Like many barbecuers, I mix a little honey into almost all the store bought bbq sauce I use. Eating locally grown honey provides some excellent health benefits such as immunity to certain types of local allergies. Buying local honey is usually better than the commercially grown honey available in the big grocery stores.
We’re lucky that we know our honey suppliers personally. I encourage anyone that eats honey to get to know the producers and only buy from reputable and verifiable sources. I avoid imported honey or non-local honey because you just never know about the environment the honey was raised in. The local environment the bees live in definitely affects the quality of the honey produced.
Our honey comes from a rural farm in Coffee County, Tennessee. The hives are situated next to fields of clover hay and near a spring fed stream with crystal-clear water. The picture of my brother-in-law, nephew and his friend working with one of the hives that produce our honey.
Local honey costs more than the imported stuff, but it’s worth every penny.
My name is Dan Colmerauer – aka “Big Dan.” You may know me from my booklet on how to modify a “backyard” offset smoker to make it perform better. The majority of my articles will deal with what goes into building proper fire in your smoker and related topics – but I will diverge from that from time to time. By the way, I will accept questions and comments via e-mail at: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org – I try to reply to any and all e-mails but I do not use my computer on weekends and sometimes it may take a day or two before I have time to reply so please be patient.
I am a backyard cooker only — I don’t do catering or cook-offs, etc. I have, however, been barbequing in one form or another for almost 35 years. Originally from Buffalo, New York I was often seen barbequing and grilling even in middle of the biggest snow storms. I now live in Phoenix, Arizona where some days in the summer I swear all you need to do is put the meat in your smoker and wheel the smoker out into the sun. I have a Hondo offset smoker, a Weber Smoky Mountain, a Weber “kettle” grill, and a barrel smoker and I use them all.
Knowing how to build and maintain a fire is the most important part of barbequing. You can have the greatest recipe in the world – buy the best quality meat you can find – yet if you can’t build and maintain a long, steady fire, your final product will suffer.
Today, I’d like to discuss fuel. There are three basic fuels for barbeque: wood, lump charcoal and briquettes.
Typical briquettes are made from powdered charcoal mixed with binders and fillers such as coal dust. Their biggest advantage is an easily controlled, steady fire with very little temperature fluctuation. Their biggest drawback is the large volume of ash produced when burning briquettes. In an offset style smoker the ash will actually build up and snuff out your fire in about 4 hours – not enough time to barbeque much of anything. Plus, there are too many additives that can alter the flavor of the final product for my taste. But, they are inexpensive, readily available, easy to use and certainly can turn out a fairly decent final product.
There are briquettes available (but very hard to find) that are made out of 100% hardwood charcoal and all natural binders. No additives – no strange fillers – just pure 100% hardwood charcoal. I have used Rancher 100% hardwood briquettes and Royal Oak 100% hardwood briquettes and was pleasantly surprised – both at the flavor and the performance. While producing much more ash than lump charcoal, I was still able to maintain a steady 220 for over six hours. And the flavor was a huge improvement over regular briquettes. In an upright “water smoker” such at the Weber Smoky Mountain these are probably the best fuel you can use. I ran mine for over 22 hours with the Rancher briquettes without refueling and still had briquettes left in the smoker to burn. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find either Rancher or Royal Oak 100% hardwood briquettes in over a year.
Natural lump charcoal (sometimes called “charwood”) is my fuel of choice. Lump charcoal is made by burning hardwood in the absence of oxygen. The process burns off all the impurities (creosote, etc.) leaving a final product that is free of all the bad stuff that can ruin the flavor of the meat. It burns hotter than briquettes and a quality lump charcoal will leave very little ash – which means you will achieve a long, steady burning fire which will impart a wonderful “woodsy” flavor to the meat with a nice touch of smoke. There are a large number of brands of lump available – some not much better than briquettes and others darned near the “holy grail” of barbeque fuel. Hopefully, you will have a good brand available in your area.
