Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Very Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas all.

For Christmas I fired up the smoker for the traditional smoked turkey and tried some new things. I made ribs and moink balls.

I have only made ribs at competitions and one other time so I had some fear for making them for family. My fears were unjustified though. I used the 3-1-1 method and the ribs were awesome.

What is the 3-1-1 method you ask? Well... After putting the rub on the ribs and they get all happy (the rub brings the juices to the surface giving the ribs a nice red sheen), put them on the cooker for three hours with the temp between 225°-250°. After the three hours remove the ribs, pour some liquid over them (soda, beer, etc. I used Granny Smith Woodchuck Cider) and wrap them in foil. The ribs go back on the cooker foil wrapped for another hour.

After that hour pull them off and baste them with your favorite BBQ sauce and put them back on for another hour. Once they are on for the hour they should be ready to eat. You can re-sauce them or eat them as is.

The moink balls are something I have heard many BBQers talk about but had never experienced. Everyone who had them loved them. One friend said, "They're like mini-cheeseburgers without the cheese."

Moink balls are named such because of the main ingredients in them, beef and pork. Making them is really simple. Purchase a bag of frozen meatballs and a pack of bacon.

Let the meatballs thaw out enough so you can put a toothpick through it. Take each meatball and wrap a half strip of bacon around it then stick a toothpick through it to hold it together.

After they are made sprinkle liberally with your favorite rub. After they are rubbed put them on your 225° smoker and let them cook for about 2 hours or until the bacon is done. Then baste with your favorite BBQ sauce. Let cook for another 15 minutes and take off and serve.

These little meatballs pack a huge flavor punch and are very yummy.

Enjoy these and try some out for New Years!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Smokin' Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving smoked a lot of meat. I did two turkeys, a 20lb and a 15lb, an elk roast, venison steaks, three pork butts, venison ribs and a partridge in a pear-tree. Ok, I didn't real smoke a partridge or a pear-tree, but I did cook the rest.

Wednesday night before Thanksgiving I was exhausted. In had been up all night helping to cook 250 turkeys for needy families in our area. When I got home I needed to make the brine for the turkeys and a marinade for the elk and venison steak. It was a difficult task to do as I kept forgetting what I was doing. But I made it.

I don't remember falling asleep but I do remember waking up at 5 am thinking,"I need to get the fire going for the turkeys."

We were planing to eat at 1:30 so it gave me a good seven hours to make sure the meat was cooked properly to 160+ degrees.

By six I had the turkeys on and by ten I had the elk on. The elk only took about two hours to cook to 140-145 degrees.

I ended up grilling the venison right before we went to my sisters so they would be fresh. I used my Texas grill to cook everything on so once the turkey and elk was done I added some wood and heated up the grill to grilling temp and put the steaks on.

The other meat I listed I actually cooked on Friday for a party that night.

The venison ribs I smoked for 2 hours, wrapped them in foil with Strongbow apple cider for an hour and then glazed them with some BBQ sauce and put them on the cooker for another 45 minutes.

Everyone enjoyed the flavors of each of the meats.

The brine for the turkey is as follows:
1 gallon of water
2 cups salt
1 Woodchuck apple cider (I use Granny Smith)
1 Tablespoon pepper
1 Tablespoon favorite rub
1/2 cup brown sugar

I don't use a brining bag as they are expensive but I do use either a roasting bag or a garbage bag to hold the liquid and the turkey and stick them in a cooler with some ice for at least 12 hours. I get the cooker to about 275 to cook the turkeys.

The marinade for the elk was:
2 cups red wine (if you wouldn't drink it don't cook with it)
Half a large onion chopped
4 cloves of garlic crushed
2 Bay leaves
1teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons favorite rub

I let the elk roast and venison steaks marinade in this mixture for 12 hours also. Since the elk is lean I made a bacon lattice to wrap it in. I put it on the cooker with the turkeys for about two hours (140-145 degrees).

Here are the finished products.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Holy Smoke!

This weekend I was asked by Lakeshore Christian Fellowship to smoke 280 lbs of pork for a youth fund raiser. I personally don't own a smoker big enough to handle that amount of meat (32 butts) so I contacted my friend who owns the Catchafire for Q BBQ team and borrowed his Lang smoker.

I enlisted the help of my wife and daughters. We went over to the church Saturday night and rubbed all 32 butts and took them out to the cooker. I got the fire going and by 10 had the pork on the cooker. They needed to be ready by 9:30 am to go to another campus and be ready for when first service was finished at 10:15 Sunday morning.

Before my wife left for the evening she asked me twice if I had enough wood for the cook. Of course I did.

