Dining critic Joseph Hayes tells you all about the best kinds of ’cue in Orlando and who is making them. But if you want to do it yourself (and good luck with that, by the way), check out smokers and grills that’ll get the job done and the difference between smoking and grilling, plus recipes, cookbooks and websites on barbecuing.
Pork ribs at Uncle Kenny’s BBQ in Clermont
norma lopez molina
Barbecue: It’s Simply Best Left to Experts
There’s an art and science to smoking meat until it’s honest to goodness ’cue.
There are certain things I can do in my own kitchen. I can sauté with the best of them, make a mean chicken tikka masala, and, given enough prep time, I can cook really good fried chicken.
But authentic Indian tandoori, slow roasted in a very hot clay oven, is beyond me for obvious reasons (no oven). Puffy yet firm, infinitely layered croissants are outside my skill set—as is most technique-driven pastry, to tell the truth. I’ll never make yogurt, or sauerkraut, or beer, regardless of what contraptions I could buy on late-night infomercials. And the idea of making pasta is a romantic notion I keep next to the dream of winning the lottery and losing 10 more pounds.
And barbecue? With the cutting and rubbing and burning wood and smoking and saucing and specialized equipment? Not a chance. For me, if I want honest to goodness ’cue with all the flavors and textures that millennia of human trial and error have developed, I hop in the car. As with so many things, if you want it done right, go out and get barbecue from a pro.
I’m a city boy from the great Northeast. My experience with barbecue, at least what most people call barbecue, was limited to the occasional hot dog and burger on a backyard grill, courtesy of any neighbor who actually had a grill. And a backyard. Where I’m from, the smell of smoke meant Engine Company 92 was on the way. Here in the South, ’cue is practically a religion.
Cooking meat by smoking is simply the application of the Maillard reaction, the chemical conversion of nitrogen dioxide into nitric acid and the breakdown of actomyosin in contracted muscle, melting collagen, cartilage and fat. Sounds tasty, doesn’t it?
The ingredients are pretty simple. Brisket is a mighty hunk of muscle from a cow’s lower chest that is nearly the only thing holding the animal up (cows don’t have collarbones) and full of connective tissue. Popular with only two groups of people—American, Asian and Mexican barbecuers, and Jewish mothers—it takes hours of slow cooking before it approaches edibleness. Pork ribs—spare or baby back—are the same bones from different areas: Fatty spare ribs are the end cuts from the stomach; leaner and milder baby back are close to the spine. Spare ribs take longer to cook but pack more flavor. Beef ribs come in two types: Short ribs are the meat on top of the bones, just behind the brisket; back ribs are below the expensive ribeye cut, behind the shoulder. Chicken, hopefully, needs no explanation.
So what do you do with all this meat? Depends on where you’re from (see “Tastes of the Nation: Q’s Territorial Claims,” page 46), where your daddy is from, or where you went to school. ’Cue, like pizza, is ingrained early in your psyche—the first example you eat of either will probably be your favorite. But to do it right means an often overwhelming personal investment.
“Most people don’t have the time to cook good barbecue,” says Michael Reaves of Cecil’s BBQ in south Orlando. “They try to do it in two hours or six hours or 12; it takes up to 24 hours for me to get it right.”
According to the current local King of ’Cue, John Rivers at 4 Rivers Smokehouse, with three Orlando-area locations, “What I do now is the product of an 18-year experiment.” We should all be able to experiment that well. Aside from the time factor, the dizzying range of smoker sizes and shapes can cost under 50 bucks for a simple tin can-style cooker to more than $15,000.
Barbecue has gone from backyard pits and roadside shacks smoking ribs in an old steel drum to massive constructions made of brick and iron and shining stainless steel boxes. These days it’s a competitive sport, involving mops, pink smoke rings, dry rubs, brine and BATs (Big Ass Trophies). No barbies, and certainly no shrimp on them.
Echoes of Orlando-area barbecues past, some still around (at least in name), others long gone, continue to circulate among folks who have been here for decades. Uncle Jones, Fat Boy’s, Keller’s, Johnny Rivers (no relation to John Rivers), others half-remembered or known to just a few. Modern high-tech commercial smokers make retail barbecue as simple as pushing a button, but old-time hands-on pit wrangling still shows in taste and quality.
