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Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Here is the essence of American barbecue. Scott's Bar-B-Que in Hemingway, SC is nothing less than a national treasure. The method of cooking barbecue employed at Scott's goes all the way back to the very beginnings of American history even to the first successful English colony in the New World: Virginia. A whole hog is slow roasted over wood coals and mopped with a peppery vinegar based basting liquid and served with love and care. That, my friends, is Americana in its purist form!


Friday, November 30, 2012

Melissa Cookston's Barbecued Baby Back Ribs Recipe

Melissa Cookston - Three Time World BBQ Champion
So, have you been wanting to learn how to cook barbecue like Melissa Cookston? Who wouldn't? She is a three time world champion barbecue cook. Fortunately for us, she has also shown the world a glimpse into how she cooks baby back ribs. Here is what she has generously shared about her process and my comments.

Here is Melissa's Quick and Easy rub recipe she shared at this link - Click Here.

1 cup granulated raw sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp granulated garlic
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp black pepper (coarse ground if available)
2 tsp ground mustard
4 tbsp light chili powder
4 tbsp paprika

In the How to BBQ like a World Champion interview, Cookston explains the process.

“We’re going to show you exactly what we do to our ribs for competition to make your ribs world champion ribs too,” Cookston begins.

First, you want to remove the membrane that is on the back of the ribs. “You can’t chew through that. So we want to remove that, so that all of our flavors can get in the back of the rib as well as the top of the rib, and it’ll make it much more tender.  You just slide your fingers underneath the membrane, pull up, and bam it’s gone.”

After that, liberally coat both sides of your ribs with rub, and be sure to rub it all in so the meat gets lots of good flavor.

Then spread on a coat of secret ingredient #1, mustard.

“The mustard acts as a sealant on top of the rub, which will help force that rub down into the pores; as well as it contains Vinegar, so it will help these ribs tenderize,” she explains. “You will never taste the mustard in these ribs, I promise.”

"Now your ribs are ready for the smoker at 225 degrees for two hours."

OCBBQ NOTE - I seriously doubt that she cooks ribs at 225 degrees. Bump your smoker temperature up to 275 degrees F and you will be closer to the actual cooking temperature.

“After two hours, these ribs will be a nice, red color and they almost look like they’re done.  But guess what?  They’re still tough.  So what I’m going to do is, I’m going to wrap this up in some foil,” she says.

While appearing on BBQ Pitmasters, Cookston added some further details -

Cookston described the color of her ribs before wrapping them in foil as a really dark red color on the ribs so that when she glazes them they will have a nice pretty mahogany shine.

"Wrapping your ribs in foil will help them tenderize and keep them from over-smoking. Before you wrap them up, shake some more rub on both sides and cover it with another thin layer of mustard.

Then comes secret ingredient #2, apple juice. Add a cup or two of apple juice to your foil-wrapped ribs to ensure your ribs are cooking with moist heat and not a dry-heat.  The juice will also keep your ribs tender, and add a little bit of sweetness."

OCBBQ NOTE - I think that is too much AJ. Too much liquid in the foil can cause the ribs to lose flavor. At the link with the rub recipe (above) she specified 1 tablespoon of apple or orange juice. And if you watch the video of her at the How to BBQ like a World Champion link you can see that she used a very little bit of apple juice. Looked like about 2 tablespoons to me.

"Before you wrap them up, shake some more rub on both sides and cover it with another thin layer of mustard."

"Make sure the ribs are wrapped tightly, and put them back in the smoker for another two hours.

When your ribs are done cooking is when you add your barbecue sauce, not earlier."

OCBBQ NOTE - Start checking baby back ribs after about 1.5 hours of cook time after being wrapped. They are done when you can easily twist the bones or when they bend at a 90 degree angle when being picked up from the middle with a pair of tongs.

“BBQ sauces all contain some sort of sugars which will caramelize and actually burn through the cooking process, so you only want to put the sauce on at the very end of the cooking process,” Cookston says.

After you've sauced your ribs you’ll add the final touch of Cookston’s last secret ingredient, honey.

“It’ll give your ribs a great shine, and it’ll give them just that sweet taste, which is really good if you like sweet BBQ.”  Plus, “If it looks good, it tastes good.  So shiny ribs are better than dull ribs.”

"Put your ribs back in the smoker for 10-15 minutes to let the barbecue sauce soak in, and then your ribs are ready to enjoy."

OCBBQ NOTE - If your sauce has a lot of sugar in it, 10 minutes is the maximum time that you will need, especially at 275 degrees.

Now, if you want to make even more authentic Cookston style baby back ribs, order some of her barbecue sauce and rub from her online store. Click here for the link.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Original Allman's Bar-B-Q Style Cheeseburger - Circa 1975

Old School Allman's Bar-B-Q Cheeseburger in all its Cheesy Glory!

Back around 1975 when I was in elementary school, I used to love to visit Allman's Bar-B-Q in Fredericksburg, VA not to eat the barbecue but to eat the cheeseburgers. Those cheeseburgers were  among the most delectable treats that I could enjoy back in those days.

