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Secrets to Great Barbecue

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by burksmoke, Jan 20, 2006.

  1. burksmoke

    burksmoke Smoke Blower OTBS Member

    Sometimes, even when you do everything just exactly like the recipe says, the barbecue just doesn’t turn out right. If this is the case for you, you probably have overlooked some very important facts. These facts are not in the books. They are not on the web site. These things are secret. They have to be learned the hard way. At the risk of extreme censure by the “barbecue gods†I would like to give a glimpse into the secrets of great barbecue.

    Great barbecue begins with the proper state of mind. Turn off the cell phone and grab a drink. Beer is best but a shot of Jack Daniels works just fine. What? You don’t drink? Ok, just fake it. If you omit this first part the second becomes even more important.

    Allow only the right company to assist you in your cooking activity. For example, if your brother-in-law is helping you insist that he refrain from asking you about work (more on this later). Only people who love good barbecue should be allowed within a 100 meter diameter of the pit. Something about skinny little vegetarians gawking at the smoke and lecturing you and your buddies about the evils of a carnivorous lifestyle keeps the smoke from penetrating the meat. By the same token any employee of the IRS or similar type lurking too close to the meat or any of the cooking team will have a devastating effect on the whole operation.

    Get very comfortable. Great barbecue takes time. There is no law that says you can’t barbecue in your house slippers and your barbecue sauce stained t-shirt with the big hole in the right arm pit. Funny hats help also. I like to find a lawn chair to sit in and watch the smoke curl out of the pit. Yes! You have to watch the smoke! Make sure that you can reach the cooler full of long neck beer from your chair. It does not hurt to have a least one son-in-law or other such relative on standby to fetch more beer or ice if the supply runs low.

    Allow only the right kind of conversation in the presence of the barbecue. This is a very complex rule too vast too cover comprehensively here. For the sake of brevity I will list a few of the approved and the unapproved topics…

    Approved Conversational Topics

    1.Barbecue or anything related
    2.The merits of different types of beer
    3.The best “sippin†whiskey
    6.Hunting dogs
    7.How to make good homebrewed beer
    9.Women (be very careful here)
    10.Fishing while drinking beer and cooking barbecue

    Don’t Talk about these…

    5.Relatives (around here you never know who is kin to who)
    6.Women (be very careful here)
    7.Fancy French foods

    Another factor that has a great effect on the taste of barbecue is the type of music that you listen to as you smoke your meat. It is not generally known that music has that effect on flavor. Again this is a complex subject. Here are some guidelines I try to follow.

    Pork – It has to be the blues. My personal favorite,.. the late great Stevie Ray Vaughn. He was from Texas you know.

    Any Beef Critter – Outlaw country music of course.

    Any other meat – One of the above

    Be careful with the selection, volume, etc. Barbecue can be very sensitive.

    Oh, I almost forgot, make sure you have some good snacks to munch on during the process. Put the ABTs on first (I leave in a few seeds just for fun)

    This is just a drop in the bucket. I’m sure many of you experienced pit masters have discovered some of these unwritten rules in your quest for the perfect rack of ribs or the prize winning brisket. Feel free to share them with the rest of us.

  2. bwsmith_2000

    bwsmith_2000 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey Burke!
    I think you're on to something. All these are subtleties that I think most us understand but perhaps just never really stopped to define. I can tell that you are obviously an experienced Pitmaster because you have gotten this discussion off to a really great start ..... wonderful items. I would like to amplify on some of the subjects that might be discussed. I know you have listed BBQ and related items and this would most likely fall under the related items category. Vairious sauces have always made good topics around my smoker. This of course assumes that you have been successful in limiting immediate observers to those who truly appreciate the various sauces (mustard, ketsup, venigar, mopping, sopping, finishing etc.). Then further discussions on types of wood to be used with the various types of meat will take care of a few more brewskies. And then, one of my favorites. Assuming the libations are holding up (or sons in law have replinished the supply) a really good discussion on peppers is always interesting. This of assumes the scoville scale has already been presented and the realative merits of the wonderful scotch bonnet brought to the table. I could go on but it's a little late for me and I'm sure there are other ideas out there. One thing's for certain .... it's a great hobby and I know what I'm going to be doing this weekend.
  3. cheech

    cheech Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You have nailed it. You just missed the refrigerator or cooler near by for liquid refreshment replacement. One beer just does not do it for me.
  4. Here's my two cents. You have to have cigars and the dog around too, somewhere in the mix.
  5. bwsmith_2000

    bwsmith_2000 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I think I feel a country/western song coming on.
  6. burksmoke

    burksmoke Smoke Blower OTBS Member


    I don't know how I forgot the cigars! Very important point.

  7. buzzard

    buzzard Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    since i usually end up smoking alone cause none of my friends understand how much fun the smokin is and only want to eat it the next day, i usually end up sittin and drinking and since i found this place now i have added making sure i do a little smokin readn at the same time.
  8. burksmoke

    burksmoke Smoke Blower OTBS Member

    Hey Buzzard,

    Sometimes that is not a bad thing "being alone I mean". I do some of my best thinking sitting alone and watching the thin blue smoke.