The plan was to add wood every hour to keep the temperature between 225-250 degrees and spray the meat with a mop sauce (1 cup Apple cider vinegar, 1/2 cup worcestershire sauce, Soy sauce, water and olive oil). Oh yes, and to stay awake all night.

With that amount of meat on the cooker, it was full and difficult to keep the temperature where it should be. I started to use more wood than anticipated. About 1:00 am I realized that I would run out of wood before the cook was done. Around 3:00 am my spray bottle broke so I could no longer mop the meat. Looking at the meat at 3 I wasn't pleased with it's progress. It should have been farther along so the only solution was to cook hotter which required more wood.

To stay awake I had my laptop with me and watched a few movies and also set the alarm on my ipod for each hour. I dozed here and there but never really fell fast asleep, so that was good.

At 5:45 I called my wife. "sorry I woke you but I need to get more wood." No "I told you so" or anything from her but a quick "we'll be there in a few." She is awesome!

By 6 I was worried the meat wouldn't be done on time. And had three sticks of wood left. My wife showed up a little after that and I put the remaining wood on the fire to stoke it up and we went to the store room and got some more wood.

With more wood and the cooker hotter the meat started to look like I thought it should. By 8:30 I was able to pull off eight butts that were closest to the fire and move the rest forward to get more heat.

After that everything went well. The church youth, my wife, and I worked to pull the pork and run the trays to the servers. The kids who helped were great and did a great job. Each of them was interested in learning a bit more about BBQ and the terminology used when talking about it.

Many of the people that ate thanked me and complemented me on the pork they ate. A few asked if I had a restaurant (I don't) and a couple wanted to buy full butts to take home. Thankfully there was enough that they were able to.

From a cookers perspective the event was a success even with the hic-ups we had.

So what did I learn from this?
  • Always listen to your wife
  • Take more wood than you think you'll need
  • Take a back-up mop bottle
  • More wood
  • Don't forget the charcoal to start the fire
  • Wood
  • Take more sauce than you think you need
  • Did I mention wood?
  • Have fun

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ewe... No its Goat

This weekend was a first for me. I smoked a goat for about 60 people. A scary prospect as I had never done this before. I searched the Internet, my cookbooks and asked people who had cooked goat before for any help. I found the recipe I used in the Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book. It was good.

The night before the cook, I needed to do some prep work. I needed to rub some pork butts I was going to smoke, make my BBQ sauce, BBQ mop and the Barbados baste so the next day everything would be ready to go.

We were over at the cook site by 7am to get the fire going. While I was starting the fire, my wife and brother-in-law finished cleaning the goat my other brother-in-law had butchered. Goats are hairy beasts and the meat had picked up some of that hair when it was butchered.

After the meat was cleaned we rubbed the goat with suya mix. Suya is a street food you can buy in West Africa. It is beef or goat coated with a spicy mixture of ground up peanuts, pepper and other spices. I had the four goat legs and a couple of other smaller pieces of goat that needed to be cooked. The four legs and the pork butts all went on at the same time as they would take about eight hours to cook at 225 degrees.

Every hour I would add wood and spray the pork butts with the mop. After the first three hours of cooking I started to baste the goat with the Barbados baste every hour.

Around 12:30pm I put the rest of the goat and the chicken on. My plan was to start to pull the smaller pieces off at 5pm and keep them in the warmer.

5pm came around and the chicken was ready. I pulled it off and dipped it in BBQ sauce I had been warming and put it in the warmer to be served at 6. The pork and larger pieces of goat weren't quite ready so I started to pull off the smaller goat pieces and slice them up. Of course I had to take a taste sample. It was good.

By 7 we had all the meat off, cut up and many happy diners. Those who had eaten goat before complemented me on doing a great job of cooking it.

My mop:
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup water

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New Toy!

My wife and family ROCK!!

One of my brother-in-laws had some 55 gallon drums. One day I mentioned to him it would be cool to turn one into a smoker. I wasn’t sure when I was going to do it but I kept thinking about it but had other things to do and bigger butts to smoke.

Well, my other brother-in-law thought it would be cool to surprise me with a smoker for my birthday (which is in July) so the BILs talked it over and decided they would build me a smoker from the drum. The contacted my wife and asked her if she could get them information about how to build it.

She listened as I talked and heard me talk about the BBQ Brethren forum and started to nose around the site. She found a link to instructions on how to build one and then read some of the comments and modifications people recommended. She passed all this info on to the BILs and they created my new smoker.

It was almost finished but they had a few questions none of them could answer so they had to surprise me early. They showed me what they had and I was totally SHOCKED!!