They didn't look delicious. In fact, they were "squashed" because Mr. White (the owner) would heat the buns in his "meat press" which was a device that looked like a clothes pressing machine you see in dry cleaner shops. They were cooked in the kitchen by the chief cook Mary Brown. Mary didn't cook the barbecue. She made the coleslaw and cooked burgers, dogs, and fries, etc. And, the cheeseburgers she cooked were nothing short of master pieces.

I had a real craving for one of those delicious cheeseburgers recently. I was almost wishing I had a time machine just so I could go back in time, visit Allman's, and order a cheeseburger. Yeah, they were that good. But, after doing a search on Google and eBay, I realized that there are no time machines to be had. So, I had to get to work and try my hand and at replicating a 1975 style Allman's Bar-B-Q cheeseburger. To my surprise, it turned out very close to the real thing. It was pretty tasty! I ate mine plain, but you could also get any of the standard burger toppings if you wanted. Here is how you can make one too.

1/4 to 1/3 pound of 73/27 ground beef (Allman's wasn't a burger joint. They used inexpensive ground beef.)
2 slices of American cheese (I use Kraft Deli Deluxe)
1 soft burger bun (I used Blue Ribbon brand)
A griddle or iron skillet
A lid that will fit inside the iron skillet or big enough to cover the burger patty on the griddle
Aluminum Foil
2 TBS of water
Salt & Pepper

Form the beef into a thin patty. Touch the meat as little as possible. Mary used to cook a lot of these things, especially on weekends, and I can tell you that she didn't spend a lot of time forming the patty.

Put the meat on the hot griddle or in the hot skillet. Use a little vegetable oil, if needed. Add a little salt & pepper and let the patty cook. When it's time, flip the patty over. Just as it has reached well done, put the cheese on top, pour the water near the patty and cover it with the lid. The steam produced from the water melts the cheese. Let it stay covered until the cheese is melted.

The Original Circa 1975 Allman's Bar-B-Q Style Cheeseburger
Once the cheese is melted, remove the cheesy meat patty from the skillet/griddle. Remove the excess grease from the skillet/griddle being careful not to burn yourself.

Put the bottom piece of the bun on the skillet/griddle, put the meat patty with melted cheese on it and, finally, top it off with the other half of the bun.

Take the lid that has been wiped of liquid/grease and use it to push down on the cheeseburger to "squash" it. Let the bun bottom get good and hot. Flip it over and repeat.

Remove the cheeseburger from the pan/griddle and wrap it in aluminum foil. Let it sit for about 3 to 5 minutes. Unwrap and enjoy.

No, it's not like taking a journey through time in a time machine but it's very close.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

One Mile Long Barbecue Pit!

If you do a lot of reading about BBQ history, you have probably heard of the world's largest 
barbecue ever held. It was in honor of the January, 1923 inauguration of Oklahoma governor
Jack Walton. He put out a call for  donations for the barbecue and received an overwhelming
response. The Dallas Morning News reported that thousands of cows, hogs, sheep, and chickens
plus 103 turkeys, 1,363 rabbits, 26 squirrels, 134 opossums, 113 geese, 34 ducks, 15 deer, 2
buffalo, and 2 reindeer were donated for hundreds of thousands of people that were expected
to attend.

That's a lot of meat and it required a lot cooking space. In fact, the most impressive thing about the barbecue was the part that everyone seems to leave out of the story: the barbecue pit. It was a hole dug in the ground that spanned one mile!

Mile-Long Trench Prepared For Inauguration Barbecue;
Cowboy Chef Almost Ready

The Morning Tulsa Daily World - December 28, 1922

"We'll be ready to start cooking meat pretty soon," was the declaration today of
I. R. McCann, nationally known cowboy chef, who is in charge of preparing meats for
Oklahoma's big barbecue to be held here January 8 at the inauguration of Gov.-Elect
J. C. Walton. "You know it  takes about 30 hours to barbecue meat properly," McCann explained. 
"A mile long trench over which the carcasses will roast was reported complete today and work on emergency houses and tents to house overflow visitors estimated to exceed two hundred  thousand are under way," he said. 
"It will be the biggest feat in the history of the world of its kind," continued McCann, "and it's going to go off like clock work. On the morning of January 7, there will be more than one thousand carcasses all nice and brown awaiting consumption by the hungry hordes. 
A trainload of wood is expected in soon and a carload of pepper has been ordered. I'll see the pepper is used with discrimination and there will be a feast of beef like your mother used to cook."  
Thirty meat cutters, 1000 waiters, 52 fire handlers and 500 assistant chefs will prepare the feast.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The First Thanksgiving Dinner in Kansas City: A Barbecue, of Course

Henry Perry Ad-The Kansas City Sun - December 22, 1917

The Evening Public Ledger of October 20, 1920, has this article written by Mrs. M.A. Wilson about the food served at the first Thanksgiving in Kansas City back in 1856 which was five years before President Abraham Lincoln made the national proclamation of Thanksgiving in November of 1861. I'm not too sure that Mrs. Wilson didn't embellish a bit, but I still found it an interesting read. Here is an excerpt.