Sam Meiner, owner of Bubbalou’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que and perennial barbecue maven, remembers Virnell Birden at Red’s Terrific Bar-B-Que, a local institution in the 1980s and ’90s. “She was the real star of local barbecue,” he says, “her and Clarence.” Clarence Wheeler was pitmaster for Meiner’s grandfather when he bought Old South Bar B Que in the 1960s. Now 73, Clarence still smokes over an open pit at the Bubbalou’s on Lee Road. “He’s a dinosaur of smoking,” says Meiner. “He’s got all the family recipes.”
Now that I live in Florida, I do like to grill out. It’s only natural to develop grilling skills after moving here. It’s in the air. The Timucua Indians, the first native Americans to meet Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León when he landed in 1513 in what is now St. Augustine, smoked meats over an open fire pit they called a barabicu. They also tried to roast the conquistador Juan Ortiz on one in 1528, but who hasn’t gone a little crazy after an afternoon of smoked alligator and fermented corn mash? So two-step back, Texas—barbecue belongs to Florida.
The smoking is tricky, time consuming and beyond most people’s abilities to get right. The eating part, that’s easy. “There’s something in fire and food,” says Kenny Nadeau of Uncle Kenny’s BBQ in Clermont, “that brings people together.”
And there’s nothing wrong with standing out on a warm summer day and charring a bit of meat. “Somebody grills some chicken in the backyard and says they barbecued,” Nadeau says, “that’s OK with me.”
Yeah, me too.
Joseph Hayes' Best Bets for All Kinds of Q
4 Rivers Smokehouse
3 Orlando-area locations, 4rsmokehouse.com
Full-flavored beef from the current King of ’Cue, John Rivers.
Bubbalou’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que
5 Orlando-area locations, bubbalous.com
It’s Bubbalou’s most popular item, and for good reason.
Firehouse BBQ Truck
Slow-smoked juicy goodness from a food truck? Yes.
Uncle Kenny’s BBQ
Kenny’s ribs take first place in national competitions.
Cecil’s Texas Style BBQ
Giant meaty ribs you won’t find anywhere else.
4 Rivers Smokehouse
This is the turkey you’ll want every Thanksgiving.
Fat Boy’s Bar-B-Q
Piles of flavor-infused smoked beef on a bun.
Charcoal grilled wings
Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza
Roasted and smoked in a blazing coal-fired oven and unlike any other wings in town.
Jalapeño mashed potatoes
Cecil’s Texas Style BBQ
A simple dish with eye-opening flavors.
Harry & Larry’s Bar-B-Q
Winter Garden, harryandlarrys.com
Smoked sausage doesn’t get much better than this.
Mustard BBQ sauce
Tangy and spicy goodness for pork and fish.
Keller’s Real Smoked Bar-B-Q
Altamonte Springs and Lake Mary, kellersbbq.com
An old-fashioned bowl of intense flavors.
Bubbalou’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que
Nothing about making baked beans this good is easy.
Hot BBQ sauce
The beef isn’t smoked, but the homemade sauce kicks it into the stratosphere.
Blackwater Authentic Smokehouse & Bar-B-Q
Slow-cooked greens with a hint of smoke and vinegar.
Smoked ribeye steak
Porkie’s Original BBQ
Filet-tender steak smoked to perfection.
According to 4 Rivers’ John Rivers, “You can get some good results at home, even without a smoker. Cook ribs in the oven at a low heat—185 to 200 degrees—wrapped in foil to get the tenderness, then sauce after four hours and [briefly cook] them at a very high temp on the grill. I’m not a fan of liquid smoke, but a teaspoon during the baking will give a smoky flavor. Pulled pork is a snap: throw an entire Boston butt in a crock pot with beer and sauce and cook it all day.”
The following recipe for pulled pork takes about 20 minutes of prep time:
Rub dry mustard, salt and red pepper evenly over pork. Melt 2 Tbs of butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pork; brown on all sides for 10 minutes.
- Place pork, onion in 5-quart slow cooker and add sauce and marinade. Cover and cook at high for seven hours.
Recipes for Fixins
Here are some traditional sides dishes to go with your barbecue:
Southern Cole Slaw
From 4 Rivers Smokehouse
1 green onion, chopped
½ large carrot, chopped
cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
½ cabbage head
½ cup mayonnaise
½ tsp seasoning salt
¼ tsp coarsely ground black pepper
4 Tbs sugar
1 Tbs white vinegar
Using a food processor, gently process the onion, carrot and parsley, being careful not to overprocess. Cut half of the cabbage into chunks and place in the food processor and process lightly, making sure the cabbage doesn’t become mushy. Slice the remaining cabbage thinly. Mix the cabbage with the processed vegetables. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining ingredients and allow to stand for a few minutes. Combine the mayonnaise mixture with the vegetables and toss. Chill for one hour.
