Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving Day [Part 3]

Thanksgiving came and it was a success due to the preparation I had done previously, including my planning and test cook. I was glad I did a test cook trying the spatchcocking and dry brining of the turkey. I was able to adjust a few things and had a great bird and the venison I cooked was great.

We had a great time with family and they all enjoyed the turkey and the venison. All the sides that were brought were tasty and the desserts finished of the meal spectacularly.

I'm cooking a turkey for the local rescue squad this next weekend and will do it the same way I did ours. It came out great

Monday, November 24, 2014

Thanksgiving Preparation - Test Cooking [Part 2]

With Thanksgiving this Thursday I figured it would be a good idea to test a new recipe I want to try before hand. Turkeys are priced to sell this time of year so we usually get a few to have in the freezer for over the next few months. I used one of our smaller birds we purchased for my test cook. I'm glad I did.

I decided I was going to dry brine and spatchcock it. Cook it at 350ยบ with chicken broth under it to add flavor and use for a stock later. butterflying the turkey helps it to cook more evenly and quicker.

Interview: Tommy Houston of the Checkered Pig

Team: Checkered Pig
Location: Martinsville, VA
Twitter: @checkeredpig
Facebook: Checkered Pig

I met Tommy Houston of Checkered Pig two years ago at the Grill'n & Chill'n BBQ Cook-Off in Waxhaw, NC. I saw him again this year, in Waxhaw, and asked if he would be willing to do an interview with me for my blog. He graciously said he would. Tommy is a busy guy. He owns a restaurant in Martinsville, VA, caters, and travels around to do BBQ competitions. With all that going on he agreed to do an interview.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Preparing for Thanksgiving [Part 1]

The leaves have changed and the air has gotten colder. Fall has arrived and Thanksgiving is on its way (or past if you're in Canada). It's time to start thinking about giving the family the bird. Wait... that didn't sound right (like so many things in BBQ). Time to start thinking about cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving. I used to roast the bird in the oven, but no more. I now smoke it. Smoked turkey is great. I have had deep fried turkey, but it doesn't have that nice smokey flavor of a bird cooked over hickory and pecan wood. One day I would like to smoke the turkey then fry it to finish it of and get the best of both worlds. 

As Thanksgiving draws closer I start to cook the bird in my head. trying to figure out the best way get the best flavor for the family. I also start to plan my cook so on Thanksgiving Day I will have time to cook it and relax. I'll share a little of what I do to prepare. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

NC BBQ Association

Last year at the Q-City Charlotte BBQ Festival I started to hear rumors of a new BBQ sanctioning committee being born. It was started by a group of competitors, caterers and restauranteurs that is interested in preserving the art of NC BBQ. They came together to form competitions that highlight the best of NC BBQ by focusing on the meat.

In August of 2014 I became a NC BBQ Association member and certified judge. The class wasn't difficult - you get to taste BBQ - and since I am a certified KCBS judge, it helped me understand what is being looked for. The style of judging follows closer to MBN style with a combination of both blind and onsite judging. I like the combination of the two because it gives you a chance to learn from the teams and how they create their particular BBQ magic.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Interview: Kosher Q? Find out from the RaBBi-Q.

Team: Rabbi-Q
Location: Kansas City, Kansas
Twitter: @BBQRabbi

I met Mendel of Rabbi-Q through Twitter. I found the idea of kosher BBQ fascinating because when I think of BBQ I think pork. I know beef and chicken and other meats can be BBQed but it isn't everyday you hear of kosher BBQ in KCBS. Through talking with Mendel I have discovered kosher BBQ and kosher BBQ competitions. I think this is great. I love a good brisket and beef ribs along with smoked turkey and chicken. Read the interview to find out how he cooks pork for KCBS competitions and to find out more about kosher BBQ competitions.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Review: Sograte Original BBQ Rub

Creator: Sograte BBQ and Brew
Location: Lubbock, TX
Cost: $7.99 + shipping
Link: Original BBQ Rub

This is another rub Sograte BBQ asked me to review for them. It's a good rub with BBQ flavors that enhance pork or chicken well. It stands up to the long slow cooks that define BBQ and helps to take the flavor of the meat to the next level. If you're looking for a good rub for your next cook give it a go.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Interview: Knuckleheads BBQ

Team: Knuckleheads BBQ
Location: Monroe, NC
Twitter: @knuckleheadbbq

I met Buddy at the Grill'n and Chill'n BBQ Cook-off in Waxhaw, NC in 2013. My BBQ brother Wayne introduced us. Buddy grew up in the Carolina's and around Eastern North Carolina BBQ. He's taken what he learned as a kid and brought it to his cooks, altering to suit his style of BBQ. Knuckleheads is a small one man team that brings a passion for BBQ to the competitions.