I showed them the modifications they were asking about and later that weekend I had a new smoker in my back yard. I’m sure the neighbors love that. Guess I need to make them some BBQ. ;-)

I think this is one of the coolest and best presents I have ever received. It was a total surprise and a very thoughtful gift but I think they had some ulterior motives, more BBQ.

Thank you to my family for this wonderful gift.

Monday, June 7, 2010

"Prayer-dogs" and Ribs

The last two weekends were spent at BBQ competitions. The first in North Augusta, SC and the second in Linconton, NC. I really don’t know how teams can go out every weekend and enter a competition. It would be crazy!!!

The North Augusta competition was the First Annual Banjo-B-Que. It was a pretty big event with some pretty big names. I got to meet both Tuffy Stone of Cool Smoke and Johnny Trigg of Smoking Triggers. both are great guys and fun to talk too.

Our team got to North Augusta and got set up. that night we cooked steaks for part of the cook off, supper and for the sponsors of the contest to eat. They were great. We got everything cooking and were settling in for the night but our neighbors were partying like it was 1999 and we had to ask them to turn down their music.

We were vending at this event but had decided to do “Prayer-dogs.” We gave away hotdogs and prayed with the people we gave them to. It was amazing all the things people had and have going on their lives. Some had friends missing, cancer, broken homes. All had something they needed prayer for. We gave out 130 “prayer-dogs” that day.

There was a chance of rain all day but it held off until we were packing up. Then we had to make a mad dash to get everything in the trailer.

Over all we didn’t do to well in the competition, though our ribs placed 10th, we had lots of fun and were able to encourage many people.

Last weekend we were at the Hog Happenin’ in Lincolnton, NC. We were there just to compete, have a good time and meet some new people.

The bikes at the rally were really cool and lots of interesting people went by. We had a little rain around 9:30 Friday night and it shut down all the festivities. It was a nice quite night.

Freedom Church in Lincolnton have a youth center on the square where the competition is held and they have opened it up the past few years for the BBQers to use. they have water, clean restrooms and fresh coffee. It was great to be able to get a little break in AC and talk with some really good guys.

Our ribs this time took first place and or chicken 14th. We need to work n our brisket and pork some more but we are getting there.

Things to remember:

  • Lots of water for summer competitions
  • Get packed before the awards ceremony
  • Meet new people
  • Have fun

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Boss Hog Cook Off 2010

This weekend I attended the Boss Hog Cook Off in Waynesboro, GA, the bird dog capital of the US. It is one of the best competitions I've been to. It is well organized and the volunteers make sure you are taken well care of. One of the things we noticed was it seemed like the community was really involved. Local business sponsored different parts, they had a hospitality room for volunteers and contestants and kept it stocked with water and snacks. The ladies who organized it divan awesome job.

We got off off to a later start then planned. We needed to be onsite by 3:30 Friday afternoon and left at noon. The GPS said it was a 3 hour 45 minute drive, we would be cutting it close. We arrived at 3:30 just making the cutoff time.

One of the thing this contest does is a wing contest for Friday evening. It is free to enter if you are already cooking, so we entered. They dropped off our brick of wings, they were still frozen solid, and we started the thawing process. Thankfully they pushed wing turn in time bit so we could defrost them and get them fully cooked. We turned in the prescribed number to the judges and the rest were served to the public.

We did awful in the wing category. We thought they looked and tasted great. The judges were local celebrities so we think some of them were confused on the judging scale or just didn't like spicy wings. At least we had a good snack.

We prepped our other for meats for the competition and got them cooking. This time we changed our rib and brisket recipes to others that we liked much better then the previous contest. The brisket used my home made rub and a mop recipe that I found online. The results were much better. Our brisket took fourteenth place and the ribs seventh. Our chicken, which we thought was our weakest meat, came in eleventh and our pork, which we thought was our strongest, came in twenty-somethingth

Overall we came in sixteenth which was an improvement over last time. Now we have some minor tweaks to do to improve our scores but we think we have the basic formula right.

Plan to leave earlier than needed
Cook your meat how you like it
Be organized - it makes the contest much more relaxed
Have fun with the anything but categories but focus on the four main ones

Sunday, May 2, 2010

BBQ Judging, it's tough but somebody has to do it.

This weekend I judged my first BBQ contest. It was interesting. We arrived early and waited fir the judges meeting to start at 10 am but it didn't start until. About 10:20. When it started it went fairly quick. They introduced the coordinator, the person who set up the contest and finally the mayor of Anderson, where the contest was held. After all the introductions were done the coordinator went over the rules. By this time it was 10:50 and we were to start judging at 11 because there was a sue contest too. They quickly finished up and had us go to the judging room.

