks of ham were added.

Adding a dozen eggs.

The eggs are cooked. Adding the cheese topping.

Finished "Mountain Man Breakfast" after the cheese melted.

Mountain Man Breakfast

A recipe by Danny Wardle

Preheat a 12" dutch oven

Brown a 1/2 pound of bacon cut into pieces
Add and cook a medium onion chopped
Add green and red pepper
Remove the bacon, onions, and peppers
Add a 32 ounce bag of hash browns
Brown hash browns and stir in bacon and onions back in
Add 12 eggs and poor over potatoes, bacon, onions, and peppers
Cook until eggs are almost solid
Sprinkle top with grated cheddar cheese
Cook until eggs are solid and cheese is melted
Serve with salsa

This recipe is published in Lovin' Dutch Ovens by Joan S. Larsen. I added the ham and peppers based on my personal tastes. The next time I make it I'm going to add more black pepper.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

How to Roast a Whole Hog

If you've ever thought about roasting a pig, but weren't quite sure how to do it, Three Guy's From Miami provide step-by-step barbecue details The website has many pictures to guide you through the process and many more pictures of the final results to keep you motivated.

Besides learning to crack the spine, the hardest part of the entire process might be simply finding a pig. You want one that weighs between 60 and 100 pounds after it's dressed out. Talk to local butcher shops and grocery stores to see if they can order one for you.

The website talks about marinating the pig over night. One word of caution: if you decide to take this approach, make sure you're able to keep the pig cool during this process. If you can't maintain the pig's internal meat temperature below 40 degrees while marinating, you should skip the marinade and proceed directly to cooking.

Increase Restaurant Profits

Saturday, July 19, 2008

To Garnish, or Not to Garnish

It's not quite Shakespeare, but for some bbq contestants the decision to use or not use garnish can mean the difference between winning and losing. The Florida Barbecue Association has instituted a "no garnish" rule that is growing more and more popular with competitors. The Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctions events that provide competitors the ability to choose whether they think garnish offers an advantage or not.

Greg Rempe, publisher of, recently hosted a BBQ Roundtable Discussion with guests including Rod Grey of Pellet Envy, Kevin Bevington of and Jim Minion of Two Loose Screws about personal bias when judging bbq contest turn-in boxes. The trio also discussed the use or non-use of garnish when turning in sample boxes. I hope you enjoy the discussion as much as I did.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Best BBQ in Texas

This is a short follow-up to an article that first appeared in May about Snow's Barbecue, which was recently named the "Best BBQ in Texas". National Public Radio featured Snow's in a recent program and I wanted to share it with you. It seems business at the restaurant is picking up. Here's a podcast. I hope you enjoy it.

I've only been to Texas once...about 18 years ago. My employer (at the time) let me fly from Sikeston, MO with the CEO and a couple of other managers to Dallas on their corporate jet. My boss and I rented a car and drove to Tyler for a week long training event. We ate some bbq here and there, but I don't really remember any of the names or towns.

I received an e-mail tonight from Chuck Sackman and a heads up about an article in Texas Monthly proclaiming Snow's BBQ in Lexington, TX as the "best barbecue in Texas". Snow's is only open on Saturdays and for only four hours. When the meats gone, Snow's is closed until next week.

Some may be surprised that the best bbq in Texas comes from such unlikely circumstances, but it doesn't surprise me in the least. It's difficult to "mass produce" quality anything and bbq is no exception. You can't program a computer to cook bbq, although some keep trying. A drawer full of gadgets and a bank full of money doesn't qualify anyone as a bbq cook.

Three cheers for Snow's and long live the barbecue spirit in Lexington, TX.

Increase Restaurant Profits

BBQ Research

Whether you are preparing bbq in the backyard, for a contest, or for a restaurant, the success of the effort is largely dependent upon the foundation you build under the effort in the beginning.

To start a restaurant, you'd most likely begin by researching the competition in the market area where the restaurant will be located. You'd pay particular attention to the menu choices, parking availability, pricing, hours of operation, location, and on and on. As a next step, you'd be wise to prepare a business plan and a pro-forma balance sheet and income statement that projects the first three years of expenses and revenues.

Some seasoned business people might feel comfortable preparing these items on their own, but most would want to seek out the services of a professional. Financing is another consideration. A local bank might be able to assist you, but you might have better success consulting a bank and loan officer that has experience loaning money to start-up restaurant operations. If financing doesn't work out, a long-term lease is another option. A good accountant or CPA with experience in working with small businesses can offer guidance and recommendations for all of these items.

If your barbecue goals are less ambitious and you simply want to learn how to cook some good barbecue in your backyard, you might seek out the advice of a friend that cooks barbecue, or you might take a class from one of the multiple guru's that cook barbecue. Or if you're like me, you'd probably take a trip down to the local book store or visit to read some books on the subject. The Internet also provides an excellent source of information through various bbq blogs, barbecue forums, discussion lists, newsletters, directories, etc.

