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Entries in Ribs (14)


Honoring Law Enforcement - Labor Day 2015

I'm a little late in posting this, but I wanted to share this experience.  I had read on the interwebs about a challenge to all the pitmasters who would be cooking on Labor Day weekend, to set aside a little extra and honor the men and women of law enforcement with some BBQ.

 As I was finishing up the ribs on Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend, I remembered the challenge.  Since I had extra, we wrapped up a side of ribs, scrawled a note on a thank you card, and sent my wife and nephew on the short drive to the local police station.


There, they presented Officer Blomberg with ribs and a heartfelt "thank you" for serving and protecting the citizens of our community.  He was super grateful and it warmed our heart to be able to express our appreciation and share some of what we have been blessed with.

So now, I pass the challenge on to you. The next time you fire up the BBQ pit, (or oven, stove, etc.), set aside a little extra and remember the first responders and public servants.  They'll appreciate it for sure, and you'll be reminded of how blessed you are.



United Methodist Men's BBQ

I have a friend at church who competes on the BBQ circuit.  He typically mans the grill when the United Methodist Men (UMM) meet during the summer.  Last month, after a succesful meal of grilled pork steaks, the guys decided they'd like to have ribs at the next meeting.

Well, that turned into a two man job.  We decided that we would take the day off and plan to cook at the church.  We also decided to press my Backwoods Pro Jr into service.  Paul and I moved my cooker to church that morning and he trimmed the spare ribs down to St Louis style ribs while I put together 2 pans of my "magic" beans.

Paul uses Code 3 spices when he competes, so we decided to use them for this cook as well.  We roughly followed his competition process, which means we wrapped the ribs in foil with brown sugar and butter, then finished them out of the foil and glazed them with sauce.

We also decided to do the rib tips at the same time, following the same process. It's a good thing we did.  We had a great turn out.  

Here are a few shots of the finished product.




Everyone enjoyed the meal and fellowship.  Next month, we're frying fish!



Ribs on a Medium Big Green Egg

I've cooked on a large Big Green Egg for nearly 7 years.  I've also had the opportunity to cook on an XL a few times at Grillfest when I've done the Big Green Egg demos for the local dealer.  But until recently, I'd never cooked on one of the smaller Eggs.

Over Thanksgiving, we made our annual trip to Pittsburgh.  My Brother-in-law recently scored a medium Egg off of Craigslist, so while we were visiting I had the chance fire it up for a side of ribs.

Here are my observations about cooking on the Medium vs. my Large.


  • I can lay 3 sides of baby back ribs flat across the cooking grate on my large.  You certainly can't do that on the medium.  
  • I'm not sure you could cook overnight without refilling the charcoal.  A full load of Royal Oak lump only burned for ~5 hours (I grilled pork tenderloing when the ribs came off)
  • It sure seemed like the medium cooked ribs quicker than my large.
  • It was cold, but it felt like I had the vents open wider than I'm used to on the large to maintain a 250 dome temp.

There were no complaints with the finished product, but given my choice I'd prefer a large Egg for most things.  However, I admit that I may be biased by my familiarity with the large.

What about you?  Ever cooked on the other size Eggs?  Leave me a comment and let me know what you though of your experince.





A couple of months ago, we became aware of a tough situation that a friend of one our church members was going through.  My wife and I donated BBQ to a fundraising event by way of a silent auction item called "BBQ Feast for 20 People".  Apparently the item was popular and brought a sizeable donation.


This weekend, it was time to honor my end of the deal and cook for the auction winner who was hosting a party.  I had committed to ribs, pulled pork, and pit beans for the event.  So I was up early and cooking for a 6:00pm delivery time.

In the meantime, I had become aware of a couple of families who'd lost loved ones or were otherwise going through a rough patch.  So with plenty of room to spare on the cooker and blessed with the means, we set about making food one less thing for some of these folks to worry about.


I've said this before; I don't compete or cater.  But I do get some personal satisfaction from seeing others enjoy the results.  This is compounded further when I can help someone who needs a little "BBQ Pick-me-Up".

Thanks to my friends and family for the assitane this weekend.  I'm always ready to "Que-for-a-Cause".





Mini - Pigapalooza

For the past few years, I've manned the BBQ pit in support of Jacob's Ladder and their annual BBQ & music event called Pig-a-Palooza.  The event has a lot of momentum and this year was the best yet.