I was assigned to judge the backyard category. Not bad on its own but I only got to judge chicken and ribs. Only one piece of the chicken was really good. One was rubbery and salty the others tasted like the cooks used lighter fluid and didn't let it burn off all the way. The ribs were a bit better. Three tasted really good but one of them was very tough, it could have cooked a bit longer.

It was fun and I look forward to doing it again but look forward to judging the professional teams and tasting all four of the meats.

Show up on time
Take your time and taste the food
Use the water and crackers to cleanse your palate
Talk to the other judges
Have fun

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Q Season Opener

The weekend of April 17 was Catchafire for Q’s first competition this season. This was one of the smoothest competitions we have ever done. Everything went really well. We had trimmed the meat ahead of time so we didn’t have to worry about that onsite and had the trail organized and a schedule set to follow.

When we got to Kings Mountain and checked in there was a little bit of confusion about our name. The fireman who we met shouted it back to the person in charge of checking us in and that person heard “Kitchen Fire!” As he was a fireman, he appeared at the door pretty quick to see what was going on.

We got checked in and set up. The first surprise was that the “Anything but” was an onsite judging. We were not prepared for that. We got our plan together and Ken (our fearless leader) ran to the store for some supplies while I finished setting up. When Ken returned he got the Anything buts prepared while I went to the the cooks meeting.

I grabbed my water and headed to join my fellow competitors. I got to the meeting and sat down. As we were getting ready to start I took a BIG swig of my water only to hold it in my mouth as I read the label on the bottle; Vinegar. Boy was I surprised! No were to spit it out I had to swallow it. Vinegar is not as refreshing as it sounds.

The rest of the competition went smoothly. Overall we didn’t do well but we had our best appearance scores of any of our competitions. Now that we have the look down we will need to get our flavor profiles and tenderness nailed.

A few things we learned:

  • Pre-preparation is good - REAL GOOD
  • Taking only what you need saves on time and space
  • Bring sleeping bags
  • Don’t drink vinegar
  • It is nice to be able to relax at a competition

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Q Chili

This is a recipe I came up with after smoking some pork one weekend and we needed to eat up the left overs so they wouldn’t go bad. It was a hit with the family. I also do competition BBQ some weekends and sometimes we enter the “anything but” category. We needed a dish for one competition so I made this. It was a hit with my team and came in third.

1 Onion

4 cloves of crushed garlic

2 TBLS Olive Oil

1 bottle Woodchuck Cider (your choice of flavor)

1/4 Cup soy sauce

2 TBLS Worcestershire Sauce

2 TBLS Apple cider vinegar

2 TBLS Mustard BBQ sauce

1lb smoked pulled pork (no sauce)

1 roasted pablano pepper

2 roasted bell peppers (red and yellow)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsb black pepper

1/4 tsp celery salt

1/4 tsp paprika

1 tsp Chili powder (or to taste)

1 can diced tomatoes

1 can black beans

  1. Dice the onion and saute in a pan with the olive oil and garlic until it is translucent.
  2. Add cider, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar and BBQ sauce; bring it to a boil and let it reduce down.
  3. Add the pork and mix it in.
  4. Chop up the roasted peppers and add them to the pot. Let it simmer for a bit. (you can put it in a crock pot at this point to let it simmer for a while or to keep it hot when serving)
  5. Add all the dry spices and mix it up.
  6. Add the tomatoes and the black beans and mix it up. Let it simmer until the smell makes you want to dig in.

I like to smoke the peppers when I make BBQ pork which gives the chili another level of flavor. When I make this I add some of my rub and use the mustard sauce I make. I have found the heat in it comes after the initial flavor to the back of your throat but it is not overpowering.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Snow Q

This weekend I smoked some pork and a brisket. It was the first time I smoked a brisket so I had a bit of fear going into it. I really didn't want to ruin it. The other obstacle I ran into was snow. When it snows it is harder to keep the smoker at the right temperature so the meat may cook quicker (due to high temperature) or longer (due to low temperatures). Well, turned out I had a flat not a whole brisket so it only took about 5 hours to cook it as opposed to 10+.

Another thing I did was video my process. I won an iPod Nano form Dealsplus on twitter and decided to give it a go. the video didn't turn out too bad and neither did the Q. Here is the video:

The snow Q turned to a swamp Q by the end of the day as everything melted.

Below is the final brisket cut up (ok the part that made it the container, the rest was eaten quickly).
And here are the two butts before I pulled them. I didn't take any photos of the pulled pork though.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Q Class

Last weekend my friend Ken (of CatchaFire for Q) and I went to a BBQ class called Road to the Winners Circle. It was a a great class. Not one for the beginning BBQer but really good for someone who competes and is trying to get the edge to move to the next level.

