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BBQ sauce recommendation

The next time that you’re hanging out around the Dollar General Store, check out their “house brand”, Clover Valley Original BBQ Sauce. They have a Honey version that I haven’t tried.

If you don’t particularly like sweeter BBQ sauces, you might not like this one. If you are a fan of a strong hit of vinegar, it won’t be up your alley.

I’m an ole Memphis boy and I find the blend of spices very compatible with what I’m familiar with. I find that it has just the right amount of vinegar balanced with a nice sweetness. It’s not a real hot and chili-spiced sauce, but that’s easily taken care of by some user-adulteration. To me, it’s got the “right” flavor profile, although it could be a little “hotter”. I’ve tasted a lot of BBQ sauces and this comes as close as any that I’ve tried. I’ve also added some of my “secret rub sauce” to it to great effect. With all of the hot sauces and chili extracts out there, you can beef this one up as much or as little as you like.

I even let the chef at my restaurant taste is and about a month later, I found a bottle of it in dry storage. At the time, I asked him what he thought and he said that he liked it. I guess the later discovery showed that he wasn’t just humoring me.

No, it didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel. No, Carolina BBQ fans probably won’t like it. No, it’s not the Holy Grail. But I think that tomato-based BBQ sauce fans will find it pretty damned good.

For $1.15 for a 20 oz. bottle, it’s worth you taking a chance to see if you find it as good as I do. I found one thread online where it was bashed, so you take your chances.

But if you like it, feel free to validate by commenting on it. Hell, if you don’t like it, feel free to comment as well. That’s only fair, right?


GIF courtesy of and

New twist on dry rub

So, as I wrote yesterday, I picked up a shitload of Boston Butts because the price was just too good to pass up.

I decided to smoke one of them, even though, by putting it in the Weber at 11:45 am, it wouldn’t be ready until close to midnight.

As I was pondering what kind of dry rub I’d put together (I was out of my normal mix), and, as one hand was raising the Young’s Double Chocolate Stout to my lips and the other was reaching for a bag of French Onion SunChips, I had a flash of genius.

What if I took a handful of SunChips and ground them into dust in my spice grinder and use that as the base for my rub instead of brown sugar? And how about just rubbing it on the pork instead of using a carrier like palm sugar or molasses?

So I set to work putting together the new rub. I only made enough for one butt so I only needed about 5 chips. I ground them up in the ole Krups coffee grinder that I keep for such purposes. I then took  2 dried chipotles and 1 dried cascobel pepper and ground them as well. I added some cumin, chili powder, turmeric, paprika, a little garlic powder, some coriander, a few turns of black pepper and some salt that I infused with dried sage from my windowbox about 2 months ago. I then added some of the secret ingredient that I talked about in my post earlier this summer about dried rub.

Patted the pork down with the rub without any sort of carrier. Got it on the Weber by a quarter til noon.

This was the first time ever that I didn’t take a single temperature, either air or meat. I pretty much know now that I can hit it with lots of heat upfront as long as I throw a few wood chips on the coals every hour or so. I had 2 hickory chunks to start. After about an hour, I threw some small alder chips directly on the coals and continued to do that every hour. When I augmented the fire the first time after about 2 hours, I did about a third of a chimney starter with 2 more chunks of hickory. That lasted another hour or so, at which point I did 3/4s of a chimney and let it rock for another couple of hours.

After about 5 hours in, smoke doesn’t really add a lot more flavor, so I took the butt off and put it on my kitchen oven at 250 and went off and forgot about it. I know that it’s going to be around 1 1/2 – 2 hours per pound, so this 6+ pound Boston Butt was going to take around 12 hours. That didn’t stop me from checking it around 10:30 though, because these hunks of meat are known for being a little unpredictable.