The ability to use wood as a fuel is seen by many as the hallmark of the true pitmaster. I don’t necessarily agree.
The single most important factor in whether you can successfully use only wood as your fuel source is your smoker. The typical backyard smoker is simply too small to use wood as fuel unless you burn it down to coals first. In fact, many commercial pitmasters (especially in the barbeque belt) will burn the wood down to coals first no matter what type of smoker they have. The reason for this is simple – you want to burn off the impurities before exposing the meat to the smoke.
So — I tried this once. I used over $50 worth of wood – spent six straight hours burning wood and shoveling coals and the ribs came out tasting exactly like they did with lump charcoal. Some Internet research revealed what has since become my mantra: a glowing lump of hardwood charcoal is IDENTICAL to a glowing coal/ember burned down from logs. The only difference is how it got there.
Interestingly enough – at the more recent bbq cook-offs I’ve attended (I do love to eat good ‘que) I’ve noticed that most of the competitors were using lump charcoal in even the biggest of smokers because —- a glowing lump of hardwood charcoal is IDENTICAL to a glowing coal/ember burned down from logs.
Now, what about wood chunks or chips for added smoke flavor. They work, but you have to be very careful because there is a very fine line between a little extra smoke flavor and over-smoked, creosote-coated meat. Cross that line and you’ve ruined a nice hunk of meat (unless, of course, you like the flavor of creosote). This is more of a problem in the offset smokers than with the uprights. The man in Phoenix who sells cooking wood to all the local restaurants taught me a neat trick if you like to use chunks or chips for a stronger smoke flavor. Simply take a piece of heavy duty foil and gently place it on top of the meat – don’t “tent” it and don’t “wrap” it – just gently lay it on top. The foil will catch most of the bad stuff before it settles on the meat leaving the meat exposed to the remaining flavorful part of the smoke.
Next time I’ll discuss exactly how to build a fire using the Minion method for a long, steady fire.
Keep on cookin’!
By Kevin Bevington
Now that we have our rub, the right equipment, and we are able to control a consistent temperature, we are ready to attempt the toughest meat to cook, Beef Brisket. Lets first discuss how to select the meat you are about to cook. Beef Brisket can typically be sold in 3 different size cuts.
First, is the whole packer cut, this whole cut includes the 2 very distinctly different muscles that make up the entire cut, you have the flat which would be considered the flat long piece of meat, the point, which includes the nose end, and the meat layer underneath the flat, which is separated by a layer of fat which is also known as a deckle layer. The whole packer cut is the most desirable cut to cook in your smoker, the main reason being, the tremendous amount of fat that can be left on this cut to give it plenty of moisture to draw from while cooking.
I was told by my brother in law, Glenn, that at least one time I would want to try to make barbecue my very own…from start to finish. I asked him what he was talking about…he explained.
He told me that I take the time to select and buy the cut of meat I am looking to cook, I trim it and do all the other prep stuff…fire up the cooker and then start the cooking process…which is a long investment of time.
He went on to say that you do all of this, take it off the cooker, hold it while you prepare other items for sides and then put some store bought bbq sauce on your barbecue right before you eat it…He didn’t understand why I would do that.
Well, to be honest, I never had given it a thought…there were rubs already made for me to use…the same thing in regards to sauces. I figured I was just saving some time in certain areas. But he explained that if I would just take the time to learn how to make a rub and a sauce THEN the barbecue would truly be MY OWN! No one else’s mixes or recipes would be in my bbq hence it would be MINE from start to finish.
Just some bbq for thought for you folks who are just getting in to the art. Don’t get me wrong, I use rubs that aren’t mine more then I use my own…but 9-10 times I make my own sauce. I love it…my guests like it…and it just seems to compliment my barbecue.
Well Folks, today is my birthday, so I figured it would be a good time for a post. But it’s also a good time to wish my twin brother Happy Birthday. I will bet many who know me never knew I had a twin brother, but I do.