The class was taught by Troy Black (pictured left) of He’s a really good guy and knows his stuff. He was able to answer many questions we had about things and we got some great tips that will, hopefully, take us to the next level. No, I’m not going to share what he taught us here you have to go to his class.

He covered how to get your brisket, pork, ribs and chicken prepared and cooked and then how to set up the presentation boxes. Each of the things he went over are key to impressing judges and making sure you can get a good score. The best part of a class is you get to taste what you cook, and it was GOOD!

He also has a BBQ 101 class where he teaches you how to BBQ in your backyard. It would take out some of the guess work when you first start out and help you understand how to get a fire going and how to use the cooking equipment properly.

Both Ken and I are excited about this years competitions after going to this class. We’re looking forward to trying out what we learned and getting some wins.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Drunken Chicken

I had heard about the drunken chicken for years and finally tried it last summer. It is one of our favorite grill dishes (yes I know this is supposed to be about BBQ. This also works well on a smoker if you have one.) I have had friends try it with soda and they say it is good too. I have tried with different beers and found that they will give you a different flavor profile. You can also stuff the rest of the cavity with other aromatics. The juice left in the pan after cooking makes great gravy. I have also made it in the oven set at 350 but it doesn’t taste as good as coming off the grill.

  • 1 can of beer
  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • Your favorite rub or seasoning salt ( I use my homemade one)
  • 1 cup yellow mustard
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  1. Preheat an outdoor grill for low heat.
  2. In a bowl mix together the honey and the mustard
  3. Brush the honey mustard all over the chicken
  4. Put your favorite seasoning all over the chicken (rub it in)
  5. Drink 1/2 the beer, leaving the remainder in the can.
  6. Place can on a disposable baking sheet. Set chicken on can, inserting can into the cavity of the chicken.
  7. Chop up the onion and garlic and place it in the cavity above the beer.
  8. Place baking sheet with beer and chicken on the prepared grill. Cook over low heat for about 3 hours, or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 180 degrees F (80 degrees C).

Friday, January 29, 2010

What is BBQ?

I grill and I BBQ. Aren’t they the same thing? No. Don’t you fire up the BBQ for burgers and hot dogs? No. Grilling and BBQ are two different animals. Both are good and give you great results. But, they are very different.

Grilling and BBQ both use fire to cook your meat on a cooker of some sort. It can use gas (though that doesn’t make great BBQ, IMHO), charcoal or wood. You get a fire going and throw the meat on until it is done. That’s about it for similarities.

Grilling is hot and fast. You can fire up your grill and be ready to go in a few minutes. You put your meat on it for 10 minutes to 2 hours, depending on what you’re grilling. Usually your cook temps are around 300° F. It creates a hot, quick cook. I love to grill burgers, hotdogs, steaks and chicken.

BBQ is low and slow. You fire up your grill, usually charcoal or wood, and bring it up to about 230°F and your cook time can be anywhere from 3 hours to 18 hours depending on the meat and the weight of it. BBQ usually imparts smoke to the meat and breaks down the connective tissue slowly giving you an awesome tender piece of meat as a finished product. Pork, Chicken, turkey, beef, ribs all work great for a low and slow cook.

So when I’m talking about BBQ, I’m talking low and slow. As I continue to blog I will be adding some BBQ recipes and some grilling recipes. But the main focus will be on BBQ.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Judging Q

This past weekend I became a Certified BBQ Judge (CBJ) for the Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS). My friend Ken and I went down to Kennesaw, GA for the training.

Overall, it is not a hard thing to do and is fun. You get to taste six different cooks BBQ in four categories - chicken, pork, ribs and brisket. The hardest part is deciding how good you think the entries are and not comparing them to each other. I can now go to BBQ competitions and judge them.

As a team we are hoping to improve our scores at competitions by knowing what the judges are looking for. We now have a good idea of what the judges want so hopefully we can improve our overall scores. In a couple weeks we go to a cooking class to push our Q to the next level.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Welcome to Q 4 Fun.

I live in South Carolina, the land flowing with vinegar and mustard. About two years ago I started smoking meat for fun. I loved it and am now on Catchafire For Q team and regularly smoke pork, chicken and turkey.

I don't promise regular updates to this blog, but will try to keep it up-to-date with what our team is doing and what I am experimenting with at home.

It should be a fun and interesting year as I am becoming a certified KCBS judge, attending a BBQ cooking class and competing in 10 cook offs in North Carolina, South Carolina and Gerogia.

I look forward to your comments and input on what we are doing and hopefully meeting some of you at various competitions.

May your smoke always be blue and your fire constant.