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Entries in BBQ (162)


The DIY Pork Puller

I love pulled pork, but frankly I hate the "pulling" part.  For years, I've used a couple of serving forks to pull the pork shoulder apart.  Last year, I began using Bear Claws and they work pretty well, making quicker work of it.  But when I cook for larger groups, as happens more often these days, I'd sure like a quicker way to pull the pork.  

The Original Pork Puller

I'd seen some info on the interwebs about the Pork Puller.  Seems a fellow BBQ enthusiast has come up with a solution that's pretty intriguing.  Frankly, it's a pretty simple notion.  It's a stainless steel disk with a few tines, mounted to a long shaft that you insert into your cordless drill.  I only have one issue with the invention, the cost.  At $70, it seems just a little spendy to me.

Our DIY Pork Puller

So, my good friend and fellow pitmaster stumbled on a DIY solution.  He was cleaning his gasser when he began to look closely at the rotisseire rod.  By sliding one of the "claws" to the end of the spit and inserting the other end of the shaft into his cordless drill, we have essentially the same solution. 

The setup or pulling pork butt in large quantity

Last night, we had the chance to try it out on a half dozen pork butts for a graduation party.  The results were awesome!  We pulled the blade bone and placed the butts into a food safe bucket.  We ended up with perfectly shredded pork butt with just a couple of blasts from the cordless drill with our homemade pork puller inserted. 

With Pig-a-Palooza only a few days away, you can bet we'll be putting this to good use when we pull 2 dozen butts.   



Pig-a-Palooza 3

We're closing in on the date for this year's Pig-a-Palooza event.  Once again, my good friend and co-pitmaster and I will  man the pits and crank out pulled pork and ribs for a few hundred folks.  We always have a great turnout and raise money for Jacob's Ladder.

This year, there will once again be silent and oral auction items, games and activities for the kiddos, food & drinks, and an evening concert by the St. Louis band Dr. Zhivegas.

So mark the date of June 2nd on your calendar and plan to come by for some good BBQ and good times.



Review: Country BBQ - Bethalto, IL

It's been awhile since I found and reviewed a new BBQ joint.  However, this past weekend I had some time to kill and I was in an area that I don't often visit.  So, I plugged "BBQ" into Google Maps on my iPhone and found out that I was only a couple of miles from Country BBQ.

I followed the guidance directions and pretty soon, I'd located Country BBQ.  It's a small place that you'd miss if you weren't looking for it, but that's usually where you find the best BBQ.  So I found a spot to park, stepped to the counter, ordered, and grabbed one of the dozen or so tables in the place.

I ordered the 2-meat plate.  Sliced beef and pulled pork, along with sides of cole slow and BBQ beans.  They did have sweet tea (the mark of any good BBQ joint), but I skipped it as I'm watching the extra calories and cutting them out where I can.

Country BBQ - Bethalto, IL

The food came out quick enough and I was impressed by the generous portions. Definitely a good value.  The cole slaw was kind of a cross between a vinegar and creamy based slaw, but it was very good.  The BBQ beans were okay, but there was a flavor there that I couldn't put my finger on and frankly didn't care for all that much.  When I ordered "sliced beef", I assumed that would be brisket.  Disappointingly, it was closer to a shaved roast beef and not very "bbq like".  However, the pulled pork was very good.  It was finely chopped, but I really enjoyed the flavor.  

There were 3 kinds of sauce on the table.  I chose the "regular" sauce and while it was thin, I thought it was very good.  I did not try the mustard sauce or the other sauce that appeared to be a thick KC style sauce.  Two giant slabs of Texas toast rounded out the meal.

Overall, I liked the joint.  I'd recommend the pulled pork for sure.  Here's how Country BBQ in Bethalto, IL stacks up on my score card:

  • BBQ - B

  • Side Dishes - B

  • Atmosphere - B

  • Value - A

  • Overall - B

If you find yourself in the area, give this place a shot.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.  



My Christmas List of BBQ Retailers & Products 

If you have a BBQ'er on your Christmas list this year, there are any number of specialty shops online that can help you find that something special.  Myself, I buy a lot of BBQ sauces, seasonings, gadgets, etc.  Here are the places that I shop and a few of the products that I recommend for the BBQ aficionado on your Christmas list.

First, my favorite online retailers:

  • BBQ Pro Shop - a great online retailer of all manner of BBQ related items.  You'll find a great selection of sauces, rubs, smoking woods, BBQ tools, and even BBQ pits.  One of my favorites.
  • Fred's Music and BBQ - Fred's place is an extensive online store that is complimented by a retail store in Schillington, PA.  A wide variety of products including Fred's own line of rubs and sauces are available both online and in person.
  • Great Lakes BBQ Supply Company - Another fine online retailer and member of the BBQ community.  Here you'll find more boutique rubs and sauces.  Excellent products all, just not the stuff you're likely to find on supermarket shelves.