I was looking for around 195 – 200 internal temperature, which is about the perfect pulling temperature. So, how did I check the temperature without a thermometer? Fortunately the Boston Butt has a natural, built-in pop up thermometer.  When the blade bone slides out easily, it’s done. It’s like ribs in that the meat shrinks from the tip of the bone, leaving a convenient handle. I basically try to lift it up using the bone. If the bone doesn’t come out, it’s not ready, unlike ribs, where you actually don’t want to wait quite that long because most people like a little “tug” on the bone when they eat it. For pulled pork, you want the fat to be virtually completely rendered so that the meat almost flakes apart. Some people like to cook it less and serve it sliced like a brisket. If that’s the case, then you only want to go to about 180-185 (the pork won’t “pull” at that temperature).

Anyway, around 10:30, I could tell that it was getting close. It’s a funny thing – if you only go to 180, it will seem kind of hard and dry if you poke it, but as soon as a little runaway fat rendering starts taking place as the temperature rises, it will start to sizzle a little and it gets a little softer. That’s how I knew that it wouldn’t be too long at that point. When I picked it up by the bone, there was a little give but it didn’t slide out. I checked it again at 11:00 and it was about the same. At 11:30, it slid right out. Perfect.

It pulled perfectly and I got a really nice black bark as well. I had a nice smoke ring on most of it as well.

I liked the rub so much that I think I’m going to try a 100% SunChips rub the next time to see how that tastes.

So, if you’re looking for something a little bit different, you might want to try this yourself. I’ve since found out that some people have used BBQ potato chips the same way when cooking chicken. so that might be worth checking out as well.

Oh yeah, forgot. I also took some pale ale and rub and hit the butt 3 times. Normally I would have used a mister or a little mop, but I had neither handy, so I just carefully poured it over the top, being care not to wash off the existing rub.

Cookbook of the day – The Barbecue! Bible


The Barbecue! Bible

by Steven Raichlen

  • Publisher Workman Publishing Company (January 6, 1998)
  • ISBN 10: 1563058669
  • ISBN 13: 978-1563058660
  • This was the first of the big barbecue books from Steven Raichlen. This is more in the style of BBQ USA than How To Grill. In other words, rather than being a photographic step by step pictorial tutorial, this is more narrative. The only photographs you’ll find are of people, places and things, not dishes or ingredients. You’ll find some illustrative woodcuts peppered throughout, but this is as much travelogue as it is recipe book. Don’t get me wrong – there are hundreds of recipes. But there are also descriptions of famous restaurants throughout the world, good tips on things like larding meat, and , of course, the obligatory section on the nuts and bolts and coals of grilling and barbecueing. He starts by acknowledging the difference between the two terms grilling and barbecueing and by no means is this intended to simply be a treatise on barbecuing. It’s clear that we Americans tend to use the terms interchangeably anyway, even if they aren’t strictly the same thing. How many times have you been invited to a “barbecue” where the only things served off of a fire were steaks, hot dogs and burgers? Technically, you should have been invited to a “grilling”.

    In any case, while there’s some redunancy if you already own the other two books that I’ve mentioned, all three books are reasonably enough priced where you should get all three (you’ll end up with about 1500 pages of recipes and information about the world of cooking over flame, coals and wood). You should even check out some of his other books as well. The only other book of his that I have is his very early volume Miami Spice, and I’ll be reviewing that in the future.  The three books that I’ve already reviewed and mentioned in this post are definitely must-haves. The others are optional.

    The great thing about these books is the care that Raichlen takes in highlighting barbecue and grilling techniques and recipes from around the world and different barbecue styles right here in the US. You’ll find many exotic and wonderful creations here, whether you want to reproduce Afghan styled chicken, actually an Indian dish, or Saigon street kabobs. 

    Oh yeah, you can watch him on some PBS stations as well.

    saigon grill

    Image from “noodlepie” at Flickr:

    Kitchen tool of the day – Weber grill

    No, silly, I don’t have one of these in my kitchen.

    Weber 22

    But it is only inches from my kitchen, since my little porch is adjacent to my kitchen. There’s only a wall and few inches from the fridge. It’s a 22.5″ Weber “Silver” kettle grill.

