September 2005

And you’re not sure where to start. It’s a bond we all share, everyone was a newbie once, and everyone asked themselves the same question…how do I get started? The path I took may be different from others, but it’s not unique. Some dive in, some try their hand at backyard events, some work with an established team. The internet has made getting involved in competition BBQ much more accessible. For me, the logical place to start was to visit a competition.

Living in the Chicago suburbs, I learned of “little” contest not far away, in Shannon, IL. I asked some friends if they might like to join me on my trip to this little town in Northern IL, no takers. So that Friday, I worked a half day, packed some sodas, and began the two hour drive to what’s referred to as the BBQ Field of Dreams, by myself.

I pulled into Shannon about 2:00p, not knowing what to expect, or where to go. I was vaguely aware of an additional contest going on that Friday called “Butt to Butt” and I was supposed to eventually meet up with someone. I needn’t have worried; it took about 30 seconds to figure out where to go, the BBQ sign pointed me to the back of town.

Not knowing a soul, I walked sheepishly up to the check-in tent. I was greeted by a busy, yet very accommodating Theresa Lake, who introduced me to the first person walking by…a gentleman in Dickie bib overalls, sporting a bushy beard, wearing a Jack Daniels ball cap. Yes my first introduction into the world of competition BBQ was with David Roper. I was instantly assumed into a new world as Mr. Roper spent the next hour escorting me around the grounds, telling me about every smoker, most teams, his favorite beverage, overalls, forks, and of course BBQ. Mr. Roper’s judging duties for the Butt to Butt contest forced us to part ways, but not before he let a little of his BBQ passion rub off on me.

So began my fact finding mission. Having received the grand tour, I was armed with the confidence to start approaching teams, to chat with them and understand how to get started. I spent about 6 or 7 hours chatting with folks that evening, these same folks have become my friends on the circuit today. As I was leaving the grounds that night, I knew I was hooked. I wasn’t really sure how I needed to proceed, but I knew I’d found the right outlet for my passion for BBQ.

I think it’s imperative to visit a competition before jumping in. It’s even better if you can be a dishwasher or helper for a team. Here are a couple suggestions and comments about visiting a competition.

1) Think about going on Friday afternoon/evening. This is by far the best time to actually converse with the participants. Everyone is usually jovial and fairly relaxed. Oh, folks will be busy setting up and preparing things, but overall it’s a lot more laid back than on Saturday.
2) If you do visit on Saturday, beware of the hours between 10:00a and 1:35pm. These are typically the busiest of the day. Ribs cooking, chicken cooking, large meats coming off, box preparation, the whole turn-in melee can turn the most tender cook a tough and surly SOB. Feel free to watch from afar, but the easiest way to make enemies is to barge in with questions like “can I see your brisket?” Even after turn-ins, many teams are in a frantic clean up mode, packing their stuff, and making every attempt to get home at reasonable time on Saturday.
3) Regardless if its Friday or Saturday, if a cook or a team are busy and they seem to be paying attention to their cooking, they probably are. It’s not meant to be rude, it just the simple fact that they are there to prepare, cook, and present their food. Visiting and revelry are part of the scene too, but only when appropriate. If someone seems busy, politely excuse yourself and come back later. Chances are, you’ll get invited back to visit at a less busy time.
4) Ask questions, but don’t expect secrets. This is a great opportunity to learn the lessons of others, but not necessarily the details of how to make good competition BBQ. Find out how and why they got started. What they did right, what they thought they did wrong. Don’t go in asking about specific ingredients or techniques. Some of that information will come naturally, but it comes over time. It’s far better to use this opportunity to learn the individuals and characters on a team. Everybody at these events are obsessed about BBQ and most are more than willing to share that obsession with others. In the words of Cheryl and Bill Jamison, authors of Smoke and Spice, “Real barbeque is bragging food.” When given an opportunity, all cooks like to do at least a little of that.
5) Visit some of the BBQ related internet forums prior to making the voyage to a competition. Chances are you’ll find a team inviting folks to come by. It’s a good segue into conversation while at the competition…”hey I saw your post on the Forum…’

My guess, if you’ve been serious enough to seek out a competition, took the time to drive there and try to meet folks, you’ll walk away knowing that you’re ready to try your hand at competition BBQ. Funny thing though, you went there seeking answers and you’ll leave with many more questions…welcome to the world of a newbie.

Wednesday 28, September 2005

Danny Gaulden – Danny’s BBQ Carlsbad, NM.

Danny shares with us some of his years of cooking Barbecue.  His restaurant started off as a Dairy Queen that sold barbecue.  Now it’s a barbecue restaurant after he fired Dairy Queen.  In this interview he shares some information on running a restaurant, BBQ pit information, valuable stuff the products we cook and much more.  Don’t miss this one.

46:37 minutes High Quality 46:37 Minutes Low Quality

Here is Keri’s recipe for her Blue Ribbon Hot Rolls. Again I have not tried these, but with the Big Holidays coming up in the next few months, I’m sure I will.