    As far as company goes..."smoke it and they will come"
  9. dennis

    dennis Newbie

    I'm humbled to be amongst those with understanding so deep. One thing I'd like to add though; it's a shame to let the valuable atmosphere of the smoking event end when the food and liquid refreshment have all been consumed, so I like to carry with me the memory of the fine day by wearing the now smoked shirt for at least two more days. That way, the fine aroma is still around to inform of how lucky I am, and it tells other people what they are missing.

  10. burksmoke

    burksmoke Smoke Blower OTBS Member


    You are definately tuned in on this topic. I concur. It is also helpful if your intent is to make others aware of your "Q" experience, to make no attempt to wash off the barbeque sauce from your beard.
  11. smoksignlr

    smoksignlr Smoke Blower SMF Premier Member

    Ahhhh. To be one who enjoys the finer things in life. A good tune, to savour the taste of something three and half minutes after you eat it. To stand back and enjoy the view of smoke whisping around a golden brown bird or even a smoked pork hock. To watch with a friend truly enjoy the fruits of your labour. To have a dog who will sit patiently with you with no worries of ever taking something before it is offered. A cold beer a hot toddy it's all good. These are some of the traits of the great barbeque smoker.
  12. dennis

    dennis Newbie

    Smoksignir, you certainly have a gift for the descriptive when it comes to barbecue, obviously someone who has much studied the subject. If ever a Pullitzer Prize is offered to you for this, accepting it at the awards ceremony while wearing the smoked shirt with sauce in your beard, as Burksmoke suggests, would only be appropriate. Finally some recognition for the little guy in his backyard, it would make all of us smokers out there very proud.

  13. soflaquer

    soflaquer Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member


    Here, here, my friend! What a great topic!

    Remeber, you never have to Smoke alone here! Some of the greatest Post's I'm familiar with are those that give us a detailed rundown of their cooking with awesome pictures attatched! Heck, I know some guys that keep their laptop outside next to their Beer!

    You do, however, bring up some of the "finer" aspects to the Art of Smoking! A fine Cuban cigar, handrolled on the thighs of Virgins come to mind (but I digress). I'm not a Jack fan, but give me a shot of $60 Patron Tequilla, and I'm there! I've always said that my right hand doesn't work when I'm around the Grill or Pit unless a Beer's in the Left! Must be a balance thing. :D

    I think I'll make this Topic "Sticky" so others can chime in!

  14. dacdots

    dacdots Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    One must never overlook offerings to the SMOKE GODS.An offering of your favorite adult beverage lofted high into the air and presented to the four corners of the earth while speaking in tounges will assure great sucess in your smoking endevors.Ive found that occasional gunfire into the prevailing winds will tame the strongest gust and keep smoker temps even.Drinking a good sour mash will also help tame winds and even rain and snow.Ive drank many a gale force wind down to a meer puff of air.Remember "if" is the middle word in "life."
  15. dennis

    dennis Newbie

    What Jeff says about sharing the cooking with your computer at hand....true, but alas, mine suffered from beer spillage and encrusted sauce on the keyboard, was not allowed to be brought back into the house. Now, for me the cooking has become a more vicarious experience. When I apply the rub and sauce, begin to see the coals turn the familiar red, the aroma of exotic flavors begins to swirl about to take me to that far away place I love, the joy as the tabs begin to pop, I know I am no longer alone. I share the hopes and aspirations of millions....or at least thousands, who shed the burden of the time clock, the crowded commute, all the bad news in the papers . FREE, oh thank God were FREE at last! Wonderful Meat Mopper, to raise your beverage in praise and thanks to this!

  16. Hey to all of you,
    I can't think of anything better to say here, because you all nail it and if I was smoking right now I can think better.
  17. darn I was in wife side when I wrote what under her name sorry

    I get mess up here
  18. This is a fun forum but this is a hilarious topic. I'm thinking that posting "the rules of engagement" of BBQ should be placed in plane view of the pit. Maybe in stone tablet form commandment style. Qualified with an "under penalty of death" disclaimer for the attorneys.
    Jeff: will you let us know where to get them cuban 'gars hand rolled on virgin thighs? I'm pretty sure thats what my brisket was missing.
  19. soflaquer

    soflaquer Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    That would be a small "hole in the wall" Cigar Shop in Key West, my friend. The name escapes me right now. Run by Cuban immigrants using real Cuban tobacco. Hope they're still there, it's been a few years.

    BTW, BigMeatSmoker, please visit "Roll Call" and introduce yourself to everyone. And YES, that is all that's probably missing with your Brisket! [​IMG]

  20. jlloyd99

    jlloyd99 Meat Mopper OTBS Member

    You know one of the most important aspects of BBQ is it's final step, the big test, the eating of the labors. All of you have been spot on so far but let us not forget something very important. By nature BBQ gets lonley if not surrounded by wonderful side dishes on a plate that is so full you need a second plate. Pile it on or the BBQ you've worked so hard on all day will suffer massive performance anxiety and fail to meet expectations. I have found that my BBQ enjoys the company of some home grown veggies out of a home grown garden, and keep the beverages flowing to make it all slide down easy. That my friends is the perfect end to the perfect day.