    This icon of American culture is almost 58 years old, having been invented 2 years after the midway point of the 20th century. It became a symbol of American prosperity, being ubiquitous in suburban backyards in the 50s and 60s. Later, gas grills became fashionable and many families installed permanent gas grills in their backyards (as my own family did). The Weber became a bit “old-fashioned’ but remained an industrial example of form fitting function and  simplicity itself. Its shape and color (for many years, you could get it in any color as long as it was black) is almost perfection itself.

    Despite selling more than any other grill in America by a long shot, most people don’t realize that it began life as the halves of bouys used in Lake Michigan. George Stephen, a co-owner of the Weber Brothers Metal Works and metal worker himself, had an epiphany while trying to work out the perfect grill for his own backyard. By cutting in half spheres that he had been constructing for buoy manufacturers, he realized that the dome shape was perfect for containing heat and protecting from wind and if you put a grill in the center, there would be plenty of room for coals in the bottom. If he fabricated movable vents on the top and the bottom, airflow could be controlled and heat and coals could be managed for even temperatures and smoke would have an exit point. And it was a breeze to weld on some leg sleeves and add legs and wheels for easy transport. He could even fabricate a dish between the legs to allow for easy disposal of ashes (later to be refined into a closed box).

    And, voila! the Weber grill was born.


    Picture courtesy of

    This became a visual that was very familiar to those growing up in the 50s and 60s. Dad with his apron, tongs and long forks tending the grill while wifey and kiddies lounged around waiting for the burgers, hot dogs and steaks to cook. A bag of briquettes was leaning in a corner somewhere and the family dog was running around chasing birds and little children.

    The Weber seemed to get a re-birth in the 90s after being out of favor for a while. Part of it was nostalgia, part of it was a realization that it was an inexpensive but well-built grill with a purpose. Despite competition from more sophisticated grill/smokers with sideboxes for wood and built in thermometers, huge gas grills that would rival some commercial kitchens’ equipment (Weber also making some of these), the Weber is more more popular than ever.

    They make sizes ranging from table-top models perfect for small scale tailgating, to the huge (and expensive) 37 3/4 inch “Ranch” version. There are models that have been integrated into rolling tables, and now, there are all sorts of designer colors that you can choose from, although I think that black is perfection itself.


    The Ranch in action

    While Weber offers a both a 18.5″ and a 22.5″ version of the kettle grill, I recommend that you stick with the 22.5 model. It’s only about $20 more than the smaller model and doesn’t really take up any more space. You’ll really want the extra grilling surface. They actually make a model between the $700 Ranch and the 22.5″, the 26.75 inch grill, but it will set you back about $150 more than the 22.5″. Unless you do really large volume grilling and you have the money to burn (pardon the pun), I suggest that you’ll be happy with the 22.5″ model. I use the less expensive model pictured above, the ‘Silver”, It has a simple dish-shaped pan for ash collection. You can certainly spend another $40 and get the “Gold” model, which has an enclosed ash collection system. It’s a little neater solution to ash disposal.

    While most people use it for simple open-top grilling of things like hot dogs, steaks and burgers, the kettle is great for smoking using indirect heat (you don’t really want to cook steaks and burgers under the closed lid because it’s not necessary and you want to control flare-ups). This is a technique where you pile the coals on one side of the grill and put the meat to be smoked on the opposite side and keep the lid closed except when you add coals and spritz your meat. Some people even put a drip pan under the meat to help facilitate cleanup and to add moisture and steam.

    There are two things that you should get if you are doing a lot of smoking. One is a hinged grill (some models come with them):

    Weber hinged grillThis allows you to add coals for indirect heating without disturbing the meat that you’re cooking.

    The other thing that you might consider is this handy little thing (it will set you back around $50):


    This little charcoal basket is specially designed to get the most out of your coals. It extends the life of the coals by enclosing them. There’s a handy little container for adding liquids like beer, wine or fruit juices that can help infuse the meat with additional flavor. When you use one of these, you don’t have to add coals nearly as often and you’re able to leave the lid on longer, thereby preventing heat from escaping.