And, some of my favorite products: 

  • Thermapen - this instant read, splash proof, thermometer is the Cadillac of instant read thermometers.  It's well worth the money and something that any BBQ'er who's researched it has to have.
  • Blues Hog BBQ Sauce - This has become my go to rib sauce.  I love it and those that have eaten my ribs with it, love it too.  
  • Plowboys Yardbird Rub - a good all purpose rub that has become a staple in my cabinet.  I use it on lots of things.
  • Peg Leg Porker Sauce & Rub - I've enjoyed this rub and recently the sauce.  If you're looking for a Memphis style flavor profile, check this one out.
  • Drapers BBQ - This one is new to me, but I really like it.  Draper's A.P. Rub & Smokin' Sauce are a great combination and I've enjoyed cooking with these products since I recently discovered them.

So get moving.  There's still time to score that unique item for your BBQ fanatic.  The look on his or her face on Christmas morning will be worth it!



Review: Draper's BBQ Rub & Sauce

I love the "microbrew" movement in BBQ sauces and rubs.  It has created many new products and companies that share the love of good BBQ with a passion to make a great product.

Drapers BBQ  361

Shane Draper at Draper's BBQ is one of those folks who is sharing his passion and family traditions via his own "microbrew" BBQ sauce and rub.  Shane is a 3rd generation pitmaster from Western Kentucky and as the label states, there's "3 generations of pride and flavor in a bottle" that honors his family hertiage.  While I had met Shane on line awhile back, it was only recently that I actually got to chat with him a little at the Kentucky Bluegrass festival where he was sharing samples of his products.

Drapers BBQ  362

I came home with a bottle of both the A.P. Rub and the Smokin' Sauce.  I'd planned to cook with these products righ away, but a little knife accident sidelined me for a couple of weeks.  I finally had the opportunity to fire up the grill and try out Draper's rub & sauce.  I like to sample rubs and sauces with pork tenderloin or chicken.  I think flavors stand out a little more with these meats.

So, we had a couple of pork tenderloins ready to go for dinner last night.  I applied the A.P. Rub to both and grilled them on the Bubba Keg.  When they were nearly done, I gave one of them a coat of Smokin' Sauce as a finish.  Then, I sliced them and the family sat down to dinner.  

Drapers BBQ  364

Now usually, my wife and I like a finish sauce on pork tenderloin, but my kids prefer them dry.  The Smokin' Sauce definitely changed that.  Much to my surprise, the kids couldn't get enough of the sauced tenderloin.  In fact, one of my daughters said, "I can't eat any more, but can I lick the sauce off that last piece?"  Now if that's not an endorsement, I don't know what is!  

In all seriousness, Smokin' Sauce is a tomato based sauce with a slightly sweet finish and just a little kick.  Don't think "Kansas City" when I say sweet, cause that's not what I'm talking about.  This is more Memphis than KC, but I'd even hesitate to put it in the category of Memphis style sauces.  I have also tried the sauce on brisket and for me, I'd have to say that I prefered it on pork.  But it was a good compliment to both.

Drapers BBQ  366

The A.P. Rub is a really nice balance of salt, spice, and sweet.  In fact Shane was sampling the product sprinkled on popcorn in Danville, KY.  I found it just a little sweeter than the rubs I've been using most often.  That's probably what makes it more all purpose than rubs targeted at a specific meat.  For comparison, I'd definitely put it in the cateogry of a Dizzy Pig or Yardbird type of rub.  Truly, it's an all-purpose (or A.P.) rub. 

I'm very happy with the products and I'll continue to cook with them.  I'm also anxious to try the other sauces that Shane's working on.

Check out Draper's BBQ at





Picking and Grinning

Artifacts from the Kentucky State BBQ Festival are still popping up even 2 weeks after the event.  This video surfaced today.

If you look closely, you'll find yours truly picking the guitar along with my good friend Dave and some of the Peg Leg Porkers crew at the :20 second mark.




BBQ Tip: How Not to Trim a Brisket

After spending last weekend surrounded by awesome pork shoulder at the Kentucky BBQ Festival, I was ready for some brisket this weekend.  So I was up and at it early on Saturday morning, trimming 3 packer cut briskets for the Backwoods cooker.

Just as I was finishing up the last one, the knife slipped and got into my left thumb.  Now I'm not saying that I "sliced" my thumb, it was really more of a chopping blow when the knife slipped.  I jumped up, said a few choice words, and thought, "I'm sure it's just a flesh wound".  But when I bent my thumb and saw the gaping wound, I knew I was headed for the hospital.

A quick double-check with my wife to confirm my own diagnosis and a panic text to my neighbor and fellow pitmaster to finish up the brisket, and I was off to the ER.  I walked into the ER slightly before 7:30 in the morning and by 9:00am, I had 4 stitches and a tetanus shot.

So here's my advice to all you BBQ'ers.  Slice "away" from you when trimming your BBQ meats.  Here's the proof that I know what I'm talking about.


Before treatment During treatment The final result

 The good news is it was a sharp knife and a clean cut.  I should be healed up and ready to cook for Thanksgiving, but unfortunately my career as a hand model is over.



2011 Kentucky BBQ Festival

WOW!  That's really all I can say about the innaugural Kentucky State BBQ Festival.  