From the Big Green Egg Co.
12 ounces applewood-smoked bacon (12–14 slices), diced
2 cups finely diced yellow onion
3 cups barbecue sauce
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup maple syrup
½ cup yellow mustard
4 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed,
1 cup bean liquid reserved
1 cup water
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat grill or oven to 400ºF.
Add bacon to a preheated Dutch oven, cook until crisp. Transfer the bacon with a slotted spoon to a paper towel to drain and set aside, reserving the fat in the Dutch oven. Add the onions to the bacon fat, cook for 8 minutes, or until caramelized. Add the reserved bacon, barbecue sauce, brown sugar, maple syrup, mustard, reserved cannellini bean liquid, and water, and mix well. Add the cannellini beans and stir. Cover the Dutch oven, cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and simmer, continuing to stir for 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Season with salt and pepper when the beans are nearly done. Let the beans sit for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8.
From America’s Best BBQ
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup flour
¾ tsp seasoned salt
½ tsp cayenne
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ cup chopped scallions
1 or 2 jalapeño peppers
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbs bacon grease
Mix cornmeal, flour, seasoned salt, cayenne, baking powder and baking soda in large bowl. Add scallions and peppers. Stir in eggs, buttermilk and bacon grease until blended. Heat enough oil to cover in a deep pot to 350°F, drop in dough by the tablespoon until brown on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes.
These folks know how to barbecue like nobody’s business.
4 Rivers Smokehouse
3 Orlando-area locations
The barbecue phenomenon that is 4 Rivers owes much of its success to a particularly difficult cut of meat to cook.
Brisket. Big hunks of Angus beef, slow smoked for 18 hours until the bark, the dry-rubbed surface, gets dark and crisp, sealing in juices and that shiveringly delicious flavor.
“I like it so much,” Rivers says about smoking. “I’m fascinated by it. The first time I ever had brisket was with my wife’s family in Texas, and I fell in love with it. They challenged me to learn how to cook it—and I had never smoked anything before.”
Cooking at 4 Rivers’ three locations is multi-regional. Brisket is pure Texas, the prime rib is Oklahoma style, pulled pork hails from Alabama, ribs are St. Louis with a touch of North Carolina, and tri-tip is bottom sirloin ā la California.
“When I hear barbecue,” Rivers says, “I think of that low and slow flavor you can only get from smoking over wood and charcoal.”
Ashlee and Katie Grimes
Harry & Larry’s BBQ
Two deep red smokers and the smell of ribs dominate the tiny Plant Street barbecue joint called Harry & Larry’s, with vintage-looking metal signs decorating the brick walls—AC spark plugs, Cheer Up soda (“A Delightful Beverage”). Two blue-eyed blondes, Ashlee, 27, and Katie, 25, aren’t the product of culinary school or competition ’cue. “We’ve always done barbecue at home,” Ashlee says. She describes their food as “Winter Garden style. These are all old family secret recipes. The slaw is our mom’s, the beans are from my grandmother, the rub is from our dad.”
Six generations of the family have lived in Winter Garden; Dillard Street was named after their great-great-grandfather, J.L. Dillard. Grandfathers Harry and Larry weren’t barbecuers. “Absolutely not,” Ashlee says, “but Ashlee & Katie’s BBQ didn’t have the same ring.”
H&L opened in 2009, and pulled pork is the favorite of people coming to the order window. Moist, redolent of smoke and the secret Grimes rub, it is the product of 14 hours of habitation in those big red smokers, and a sweet and mild platform for the homemade sauces (try the mustard). The “Q” stew, a sort of meat and vegetable soup, is unique to the place, and heartily wonderful.
“Barbecue is homey and relaxing,” Ashlee says. “It takes time and a lot of love.”
Uncle Kenny’s BBQ
Kenny Nadeau is all about gambling. He drags a giant smoker on the road for the grueling professional competition barbecue circuit, hoping to recoup some of the high expenses of competing while racking up victories with his ribs, brisket and sauces.
The pro circuit demands that a smoker cook multiple meats, so Nadeau gets constant practice in the art of chicken, brisket and pork, and what goes with them. “If you can cook good barbecue,” he says, “you don’t need sauce, but when you’re competing they look for a proper sauce.” His most recent road trip took him to nine states in five weeks. For the second year in a row he took first place for his Original sauce, beating 500 teams competing at the American Royal World Series of Barbecue in Kansas City. “That trip cost me $900 just in brisket,” he says.