Friday, June 20, 2014

BBQ & Brews - NoDa Brewing

After reviewing Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook it got me thinking about which beers go well with which BBQ and grilled foods. With all the craft brewers around the country and summer here, I thought it would be cool to talk to some of the local Charlotte craft brewers and see what they said and which of their brews they would recommend for BBQ and grilling.

NoDa Brewing Company Brew House
BBQ is a food that is nuanced and affected by various factors, from rubs to sauces to the woods used to smoke it. Trying to pair the perfect beer can be difficult, so for this series, we'll be talking in generalities of flavors. Good BBQ allows the meat to show through and the various factors enhance it. A good beer should do the same or play counterpoint to the flavors.

I visited the NoDa Brewing Tap room and talked with Andy Grimes, sales/marketing beer guru. He was very knowledgeable about beer and BBQ. We talked about how to pair beers with BBQ and grilled items and he gave me recommendations on which of their year round beers to pair with which meats.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Fighting ALS with Jay 5K

Some of you may have seen my posts about Fighting ALS with Jay 5K on twitter and facebook but I thought it might be good to post something here too. Jay is my brother-in-law and I've known him since I was about 10. He and my older brother were classmates and friends. Ever since I have known Jay he has always been encouraging and a joker. In 2009 he was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gherig's Disease), despite this he is still upbeat, encouraging and loves a good laugh.

I know many of you can't make the 5k, but if you want to help you still can by donating. Visit and go to register, choose the cash or charge option and it will allow you to make a donation. Below is a short bio about Jay and my sister.

Jay Tolar was born in Nigeria, West Africa in 1966 to medical missionary Dr. Jack Tolar and his wife Barbara. Jay returned to Nigeria in 1988 to teach and coach under the SIM mission board. He married Heidi Gibbs in 1996 and they returned to Nigeria together to continue teaching and coaching at Hillcrest School. In 2009, while home in San Antonio, Jay was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gherig’s Disease). He currently lives in Fort Mill, South Carolina with his wife and two children Jake, 13 and Julie, 6. A portion of the proceeds of the 5k race will benefit the ALS clinic where Jay is a patient. Please join us in helping “FIGHT ALS WITH JAY”

Thank You.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Interview: Hot Grill on Grill Action

Team: Hot Grill on Grill Action
Location: Omaha, NE
Web Page:
FaceBook: Hot Grill on Grill Action on Facebook


My fellow Q-blogger Big Wayner put me in contact with Matt of Hot Grill on Grill action. They were one of the contestants on BBQ Pitmasters back in season 2. Going back and forth with Matt in emails has been fun. He and the Hot Grill on Grill team are a group I would love to hang out with at a BBQ competition.  They were happy to oblige me with an interview and I'm in the process of reviewing their BBQ book The Book on Competition BarbequeVolume 1- Priceless for Beginners, Perfect for the Pros. So far it's great and it has a lot of information for those who want to start a team. Read on and find out more about this team.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Review: Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook

I was contacted by St. Martin's Press and asked if I would be interested in reviewing Virgil's Barbecue Road Trip Cookbook: The Best Barbecue From Around the Country Without Ever Leaving Your Backyard which came out April 8th. I was more than happy to agree to reading and reviewing it. A couple days later a shiny new book showed up in the mail.

Virgil's is a popular restaurant in Times Square where they cook on a smoker and grill. From the sounds of it, it is a restaurant I would like to visit someday. Before opening, the chefs and owner took a road trip to find out what BBQ was so they could open an authentic BBQ restaurant in NY City. Their travels across the US influenced the food in the restaurant and the recipes in the book.

The book is a combination of grilling and barbecuing from across the country with recipes ranging from appetizers to desserts. It shares a short history of BBQ, thoughts when purchasing a grill, helpful tips and a menu planner. It is a great cookbook.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Interview: Fergolicious BBQ

Team: Fergolicious BBQ
Location: Gardner, KS
Web Page:

Since they will be featured on the April 26 BBQ Pitmasters show, I'm releasing the May interview a little early so you can find out more about one of the teams.

I'm always looking for teams to interview for my blog. Jeremy, of Fergolicious BBQ, contacted me about their team and asked if I would be interested in featuring them. After exchanging emails I was more than happy, and honored, to feature them on my blog. They've been judging and competing since 2012 and are one of the contestants on this season (season 5) of BBQ Pitmasters. Find out a little more about how they got into BBQ and how they prepared for the show.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Barbecue America


Sadly this magazine has gone under with only two issues under it's belt. It was a great magazine and I would love to see another of it's kind appear. I will leave the information here in memory of it. 