2011 KY BBQ Fest 4

Brad & Cindy Simmons of Lucky Dog BBQ contacted me a couple of months ago about an idea that they had to create a festival atmosphere where competition quality BBQ was available for purchase by the public.  You see, BBQ competitions are all the craze these days but you can't sample or buy the BBQ that the teams prepare.  They only prepare enough for the judges and since they travel all over competing, they aren't certified by all the local health departments to serve the public.

Brad & Cindy's idea was to emmulate the Big Apple Block Party format and have competition teams prepare their specialties and make it available for purchase by the public.  They coordinated with a half dozen teams and the health department, and then threw the gosh-dangdest festival I've been to in awhile.

2011 KY BBQ Festival - 52

Big Moe Cason of Ponderosa BBQ, Craig Kimmel of Firehouse BBQ, Carey Bringle of Peg Leg Porkers, Melissa Cookson of Yazoo Delta Q, Shelly Hunt of Desperados BBQ, and Brad and Cindy of Lucky Dog BBQ were the featured attractions, serving their competition grade BBQ.  But there was plenty more to take in.  Ray "Dr BBQ" Lampe was on hand for cooking demonstrations on the Big Green Egg. Shane Draper of Draper's BBQ was there with his awesome new rubs and sauces.  And there was a wide varity of vendors displaying their wares and an excellent selection of music throughout the day.

2011 KY BBQ Fest 39

I spent some time getting photos and taking in the festival, but I spent a good part of the day on Saturday pitching in to help the Peg Leg Porker team handle over 1,000 customers.  The festival began at 11:00am and by 4:30pm, Peg Leg was sold out of his Memphis style pork shoulder sandwiches.  Lucky Dog was out of brisket about the same time,  and all the other teams ran short on at least one item.  For a first year event, the turnout was phenomenal.

2011 KY BBQ Fest 43

Firehouse BBQ took home the People's Choice award, but with the turnout and incredible November weather, all the teams were winners.  I sure hope this becomes an annual event!

Here's a link to a few more photos.



2011 Kentucky BBQ Festival Schedule of Events

The countdown is on.  I'll be heading for Danville, KY on Friday to attend the Kentucky BBQ Festival.  There's a weekend full of events planned and I'm looking forward to reconnecting with some of my contemporaries and making some new friends.

If you're within shouting distance of Kentucky horse & bourbon country, stop in and check out all that's happening.  If not, stay tuned to Grill & Barrel for regular updates, photos, etc.

Here's the schedule of events.

Saturday: 11AM-10PM (EDT)

10:00-11:00 AM   Preregister for Hogs and Logs Team Triathlon
10:00-11:00 AM   Hogs and Logs Team Triathlon   Amazing Barbecue Race
11:00 AM   KY BBQ Festival Opening Ceremony   Barbeque Events
11:30-12:30 PM   Big Poppa Stampley   Music Stage
12:45-1:15 PM   Tim Farmer, Cooking Demo   Grilled Venison in Red Wine Sauce
1:00-4:00 PM   People’s Choice   Sponsored by Kroger
1:30-2:30 PM   Alien Blue   Music Stage
2:45-3:15 PM   Dr. BBQ Cooking Demo   Real Pork Shoulder BBQ
3:30-4:30 PM   Faubush Hill   Music Stage
4:00 PM   People’s Choice Sponsored by Kroger Closes
4:45-5:15 PM   Dr. BBQ Cooking Demo   Championship BBQ Ribs
6:00-7:00 PM   Johnny Roy and the Rubtones   Music Stage
7:30-8:30 PM   Da’ Mudcats   Music Stage
9:00-10:00 PM   Little T&A   Music Stage
10:00 PM   KY BBQ Festival Closes   See You on Sunday!

Sunday: 11AM-6PM (EST*)

11:00 AM EST   KY BBQ Festival Opens   BBQ Events
11:00-12:00 PM   CJ Garton   Music Stage
12:15-12:45 PM   Tim Farmer, Cooking Demo   Wild Turkey from Field to Table
1:00-2:00 PM   Soupbone   Music Stage
2:15-2:45 PM   Dr. BBQ Cooking Demo   BBQ Chicken
3:00-3:30 PM   Bean Eating Contest   Music Stage
3:30-3:45 PM   Hog Calling Contest   Music Stage
4:00-4:30 PM   Dr. BBQ Cooking Demo   Championship Beef Brisket
5:00 PM   Awards and Big Green Egg Raffle Drawing   Music Stage
5:00-6:00 PM   Andy and the Rockers   Music Stage
6:00 PM   KY BBQ Festival Closes

See You Next Year!



Recognized by the General

Last week, I mentioned that I'd cooked for a military exercise at Scott Air Force Base. Well, the 3-Star General sent a token of his appreciation. This is his "challenge coin", presented to his staff and members of the exercise as an award for outstanding achievement. IMG_0037 IMG_0036


I'm honored to have been recognized. Oh, and next year he's challenged me to cook ribs & brisket. I'm happy to oblige.