    The kettle is also useful for adding smoke flavor to barbeque beans, seafood and veggies.

    Even if you already have a gas grill, spending $90 – $150 for a Weber kettle is a great investment as, with proper care, it can last you for years.

    Don’t settle for cheap imitators. The Weber is made from thick stainless steel and is coated with a baked-on porcelain enamel, not simple paint. They aren’t that much more expensive than the cheap imitators and they are much better built and long-lived.

    You should also invest in one of these:

    Weber cover

    All hail the venerable Weber!

    Cookbook of the day – Dr. BBQ’s Big Time Barbecue Cookbook

    Dr. BBQ

    Dr. BBQ’sBig-Time Barbecue Cookbook: A Real Barbecue ChamQpion Brings the Tasty Recipes and Juicy Stories of the Barbecue Circuit to Your Backyard

    by Ray Lampe

    Publisher St. Martin’s Griffin (April 14, 2005)  

    ISBN 10: 0312339798

    ISBN 13: 978-0312339791

    If the hyperbole and chest thumping of Paul Kirk (The Baron of BBQ) turns you off, but you’d still like some “inside information” about barbecue competitions, as well as some great rubs, marinades and smoking procedures, this is the book for you.

    Modestly priced, this book offers a lot of practical advice and information about the different regional and local varieties. there are name checks on famous BBQ “joints” and plenty of pics of barbecue culture that inform the novice.

    I do disagree with him about cooking pork butts and shoulders though. Now, keep in mind that I don’t cook for competition but for flavor and goodness. First of all, I have found that there’s little difference between cooking a big shoulder or butt at 350° for the first 4 hours and keeping the temperature at the BBQ approved 225º – 250º. You see, it’s still going to take at least 1 1/2 – 2 hours per pound for most butts and, because I use a rub with a lot of sugar content, my bark (the crunchy outside “skin”) is going to be black, whether I cook it totally “low and slow” or if I let the temperature go higher for the first part. This is due to the extreme muscle mass of the cut. This mass keeps you from “overcooking” it and making it tough. Keep in mind that it’s going to take you 8 – 14 hours to cook it. As long as you limit the really high temps to the first 4 hours or so, you’ll be fine, as long as you don’t mind a black bark. To me, the black bark adds to the flavor. Also, Lampe removes the fat cap before “pulling” the pork (pulling by shredding it, not pulling it from the smoker). To me, incorporating the fat cap into the pulled pork only adds to the flavor. If you’ve cooked it to 195° or higher, the fat cap will become gelatinous and will actually “melt” into the final product. It keeps it very moist and tasty.

    If cooking it at an initial higher temperature doesn’t speed up the process all that much, why do it? Well, I do my smoking in a 22″ Weber kettle. It takes a lot of fiddling to get the temp down to 225°, and you waste a lot of fuel. What I do is get a good honkin’ fire going and put the rubbed butt or shoulder on directly out of the fridge. I can then ignore it for at least 3 hours, because the temperature will stay at at 350° for an hour and a half and will start to drop to about 200° for the next hour and a half. At that point, I’ll get the fire blazing again and start all over again. By the four and a half hour mark, the temp will have dropped again down to about 250°. At this point, I’ll let it go to 225° and keep it pretty close to that. for those who have bigger rigs or smokers with sideboxes where you can add wood without opening the cover, it’s easier for them to maintain a constant temperature. But with a kettle, you have to remove the lid, which makes the temperature instantly drop. Having done some “scientific” experiments taking temperatures of both the air and the meat, charting the results, I’ve come to the conclusion that the higher temps don’t hurt the pork one bit as long as you take the pork directly from the fridge and you limit the higher temps to the first 4 or 5 hours.. My pork is every bit as savory as pork cooked at a constant 225° – 250°.

    Other than those quibbles (and admittedly they might not apply if you’re trying to win a BBQ competition), I highly recommend this book.

