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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.