Meanwhile, his new restaurant in Clermont serves up his road-tested recipes and specialties like smoked and fried chicken wings and pulled pork egg rolls.
There are big differences between home cooking, retail barbecue and competition. “Competition judges don’t like ribs with fall-off-the-bone meat like we do,” he says. “They actually score for bite marks.”
He’s particular in his cooking styles. “I don’t like the Texas style of a hard crust on brisket. I inject moisture into the meat and smoke it at a low heat. And red sauce, not vinegar or mustard, on my ribs and brisket.”
Cecil’s Texas Style BBQ
Dry rubbed, slow cooked over low heat for 18 to 24 hours, no salt, a little kick of Tex-Mex heat. That’s the recipe for beef ribs at Cecil’s.
“My favorite topic,” Reaves calls a conversation about barbecue. “It’s a lot of trial and error. A lot of smoke, a lot of sweat.”
Orlando was a vacation destination for the Dallas-bred Reaves family, and when father Cecil retired from IBM, that’s where they headed, opening the no-frills smoke shack on South Orange Avenue 20 years ago this past April. Dad retired 10 years ago, but still comes in once a week to check up on the kitchen.
Texas, just like Florida, is cow country, but Reaves’ massive signature beef ribs are a rarity. “Awfully hard to get,” he says. “The farther north you go, the bigger the cows; I have to order from Canada to get the size I want and, as it is, I can only serve them three times a week.” But with eight different kinds of meat and 16 to 17 sides, there’s usually something to fill the non-rib moments.
“Barbecue is comfort food,” Reaves says. “It’s good and it’s messy. Nobody worries about what they look like.”
Bruce Blunt Sr.
From roadside smoke stand to cooking for the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, Blunt has been a smoking influence on Orlando palates for more than 20 years. But his fame is in
“Even not-so-good barbecue is still good,” Blunt says. “But if you have really good smoked meat that doesn’t need sauce, sauce will make it better.”
With a range of sauces available at outlets like Fresh Market and Lombardi’s Seafood, Blunt says they complement everything. BoJack’s Slappin’ sauce, a dark and spicy blend, goes with sausage and steak; pulled pork works well with the slightly sweet Original sauce; turkey and fish benefit from the tangy Mustard sauce; and the sweet and spicy Garlic Wing sauce makes those little devils flap.
“No matter what’s on the stove,” Blunt says, “the perfect fit for everyone is BBQ. Everyone loves apple pie, everyone loves BBQ. There isn’t anything you can’t cook on a grill.”
Bubbalou’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que
5 Orlando-area locations
The Meiner food roots go back to 1917 and the grocery store that Eddie, Sam’s grandfather, owned in Geneva. Meiner’s Pit Bar-b-que, Mack Meiner’s BBQ, Café Society, Eddie’s Bar-B-Que, and Meiner’s Catering Service are all part of the family history, and smoke is in Sam’s blood. “My family could cook anything,” he says.
Meiner opened Bubbalou’s in 1986, which now has five locations in the area, and takes pride in many traditional menu items, such as baked beans, fresh collards and corn bread. Bubbalou’s “Porkasaurus” sandwich, pork layered with slaw, jalapeños and mustard sweet sauce, is a pure slice of the South. And nobody serves breakfast, complete with sweet potato pancakes, pulled pork and smoked sausage, quite like Meiner does in Apopka.
“We’re still serving chicken livers and gizzards, and a couple of locations smoke lamb, which is a very exacting meat to cook.” Meiner says that, due to the recent local focus on Texas barbecue, he now makes a particularly nice brisket. He still uses old-fashioned hardwood pits, one each in Winter Park, Altamonte Springs and at the Kirkman Road restaurant.
“Barbecue is more than prep,” he says, “How you rub it and sauce it is the easy part.”
A Burning Question:
How Are Grilling, Smoking Different?
There’s a distinct difference between grilling and smoking. Slapping a steak on a flaming grate is fast, atavistic, one small step beyond a sacrifice to the gods. The first deistically sanctioned grill-up may have been when Moses descended from Mount Sinai and took plans given to him by God and built an altar of burnt offerings (think of the Book of Leviticus as the first barbecue manual), where cows, sheep and pigeons were sacrificed. And a mighty odor of charred meat was smelled in the land, and it was good. Grilling requires high heat, frantic bursts of activity, and men standing around with beers offering advice to the smoke-saturated guy with the long fork and squinty eyes.