    Here are a few photos of my own “Memphis-style” pulled pork:





    And the fat cap in all of its mostly rendered glory:


    Cookbook of the day – The New Professional Chef


    The New Professional Chef

    by The Culinary Institute of America


  • Publisher:Van Nostrand Reinhold; 6 Sub edition (November 7, 1995)  
  • ISBN-10: 0471286796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471286790

    This is the basic textbook of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). It’s big and expensive. I don’t recommend buying it new, but you can sometimes find it at used bookstores for $20 – $30.

    Obviously, it has a lot of basic information about things that a chef needs to know about nutrition, safety concerns, kitchen tools, food prep and food ingredients. However, I think that some of the other books that I’ve recommended that focus on specific things like ingredients, cooking techniques for specific cuisines, etc. is money better spent.

    I’m recommending this book to those who have the occasional need to produce food for large gatherings. if you occasionally throw large dinner parties, patio barbecues for family and friends, or do the occasional catering gig, this book is invaluable because it had many many recipes for basic sauces, stocks and classic dishes that are designed for 10 or more people.

    Most restaurant chefs in quality restaurants keep this volume handy, and it’s a short-sighted professional caterer that doesn’t also use this volume often. It’s also useful for the non-pro as well, but only if you cook for large families and gatherings occasionally.

    Cookbook of the day – Steven Raichlen’s BBQ USA


    BBQ USA: 425 Fiery Recipes from All Across America

    by Steven Raichlen


  • Publisher: Workman Publishing Company (April 22, 2003)
  • ISBN-10: 0761120157
  • ISBN-13: 978-0761120155

    This hefty paperback (which clocks in at almost 800 pages) is Steven Raichlen attempts to survey the incredible regional variety of American barbecue, and it overwhelmingly succeeds.

    From the low country barbecue of South Carolina to the brisket of Texas, from Memphis pulled pork to Santa Maria central California tri-tip, from the brats of Wisconsin to Miami’s lecon asado, pork marinated in adobo and garlic and wrapped in banana leaves, you’ll get well-documented rubs, seasonings and cooking techniques from across the USA.

    Raichlen also provides plenty of history of barbecue from the various regions of the country. You even get specific recommendations for restaurants, diners, shacks and various eateries in each region.

    If you are a barbecue fan, this is a must-have.

    I hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th of July and my condolences to the family, friends, fans and fellow sportspeople of Steve McNair, the ex-NFL quarterback who was found shot to death this afternoon in downtown Nashville in his rented condominium.


    RIP – Steve McNair

    Cookbook of the day – Let The Flames Begin


    Let the Flames Begin: Tips, Techniques and Recipes for Real Live Fire Cooking

    by Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby


  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Co.; Reissue edition (8 Aug 2003)  
  • ISBN-10: 0393050874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393050875

    Chris Schlesinger is the chef/owner of the East Coast Grill in Cambridge Mass. and three other restaurants and is also a food author with several other books under his belt and John Willoughby is executive editor of Gourmet magazine.  This book  is a followup to the previous grilling books, The Thrill of the Grill and License to Grill, and is a great overview of the art of grilling and smoking and a wide-ranging selection of well-chosen recipes.

     From making “hobo packs” to prosciutto-stuffed grilled chicken tenderloins with fresh figs and pesto butter, both traditionalists and internationalists can find flavorful dishes to prepare.

    You get a good primer on the various grilling and smoking techniques and it’s obvious that both authors are aficionados of grilling wherever they encounter it, whether it be in South Carolina or the streets of Kingston.

    In this prime grilling season, I hope that you will consider picking up the book.

    BTW, I have a first edition of this book. This has a different cover. You might find it with this cover:


    Here are your authors:



    Portrait of John Willoughby by Romulo Yanes

    A 4th of July gift to you – my secret dry rub recipe

    I don’t give this out to just anyone.