Mrs. Wilson Describes an Olden Kansas Barbecue
By Mrs. M.A. Wilson
A recent visit to Kansas City, Mo., while looking for good things for this corner, led me out to the Shawnee Missions, in the beautiful misty mission hills of Kansas, which are in a spur of the Ozarks. High upon the summit of the hills stands the council grove, or as it is now called, Shawnee Park. Here, shaded by magnificent century old trees, are many relics and monuments of the Indians and warriors of bygone days. In this little place parties and rallies have always been a feature, for here was established the first school for the Indian: the women and girls were taught weaving, spinning, sewing, cooking and other house-wifely arts, while the boys and young bucks were taught to till the soil, shoe making and other industrious occupations. This district is now about in the heart of the hard red winter wheat fields. 
The beautiful and soft old Spanish name Earansa soon developed into Canza or Kanza, meaning south wind; this soon became Kansas and today one hears frequently the Indian word -kaw- the name for Kansas. This is in reality the gateway of the West and Southwest. The Shawnee hills are about ten miles, as the crow flies, from Kansas City, Mo.
Mrs. Belle Robinson, now about eighty five years of age, though she is as straight as a sapling and has a very merry twinkle in her eyes recalls the early pioneer days about the Shawnee Missions. These missions are so called because a group of Indian missions were located close together in these hills, where one may stand today, shading the eyes with the hand, and watch the sun sink amid the splendor of a riotous color into the west. 
The air in this section of the country is a wonderful rejuvenator, and few of the people ever need either a tonic or physic. The country in those days contained wild game, fish from the nearby waters, moose, buffalo, and, as Mrs. Robinson said, it came back to her, just as if it were yesterday, the most troublesome period, when Governor Geary appointed November 20, 1856, as a day of Thanksgiving for the advent of peace. She was a young woman of sixteen in those days and, as she remembers it, the celebration was done in a right hearty manner. As you will imagine, the greatest attraction of the day was the dinner. 
The early days had left their mark upon the mannerism and taste of the people of Kansas, and true to those days a combination of French, Spanish and New England cooking prevailed. Here is an old 1856 Kansas City Thanksgiving dinner: Onion Soup, Barbecue of Beef, Homemade Relishes, Yams, Succotash, Homemade Relish and Pickles, Roast Duck, Pepper Cabbage, Wapsie Pudding, Tea and Coffee. 
Of course, the men folk took care of the barbecue, but with it all they had their hands full, for out at the mission at that time they had about 100 people to feed, and after dinner, when all hands helped to clear things up, the afternoon and early evening were spent in dancing and games, and then most of the guests were in bed by 9 o'clock.

The Kansas City Journal of December 1, 1899 offered this account of an early Thanksgiving dinner in Kansas City. We are told "It was a sort of a barbecue affair."

Thanksgiving in 1864 Kansas City
Uncle "Bill" Mulkey, who was here before Kansas City was on the map, sat in an office on the second floor of the Hall building, at Ninth and Walnut streets, yesterday with his old style boots braced against the window sill and tried to recall his first Thanksgiving dinner in Kansas City. 
The first he had any distinct recollection of was in 1864. Mr. Mulkey came to this conclusion after gazing down absent mindedly for several minutes upon the rumbling wagons and gliding street cars on Walnut street. 
"It was a sort of a barbecue affair," he said, "held in Tom Smart's pasture." "Where was Tom Smart's pasture?" "Why, it was in this same eighty," replied Mr. Mulkey with mild surprise. Mr. Mulkey, as his friends all know, has never accustomed himself to the new style of referring to localities by streets or numbers. With him it is always "this eighty" or "that eighty." 
"Yes, this same eighty that this building is on - Old Tom Smart's pasture was over there on Twelfth street, about Twelfth and Holmes, I guess. It was this side of the old fair grounds, anyhow." "What did we have to eat? Beef and sheep and bread - I don't remember about the cranberry sauce, but I 'spose, of course, we had it. One thing 'at I remember very well is that Frank Kumpf, the brewery man's wife was sent off the grounds because she 'hollered' for Jeff Davis. The war wasn't over then, you know, and there were a lot of soldiers, Union soldiers, at the barbecue. I 'spose there were 300 or 400 people altogether, there. No, there wasn't any building where we are now. What buildings there were in town were down on the river and this up here about the Junction was still in the woods. There were a few residences as far out as Twelfth street. There was no railroad then, but steamboats came up the river." 
Father Dalton came to Kansas City In 1872. He thinks the Thanksgiving dinner of today is not much changed from the dinner of that day. "We always had turkey and cranberry sauce as far back as I can remember," he said.
 For an old school Kansas City Barbecue basting/mop recipe, check this link.

Old School Kansas City Barbecue Basting Mop Sauce Recipe

The Mountain Advocate - September 5, 1913 - Basting the Roasting Meat
The Evening Public Ledger of October 20, 1920 printed an article written by Mrs. M.A. Wilson entitled Mrs. Wilson Describes an Olden Kansas Barbecue. In the article she shared this old Kansas City Barbecue Basting/Mop recipe.

1/2 cup of bacon fat
7 TBS of vinegar
1 Tsp of sugar
3 TBS of grated onion
Tiny bit of garlic

Add to 2/3 cup of boiling water and mix well. Keep liquid warm and baste the meat with the liquid as the meat is being barbecued.