Smoking, the true meaning of barbecue, is a slow, thoughtful, probably accidental process that was used originally to preserve meats before the age of refrigeration. You can’t decide Saturday morning to have a rack of ribs that afternoon. Smoking imparts a flavor and texture impossible to achieve with flame alone.
A smoker doesn’t usually get above 220 degrees; most times much lower, which means the cooking can take 18 to 24 hours. It takes time, and unlike the intentional burning of chicken, an acquired level of knowledge and a certain degree of art. Quick, how long do you smoke a pork shoulder, and what wood do you use? Don’t know? I thought as much.
Wood Chips vs. Charcoal
As if choosing the type of meat, style of cooking and brand of sauce weren’t dizzying enough, there’s also the wood chips or charcoal you cook over to consider.
Mr. Bojack’s Bruce Blunt likes sea grape wood, straight from the ocean, to infuse a saltwater smokiness to fish and turkey. Michael Reaves at Cecil’s uses only hickory wood for slow cooking and heavy smoke, saying that oak or mesquite burns too fast. According to gourmet wood purveyor SmokinLicious (smokinlicious.com), wild cherry is good with poultry and fish, sugar maple provides a sweet flavoring for red meats, red or white oak works for beef and lamb, ash is good for smoking pork and poultry, and beech is perfect for fish.
“When I hear barbecue,” says John Rivers, champion of local ’cue, “my interpretation is smoking. I’m not a gas fan, but you can get ‘low and slow’ flavor from wood or charcoal.” He likes Cowboy Charcoal made by the Crace family in Albany, Ky. (cowboycharcoal.com; $6 for 8 pounds) for a constant heat on a grill (available at Miller’s Hardware in Winter Park and as the house brand at Whole Foods).
Hamburgers and hot dogs don’t spend enough smoking time on a grill to show a difference between gas and charcoal, but even a cheap gas grill can be used with water-soaked wood chunks to impart a quick smoky flavor to a leg of lamb or fish. The online company Northwoods sells chips made from old bourbon and wine barrels to impart their particular flavors to meat ($5 per half-pound, northwoodsmailorder.com).
Tastes of the Nation: Q’s Territorial Claims
Every region in the world has a style of barbecued meat, from the classic Jamaican jerk chicken to coal-fired char siu pork ribs in Hong Kong. South Americans love asado beef smoked over an open pit, and Hawaiians cook kalua pig in an underground oven. But it’s the good old USA that turns regional variations of ’cue into obsession.
The Midwest is Big Cow country, while South Carolina favors pork and Californians love a sirloin cut of beef called tri-tip. East Texans like spicy and wet-smoked beef, folks in Central Texas cook dry-rubbed beef and pork over high heat (and serve a smoked beef shoulder called clod), and El Paso cowboys serve up lamb and goat along with their ribs. ’Cuers in Western Kentucky solved a 19th century glut of wool sheep by cookin’ them over a slow heat, and Alabamans prefer long-cooked cuts of beef short rib and lots of chicken. Hickory smoke flavors plates of pork in a brown sugar-sweetened sauce in Mississippi and dry-rubbed chopped beef sandwiches in Iowa. And they eat BBQ bologna in Oklahoma, and “crispy snoots” (pig nose) in St. Louis.
St. Louis and Kansas City (that’s Missouri, not Kansas) have a longtime pork rib rivalry. The differences are in the cut as much as the cooking. St Louis ribs are a rectangular rack trimmed of cartilage and tips, while Kansas City removes the hard bone. Barbecue in KC is dry rubbed and slow smoked over hickory, then covered with full-bodied molasses and tomato spicy sauce, while cooks in The Lou like a thinner, tangy and sweet sauce.
Sauces are mustard based in South Carolina, vinegar and pepper in Low Country North Carolina (where they add red sauce to slaw) and tomatoed and thin in Georgia. Northern Alabamans dip chicken in a tangy mayonnaise and vinegar white sauce, and diners in Tennessee pour a thin dark sauce laced with bourbon over their famous pork.