Barbecue America is a new magazine for BBQ enthusiast that hit shelves this month. I've met Rick Browne, the editor, at a couple BBQ competitions and he talked about the magazine. I'm glad to see it coming out and it looks to be a good one for us BBQers.  

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Interview: Give it to God BBQ Team

Team: Give It To God BBQ
Location: Ponchatoula, LA

I started to follow Give it to God BBQ on Facebook and read their posts about BBQ competitions so I figured I would find out a little more about the team. Jeff was gracious enough to say yes. Not only do they compete at competitions they also hold a Church service for other competitors and build some useful BBQ charcoal baskets.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Review: Steak Magic - Made From Unicorn Horns

Creator: Sograte BBQ and Brew
Location: Lubbock, TX
Cost: @$7.99 +shipping
Link:  Steak Magic

Sograte BBQ and Brew sent me some samples of their rubs to review. I decided to try the Steak Magic first. At first I thought it said "Steele Magic" on the bag and was a bit curious about that. Was it due to the color? The persons last name who created it? Then I realized it was "Steak Magic."

Once that was sorted out I decided I better give it a try. It's a nice blend of pepper, salt and other spices that work well with various meats but really enhances the flavors of beef.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Review: Sauceman's BBQ

Name: Sauceman's BBQ & Grill
Location: Charlotte, NC
Hours: Monday through Thursday: 11am to 6pm
Friday and Saturday: 11am to 9pm
Sunday: Closed (except for Home Panthers Games open 9-2)
Price range: $5-$12 (THE CLARK GRISWALD @$25)
There's a local BBQ joint I have heard about but never had the chance to get to. I finally made it in. They've won Pitmasters on Destination America and other BBQ competitions. They are Sauceman's and they serve good BBQ.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Interview: Hog-It-Up BBQ

Team: Hog-it-Up BBQ Team
Location: Bluemont, VA
Web Page:
Twitter: @hog_it_up_BBQ

I've been following Hog-it-Up on twitter and they seem like a fun team, so I decided to interview them and they were happy to oblige. As a transplant from Texas to Virginia, Mike has brought Texas style BBQ to the East coast competitions. I'm sure we could argue the finer points of Carolina BBQ over Texas BBQ but I figure if it's smoked and it tastes good it's all good BBQ.

He met his wife, Michelle, in Australia and together they make some good BBQ. They also compete in chili cook-offs so they're a busy pair. With their dog Boomer and Mike's brother Kevin they make up Hog-It-Up BBQ Team.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Review: Baconstien - Sweet and spicy

Creator: Sograte BBQ and Brew
Location: Lubbock, TX
Cost: @$5.00 +shipping
Link:  Baconstein Bacon Bites

Sograte BBQ and Brew sent me some samples of their Baconstein bacon jerky and rubs for me to sample and review. I decided to start with the Baconstien jerky and then move on to the rubs.

I've been curious about bacon jerky since I've seen it popping up in stores around the area but hadn't gotten around to trying it yet. I finally had a chance to with the Baconstien. Overall it is flavorful and has a nice kick.

Friday, February 7, 2014

NC BBQ Association

North Carolina is getting a new BBQ association. Maybe it will help to quell the arguments over what type of bbq sauce is best Eastern NC or Western NC. More than likely, it will stir up some of those rivalries but produce some great eats for those who attend the events. Though in it's infancy it is rumored to have three contests set up for the year and more on the way.

If you would like more information on the NC BBQ Association check out their site at In March they are hosting a judging and cooking class at Mac's Speed Shop in Charlotte, NC.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Interview: Sauced BBQ!

Team: Sauced! BBQ
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Web Page:

I met Scott and his wife, Joline, in 2009 at Hog Happenin’ in Lincolnton, NC. We were both competitors and they were in the spot next to us. Over the couple competitions we were at we would see them and discuss various aspects of competing and cooking our food. Over the years it's been fun to watch them change cookers and grow their cook camp size and family. Each year Sauced! has added awards to their wall and continue to do so.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Homemade Chorizo Sausage

This Christmas I received the grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer. This has opened up a world of possibilities for me and my smoker when paired with Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing. I'm going to have a lot of fun and good eats.

I made my first batch of sausage to try it and made a chorizo using a recipe from Charcuterie. It turned out pretty good.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Interview: Rocky Top Smokies

Team: Rocky Top BBQ Co. LLC
Location: Charlotte, North Carolina
Web Page:

I met Rocky Top Smokies at the Charlotte Blues, Brews & BBQ in 2012 when I was an onsite judge. They cooked a great pork shoulder and the hog looked delectable. Since then I have followed them on Twitter (add link) and Facebook (add link).

They cater in the Charlotte area and have been on the Wilson Show on Fox in the morning sharing the BBQ love. Jonathan and his team are fun to talk to and make a great product.