Of course,  you may want to make a bit more than Mrs. Wilson specified.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Season Four of BBQ Pitmasters Premiers December 16, 2012

The all new fourth season of BBQ Pitmasters is set to premier on the Destination America channel December 16, 2012!

Read more here.

Friday, November 9, 2012

19th Century Louisiana Barbecue

The Anderson Intelligencer - March 16, 1898 - A Southern Barbecue

A Northern Travelling Man's Diverting Experience in Louisiana

"I was down south last fall," said the drummer, flicking the ashes from his cigar and tilting his big chair to a comfortable angle. I got caught for a week by quarantine in a little backwoods town in Louisiana, 'in the piny woods' as they call it there, and the things I saw during that week would fill a book. Among other things I saw a barbecue. Ever been to a regular, old fashioned southern barbecue? Well, I have, upon its native heath and in its most primitive state, I guess. Really, I think the people sort of got up the barbecue for my benefit as a kind of public entertainment on my behalf, killing the fatted calf, as it were, for the prodigal who could not go home. I appreciated the courtesy, I can tell you, and never missed a detail of it from start to finish. 
The barbecue was given at what they called the 'picnic grounds,' a little grass grown, underbrush cleared space at the rise of a hill. Preparations for the affair began the day before. Among other things a greased pole was erected. The process seemed a very simple one. All there was to it was just a ditch about 15 or 20 feet long, 3 feet deep, and 4 feet wide. In the bottom of this the men collected some pine splinters, kindled a fire and then fed it with oak and hickory and ash wood till they had the ditch half full of glowing coals. This took them well into the night, you see, and before day they cut a lot of slender oak saplings into lengths and laid them at intervals of eight or ten inches across the ditch over the fire. 
Along about this time the men came with the meat. A whole beef they had and three muttons, and when they spread them out on the green saplings over the glowing coals those great, brawny, bearded men, with the light from the pine torches glaring on their faces, looked like a race of cannibals preparing for an orgy. All night they staid there, the good fellows, with forks and spits to turn the meat, and with great long handled mops which they dipped in melted lard and vinegar to baste it. And maybe you think it wasn't good, that barbecued meat. Just wait until you taste some. There's nothing like it. 
But the people! Before day they began to come, covered wagons and ox carts full of them - men, women and children. And the baskets they brought full of biscuits and corn pones and sweet potatoes and custard pies and cakes! I don't think I ever saw so much to eat all at once in my life. And the watermelons! Wagon loads of them were put in the branch to cool. And tubs of sweet cider big enough to float in! After dinner the fun began. There were foot races, sack races, jumping contests, greased pole climbing and greased pig chasing. 
Now, among my acquaintances was a small boy named Tige, or, at least, so called; a red haired, freckled lad, son of the man I boarded with. Tige and I were good friends, but a lazier lad I never saw, so somehow I was surprised when he appeared as one of the contestants for prizes. However, he did not enter either of the races nor the jumping contest. But when it came to the greased pole, lo, the freckled Tige led all the rest! The way that chap stuck to that slippery sapling was a caution, and when he reached the top none cheered louder than I. The same way with the greased shoat. Tige was simply 'onto' the pig and staid there. 
By right of being a guest and therefore to be honored it fell to my lot to award the prizes. Tige was to receive a six bladed pocket knife and a pair of spurs - "hardware in my line, you know," the drummer interrupted himself quite unconsciously, and when the little scamp came up to get them I caught a wink in his other eye that seemed sort of suggestive. 
"'Tell me how you did it, Tige," I said when I had given him his prizes with appropriate remarks. "I ain't no fool, if I do have fits," he said, still winking. "But we are friends," I urged. "An is hayin keepin?" he asked. "Yes, having is keeping, sure," said I. Coming quite close to me, he winked frantically and said in a hoarse whisper: "Pine rosin." Then, holding out his palms and turning up his heels, he cut and ran. But I understood. The little scamp had taken the precaution to literally cake his feet and hands with fresh, sticky pine gum and so had held his own by right of stratagem.

Mary Simmons

There is an account published in an old Ohio newspaper, the Jeffersonville National Democrat, on October 19, 1876 entitled An Old Woman in which we are told, in too little words, about the life of Mary Simmons. Mary was one of the oldest living women in the country at that time. Because she participated in a barbecue held at Alexandria, Virginia in George Washington's honor, I thought it would be appropriate to post it. Mary was most likely either a cook or a server at the barbecue.
In an old tenement house in Gibsonville, near the Government Depot, lives Mary Simmons, a colored woman, aged 112 years. Of course a person at that age has a history, and a News reporter, while in Gibsonville today, visited her house, with a view to obtain some points as to the history of the old woman. The old woman was found sitting in bed, her head almost bent to her knees, a result of infirmity and old age. She said she was born in Lunenbury county, Virginia, January 1st, 1764, and was consequently 112 years old on January 1st, 1876. 
She distinctly remembers incidents of the Revolutionary war, and likes to talk about the things which happened in those times. She remembers that her old master and his five sons fought in the Revolutionary war. She saw General Washington at Alexandria, Va., at a barbecue given in his honor, and accurately describes his dress and appearance. She remained a slave till the middle of the late civil war, when she claimed her freedom. She has had twelve children, and five of her sons fought in the late Rebellion, for which she says she never received any compensation whatever. 
The old woman is now lying in this old shanty, with scarcely any person to take care of her. She has been provided for, for some time past, by the Sisters of Providence of this city, who kindly furnished her with the necessaries of life. One of her daughters lives in the neighborhood, but is evidently too poor to take care of her. She is probably the oldest person living in this county, and probably the oldest in the State.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Barbecue Secret Number 12 - Butcher Paper

