Good People Love Good Barbecue
My 2013 New Years Ramble 8am 1/1/13
What is the best BBQ? There are lots of ways to define that. For me the gold standard answer is what; you, your friends and loved ones absolutely love eating. In this internet age, spending time face to face, with those you care about sharing a great meal, is more important than ever
My basic answer is good BBQ should always be moist, tender and tasty. There are so many recipes that claim being the BEST Ribs/Brisket/Pork/Chicken in the Country/World/Galaxy/Universe. Here is the truth about those claims. If you had ten different styles of any BBQ meat (done well) and a hundred people. In all probability every style would be rated the absolute best by some people. One style would come out a winner. But only a winner for the group that liked it. The winner for you and yours is what you loved the best, not what the polling data said was best.
My philosophy has always been to teach that there is never one right answer in BBQ. I can also only ever teach and NOT give experience. A large number of people these days just want the “one” right answer/recipe/method. A young oil executive once asked his “precision” question of what one thing does a pitmaster do to cook great BBQ. At the time I told him a pitmaster is concerned with all the details. My refined answer is you need to a picky bitch about every detail. FYI I am a picky bitch just ask my loved ones. Pit masters also work to insure success either by reducing variables or using their experience to manage the variables they can’t control
There is no silver bullet. By the way hitting a fast moving werewolf at night with a handgun requires a lot of skill and experience. People spend countless thousands of hours and millions of dollars on the internet looking for the silver bullet to perfect BBQ. But these millions are often spent without experience. A perfect example of this is computer draft controllers. These modern marvels do an amazing job keeping the fire in an “airtight” smoker running at a constant temperature. They were designed for and work best with a charcoal fired smoker. They will work with a stick burner. But when they go into air starvation mode a stick burner will smoke excessively. That is the smoke coming out the smokestack will go from a near perfect thin translucent gray/blue to a thick opaque grey smoke. That thick smoke does not put a great flavor on the meat.
An even more poignant example is the money spent on rubs. High quality fresh ground salt and pepper the kind sold in disposable grinders at the warehouses makes for a great rub. I’ve beat world champions in major contests using a four part rub which can be source from any warehouse in the country. That claim just like what I teach is based on my experience cooking, competing and teaching coast to coast and all over the world.
Then there are those who will buy an expensive smoke spend a small fortune on a good education and buy inferior meat. Why people will do everything right and then forget the timeless advice the a good meal starts with good ingredients, escapes me.
You can cook great BBQ with a minimum of fuss and relatively inexpensive equipment. An education such as I teach will pay for itself many times over. Not only in money saved on ruined meat but also not subject those you care about to bad food. I’ve sold classes for husbands to thousands of wives. They all say please don’t tell him I don’t like his BBQ. So I don’t use names, I just say thousands of wives tell me they DO NOT enjoy bad BBQ. You can’t buy 99 cent brisket on sale in 2013 and expect it to be amazing or even have flavor.
So what’s the point of my rambling thoughts. There is hope. You don’t need an expensive smoker (see below.) All the information you need is on the internet. Testing all that advice will take a far more time and money than attending a BBQinstitute class (shameless self promotion). But with a decent relatively inexpensive smoker, a light touch with seasonings and smoke, decent meat and a game plan you can produce barbecue that people will love. Because good people love good BBQ.
Happy New Year!
Pitmaster Konrad “Teddy Bear” Haskins
The BBQ Institute® BBQinstitute.com
Equipment Note Below
- Training and Experience
Mas is controversial just as I can be. There in lies another secret of the great pitmasters. While some take exception to advise from teachers the smart ones without thumping their own chests listen and learn from everyone.
With that super long disclaimer here is my short list of smokers. All good enough enough to win awards, hearts and minds.
#1 Ugly Drum Smoker. The cheapest DIY option for an awesome smoke. UDS Plans, Back Slapping and Chest pounding at BBQbrethren.com
#2 If you’re not handy the Weber Smokey mountain 22” is essential a factory built UDS. The WSM came first. Support is superb at VirtualWeberBulllet.com
#3 My weapon of choice is a classic Texas offset built in Houston Texas by my friend Ritch Robin owner of GatorPit.net
#? The Ceramic Cookers. They will do any temperature perfectly, in any weather with very little charcoal consumed. The have very little capacity. I’ve owned every size and HATE the XL yes even the new ones. The place setter legs are too short on the XL. They are super expensive and super awkward to move. While based on capacity they are the most expensive BBQ smokers out there. They are the cheapest and best wood fired pizza ovens in the world. They will cook from 200F to 1000K (caution) and put an amazing sear on a steak. If you can live with the capacity and other limitation they are world class championship winning smokers.