Thanks for sharing Keri.

Keri’s Blue Ribbon Hot Rolls

1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups all-purpose flour

Combine all in a bread machine in whatever order machine uses. Let process through a dough cycle. I could go through the mix/knead/rise/punch/rise approach, but the machine works just as well. Grease a 12-cup jumbo muffin pan. Divide your dough into 24 equal-sized pieces, and roll them into smooth tight balls. Place two balls in each muffin cup. They will fit quite tightly. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rise about 45 minutes. They will look like they’re going to overflow the pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake rolls 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Brush lightly with melted butter before serving, if desired. Can also divide dough into 20 pieces and arrange on a half-sheet pan if you’d rather not use the muffin pan. I like the soft sides you get on the sheet pan, but Robert likes the crust you get using the muffin pan.

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NOTES : Makes 12 large rolls. My first blue ribbon with this recpe was in the Oklahoma State Fair in Tulsa in 2002.

If any of you have made Keri’s Rolls, please leave a comment.

Barbqr- Ken

Care to Share?

Tuesday 28, September 2005

Jeff Stehney – Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ Restaurant

Jeff Stehney runs one of the best BBQ Restaurants in the whole country in Kansas City, MO. The name of the restaurant is Oklahoma Joe’s and the original restaurant is located in a gas station. How did this all happen? In this interview, Jeff in his very articulate and friendly manner, discusses some the things that made this restaurant such a success.

24:02 minutes High Quality 24:023 Minutes Low Quality

Here is another one folks. Now I have not tried this yet but soon will.
I asked Keri if she would share and here it is.
She also said something about rolls? I think I see another recipe coming.


Recipe for blue ribbon cornbread as made above (1st place, OK State Fair in Tulsa, 2002):

1 1/2 cups plain cornmeal (not cornmeal mix or self-rising)
1/2 cup flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder, preferably Rumford
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar (to 1/2 cup)
1 1/4 cup milk (fat-free works fine)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (can cut to 1/4 cup if desired)
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400, placing pans in oven while it heats. I use 2 cast iron stick pans, 1 cast aluminum stick pan, and 1 non-stick scone pan, as seen above.

Blend dry ingredients in large bowl. Blend milk, oil, and eggs, and add to dry ingredients. Blend till all is combined.

Remove hot pans from the oven one at a time, and slip a small amount of Crisco or bacon grease (say about 1/4 tsp or so) into each stick form, brushing it to cover all surfaces well. Place back in oven for a few minutes – you want these puppies HOT. Remove pan from oven, set on heat-proof surface, and, using a tablespoon from your silverware drawer, put a generous spoonful of batter into each form. You should have enough batter for 24 cornsticks and 8 thin crusty wedges.

Bake at 400 until golden brown on the tops, about 15 minutes for the sticks and about 20 minutes for the wedges. (If you prefer, bake the whole recipe in a 9-inch cast iron skillet for about 30 minutes and just cut into wedges to serve.) To remove from pans, gently ease the tines of a fork under the edges of the cornstick and carefully pry up. If you preheated your pan well and greased it right, it should pop right out. Serve with pinto beans and fried taters, BBQ, or just with a cold glass of sweet milk.

NOTE – the cornsticks next to the blue ribbon were made in a cast aluminum mold, while the browner and crustier sticks were made in the cast IRON molds. The difference in heat conductivity makes a big difference in the type of crust that you’ll get. -keri

Here is the link she posted so you can see here pictures
Thanks again Keri

If any of you have made Keri’s cornbread, please leave a comment.

Care to Share?

A while back I was cooking for a Business class at the school I work at. I was asked to teach one of the classes on running a small business, so I took my cooker and did some Chicken for them. I had spoke to John Eddy (CHEZ on the Forum) and told him what I was going to do, so he said he might drop by.
Well, he did. We visited for awhile then he handed me something wrapped in paper towels and I could smell it but didn’t know what it was. He said he had to go and told me to enjoy.
Did I ever! Under that paper towel was the BEST cornbread I think I have ever had.
I asked if it would be OK to share his recipe and John said yes.

So here it is. This is a keeper folks!

Big Mamaw’s Mile-High Cornbread


2 boxes Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix
4 eggs – beaten
1 ½ sticks butter – melted
1 pkg (12 oz) frozen corn – thawed
1 med onion – diced fine
1 cup small curd cottage cheese
Pinch of salt, sugar & cayenne pepper


Combine all ingredients – mix well and pour into buttered 9 X 13 casserole dish. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 35-40 minutes..until golden brown. Very moist & dense…best cornbread I ever ate, bar none. Iffin’ ya wanna kick it up a lil’ bit…add some chopped green chilis or jalapenos to the batter.

If any of you have made John’s Cornbread, please leave a comment.

Until next time…..
Care to Share?

I asked Rick if it would be alright to post his FAMOUS Baked Bean recipe and he said SURE.