Barbecued Chuck Roast Rubbed with Salt & Pepper and
Wrapped with Butcher Paper During the Cook.
Besides the usual suspect for wrapping barbecue (a.k.a. aluminum foil) as it cooks and rests after the cook, you can also use butcher paper. Many of the great barbecue restaurants in central Texas use it instead of foil and get excellent results. There are a couple of benefits to using butcher paper instead of foil including the cost (butcher paper is much cheaper) and the differences in how each impacts the barbecue's bark.

The Chuck Roast on the Left was Wrapped in Butcher Paper During the Cook.
The Roast on the Right was Wrapped in Foil. Notice the Difference in the Bark.

If you want to give butcher paper a try, here are some tips.

You can find butcher paper at places like Costco, Restaurant Depot, and even several office supply stores. If you can't find it in a local store, you can also find it online. Another option is to inquire at your local butcher shop or grocery store butcher to see if they will sell you a small quantity from their stock.

Barbecued Chuck Roast Wrapped in Butcher Paper.

Butcher paper comes in several widths. The 24" or 30" widths are best because it's easier to wrap a large cut of meat like a brisket or a long rack of ribs with the wider paper. But, if all you can find is the 18" stuff, you can make it work using a little more paper.

Butcher Paper Balled up Waiting to be Flattened Back Out
and used to Wrap Barbecue.

Butcher paper is a relatively thick paper and can be hard to work with when wrapping barbecue. A way to make the paper more pliable and easier to work with is to cut the size sheet of paper you need from the roll and ball it up then flatten it out again. Do that several times until the paper feels more pliable. I also like to put a light coat of spray oil on it before balling it up or even soaking it with water and wringing out the excess.

Another thing you want to do when wrapping barbecue with butcher paper is to make sure your last wrap around the meat is on the bottom. This will ensure that the weight of the meat will keep the paper in place while cooking.

Here is a great recipe for barbecue chuck roast using butcher paper.

Start with a 2.5 to 3 pound chuck roast. Season it with salt and pepper. Fire up your smoker/grill to a cooking temperature of about 300 degrees using indirect heat. A little oak or hickory works great for smoke.

Put the seasoned chuck roast in the smoker/grill and cook for about 2 hours. After 2 hours of cooking, remove the chuck roast from the cooker and wrap it in butcher paper. Put it back in the cooker and let it cook for about another 2 hours. You will know when it's done when an ice pick or thermometer probe slides into the meat with little resistance. The internal temperature of the meat will be around 208 - 210 degrees. But, go by the tenderness of the meat rather than the internal temperature. Once the meat has reached the proper level of tenderness, remove it from the cooker and let it rest for 30 minutes to an hour while still wrapped.

After the rest, pull the chuck roast into sections, scrape off the silver skin and excess fat, slice it against the grain and serve. One last step I like to take with chuck roast is to chop it too. It's delicious served as barbecue beef sandwiches with sauce and slaw, made into taco meat, served with eggs for breakfast, and even used in chili.

Barbecue Chuck Roast Sliced & Chopped

For more barbecue secrets CLICK HERE.

Monday, October 15, 2012

California Barbecue Virginia Style - Tri-Tip

There is a triangular cut of beef from the tip of the sirloin called appropriately enough "tri-tip." It was made popular in California starting sometime in the late 1950's. Before that time, it was just another lean cut of beef ground up and made into hamburger.

Nowadays, it is a specialty of the Santa Maria area of California and for good reason. Cooked properly, it is a delicious cut of beef. For obvious reasons, there are only two tri-tip roasts per cow. Therefore, it can be difficult to find in many area local grocery stores. Ask your local butcher shop if you can't find it and I bet they can help you out.

Here is a great way to cook a delicious tri-tip roast.

Start with your grill setup for indirect cooking. I used charcoal and a couple of splits of white oak wood.

When the wood has burned down to hot coals, add the tri-tip rubbed down with a little sea salt, coarse ground black pepper, and granulated garlic.

Notice how far the meat is away from the heat source. I'm not grilling it; I'm barbecuing it at this point.

The cooking temp was about 300 degrees Fahrenheit using indirect heat.

Once the meat reached an internal temperature of about 127 - 130 degrees, I moved the meat directly over the coals just long enough to get a nice sear on both sides.

After searing it, let the meat rest for about 10 to 20 minutes then slice it into thin slices against the grain and serve. It's good sliced or on sandwiches.