Wicked Good Barbecue: Fearless Recipes From Two Damn Yankees Who Have Won The Biggest, Baddest BBQ Competition In the World
By Andy Husbands and Chris Hart ($21.99)
The authors, two chefs from Boston, won the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue in 2009, one of the world’s biggest competitions. The book is part ’cue primer, with tips on dry rubs, marinades and professional cooking secrets (how to spatchcock a chicken), and part handbook of traditional recipes and modern updates on dishes like smoked Buffalo turkey wings, wicked pulled pork, duck pastrami and the ribs and sauce that won the grand prize.
The Brisket Book: A Love Story With Recipes
By Stephanie Pierson ($29.99)
There seems to be as many different brisket recipes as there are different cows, and everyone claims to have the best. Pierson, a writer for Atlantic.com’s food section, offers 30, from classic Jewish crock pot and slow-smoked Kansas City style to Cuban Creole stew and brisket braised in British stout. And there’s a good story too, which you’ll have time to read while the brisket cooks.
America’s Best BBQ: 100 Recipes from America’s Best Smokehouses, Pits, Shacks, Rib Joints, Roadhouses and Restaurants
By Ardie Davis and Paul Kirk ($19.99)
Two barbecue enthusiasts road-trip across America, visiting some of the best smoke joints in the country. Full of how-to’s and recipes direct from the sources, the book covers everything from pork butt and ribs to Arizona tamales and beans and Memphis barbecue spaghetti. Even though the closest the authors get to Orlando is Perry’s Roadside in Sarasota, this is still a book worth having for the avid amateur.
Sauces & Rubs
Mild to Hot
Bulls-Eye BBQ Sauce
Kansas City, Memphis, Texas and Carolina are represented in this highly rated supermarket line from Kraft. No corn syrup or artificial ingredients, and some very bold flavors, ranging from mild to hot. $3 at Publix; kraftbrands.com/bullseyebbq
4 Rivers All Purpose Barbecue Rub
Spice rubs are the unheralded secret of good ’cue. This blend of salt, pepper, sugar and secret spices adds flavor, color and depth to chicken and pork, and makes a great dip mixed with sour cream. $4.50 at 4 Rivers locations; 4rsmokehouse.com
Hot ’n Spicy
’Cue Culture Barbecue Sauce
Cherry bourbon, apricot habanero rum and its popular Texas-style “Raise the Roof” sauces make this Maine-made company tops in unique ’cue condiments. $5.50 at Fresh Market, Orlando; cueculture.com
Mr. Bojack’s Twisted Sauce
A full-bodied and sophisticated mix of Mr. Bojack’s regular and mustard sauces that works with just about any food. $9.95, Petty’s Meat Market, Longwood; Lombardi’s Seafood, Fresh Market, both in Orlando; mrbojacks.com
This rich, hand-crafted sauce from San Francisco is unlike anything else on the market, mixing organic tomatoes, red wine vinegar, chocolate, coffee, molasses, chilies and spices. $28, order via sfqinfo.blogspot.com
5 Websites to Peruse
At Smoking-meat.com, pitmaster and cookbook author Jeff Phillips talks rubs, equipment and ingredients, and offers instructions for things like all-night brisket, salmon and even smoked cheese.
Southernbbqtrail.com leads travelers to specific old-time barbecue joints from Alabama to Texas, and talks to the folks who do it best.
Flbbq.org is the Florida BBQ Association’s site. It’s the enthusiast’s guide to the world of competitive barbecue festivals. Aside from zealous participants, there’s always great food to be found.
Grillbbqrecipes.com blogs a new and interesting recipe several times a week. Grilling a lobster? It’ll tell you how.
- Bbqinstitute.com, the official site of The BBQ Institute, is mostly an ad for cooking classes, but it has useful and exacting instructions on preparing and cooking meats.
Looking for a great Father’s Day gift for the patriarch who loves to cook out? Here are smokers and grills that fit any budget
Big Green Egg
Designed after 3,000-year-old Japanese kamado grills, the charcoal-fired ceramic Egg has so many devoted fans that they stage festivals around the country.
Smokin Pro 1224
A Texas-style offset smoker that does a lot for a little money.
Sold at Lowe’s. $180; chargriller.com
Kalamazoo K750HS Hybrid Fire Grill
The big daddy of home grills, the Hybrid cooks with charcoal, wood and gas.
Starts at $17,200; kalamazoogourmet.com
Ducane Affinity 4200
Made by Weber, a well-built grill with lots of room to cook.
Sold at Lowe’s. $350; ducane.com
Old Smokey Charcoal Grill
It doesn’t get any simpler than this: a can, a bag of charcoal, some burgers and Old Smokey and you’re set for the afternoon.