I know he has shared his bean recipe with many folks along with Mike from Hawgeyes. Mike had asked Rick for his recipe and uses it with his Q businesss. After looking at his recipe and what my wife made up, they were pretty close. What my wife don’t know is, that I changed hers and make it like Ricks. Just kind of kicked it up a little. She doesn’t know the difference. GRIN

Two 28 oz.• & one 15 ½ oz cans of Bushs original baked beans
1 12• to16 ounce bottle barbeque sauce ( I use KC Masterpiece)
½ onion, finely• diced
½ green pepper, finely diced•
2 celery stalks, finely diced•
• 8 tablespoons of prepared yellow mustard
About one pound brown sugar (or• what ever it takes to adequately cover) (Rick e-mailed me and said it’s more like 1/2 pound.)
2 tablespoons powered hickory• seasoning (or bbq rub)
2 tablespoon celery seed•
1 to 2 pounds of• smoked pork or brisket
1 aluminum half steam pan (roughly a 9×13)•

Put all the above ingredients in the pan. Mix well. Cover with brown sugar, about ½ to 1 inch thick and do not stir in the brown sugar. Put in smoker for about two to three hours at 200 to 225 degrees, I use hickory wood. Let the brown sugar melt down into the beans. Stirring it in is not necessary.
Can be done in the oven.
Use one of the big industrial cans (#10) for two half-steam pans

These are some good beans. I suggest you try them.

If any of you have made Rick’s baked beans, please leave a coment.


Care to share?

Just noticed a post on the Forum for Hot Apple Pie and thought I would repost it here on the BBQBLOG.

Now if I remember right from past posts, this is good stuff when it’s cold and even better at contests. I understand if you serve lots of Hot Apple Pie to people you compete against, your chances of winning increase. GRIN.

Hot Apple Pie (cocktail)

1 Gallon Apple Cider
5-6 cinnamon sticks
1 cup honey or more to suit taste
1 bottle Capt Morgan’s Spiced Rum – 1/5 bottle

Combine cider and cinnamon and let simmer until hot
Once cider is hot add the honey and stir to dissolve
Dump the Morgan’s in and stir and serve.
Tastes just like the center of an Apple Pie. Great for cooler days & nites.


Care to Share?

Monday 26, September 2005

Ray Lampe (DrBBQ) – Author and BBQ Chef

DrBBQ is a sometimes controversial barbecue personality.  However, nobody can questions his success in many aspects of BBQ.  This interview yield some insight into how he got to where he is today.

23:33 minutes High Quality 23:33 Minutes Low Quality

132 South Cass Avenue
Westmont, IL 60559
Ph# 630-493-9000

Uncle Bub’s is located in the main downtown section of Westmont, IL, in the western suburbs of Chicago. The restaurant has been in business since 1997. I visited Uncle Bub’s for lunch on a Wednesday and arrived a little early before the lunch time rush. Good thing I did because this place started to get busy soon after I arrived.

You walk up to the cash register and place your order with the cashier. A huge menu hangs from the wall behind the counter with numerous meat entrees to choose from. I ordered a pulled pork sandwich, which comes with 2 sides. I chose fresh hand cut French Fries and Cole Slaw. After paying for my selection I was given a wooden cutout of a pig with a number painted on the figure. You get a chicken cutout if you order barbecue chicken. Clever. Beverages are self-serve with free refills. There is also a huge variety of bottled hot sauces to choose from to “kick-up” you food a notch or two.

Soon after I was seated a waitress brought out my order. At first look I was impressed with the ample amounts of food. The pulled pork sandwich was piled high with beautiful looking pork meat with a good mix of lean meat and outside bark. I took a taste of the meat, without sauce, and could tell the pork had been cooked long and slow with hickory and maybe some apple wood. Great taste, moist and the mix of outside bark really added a nice flavor. French fries were definitely hand cut instead of the typical prefab frozen variety. There are two types of Barbecue sauce to choose from, one sweet and one with a little more spice. Both complimented the pulled pork.

While I was enjoying my lunch I had the pleasure of meeting Mark Link, Managing Partner, at Uncle Bub’s. Mark is a member of the KCBS and the National Barbecue Association. Prior to opening Uncle Bub’s Mark sold Southern Pride cookers. Naturally he uses a Southern Pride cooker. Mark does a lot of catering in the area and does not have much time to devote to competition barbecue on the weekends. He will be competing at Arthur, IL and hopes to add more competitions next year. Mark brought out a small sampling of ribs and a small bowl of Brunswick stew. The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender. Nice smoke flavor with just enough sauce. The Brunswick stew was some of the best I had ever had. Good blend of tomato base with chunks of potatoes, onions, celery, green beans, carrots, corn and seasonings. Reminded me of real southern style Brunswick stew.

Now I am sure there are other really good barbecue restaurants in the Chicago area. And I hope to visit all of them in future reports. But I would highly recommend Uncle Bub’s in Westmont, IL.

This review submitted by Hayden Powers.

Note: I would like to invite all of you to submit your own barbecue restaurant reviews, both good and bad, to be included on the BBQ Forum Blog Restaurant Review section.

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