Here is a delicious tri-tip slider with cheese, grilled peppers and onions.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Roast Beef a La Lightning

The Harrisonburg Rockingham Register of August 20, 1907 printed an account of a farmer named John Carroll who, soon after a lightning storm, found one of his cows killed by lightning. Rather than making preparations to properly dispose of the carcass, farmer John made a meal of it.

Monday, September 3, 2012

That Miserable Cook!

The following is an article from The Daily State Journal (Alexandria, VA) February 12, 1873. I bet there are a lot of barbecue cooks who can relate to this story.

What My Cook Said.
There's nobody, mum, that's so put upon as a cook, and cooking, is a buzziness that nobody never makes 'lowances for. Most o'bizzinesses can be done at one time's well's another. My brother, now, is a carpenter, and he don't have to git a door done by quarter past six or else the door be spiled. And there's Biddy, the chambermaid, if she don't finish sweeping a room when she ought to, the carpet won't go back to wool, or shrivel up to a crisp. And if she makes a bed all wrong from top to tee she don't have to throw the sheets away - nothin's hurt, and she just goes to work and makes it over again.
But if I makes a bad mistake like that in a piece of meat, why in course it's spiled entirely, and don't the best o' folks make mistakes sometimes, mum? If I begins a roast jist a trifle too late, it's spiled all the same, or else folks is in a pet because I makes 'em wait a bit for it. I knows in a gin'ral way by the looks of a piece of meat jist how long 'twill take to roast, but things don't allurs work as a body cal'lates it - sometimes the meat weighs a half pound more or less, and sometimes the fire gits contrary. 
Most o' my work, and roastin' in particular - the thing most folks gits crossest about - can't be done and put away, till it's wanted, like dish-washing, and ironing, and sewing. It's to be done just to a turn and jist to a minit. A roast must go right straight from the fire to the table, as you know, mum, yourself, and sometimes folks is a little longer than common over the soup and fish, and how am I to know, mum? And then, if the meat is a little overdone, it's "That miserable cook can't even roast a piece of beef right!" And if it's taken from the fire, and kept hot, why that's jist as bad, and it's "That miserable cook! she has contrived to git the flavor out of the meat!" And if they are ready too soon, and the meat is too rare, it's "That miserable cook!" again. 
Seems to me that ladies and gintlemen as is ladies and gintlemen might think a bit how hard it is on the cook, and have a bit o' patience, and instead o' saying "That miserable cook!" might be a talkin' pleasant among themselves, and wait a few minutes if the meat isn't ready to a minit, for you know, mum, it's an old sayin', "It is better to wait for the roast than to make the roast wait for us." Hearth and Home 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A Goat's Revenge


Excerpted from The New York Times, August 25, 1884.

The greatest barbecue that has taken place in Georgia since the war was enjoyed by citizens of DeKalb County yesterday at Clarkston. It had an ending, however, that was anything but romantic.
Several weeks ago it was arranged that the people should have a holiday... when barbecue scenes of 40 years ago were to be repeated, to show the young people how much of life they had missed by not being older. Late on Friday night the woods on the outskirts of Clarkston presented a weird appearance. The night was intensely dark, and here and there were blazing fires in the background. 
The attendant cooks for the feast of the morrow could be seen placing carcases upon spits, and all night long using long poles, having at the ends swabs of mustard, with which the meats were kept thoroughly saturated. Ten o'clock Saturday found perhaps 5,000 country folks assembled. The smell of fresh woods, the aroma from the spits, the jocular salutations so much recalling Longstreet's Georgia scenes, all conspired to give exhilarating effect to the scene. The orators were also there, at the head of whom was ex-Congressman Milton Chandler. 
The Government was redeemed in flights of eloquence, and hearty cheers showed the approbation of the people. A little distance off were arranged long tables, capable of accommodating 100 persons each. The fragrant meats were arranged, and when the word was given that the feast was ready a rush was made for the best places. 
One table was specially reserved for distinguished guests. The Master of Ceremonies, in calling the eaters to order, drew their attention to one beautifully browned carcase. He narrated that it was none other than the famous billy goat so familiar to all who have ever visited Stone Mountain. Twelve years ago, as a goat of mature judgement, the animal had appeared on the mountain. For eight years he jumped from crag to crag and won a State reputation. Growing older he took up his residence in Clarkston, where for four years he butted his way. 
A citizen shot at a mad dog on Friday. He missed the dog but fatally struck the renowned goat; hence the goat's appearance on the table as the chief dish. It was not long before the whole party was discussing the delicacy of the old goat's flesh. In less than half an hour after dinner, different persons who had sat at that particular table felt symptoms of uneasiness. The symptoms grew worse, and soon as many as 50 victims were lying around under trees, sorry spectacles of holiday enjoyment. Several doctors who were present were kept busy with their pill boxes. It is safe to say that a goat will never again reign as chief carcase in a DeKalb barbecue.

Monday, August 6, 2012

BBQ Pitmasters Season 4 is Accepting Applications for Competitors until Aug 22, 2012

Destination America’s hit show ”BBQ Pitmasters” is back for another Season! We’re looking for the best and brightest Pitmasters who’ve got the drive to compete and personalities that trump the competition!

Now Casting BBQ Pitmaster Teams of Two who cook, eat and breathe BBQ and are ready to showcase their abilities and prove they’re the BEST!