Here's a few to get you started:

When learning anything new, these preliminary steps are the least rewarding part. It's sometimes dirty work and not very glamorous. Many try to skip these basic steps and simply throw money at barbecue by purchasing a turn key business opportunity they know little or nothing about. Backyard barbecuers might purchase the shiniest, newest, latest and greatest most expensive bbq smoker they can find, before they really even know how to use it and if it will work for a particular application.

Take a deep breath and a step back. You just might save yourself some money.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

How to make ABT's (Atomic Buffalo Turds)

I made some ABT's today. There are several variations of these popular bbq appetizers. Some use shrimp, some use pulled pork, some use cream cheese, but I chose one that favored sausage.
I've seen the peppers cut two different ways, so I tried both as a test. Some were sliced in half long ways and some were cut open long ways to make a pocket, but not in two pieces (see picture above). I prefer the pocket method best for the sausage stuffing.
I cleaned out the jalapenos, stuffed them with sausage, and topped it off with cheddar cheese. Then I wrapped the whole thing with bacon and cooked them on a medium hot grill for 20 minutes.
Things I learned for next time:
1) I prefer a sausage with more flavor. Using a mild sausage leaves the ABT more bland that I thought it would. Next time, I'm using Tennessee Pride.
2) The bacon wrap is unnessary if you use the pocket stuffing method (see above). If sliced in two pieces, the peppers need the bacon to hold it all in place. From now on I'm leaving the bacon off.
3) Instead of cooking on the grill, I'm going to try using the WSM without the water pan to lift the ABTs farther from the flame. This will allow the ABTs cook a little longer without scorching and burning.

Blues Hog Barbecue Company

St. Louis has an article about Bill Arnold creator of Blues Hog Barbecue Sauce that's worth reading. If you've never tried Blue Hog Barbecue Sauce, you're missing out because it makes good bbq a little bit better.

I've been using Blues Hog's Original for several years. Usually I buy the sauce directly from the Blues Hog website and sometimes my parents buy it for me at Snoddy's General Store across the Missouri River from Boonville, MO.

Mr. Arnold and his family could use your support now more than ever. Keep them in your thoughts and prayers and better yet, buy some of his barbecue sauce. Barbecue folks have to
stick together.

Update: Bill was featured on Good Morning America this morning. Here's a link to the video.

Start a Catering Business

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Atomic Buffalo Turds (ABTs)

I'm not quite sure how I've been cooking and grilling seriously for almost 10-years and never made A.B.T.'s. Today I made a quick trip to Publix and picked up the key ingredients for tomorrow.
-Jalapeno peppers
-mild sausage
-cheddar cheese
Most ABT recipes also include Philadelphia cream cheese, but since I have an aversion to cream cheese I've left it out.
I'll post pictures of the results tomorrow.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Rain or Shine: Light the Fire

We spent the holiday cooking bbq. Some might even call it a “Stay-cation” of sorts. It was good eating and it’s a good thing, because we still have some leftovers.

I planned on eating some meals out at restaurants with Linda doing the rest of the cooking for the weekend, but Saturday night she pulled a pork loin out of the fridge and cheerfully announced that I was grilling it on Sunday. In the true spirit of a three day holiday weekend, I procrastinated and cooked it for supper.

I put the lump charcoal in the chimney starter and it started to rain. Luckily, it was just a slow moving typical Florida summer afternoon shower. I was able to get the charcoal in the pan before it got too wet and extinguished itself. My second lucky moment of the cook was a convenient break in the rain when it was time to put the kabobs on the grill. The rain picked up a little later on, but a golf umbrella works wonders for shielding a kettle grill.

After cooking barbecue in 20 degrees and blowing snow for two and a half years in Michigan, I didn’t dare wimp out over a little rain. Sometimes those gas grills that Linda calls “outdoor ovens” work well when it’s raining, but a little rain adds that extra touch of excitement when going head to head with Mother Nature.

Linda found the recipe on It was developed by the Culinary Institute of America.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Ginger Dipping Sauce

1 cup sliced green onions
3 tablespoons Pure Wesson Vegetable Oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 ½ pound of pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch pieces

Ginger Dipping Sauce:
1 tablespoon Pure Wesson Vegetable Oil
½ cup chopped red onion
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
1 can (14.5 ounce) Hunt’s Petite Diced Tomatoes, undrained
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons La Choy Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
10 wooden skewers (6-inch), soaked in water


Prepare marinade. Place pork and marinade in plastic bag. Shake to coat evenly and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Prepare sauce over medium heat. When hot add oil and onion. Cook 4 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir occasionally. Add ginger and garlic. Cook 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes. Pour sauce in blender and puree 1 minute. Keep warm.

Place pork on skewers and discard marinade. Cook on a hot grill for 5 minutes on each side, or until the pork is cooked and is no longer pink.

Start a Catering Business