For the second straight year, we've donated BBQ for a private party as part of a silent auction item.  This year, it was part of an auction package that included a miniature version of the entire Pig-a-Palooza event including side dishes, wine & beer, pulled pork and ribs, and live entertainment.  The lucky winner of this year's auction item selected October 6th for the date of their shindig, and we put the wheels in motion.


So Saturday morning, I was up early stoking the smoker for the BBQ.  Getting pulled pork ready for a couple of dozen people is pretty easy.  Heck, getting ribs ready for a couple of dozen folks is pretty easy.  But, my bride also chose this day as one of her customer appreciation days where we cook ribs for friends, clients, and colleagues of The Bradshaw Property Group.  That means 24+ racks of babyback ribs.  Now that's a lot of work.

 Pork butts went on the cooker by 6:00am and at 10:30am I began the prep of the ribs.  Prepping that many ribs single handedly takes some time.  Did I mention that it's a lot of work?  But I had ribs on the Backwoods by 11:30am.  


My timing was spot on!  I had the butts wrapped by 4:30pm and resting in the Cambro, and I began the process of glazing and finishing the ribs around 4:00pm.  Friends, clients, and colleagues began pickingup thier customer appreciation gifts around 5:00pm, and I headed out to Mini Pig-a-Palooza at 6:00pm with a second Cambro full of BBQ goodness.


We gloved up and served the party goers to rave reviews while a friend of mine, Steve Reeb, entertained the good folks.  My co-pitmaster, Dave Dey, and I took up the guitar for a miniature set of our own while Steve was on break (thanks for being so gracious Steve!).

All in all, we had a great time and look forward to next year's Pig-a-Palooza.





Labor Day Ribs

Labor Day weekends, we typically have house guests and that means BBQ.  This year, my brothers-in-law & their families visited and we decided to do a big load of ribs.  Cooking on the Backwoods Pro Jr, that means I have the capacity to do roughly 40 sides of ribs at once.  

Now I've never actually filled it up, but we did do 15 sides on Saturday.  It takes 4-5 sides of ribs to feed our famliies, and the rest we shared with friends and neighbors.


I started with baby back ribs from Sams, and trimmed and prepped them first thing Saturday morning.  I had the Backwoods Pro Jr. running at temp around noon and put the ribs on.  Around 5:30, we began wrapping the ribs and handing them off to folks who dropped by and we fed our clan.


I did hold 2 racks back, one of which will head to Columbus, OH tomorrow and the other to Pittsburgh, PA.

Next up, brisket for dinner on Sunday night.  My BIL's have taken to calling Labor Day Weekend, "Meatfest".






Review: Michelbob's BBQ, Naples, FL

My folks are snow birds and spend most of the winter in South Florida.  They've often spoken about a BBQ place that they like called Michelbob's.  They've even brought me a jar of their rub, which I enjoyed.  I reviewed their rub here.  Well finally I had the chance to visit their place in Naples and eat at Michelbob's while we were there. 

Since my folks have eaten there, they've acquired a Big Green Egg and I've shown them a little bit about how to prepare ribs.  I think they were surprised that the ribs weren't quite as good as they'd remembered.  I have to agree with their revised opinion of the place and say that the ribs weren't all that great.

The place is typical of mot BBQ joints.  There's lots of vintage Coca-Cola hardware decorating the walls, the floors and walls are rustic, and the menu is pretty standard BBQ fare.  There are several mentions in the lobby and on the menu to having "Championship Ribs" and of the restaurant being voted "Best in South Florida".  I didn't see any other BBQ joints in Naples or Marco Island, so the competition may not be too steep.

I ordered a combo plate of ribs and BBQ beef.  I found the ribs to be tender, but the only flavor came from the sauce.  Frankly, I didn't much care for the sauce they served on the ribs or either the sweet or tangy sauces that were on the table.  The beef was a very thinly sliced "beef roast" according to the waitress.  I was disappointed in the amount of fat that was left on the roast.  Either trim the beef before the you cook it or after, but don't serve me a bunch of fat.

My wife tried the pork sandwich.  Frankly, that was the most flavorful meat that any of us ordered.  However, it was thinly sliced (rather than pulled) pork shoulder.  It suffered from the same issues as the beef roast and was a little fattier than I'd have liked.

Overall, I did enjoy the BBQ rub that I'd tried before.  However, I wouldn't categorize Michelbob's as "championship" BBQ.  In a pinch I'd order a pork sandwich but I'd pass on the ribs if I were to eat there again.