*Interested applications must live in the State being showcased and cook that specific style of BBQ.
- Texas
- Tennessee - Memphis-Style BBQ
- North Carolina
- Missouri – Kansas City-Style BBQ
- Kentucky
- Georgia


Interested applications should send the following information to BBQPitmasters@OriginalMedia.com and/or JRCasting24@gmail.com

Please make sure to include your team name and region in the subject of your email.
- Names (Must be an existing team of two)
- Contact Info – email, cell phone and address
- Your BBQ Style/Region
- Recent Photos of the team and your food
- Bios – What do you do for a living? How did you get into BBQ? How long have you been competing? What is your pit? What do you cook with? What’re your specialties? Have you won any other competitions in the past? (Please list achievements and dates won)
- Why should your team be chosen to represent your region and compete?
- Any links to your website and/or video footage you have of your team

*Interested applicants are urged to put together a 3-5 minute YouTube video submission for review. Please showcase your personality, your desire to win and your incredible skills in the video.

Prove to us that you have a shot at being and beating the best of the best in your area! Be creative and sell us on why you and your team should be on the show. Email video links and answers to the questions above to BBQPitmasters@originalmedia.com

(Don’t worry – we’re not expecting videos of Hollywood production quality, but comedy helps! More than anything – the cooks’ personalities are what matters.)


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Andy's Bar-B-Q - Santa Clara, CA

I recently visited San Jose, CA / Silicon Valley and while I was there I decided to check around for local BBQ restaurants. My time was limited because I was working practically non-stop from about 5am to 10pm each night just taking time out for meals. But, I did make it to Andy's Bar-B-Q in Santa Clara.

As I walked around the restaurant to the entrance, out back I found a huge all wood smoker! That is always a good sign. It turns out that Andy's actually cooks BBQ over an all wood fire. So many restaurants have turned to gas cookers nowadays. It's always nice to see a restaurant that hasn't compromised the integrity of their product for convenience.

I ordered a combination platter so that I could sample as much of the BBQ I could in one visit. My server brought out this HUGE plate of 4 large spare ribs, a 3/4 pound sausage, and about 1/2 pound of brisket! There was no way I was going to eat all of that. But, it was fun trying.

The barbecue was pretty good. The sausage was delicious, the ribs tender, and the brisket was juicy.

They served sauce on the side in a little cup. The sauce was slightly sweet with a hint of molasses and some other herb/spice that I couldn't identify. I've tasted that flavor in foods all around California and I still haven't been able to identify it. I should probably ask about it next time I'm out there. They also served smoked garlic bread which, in my experience, is unusual for a BBQ restaurant. Overall, I thought the barbecue was good. It's worth the trip if you are out that way.

Bluemont BBQ Bash 2012, Bluemont, VA

40 teams competed this past July 27-28, 2012 in Bluemont, VA at the 2nd annual Bluemont BBQ Bash. This competition takes place at Bluemont Country Farms surrounded by beautiful hills and green pastures. It's an interesting drive to get there. First, the drive offers some absolutely gorgeous views of the Virginia country side. There are several places on the trip that I always have to stop and take a longer look. The other reason the drive to Bluemont Country Farms is interesting is because of the navigation skills it takes to find the place.

You drive down large multi-lane highways that turn into smaller two lane highways that turn into little country roads that turn in to dirt roads that turn in to dirtier roads as you progress to your destination. But, the drive is worth it. The scenery of the area is spectacular.

The weather was perfect. The skies were clear, the sun was bright and the temperature was relatively comfortable for a July day in Virginia.

Even though we had great weather, the judges were setup in an air conditioned building!

Dan Hixon and team 3Eyz BBQ won grand champion! This team has been on a roll lately! Tuffy Stone and his team Cool Smoke won reserve grand champion.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A New Look at Old Time Barbecue

Staunton Spectator and Vindicator, January 18, 1901
My new article A New Look at Old Time Barbecue is published in the latest issue of Smoke Signals Magazine. The online magazine can be accessed at this URL - http://www.smokesignalsmagazine.com/SSM/Issue9/index .

Smoke Signals Issue 9
In the article, I point out some important details that I believe historians have left out of the barbecue history narrative. For example, I have found records of antebellum barbecue recipes that include ingredients such as sugar, molasses, honey, peach syrup, and even currant jelly. That's a far cry from the claim that early American barbecue was seasoned only with vinegar, salt, black pepper, and hot peppers.

I also bring to light references to 19th century barbecue cooks boiling meat before placing it over the coals to be barbecued. So, anyone who thinks that "real southern barbecue" was never par-boiled needs to re-think that theory.

I even wrote a paragraph or two on the practice of wrapping meat as it barbecues and a few other interesting tid bits.

So, point your browser at Smoke Signals magazine, pull up page 18 and start reading!

This issue also has some other great articles including one featuring Ray Lampe Dr BBQ himself!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Barbecue Secret Number 11 - How to Trim a Brisket

Beef Brisket is the toughest cut of meat on the steer. It takes some finesse to be able to barbecue it so that it is tender, juicy, and delicious. But, before the cooking begins, how does one trim it? And, is trimming even necessary?