So here goes, Happy Birthday Keith, I hope we both have many more!
Just like the title says, it’s another year gone by and as a famous phrase from one of my favorite movies says “they go by in a blink”.
It has been a very interesting year, some good times, and some not so good times. But you have to take the bad with the good, and make the best out of it. My brother and I are 48 years young today (I couldn’t find a picture made with 48 candles).
I have been working hard on getting 2 DVDs released, and am just about finally going to get there (for those that have purchased the pre-release, I am expecting to have yours to ship to you within a couple of weeks, and they will include everything I promised).
The DVD’s are; Backyard Barbecue with HomeBBQ.com and Grilling with HomeBBQ.com.
For those that have not purchased the pre-release they will be initially for sale through Amazon and CreateSpace.com. I hope to have them in volume to be selling them myself, and in normal distribution channels in the not so distant future. One thing I did find out, is this is not an easy thing to do, and definately not an inexpensive project to undertake.
I want to thank Rennie Knopf of Elite Video & Recording, and FK & Cindy Whited, it would not have been possible to get these done without them.
They were filmed in December of last year, at the beautiful home of FK & Cindy Whited, and we initially projected a release in February of this year. This was extremely aggressive as we found out, and have been plugging through set-back, after set-back. This appears to be behind us now, and we will finally get them released.
We will also be exploring some digital distribution options as well, and will keep you updated here on that as well.
Until next time!
This segment was taken from my weekly internet radio show.
Also, below the first audio post is the full length radio show that Kevin Bevington, Jim Minion and Rod Gray appeared on if you are interested in hearing what sparked the rant!
Please note that my “GARNISH” rant is only aimed at sanctioning bodies who use Garnish (KCBS).
I’m glad to have the blog type of format back on my site, some may remember a few years back when I actually had a blog…
I would like to talk about somethig that has effected us a great deal this year, in the amount of competitions we would normally do, and that is the price of fuel, diesel specifically.
During the summer months we would normally do a minimum of 3 to 4 contests outside of Florida (Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama), during July and August, and this year it will be zero. At $0.60+ cents a mile to tow that trailer, who can afford that? I sure can’t.This has to be at least starting to hurt some contests, especially the ones that don’t have alot of teams real close to them.
But the fuel cost is effecting everything you buy right now. Just about everything moves on a truck, and the cost of diesel is driving, and will continue to drive freight prices through the roof.
But back to barbecue for a moment.. All the bbq competitors need to be concerned with some of the contests just going away, without teams, they can’t have an event, or at least not like they intended. BBQ contests for the most part (at least here in Florida), are good money generators for the charities they benefit. So what is the answer (besides our government, actually doing something about what would appear to be a super inflated price, driven by greed and speculation)?
For the competitors, it’s more prize money evenly spread accross the field, and giving more teams the opportunity to at least break even. But, this then puts alot of pressure on the organizers to increase those prize funds, to make their contests attractive to teams that travel. So, from the organizers stand point, they need more corporate sponsorship, and I’m not talking about Mom’s Garden shop down the street.
It’s about time Corporate America recognize that many charities benefit from what we do, and direct some of the marketing dollars they spend elsewhere into the competition bbq arena. Many contests would give them the same exposure they already get with those dollars, and they would also be able to benefit from the fact those dollars are used to generate income for charities.
Obviously, I would rather be at a competition right now, instead of complaining about why I can’t be at a competition. If your an organizer, and your reading this, think outside the box and take a stab at that big corporation as a sponsor. If your event is next year, you have about 4 to 5 months before those companies finalize those marketing dollars for 2009.
If your one of those large companies I’m talking about, then also think outside the box. Look at BBQ Contests as a viable way to spend those marketing dollars, and also creatively benefit your tax deductions, and then go that contest and eat some GOOD barbecue! And if your the Government reading this, then please, fix this rediculous problem!
