Labor Day 2014

Or, as my brothers-in-law like to call it, The Annual Meat-Fest. That’s because I BBQ all weekend long, and there’s enough for leftovers and doggy bags.

This year, I let one of them drive the menu. They asked for:
– Pork Steaks – Saturday Lunch
– Brisket – Saturday Dinner
– Pulled Pork – Sunday Lunch
– Ribs – Sunday Dinner

I bought all the meat, but Saturday night I decided there was no.way that we needed all that. So I scratched the pulled pork. Still, that’s a whole lot of protein.

Here’s a couple of fun shots from the weekend.






The Great BBQ Injury of 2011

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 Labor Day

Well it’s lunch time on Monday, Labor Day 2011.  That means we’ve just bid farewell to Carie’s brother, sister, & their families.  It’s become a tradition for us for the past several years that we all gather at our house on Labor Day weekend, let the kids swim & play, eat BBQ, and enjoy time with family.

This year was no exception and we had a great time catching up with everyone and watching the kids play.  It’s visits like these that make us realize how much we miss spending time with the cousins & Carie’s family.

A few photos from the weekend, and the link to the rest.

2011 Labor Day

Caire, Mike, & Lora

2011 Labor Day 1

The Cousins


The Ribs


The Brisket!


Pig-a-Palooza 2011

For the second year in a row I volunteered to smoke the pork butts & ribs for Pig-a-Palooza.  This is the big fund raiser for Jacob’s Ladder, an organization that provides scholarships to school children in our area to enable them pariticpate in music & band programs.

We planned to cook 20 pork butts and 25 sides of ribs.  Ribs we served in 4-5 bone portions and we served nice big pulled pork sandwiches.  Additionally, we had a large grill to cook hamburgers & hotdogs on.

Friday night, I headed to the park at 10:30pm.  I had the cooker lit by 11:00 and we began rubbing the pork butts shortly after midnight.  We put half of the pork butts on at 1:00am, and the other half went on at 3:00am.  I managed to rack out for a couple of hours around 4:00am, but when you’re sleeping outside and it’s 90 degree weather you don’t sleep much.

We began pulling the membranes and trimming the baby back ribs at 9:30am.  We staggered the start times of 27 sides of ribs.  This allowed us to keep a steady stream of fresh ribs coming off the cooker throughout the afternoon.

There were lots of activities for the kids, music, and silent & oral auction items.  We had a great turnout despite a heat index of well over 100 degrees.

By the end of the day, we sold all of the BBQ that we had prepared.  I had great help from my friends and neighbors.  I can’t thank them enough for volunteering to help prepare and serve the food.  As I write this, I’m still pretty tired from working more than 20 hrs straight.  But I’m sure that I’ll be ready to do it again next year.

Here’s a link to a few more photos from Pig-a-Palooza 2011


New Cooker on Order!

Well, I finally went and did it.  I ordered up a new Backwoods Fatboy.  I’ve been salivating over a new cooker for the better part of a year now.  I’ve looked at most of the vertical style cookers on the market and this seemed to be the right balance of capacity, footprint, and quality/reputation for my needs.

There are quite a few competition teams that do really well with Backwoods cookers, and I’ll confess that swayed me a little bit.  I ran into a BBQ team at Murphysboro, IL last fall and it turns out that he’s a dealer.  Brian Luke, of It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere, spent a half hour talking to me about these cookers and he was competing that weekend on a Party & a Competitor.  Well, he took Reserve Grand Champion that weekend.

I contacted Brian a few weeks ago and we discussed the merits of the Party vs. the Fatboy and it became clear that I’d be happier with the Fatboy.  Now, I don’t need to cooke 16 pork butts very often (if ever) but having the capacity to do multiple things at the same time is very appealing and I do have the need to cook for ~200 folks on Memorial Day weekend.

I’m pretty excited and I didn’t even end up sleeping on the couch when I I brok the news to the little woman.  We’re expecting the cooker to arrive around the end of April and that should give me some time to get it seasoned and cooke a couple of times before the big event in May.

In the mean time, I continue to peruse the forums and read everything I can about the new toy that’s on the way.

Here’s the specs on the Fatboy:

Fatboy Model

Outside dimensions: 24″ deep
40″ tall w/stack
32″ wide w/drain
27 ½” wide w/out drain

Inside dimensions: 20″ deep
17 ½” tall cooking chamber
20″ wide

Racks: 4 – 4 ½” apart
19 ½” deep
19 ½” wide

Standard features: SS doors, permanent water pan,
Commercial fire grate, 2″ insulation

Cooking degrees: (approx) 200 to 250

Amount of charcoal: (approx) 12 to 18 lb

Cooking time: (approx) 6 to 10 hours

Meat: (approx) 20 slabs of baby backs
16 slabs of st. louis style
8 whole briskets
16 boston butts


Superbowl Eats

Like most guys who wield a BBQ pit for fun, Super Sunday is a day that I cook. This year I was headed over to a neighbor’s for the game and there was to be plenty of food, so I focused on finger foods and appetizers.

With all the buzz about the Bacon Explosion this week, I decided I’d put one of those together. I also did one of my favorites and put together a batch of ABT’s. Then for something new, I did a batch of “Moinkballs”. That’ a cross between “moo” & “oink” (moo + oink = moink). They’re very easy to do . Just wrap a half a slice of bacon around a meatball, smoke, brush with BBQ sauce, and serve.

Here are some shots of my Superbowl Eats:

Bacon Explosion ready to cook:


Fresh off the cooker:


ABT’s and Moinkballs

img_0962 img_0960

And a few of each as they came off of the cooker:


So what did you cook on Sunday?  Drop me a line and let me know.



I was asked to do ribs for a birthday party on Saturday night, so I fired up the Big Green Egg and did what I do best!  BBQ!

The general approach behind the 3-2-1 method is this:

  • 3 hrs on the cooker, using an indirect setup
  • 2 hrs wrapped in aluminum foil with a cup of apple juice
  • 1 hr unwrapped, back on the cooker with sauce if desired.

This would give you a total cooking time of 6 hours, but I’ve found that using a slightly modified version of this method I can have great ribs in about 5 hours.  So here’s the blow by blow on how I do ribs.

  • The first step, and a very important one, is to remove the membrane from the underside of each rack of ribs.  Removing the membrane allows the rubs to penetrate the meat.  It also has a papery consistency when cooked if you don’t remove it.
  • Just like pork butt, I slather each slab with a coating of yellow mustard followed by the BBQ rub of your choice.
  • Setup the cooker for indirect cooking and stabilize the temp at 250 degrees.
  • Put the ribs on the cooking grate with the meaty side up.
  • Cook indirect for 3 hours.  By the end of 3 hours, the meat should begin to pull back from the bone nicely.
  • After 3 hours, wrap each rack individually in foil.  Add a cup of apple juice to each foil pack and return them to the cooker for 60-75 minutes.  I usually put them back on the cooker with the meaty side down.
  • After a little more than an hour, remove the ribs from their respective foil pouches, brush both sides lightly with sauce (optional), and return them to the cooker for 45mins to an hour,  to let them firm up and the sauce get good and sticky.  Be careful removing them from the foil because they will likely be falling apart.
  • That’s it!  Serve ‘em up and enjoy!