A "full packer brisket" is made of two sections: the point (deckle) and the flat. Often, super markets separate the sections and only sell the flat portion as brisket. That's too bad because the point is the best part of the brisket. The point is the portion of the brisket from which cooks nowadays make burnt ends.

As depicted above, you can see that a "full packer brisket" is composed of two different cuts. One is fatty (the point) and the other is more lean (the flat). For best barbecue results, get a packer brisket that comprises both the point and the flat.

Notice the fat between the two muscles? You have a decision to make. You can leave it alone, barbecue the brisket, and remove the fat after it's cooked. Or, you can remove it before the cook. The fat doesn't really add anything to the meat. The stories told by some barbecue cooks that the fat on a brisket bastes the meat as it cooks and makes it moist is just not true in my experience. The fat that is marbled inside the the meat of the brisket is what matters. The fat on the outside doesn't really bring much to the party as far as moisture is concerned. It makes a great heat shield though. 

Personally, I prefer to remove the fat between the point and the flat. Doing so allows me to have more bark (more Maillard reaction going on) on the brisket which, unlike the fat cap, imparts a lot of flavor.

In the photo above, you can see what the brisket should look like once the fat between the point and flat is removed. I tried to remove only the fat without any of the lean meat. I also trimmed up the edges of the brisket.

The next step in the trimming process is to remove all of the fat and membrane from the top of the flat. The fat and membrane on the brisket inhibits the Maillard reaction and the formation of bark. So, I like to remove as much of it as possible. Again, remove only the fat and membrane without removing the lean meat. It will take some practice so don't get discouraged if you remove a little more lean meat than you would like on your first few briskets.

The photo above shows a brisket that has been fully trimmed and ready for seasoning and cooking. One other detail here is, if you look closely you can see that I "roughed" up the surface of the flat using a fork. This makes for more surface area to hold rub and to create more bark which in turn produces more flavor.

Once the brisket has been barbecued and is ready for slicing, you have to make sure you slice it against the grain of the meat. If not, the meat will be stringy. The photo below illustrates the grain of the meat with yellow lines and the direction you should slice the brisket with red lines.

When a properly trimmed and smoked brisket is ready to eat, you have some good barbecue!

So, that's how to trim a brisket. Now, go forth and cook some barbecue!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Que & Cruz 2012, Louisa, VA

The 2012 Que and Cruz 2012 was held this past Saturday in Louisa, VA. This is one of the best barbecue competitions in the state. Over 50 teams assembled to go toe to toe in a no holds barred KCBS barbecue competition.

Judges' Tent
I was a table captain this year and had a great table of judges to work with. We had some pretty good barbecue come to our table. I don't think we had anything that anyone wouldn't rate as very delicious. That's not surprising when you look at the caliber of teams that were competing.

A welcome sight to judges. Competition
organizers, take note.
Usually, being in July, the weather at this competition is brutal because of the heat. But, this year we were given a well received break. The temperature didn't get above 85 degrees all day.

In the end, Serial Griller won Grand champion. Congrats!

Tuffy Stone and his Dad.
Tuffy Stone and his team Cool Smoke won Reserve Grand Champion. Congrats, Tuffy!

This contest also marked the end of the 3Eyz Barbecue team's incredible run of five straight grand champion wins.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Gettysburg BBQ Skirmish, Gettysburg, PA - July 13-14, 2012

The battle lines were drawn. The soldiers were ready to fire... their smokers, that is. The first annual Gettysburg Barbecue Cook Off took place this past weekend in Gettysburg, PA.

The Judges' Tent
The weather was just about perfect. There was a little bit of rain early on, but things cleared up early morning and the temperature was mild, especially in the shade.

I was a table captain. My table also had two Master Certified Barbecue Judges. It was a lot of fun to discuss barbecue with those two.

I also had at my table a certified judge that was judging his first competition. We all gave him some pointers and he did a great job.

For the third straight competition, 3EYZ was again grand champion! Way to go Dan Hixon and team! Indeed!

My wife and I also took some time after the competition to tour the Gettysburg battlefields. Wow, what a great day!

Cork & Pork KCBS BBQ Competition, Covington, VA - June 29-30, 2012

The Cork & Pork KCBS sanctioned barbecue competition was a whirlwind of a contest... literally. Friday night at about 9pm, an unexpected storm rolled in with heavy rains and 86 mile per hour winds. Needless to say, there was a lot of damage including wide spread and prolonged power outages. But, none of that stopped the competitors who decided that the competition should continue.

I was a judge sitting at table number 3. We had some great barbecue cooks competing and it was a pleasure to participate.

There was a lot of damage. One team had to pull out because of the damage. Another lost their pork and brisket entries as the wind literally blew their smoker away.

How ironic is the team name Damage Barbecue?

In spite of the damage and power outages, the drive back home offered some great scenery.

I have to give a big salute to the teams, the KCBS reps and the contest organizer Les Balgavy. It took a huge effort to finish the competition after that devastating storm. But, everyone pulled together and it turned out to be a great success. And, best of all, no one was hurt!

3Eyz BBQ won grand champion! This was the team's second GC in a row. Congrats!