Here's how Michelbob's stacks up:

  • Atmostphere - B+
  • BBQ - C-
  • Sides - C
  • Sauce - D
  • Value - C
  • Overall - C





BBQ Ribs in 2 Easy Steps

When I first began trying to create great ribs, I stumbled upon the 3-2-1 method. That's the method that involves 3 hrs in the smoke, 2 hours in aluminum foil, and another hour in the smoke (or a variation of these times).

That method produces pretty good ribs, but there are some that say the time in foil is steaming the ribs, not BBQing them, etc. I say if you like your ribs that way then have at it.  In fact, I was a 3-2-1 guy myself until this summer.  I've had the chance to cook more ribs this season than ever and here's what I've learned.

  • Foil...who needs it?  Partly due to the fact that I've begun to cook on a Backwoods Fat Boy where doing a whole lot of ribs at once makes foiling a huge, time consuming effort, I no longer wrap my ribs in foil.  The Backwoods & the Big Green Egg maintain a moist cooking environment and I don't find that I need to bother with the foil to get great results.
  • Cooking at a little higher temp isn't a bad thing.  I've always tried to keep the cooker at 250*, but it turns out that most things are just as good at 275*.  When demonstrating the Big Green Egg this summer, it was hard to keep the temp below 275* what with everyone wanting to see the meat on the cooker.  Frankly, those are some of the best ribs I've done.
  • Patience, as I've stated earlier, truly is a virtue.  Foiling the ribs and messing with all that always seemed like the magic to getting really tender, juicy ribs.  But guess what, if you're patient and let things take their own course, good things will happen.
  • 3+2+1=6  Now I didn't have to take up BBQ to learn that math, but my new approach to BBQ'ing ribs has them finishing in that amount of time or less...usually less.  I think that foiling made me feel like I was a more integral part of the process than I really am.  Frankly, the fire & the smoke are doing all the work and don't really need my involvement othen than tending the fire.

So my revised rib process looks like this:

  • Put the ribs on
  • Take the ribs off when they're done

Doesn't get much simpler than that!




Learning on the Backwoods Fatboy

I've done a couple of short cooks on the new Fatboy so far.  Today, I did a variety of items.  I picked up a rack of St. Louis cut spare ribs, a couple of pork tenderloins, the neighbors brought over a couple of racks of baby back ribs, and a couple of hot links.

I'm getting more comfortable with temperature control, but I have to confess that I haven't gotten used to the water pan and the mess associated with it and the ash pan.  I also haven't gotten used to the fuel consumption.  I've been pretty spoiled by the fuel efficiency of the Big Green Egg.  I don't think I'll ever have a cooker that's as efficient as my Egg.

In any event, here are a couple of shots of today's efforts.



Review: Rendezvous - Memphis, TN

I'm reluctant to even write a review of the Rendezvous in Memphis, TN as I'm sure that it's been done many times given their reputation.  But, why stop now when I take every chance I get to review a new BBQ joint.

I can usually coerce my family into eating BBQ at least once when we travel and since we were staying just a block away, it seemed inevitable that this is where we would eat  BBQ.   I'd received strong recommendations for a couple of other places, but Memphis is just full of too many places to choose from and the reputation and proximity of the Rendezvous sealed the decision.

In any event, we headed over to the Rendezvous on Friday night to find the place rapidly filling up as the dinner hour was getting into full swing.  Looks are deceiving, and there is plenty of seating inside. We were quickly shown to a table where we perused the menu.  For my family, there was some debate as to what they would order but for me this was a foregone conclusion.  So my wife and kids ordered up BBQ chicken platters, while I went for the whole slab of ribs.

The Rendezvous isn't fancy and the food was served quickly on paper plates with plastic utensils.  The family got started on chicken that was very tasty and I paused to snap a picture of my ribs.  Now I prefer dry rubbed BBQ and typically turn up my nose at BBQ that is too wet, but I was not prepared for the amount of dry rub & spices that were visible on the surface of my ribs.  My wife took one look at my ribs and said, "Those don't look like Braddog ribs".  I was flattered and didn't bother to try to explain that these ribs are char grilled as opposed to the way I prepare them.

The ribs were tasty, but due to the chargrilling they were chewier than I'm used to.  The beans were very good and the slaw was sweet and vinegary (the way I like it).  Service was top notch and the we were in and out in a very short amount of time.  I'd read enough about the place beforehand that there were no surprises and all-in-all I enjoyed my trip to the Rendezvous.

There may be better BBQ in Memphis, but based on reputation and notoriety you've got to give the Rendezvous a shot when you're in town.