Until next time!
For those that aren’t familar with the level detail that goes into preparing for a bbq contest, I wanted to share the schedule we use to ensure that our contest entries are ready for the judges on time. The schedule below is a guideline we use at KCBS contests. Like any schedule, it’s a guideline and not necessarily the exact step-by-step method we might use, but it’s very close.
12:00 Prep Meat
2:00 Purchase Ice
4:00 Attend Cook’s Meeting
5:00 Eat Supper
6:00 Get some rest
10:30 Start cooker
12:15 Begin Cooking Briskets
1:15 Begin Cooking Pork Butts
3:00 Spray Apple Juice on Briskets
4:00 Spray Apple Juice on Briskets
5:00 Spray Apple Juice on Briskets
6:45 Light Fire for Backwoods to Cook Chicken
6:00 Wrap Butts at 160-165 degrees (5 hours max)
6:15 Wrap Brisket at 165-170 degrees (6 hours max)
7:40 Begin Cooking Ribs
8:30 Prepare Lettuce and Parsley for Turn-in Boxes
9:10 Foil ribs (w/juice, meat side down)
9:15 Begin Cooking 12 chicken Thighs (biggest)
9:30 Begin Cooking 12 chicken Thighs (smallest)
10:15 Turn ribs meat side up, add dark brown sugar in foil
11:00 Sauce Chicken Thighs (target temp is 150 degrees)
11:10 Check ribs for doneness
11:15 Heat Rib Sauce
11:30 Unfoil ribs and sauce, low heat
11:45 Prep Chicken Turn-in Box
11:50 Sauce Ribs
12:00 Turn-in Chicken
12:10 Heat Brisket Sauce
12:15 Slice Ribs and Prepare Rib Turn-in Box
12:20 Make Pork Butt Sauce
12:30 Turn-in Ribs
12:45 Prep Pork Butt Turn-in Box
1:00 Turn-in Pork Butts
1:15 Prep Brisket Turn-in Box
1:30 Turn-in Brisket
2:00 Pack and Load to prepare for returning home
Welcome to our new website, it has certainly been a challenge, getting this together. I apologize for the re-register and realize it has just been 2 1/2 years since we did this before, but this was something that needed to be done to keep up with the times, and as a result of ongoing security concerns.
The cut-over to the new site was premature, due to several sql injection attacks on my site, the latest this morning.
Many new features here, that I think you will enjoy. This web site is now capable of all the new blogging and social craze going on with the web.
What is most exciting about this new website, is we have several contributing to this site now. The authors are as follows:
Kevin Bevington – HomeBBQ.com (owner)
Brian Pearcy – TheBBQGuy
Brian has 2 websites, http://www.thebbqguy.com, and his own blog at http://www.bbqguyblog.blogspot.com Brian has been a friend of mine for several years, and was a member of the original version of the HomeBBQ.com competition team in 2002, and early 2003. Brian brings alot to the table here as a bbq competitor, and his thorough approach. We are very excited to have him with us.
Tim Cochran – We have known Tim since January of 2005, when he and his partner David cooked right behind us at a contest. Tim has contributed much to the BBQ Brethren Forum, and we are exited to have him here with us at HomeBBQ.com.
Dan Colmerauer – Dan has been a big contributer to HomeBBQ.com since it’s inception, and has helped 100’s if not 1000’s of people as they asked their questions on the www.homebbq.com website. We are very excited to have Dan with us in this role.
Greg Rempe – You might already know Greg from the BBQ Central Forum, Show, and Podcasts http://bbq-4-u.com/ . Greg will be sharing much with us, I know I have enjoyed his podcasts, and I am looking forward to his contribution here at HomeBBQ.com.
Our mission here at HomeBBQ.com is to be the definitive source of information to the Backyard BBQ Chef, and Griller. If you have comments or suggestions, please let us know.
I hope you enjoy the new website!