    First of all, this dry rub is perfect for pulled pork (Boston Butt or shoulder, or even whole pig), but it’s also good on pork tenderloin, ribs and chicken. You can even do a blackened steak with this and it’s good for brisket as well. Due to the high sugar content, it’s going to give you a black bark (the crunchy outside of the meat). But don’t worry – it might look “burned” but it will add to the flavor. In fact, a black bark is the key to an authentic Memphis BBQ.

    If you are doing a Boston Butt or shoulder, here’s a secret – rub the meat with palm sugar first. Palm sugar is an ingredient used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking. Don’t use dried palm sugar, use the type in a jar that has a coating of oil over it, like this:palm_sugar







    Wash your hands really well and then spoon some out and put it in your hand. Make sure you get some of the oil on it as well. The palm sugar itself will be a little hard and grainy, but it will start to melt from the heat of your hand and the oil. Give the pork a good coating. If you don’t have any palm sugar (this is something you should have in your pantry at all times), molasses, Karo, maple syrup (the real thing, not fake pancake syrup) or a light coat of honey will do.

    Then coat the whole meat with the rub, making sure to get it good and covered, top, bottom and sides. The heavier you can coat it, the thicker and crunchier the bark will be. If you don’t want a lot of bark, then an light, even coat will do.

    And now for the rub:

    There are no quantities given. This is one of those things that you’ll eyeball. However, make sure you make brown sugar is the biggest ingredient. It forms the base of the rub. I’m going to list the ingredients in rough order of how much you’ll use. Feel free to tinker with it. As a guideline, if you use a cup of brown sugar, you’ll be adding a few tablespoons of the other ingredients, with the possible exception of chili powder, cumin and paprika. You want to be generous with those. they are the main flavoring and coloring ingredients.

    You’ll start with brown sugar (you can use either light or dark or a combination of the two), cumin, chili powder and paprika (you’ll want to have liberal amounts of the spices – don’t be shy – you can always add more sugar if you go overboard). The cumin is best if you can get whole cumin seeds and toast them briefly in a hot skillet and then grind them up in a spice mill or coffee grinder that you have reserved for spices).  Then you’ll add smaller amounts of dry mustard (also better if you can toast whole mustard seeds and grind them up), onion powder, freshly ground sea or kosher salt and freshly cracked peppercorn. then you’ll take some dried oregano and dried basil and add them, making sure that you rub them between your fingers to break them up into a powder. You’ll add turmeric (be generous because this helps with the color). Then you add coriander. As with the cumin and mustard seeds, best to toast them and grind them – in fact, you can do them at the same time and grind them together. But if you can’t do that, dried coriander is fine. Then add dried thyme. If you can find the sweet thyme sold in bags for Middle Eastern cooking, you should use it. I like to add it without grinding it because it gives a little extra texture to the rub.

    Make sure you mix it all very well. This helps dry out the brown sugar a little and gets all of the ingredients well incorporated. At this point, it should look brick red. If it’s too orange from the tumeric, add more chili powder. It should be grainy without any clumps. You might want to let it sit out for a day so that the brown sugar dries completely and then remix it, although this isn’t really necessary.

    At this point, I like to take some dried chiles and grind them in the coffee grinder that I have dedicated for spices (you should definitely have one of these around the house, but never use a coffee grinder that you use for coffee). I like to add one chipotle, one habanero, two or three Thai bird peppers and a couple of Japanese chiles. You’ll get a few tablespoons which you’ll set aside. CAUTION: don’t breathe this powder or get it in your eyes. If you get any on your hands, wash them immediately before touching any part of your body. This is very hot. Then I like to break up an ancho chile pepper and a cascabel and grind them, which I add to the reserved ground chile. I then incorporate them into the rub. If you can’t stand spicy food, you can leave these out, or just do ancho chile and cascabel, which aren’t very hot, but keep in mind that if you’re doing pulled pork, the heat from the chiles is going to be mitigated by the long cooking time. Also, you’re free to substitute your favorite dried peppers.

    Finally, the secret ingredient. No, I’m not going to post it publically. If you give me your email address in the comment section and ask me for it, I’ll send it to you. The rub will be just fine without it, but the secret ingredient sets it apart from other more conventional rubs.

    You’ll want to end up with a very grainy, brick red, slightly orangy rub. You can play around with the proportions and there are other things such as adobo or lemon salt that you can add if you want. Feel free to experiment. If you want to avoid a black bark and get the kind of mahogony color that you see from other styles of BBQ or from the pros, leave out the brown sugar and don’t rub it with any sugar product at all. Just make the rub without sugar and put a light coat of it directly on the meat. It will stick due to the moisture that’s already there.

    This rub is good for beefing up commercial BBQ sauces as well. Add a little at a time to taste. It’s also good for adding to apple juice and vinegar as a mop. When you mop a butt or a shoulder during cooking, you build up the bark and add to the depthness of flavor.

    Enjoy the rub and I’ll be interested in any comments from users.

    This is a stock picture of a rub. I like to make sure that I don’t have any clumps of brown sugar or big flakes of spices, except for the thyme that I get from the Middle Eastern market. I make sure that I pulverize any oregano and basil leaves into a powder by rubbing it between my fingers. However, this is close to the color that you want. Just make sure that you mix it up better so that you get very fine granules.

    dry rub (converted)









     And this is the result:











    Doesn’t that just make your mouth water? My chef at work gives this two thumbs up.

    Cookbook of the day – Paul Kirk’s Championship Barbecue


    Paul Kirk’s Championship Barbecue

    Publisher: Harvard Common Press; illustrated edition edition (April 2004)  

    ISBN-10: 1558322426

    ISBN-13: 978-1558322424

     Paul Kirk is one of the superstars of the BBQ circuit – just ask him.

    This book not only explains the various Barbecue techniques and throws 575 “Lip-Smackin’ ” recipes at you, covers the differences between various regions’ methods thoroughly and tells you in great detail how he got the title of “The Baron of Barbecue” (more recently corrected to include his native Kansas City in the name), he also goes behind the scenes and reveals many of the nuts ‘n bolts of competition, giving away a ton to “trade secrets” that will allow those who crave competition to come armed before they even hook a single trailer up to a Ford 250. Just don’t think that you’re going to beat Paul Kirk though. He could tell you every single thing he knows and then shut down the rest of his brain and only cook with his lizard brain and he’d still whomp your ass. Don’t believe me? Just ask him.

    The chest puffing gets old pretty quickly. Not only can Kirk cook better than you, he can make up a new recipe for a sauce on the spot after drinking a keg of beer followed by 12 shots of tequila while he’s saving a GM plant in Tennessee and running a major cattle rustling ring and 24 hours later, he’ll be standing in front of you with the trophy that God had intended you to win.


    This is one hell of a book. There are more sauces and rubs than you can shake a stick at, although, he still hasn’t cracked the code to the secret ingredient to my dry rub. He goes into great detail about smoking (although I think he’s a little rigid with some of his thoughts) and he ain’t afraid to grill him up some tuna or vegetables. He’s even got a North African Spice Paste hanging around, although it’s no harissa. His chapter, Barbecue Sauces, Salsas, Relishes, and Dipping Sauces is a valuable resource. when you combine that with Marinades, Mops, Sops, and Bastes, you’ve got the world of barbecue laid bare at your feet.

    But there are also cooking charts and history lessons, peoples’ personal recipes freely given up for publication, on-point observations scattered at key parts of the book, and, most importantly, many stories about Paul Kirk, the myth and the legend. Hell, even Pecos Bill had to bow down to him and Paul Bunyan laid down his axe and gave him Babe, his prized ox, so that Kirk could smoke him whole on his smoker, which is the size of Rhode Island and requires a 10th of all of the wood in the Amazonian rain forest.

    paul kirk

    His website, which is the best website ever created since Kirk created the internet and gave it to Al Gore, is here: