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If you’re lighting up the grill on the 4th, a good BBQ takes planning. So, if you’re having a few friends over and enjoying some cold ones to celebrate the 4th, start getting your game plan together now. Of course, if you’re like us, you don’t just want to throw a good BBQ, you want to throw the best damn barbecue the free land has ever seen. Here’s how to do it:

When cooking for a large gathering make sure you prepare something for everyone. Throw on a couple of Hot Dogs for the kids while you are grilling the rest. In fact, try getting the kids fed first to alleviate their hunger for summer foods and let them finish off with some flag fudge.


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What is Barbecue?

Wikipedia tells us that “Barbecue or barbeque (abbreviated BBQ, Bar-B-Q or Bar-B-Que or diminuted, chiefly in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom to barbie, and braai in South Africa) is a method and apparatus for cooking food, often meat, with the heat and hot gases of a fire, smoking wood, or hot coals of charcoal and may include application of a marinade, spice rub, or basting sauce to the meat.” “The term as a noun can refer to foods cooked by this method, to the cooker itself, or to a party that includes such food.” “The term is also used as a verb for the act of cooking food in this manner. Barbecue is usually cooked in an outdoor environment heated by the smoke of wood or charcoal, or with propane and similar gases.” “Restaurant barbecue may be cooked in large brick or metal ovens specially designed for that purpose.”


Barbecue has numerous regional variations

“In many parts of the world. Notably, in the United States, practitioners consider barbecue to include only relatively indirect methods of cooking, with the more direct high-heat methods to be called grilling.”

“In British English usage, barbecuing and grilling refer to a fast cooking process directly over high heat, whilst grilling also refers to cooking under a source of direct, high heat–known in the US and Canada as broiling.” “In US English usage, however, grilling refers to a fast process over high heat whilst barbecuing refers to a slow process using indirect heat and/or hot smoke.” “For example, in a typical US home ‘grill’, food is cooked on a grate directly over hot charcoal; while in a US ‘barbecue’, the coals are dispersed to the sides or at significant distance from the grate.”

“Alternatively, an apparatus called a smoker with a separate fire box may be used.” “Hot smoke is drawn past the meat by convection for very slow cooking.” “This is essentially how barbecue is cooked in most US ‘barbecue’ restaurants, but nevertheless many consider this to be a distinct cooking process called smoking.”

“The slower methods of cooking break down the collagen in meat and tenderize tougher cuts for easier eating.”


American South

“In the Southern United States, barbecue initially revolved around the cooking of pork.” “During the 19th century, pigs were a low-maintenance food source that could be released to forage for themselves in forests and woodlands.” “When food or meat supplies were low, these semi-wild pigs could then be caught and eaten.”

“According to estimates, prior to the American Civil War Southerners ate around five pounds of pork for every one pound of beef they consumed.” “Because of the poverty of the southern United States at this time, every part of the pig was eaten immediately or saved for later (including the ears, feet, and other organs). Because of the effort to capture and cook these wild hogs, “pig slaughtering became a time for celebration, and the neighborhood would be invited to share in the largesse.” “These feasts are sometimes called ‘pig-pickin’s.’ The traditional Southern barbecue grew out of these gatherings.”

Each Southern locale has its own particular variety of barbecue, particularly concerning the sauce.

The Carolinas tend to prepare tangier vinegar based sauces.

Memphis barbecue is best-known for tomato- and vinegar-based sauces.

South Carolina is the only state that includes all four recognized barbecue sauces, including mustard based, vinegar based, light and heavy tomato based.

In some Memphis establishments and in Kentucky, meat is rubbed with dry seasoning (dry rubs) and smoked over hickory wood without sauce; the finished barbecue is then served with barbecue sauce on the side.

The barbecue of Georgia and Tennessee is almost always pork served with a sweet tomato-based sauce. A popular item in North Carolina and Memphis is the pulled pork sandwich served on a bun and topped with cole slaw. Pulled pork is prepared by shredding the pork after it is barbecued.

Barbecue in the extreme north of Alabama, near Huntsville, is often served with a mayonnaise-based sauce.

Texas barbecue is often assumed to be primarily beef. Texas has four main regional styles of barbecue, all with different flavors, different cooking methods, different ingredients, and different cultural origins. East Texas barbecue is an extension of traditional southern barbecue, similar to that found in Tennessee and Arkansas. It is primarily pork-based, with cuts such as pork shoulder and pork ribs, indirectly slow smoked over primarily hickory wood. The sauce is tomato-based, sweet, and thick. This is also the most common urban barbecue in Texas, spread by African-Americans when they settled in big cities like Houston and Dallas. Central Texas was settled by German and Czech settlers in the mid 1800s, and they brought with them European-style meat markets, which would smoke leftover cuts of pork and beef, often with high heat, using primarily native oak and pecan. The European settlers did not think of this meat as barbecue, but the Anglo farm workers who bought it started calling it such, and the name stuck. Traditionally this barbecue is served without sauce, and with no sides other than saltine crackers, pickles, and onions. This area also produces sausages derived from German influences, such as Elgin hot links. This style is found in the Barbecue Belt southeast of Austin, with Lockhart as its capital. ” The border between the South Texas Plains and Northern Mexico has always been blurry, and this area of Texas, as well as its barbecue style, are mostly influenced by Mexican tastes. The area was the birthplace of the Texas ranching tradition, and the Mexican farmhands were often partially paid for their work in less desirable cuts of meat, such as the diaphragm, from which fajitas are made, and the cow’s head. They would wrap the head in wet maguey leaves and bury it in a pit with hot coals for several hours, and then pull off the meat for barbacoa tacos. The tongue is also used to make lengua tacos. Today, barbacoa is mostly cooked in an oven in a bain-marie.”The last style of Texas Barbecue also originated from Texas ranching traditions, but was developed in the western third of the state by Anglo ranchers. This style of “Cowboy” barbecue, cooked over an open pit using direct heat from mesquite, is the style most closely associated with Texas barbecue in popular imagination. The meat is primarily beef, shoulder clods and brisket being favorite cuts, but mutton and goat are also often found in this barbecue style.” For more info see: Regional variations of barbecue


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There are several regions which have evolved their own unique barbecue and sauce styles, often influenced by the available meats and their ethnic origins. They are not all sweet and red! Their flavors and history are fascinating. They are also the subject of much controversy and vilification between regions, each claiming authenticity. Some break down regional styles into microcosms reminiscent of wine appellations, claiming “authenticity” in one state and fraud in another.




BBQ Sauce 101



BBQ Sauce 101
Kansas City Sweet Sauce
South Carolina Mustard Sauce
East Carolina Mop-Sauce
Lexington Dip
Tennessee Whiskey
Kentucky Black
Texas Mop-Sauce
Alabama White Sauce
New Orleans Barbecue
Memphis Dry Rub & sweet BBQ
Hawaiian Huli-Huli




To most Americans, barbecue sauce is red and sweet and smoky and it comes from a shelf near the ketchup. To those who travel and would rather lunch in back of a rickety shack under a shade tree rather than under the golden arches, barbecue sauce comes in a rainbow of colors and flavors, and most tied to the area of origin and its ethnic roots. Indeed, barbecue sauce is a cultural phenomenon.

In the eastern half of North Carolina barbecue sauce is practically transparent with cayenne pepper flakes that flurry in it like a snow globe. In western half of the state it is practically pink going on garnet from ketchup. In much of South Carolina it is yellow from mustard, popular with German settlers. In many dingy brown joints of Texas it is close to brown from meat drippings with big chunks of green peppers and other flotsam in it. And in a corner of North Alabama it is white with black pepper flecks. In Memphis the “sauce” often comes from a shaker and is no more liquid than the paprika that is its backbone.

To the cook, barbecue sauce is alchemy. It is downright fun to make. Standing over the pot adding a dash of this, a pinch of that, taking a taste, adjusting, tasting, and adding something else makes one feel like a wizard. To add a personal flair to your next cookout, serve your homemade sauce from a jelly jar and be prepared to take a few bows. If you feel ambitious, serve your guests a choice of several sauces and repeat what you read here.

American barbecue sauces owe their differences to their colonial histories and can be divided in three basic categories, vinegar based, tomato based, and mustard based. Then there are at least 11 distinct classic American regional barbecue sauce styles and infinite variations (if we stretch the definition of “sauce” to include Memphis dry rub).

* IMPORTANT NOTE: Many sauces contain sugar and can burn quickly, so the secret is to hold off on the sauce until the last 10 to 15 minutes. 


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Kansas City Sweet Sauce


The first Kansas City barbecue sauces were hot, probably mostly vinegar and pepper, like the sauces of the Carolinas (below). Evidence is that this was the case for Henry Perry’s sauce, and he started it all in 1907 in the city that is best known for barbecue in the world.

The style has evolved to become the iconic classic rich red, tomato-based, sweet-tart sauce with molasses or brown sugar and balanced with the tartness of vinegar. Many have liquid smoke added to help create that outdoor flavor for folks who cannot cook outdoors. They are by far the most popular in the nation and imitated around the country. But beware: Most commercial sauces are waaaaaay too sweet. If you pick up a bottle in the grocery and sugar or high fructose corn syrup are the first ingredients on the label, put it down. KC sauces are, if you study their content lists, is really just amped up ketchup, and many of us love it on fries and burgers instead of ketchup.

KC sauces don’t penetrate the meat well, and sit on top like frosting. But recipes like my KC Classic, while not the same as KC Masterpiece, is mighty tasty and caramelizes beautifully over a hot fire making a crisp coat. They also burn easily, so coat your meat no sooner than 10 minutes before serving. If this is your favorite sauce, make sure you read this article on saucing strategies.

Now that We’ve defined the genre, let’s point out an important exception to the rule: Arthur Bryant’s Original Barbeque Sauce. Arthur Bryant’s has been one of the iconic barbecue joints since 1930, perhaps the most holy of them all in the city that means barbecue more than any other, and they have been making a tomato based sauce that is thick, intense, with a solid black pepper and garlic theme. No noticeable sweetness or liquid smoke flavor. Nada. This is probably because the Arthur and Charlie Bryant were disciples of Perry.


Best “Kansas City” BBQ Sauce



Tomato Paste, 6 oz-can
¼ cup white vinegar
½ medium onion, chopped
1 Tbs packed brown sugar
1 ½ tsp prepared horseradish
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp celery salt
1 garlic clove, minced
½ tsp ground anise
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne


Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan with ¾ cup water and bring to a simmer.

Reduce the heat to low and cook until the onions are tender and the sauce thickens about 30 minutes.

Refrigerate the sauce overnight to all the flavors to combine and mellow.

Makes about 2 cups


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South Carolina Mustard Sauce


Nowhere are there more regional sauce preferences than in the Carolinas where barbecue is not chicken, burgers, hot dogs, or even ribs. Barbecue is pork, often whole hog, cooked low and slow, chopped or pulled into succulent shards, mixed with sauce, and served either in a pile on a plate or on a bun, often crowned with cole slaw.

The most distinctive sauce, and by far my fave, is the mustard based sauce found in barbecue joints from Columbia to Charleston. Mustard and pork go together like peanut butter and jelly. Early German immigrants in South Carolina knew this and the names of many of the best barbecue joints that serve mustard sauce have German names, like Shealy, Sweatman, Meyer, and Zeigler. The classic SC mustard sauces are a runny mix of yellow mustard, vinegar, sugar, and spices. Simple but very effective. There are also pockets of Georgia where the mustard sauce has taken hold. They are especially good on pulled pork.


Columbia Gold Barbecue Sauce Recipe

Makes a little more than 3 cups and takes 30 minutes. Keep it for months in the refrigerator.



2 cups prepared yellow mustard
2/3 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon chipotle Tabasco sauce or you favorite hot sauce
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules or 1 cube
2 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon celery seed
3 teaspoons mustard powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

About the mustard. To be authentic, use yellow ballpark style mustard, not Dijon. Besides, it just doesn’t taste right with Dijon.

About the tomato paste. You can substitute ketchup if you wish.


Mix the wet ingredients together in a bowl.
If you are using a bouillon cube, crush it with a spoon in a bowl or mortar & pestle and add it to the bowl. Crush the rosemary leaves and celery seed in a mortar & pestle or in a blender or coffee grinder and add it to the bowl. Add the rest of the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Let it sit for a an hour in the refrigerator for the flavors to meld. No cooking necessary. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a month or more.


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East Carolina Mop-Sauce


On the coast of North and South Carolina, a.k.a. “East Carolina” or the “Low Country”, the philosophy is “Whole hog and keep the mustard for your hot dogs and the ketchup for your fries.” The African slaves of the Scottish settlers in the region pioneered American barbecue and their simple sauces were plain a kiss of hot pepper flakes and ground black pepper in vinegar. And so they remain today, where the sauce is used both as a mop or baste on the meat while it is cooking, and then as a finishing sauce at tableside. Thin and piquant, they are designed to penetrate the meat, not just sit on top as thicker ketchup and mustard sauces do. They do a great job of cutting the fat in lipid-laced pork. There is little or no sugar in the mix, so your kids will hate it.


Eastern Carolina BBQ Sauce


our next BBQ sauce recipe comes from the low country and does double duty as both a baste (a.k.a. mop) and a sauce. A mop is brushed on the meat while it cooks to cool it and flavor it. Because it is so thin, it penetrates deep. For people who love vinegar and a bit of heat, this simple sauce is all you need on a properly smoked shoulder or whole hog (in the eastern part of NC, whole hog is the cut of choice). Many of you will find it a bit severe and will want to use it as a mop in place of a BBQ sauce.



1 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon tiger sauce
Dash or two of Tabasco
Dash of Sriracha

2 teaspoons salt



Mix all ingredients together in a sauce pan and let simmer for 10 minutes. Can keep for up to a month.


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Lexington Dip


In Lexington, NC, and in the “Piedmont” hilly areas of the western Carolinas, they prefer to make their barbecue from the pig’s shoulder, a rich flavorful clod of meat. In North Carolina, otherwise kindly old men have been moved to fisticuffs over the question of whether barbecue is properly made from whole hog or shoulder. In Lexington and west, they often call their mop-sauce “dip”. It is vinegar and pepper based, a lot like the East Carolina mop-sauce, but laced with a hint of tomato sauce or ketchup added, not a lot. The red stuff helps tame the fierceness of the vinegar a bit, and the hint of sweetness counterbalances the acidity.

There is one other popular style in the Carolinas. In western South Carolina on the Georgia border, the locals are partial to a ketchup based sauce similar to Kansas City sauce.


Lexington Dip

This is fairly thin and liquid, like all mopping sauces – much like the mopping sauce from the east part of North Carolina. It’s designed to be thin so that the meat – i.e. invariably pork, most likely a whole hog roast soaks it up – after repeated basting, and along with hickory smoke, takes on the strong and tangy flavor. This is in contrast to say, Kansas City BBQ sauce which is so viscous it doesn’t really pour without the assistance of a spoon. It has a strong tomato base and includes a whole range of other flavors.



1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
1/2 cup cider vinegar (I like cider vinegar, but opinion is divided on whether it should be plain old distilled vinegar)
1 medium onion finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp brown or molasses sugar
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp Tabasco Sauce. or some other hot sauce
1/2 tsp ground black pepper(or more)
2 teaspoons salt




Heat the oil over a medium heat.
Add onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté until the onion becomes translucent.
Stir in everything else.
Reduce heat to a low simmer and continue cooking for 20 minutes or so until it thickens slightly.
Adjust the seasoning or Tabasco as you see fit.


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Tennessee Whiskey


The Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue is considered by many to be the most prestigious competition in the world. As do many competitions, they have a sauce tasting, but theirs has a twist: Jack Daniels whiskey must be in the blend. Well, just as they planned it, whiskey-laced sauces have spread across the nation.

There are so many that I think it must be considered a legitimate category of barbecue sauce.


Tennessee Whiskey Barbecue Sauce


Aged corn whiskeys have a wonderful sweet vanilla flavor that is great in barbecue sauces, but it is easily lost among the bold flavors of the alcohol and the other ingredients of a barbecue sauce. To showcase the whiskey flavors, this sauce does not have many ingredients, but it still is very complex. The secret is to begin by gathering the essence of Bourbon by reducing a cup to a few tablespoons.



2 cups Jack Daniel’s Black Label or Bourbon
1 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons malt vinegar
4 tablespoons dark molasses
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)



Taste the whiskey to make sure it is up to your standards.
Pour 1 cup of whiskey into a saucepan and set aside the remaining whiskey.
Bring the saucepan to a boil and reduce the liquid to about 2 tablespoons.
Don’t let the alcohol flame.
Add 1/2 cup of the whiskey and the other ingredients.
Simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes and reduce it by about 1/3.
Use it immediately or bottle it and keep it in the refrigerator for a month or more.
Drink the remaining whiskey.

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Kentucky Black


The most obscure of the regional sauces because it can be found in only a small area of Western Kentucky just east of Louisville around Owensboro, this fascinating blend is mostly distilled white vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. It is designed to go with the specialty of the region, slow smoked mutton (mature lamb), but it is also used on chicken and other meats. It is used as a baste on the pit, and then as a finishing sauce. Some places, like the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn, the most famous of them all, have two slightly different recipes, one for basting, and one for serving.





2 cups water
1/2 cup Lea & Perrins Worcestershire
1/2 cup distilled vinegar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
7 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
1 1/4 teaspoons lemon juice


Mix all the ingredients in a pot and simmer for 10 minutes.

Makes. 3 cups. Keeps. Because it has a high acid content, it can keep for months in the refrigerator.


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Texas Mop-Sauce


In Texas they barbecue pork and beef ribs, pulled pork, chicken, mutton, goat, and sausage they call “hot guts”, but the star of the Lone Star State is beef brisket, an impossibly tough cut from the chest area that is magically converted to buttah-like tenderness with 12 to 18 hours of low and slow smoke roasting.

There are three important culinary influences on Texas barbecue:
1) European immigrants who brought expertise in smoking meats, especially Germans, Czechs, and Hungarians
2) freed slaves from the Southeast, and
3) Mexicans (Texas was, after all, a part of Mexico, and its cuisine leans heavily on Spanish, Mayan, and Aztec cultures).

The old-fashioned classic Texas sauces were fashioned to complement beef brisket first and they were not very sweet. Nowadays they have been influenced by the popularity of Kansas City sauces, and have gotten redder and sweeter.

Some traditional Texas pitmasters use their sauce as both a mop to cool and moisten the meat during direct cooking, and as an optional finishing sauce. Most common are thin, tart mops that are flavored with vinegar, American chili powder or ancho powder, lots of black pepper, cumin, hot sauce, fresh onion, and only a touch of ketchup.

Some of the best sauces have beef drippings, and therefore cannot be bottled. As a result, the stuff served in the traditional old restaurants is vastly different than the stuff sold in bottle. In hallowed joints like Cooper’s, in Llano, they often resemble a thin tomato soup with a beef stock base. They penetrate the meat easily rather than sit on top. I prefer them on brisket, not pork. In this picture, the bottled sauce sold at Cooper’s is poured into a large pot and is kept warm on the holding pit. Trimmings are tossed in the pot, and when you order, if you ask for sauce, the meat is dipped in the pot. It tastes a LOT different than the bottled sauce served on the tables.

Before the meat is cooked, it is seasoned with a Texas Dry Rub, formulated for brisket with little or no sugar, lots of black pepper, and so they are very different from Memphis and most other rubs. Try my Texas Mop-Sauce for a taste of a real old-fashioned hard to find anymore down on the ranch Texas barbecue mop and sauce.


Galveston Dry Rub

6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Mustard Powder
1 ½ tsp grated lemon zest
½ tsp ground cayenne
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp crumbled bay leaf



Mix together dry rub ingredients.


A spicy dry rub is the secret to the Texan flavor and this one comes from Galveston. Remember not to put the sauce on before cooking, as the long grilling will burn the sugar, instead brush some on the last 5 or so minutes.


Texas Barbecue Juice (Mop Sauce)



1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons American chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 tablespoon of butter *
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup Lone Star beer (or any other lager)
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons steak sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons of hot sauce
2 cups beef, veal, or chicken stock

About the butter. Butter work fine, but to make it authentic, use rendered beef fat from the a brisket.


Mix the paprika, black pepper, American chili powder, and cumin in a small bowl.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter or fat and gently cook the onion over medium heat until translucent.

Add the garlic, bell pepper, and the spice mix. Stir, and cook for two minutes to extract the flavors.

Add the stock and the rest of the ingredients. Drink the remaining beer. Stir until well blended. Simmer on medium for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust as needed. Divide it in half and use half to mop the meat when cooking. Use the remainder to splash on the meat when you serve it.

Makes about 5 cups. This has beef stock and possibly beef fat in it so it should not be kept for more than a week or two.


Texas BBQ Sauce

1 onion, coarsely ground
3-5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
1 cup Ketchup
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup cider vinegar
2-3 dried Chipotle peppers
1 cup beer, plus extra if needed
1 cup water, plus extra
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp mild red chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin


Mix together the onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, beer, water, cumin, salt and pepper and half the vinegar.
Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until it forms a thick sauce. If the sauce sticks or threatens to burn, add more beer and water. When the sauce is thick and flavorful, add the rest of the vinegar.


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Alabama White Sauce


Developed for chicken by Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama, this mayonnaise and vinegar sauce has become so well known among barbecue fans that it has generated many admirers and a handful of imitators. I don’t recommend it for pork, and not everyone likes it on chicken, but it is so popular in Alabama it must be considered a regional classic.


White BBQ Sauce:


1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 ½ tablespoons cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon kosher salt, finely ground
¼ teaspoon cayenne
Finely ground kosher salt and ground black pepper
½ cup vegetable oil


To prepare the sauce: Combine all the first six ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Place in an airtight container or bottle and refrigerate until you’re ready to use. Keeps up to 4 days.


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White BBQ Sauce#2:

3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


For the sauce: Mix all ingredients in blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Refrigerate sauce in airtight container for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.


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White BBQ Sauce#3



3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup apple juice
1 tablespoon powdered garlic
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish from a jar (either in vinegar or creamy)
1 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon finely ground cayenne pepper


Whisk together all the ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate in a jar for at least 2 hours, if possible, to allow the flavors to meld.


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New Orleans Barbecue


In Louisiana anything that can be put on a grill is called barbecue, from fish to crawfish to nutria (kinda like a rat). The first bottled hot sauces came out of Louisiana, home of Tabasco Sauce and in Louisiana, hot sauce goes on everything. But the classic New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp is sereved in a buttery hot sauce that is used to pan cook shrimp. It is served on rice or reaches its peak in a traditional sandwich called a po-boy. But it can also be used on andouille or other sausages, pork chops, pulled pork, or chicken.


New Orleans Barbecue Sauce


4 ounces (1 stick) butter
3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and minced or pressed
1 tablespoon Memphis Dust
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Louisiana hot sauce
About the hot sauce. Use your favorite brand. Tabasco is from Louisiana, so it would be a good choice. If your andouille is hot, you might want to skip the hot sauce. If you are from New Orleans, crank up the heat!


Pour the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir fry for about 1 minute, no longer or it will brown and get bitter.

Add the Memphis Dust and cook for another 30 seconds to extract the flavors.

Add the lemon juice, hot sauce, and stir gently until it dissolves and blends in.

Take the pan off the heat.

Taste and add more heat if you wish.

In N’orleans they like everything hot, but it will not be so hot when you use it on meat.


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Memphis Dry Rub & sweet BBQ


Memphis is second only to Kansas City as a town of barbecue renown. Ribs and pulled pork are the stars, although their local special, perhaps best called their local oddity, is barbecue spaghetti. No, they don’t put the pasta on the pit, it’s just doused with barbecue sauce.

Alas, there is no distinctive indigenous Memphis sauce style. Around the nation a lot of pit stops call their sauce Memphis style, but they’re kidding themselves and us. In fact, many Memphis purists prefer their ribs “dry” with only a spice rub. A restaurant’s gotta have confidence in its meat to serve it with spices only and no sauce. Many Memphis restaurants have bowed to public demand and now offer a choice: Dry or wet, with wet usually meaning a Kansas City-style tomato-based sauce perhaps a bit thinner, more vinegary.

Memphis dry rubs are usually paprika based, and typical ingredients are salt, garlic, onion, black pepper, American chili powder, and oregano. Meathead’s Memphis Dust is a very versatile recipe perfect for pork, but readers have told me they love it on everything from turkey to salmon.

Perhaps the most revered dry ribs are served at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous (called “The Vous” by some of the locals). There are a lot of recipes on the internet that the owners have palmed off on gullible media.


Memphis Dust Rub

great on everything, especially pork related. The flavor really comes out when smoking.


¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup white sugar
½ cup paprika
¼ cup kosher salt
4 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
2 tablespoons ground ginger powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons dried rosemary leaves, ground to a powder


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Memphis BBQ Sauce

The center of mid-South barbecue, Memphis offers a range of sauces that take the high middle ground between Eastern and Western styles. Like this version, they are often medium-bodied mixtures, moderate in sweet, heat, and everything else except taste. Here is a recipe for A sweet, vinegary Memphis style sauce.


3 Tablespoons butter
1/4 Cup minced onion
1 Cup white vinegar
1 Cup tomato sauce
1/4 Cup worcestershire sauce
2 Teaspoons sugar
1 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/8 Teaspoon cayenne
Dash tabasco sauce


In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Add the onions and saute for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the onions begin to turn golden.
Stir in the remaining ingredients, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the mixture thickens, approximately 20 minutes.
Stir frequently.

Use the sauce warm. It keeps, refrigerated, for a couple of weeks.


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Hawaiian Huli-Huli


Huli-Huli Sauce was originally a teriyaki sauce, which, in Japan, is a simple blend of soy sauce, mirin (a sweet rice wine), and a little sugar reduced to a glaze. It was always popular with Hawaiians, and then in the 1950s a grillmaster with a head for marketing renamed it Huli-Huli Sauce, and everyone stole his name. Although Huli-Huli was designed for chicken, it is common to see it on ribs, pork chops, whatever. It had become a signature dish beloved throughout Hawaii, served mostly by shade tree cooks from roadside stands, parking lots, and parks at fundraisers. Drive around Oahu and if you see smoke rising and smell something sweet, it is likely Huli-Huli chicken. The locals keep napkins in their glove compartment just in case. Every vendor on the islands has his or her own secret recipe.


Hawaiian Huli-Huli Teriyaki Marinade and Sauce



1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup or red barbecue sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
4 tablespoons fresh ginger, skinned and grated fine
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dark Asian sesame oil
2 teaspoons Sriracha Sauce
4 medium cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced

About the chicken broth. Feel free to substitute white wine, sherry (it doesn’t matter if it is dry or sweet in this recipe), or even water.

About the vinegar. If you wish you can swap some fresh lemon or lime juice for all or part of the vinegar.

About the Sriracha. Sriracha is a garlicy hot chile paste. It is special and widely available, but if you can’t get it, feel free to use whatever hot sauce you have around. This quantity is not very hot, especially when painted on chicken, but you can use less or add more to your taste.



Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. You can refrigerate it for several weeks.

NOTE: Because it has a high acid, salt, and sugar content, it can keep for months in the refrigerator.


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Other Flavored Sauces 


Modern chefs are nothing if not creative, and just about anything you can imagine is used to make barbecue sauces. These sauces rarely have regional logic. There are a number of wonderful sauces that start out as start out as basic tomato based barbecue sauces and then are amped up with fruits, jams, and jellies as flavorizers and sweeteners. Raspberry, cherry, and apple are common.


St. Louis Barbecue Sauce #1


St. Louis Barbecue Sauce is thinner and has more of a tangy flavor than its Kansas City cousin. Being at the crossroads St. Louis style barbecue has many influences, so here is one of the many ways of making this style sauce.



2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne



Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over a low heat.
Stirring occasionally and simmer for 20 minutes.
Sauce should be thin, but not watery.
Allow to cool.
Store in an airtight container and refrigerate.
Sauce is better if allow to sit for a day.


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Spicy Root Beer Barbecue Sauce


This sauce works fantastic on poultry and pork and adds a slightly sweet and spicy flavor to your barbecue.



1 cup root beer
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Season with salt. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Sauce can keep in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.


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Iced Tea Barbecue Sauce


The annals of barbecue have seen some pretty strange sauces. This one may seem over-the-top, and yet, canned iced tea has a lot in common with the flavor profile of a good barbecue sauce. It’s sweet. It’s tart. It’s earthy and aromatic. What more could you ask for?



3/4 cup canned iced tea
3/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons A.1. steak sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar, or more to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Combine the iced tea, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice, liquid smoke, onion and garlic powders, and pepper in a heavy saucepan with 1/4 cup of water and gradually bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce the heat to medium to obtain a gentle simmer. Let the sauce simmer gently until slightly reduced, thick, and richly flavored, 6 to 8 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding brown sugar or lemon juice as necessary; the sauce should be highly seasoned. If sauce is too thick or intense, thin with a little more water.

Transfer the sauce to a bowl or clean jar and let cool to room temperature before serving. Any leftover sauce (in the unlikely event that you have it) will keep in the refrigerator, covered, for several weeks. Let return to room temperature before serving.

Makes about 2 cups


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Jamaican Jerk Marinade


1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 bunch scallions, white and green parts, roughly chopped
2 habanero peppers, stemmed and seeded, white parts removed
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 Tb fresh Thyme leaves
1 Tb ground allspice
1 Tb kosher salt
2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg


In a blender, combine marinade ingredients and process for about 1 minute. (don’t forget to use gloves when prepping the habanero, you’ll thank me later).


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Jerk Rub:


1 Tbs onion powder
1 Tbs dried onion flakes
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 tsp cayenne
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
pitch of ground habanero chili


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Jamaican BBQ Sauce (for fish):


1 cup seafood stock
2 heaping Tbs honey
1 Tbs tamarind concentrate
1 Tbs peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 Tbs Jerk Rub


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Smoking 101
Smoking Woods
How Much Wood to Use?
To Soak or Not to Soak?
Smoking Food on a Gas Grill
Smoking Food on a Charcoal Grill
The Minion Method
Using Charcoal for Long Cooks
Tips for Smoking on a Charcoal Grill
Smoking With Gas and Electric Smokers
Using a Smoking Gun





Smoking 101


The secret of BBQ is heat, time, and smoke.

The secret of GREAT BBQ and successful smoking is airflow.

You need to bring smoke to the food but you can’t hold it there for too long.

Those who know how to use a smoker will tell you that the key to cooking the best food is to know just how prepare the wood, and how much wood should be added to the smoker once started.

You want the wood to burn slowly at a nice even temperature.

You want to maintain a steady smoke and a temperature between 220 and 260 degrees F. at the surface of the food. Ideally, stay as close to 225 degrees F. as you can.

Tip: Have about 8 whole bulbs of garlic soaking; every couple of hours toss a couple of the bulbs into the burn chamber.

Practice makes perfect, so you may have to experiment a bit.

The smoker needs to be heated thoroughly before you add the food and you will need to watch the temperature while you are smoking the food.

The smoking process takes a few hours and the idea is to create a smoke flavor to the food.

You want to place the food in the smoker chamber with the heat temperature between 180 and 200 degrees F. If you are using a gas grill, you may need to place the food as far away from the heat source as possible.

If using wood or charcoal, you must tend to the heat constantly during the smoking.

Use a meat thermometer to make sure smoke cooked foods are done but not overcooked.

It takes practice to know when to adjust the dampers and the flues to keep the temperature at the right level, but this is the key to succulent smoked food!

Smoke cooked foods look differently than other grilled or oven prepared foods. They may be pink or red when completely cooked depending on the type of wood that is used. For example, smoking with apple wood will make chicken look a slightly red.

Experiment with different woods and meats until you find the right combination for your taste.


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Smoking Woods


With the large selection of wood available it is hard to know which ones to use. While the traditional BBQ is characterized by the strong sweet smell of mesquite or the pungent flavor of hickory, a whole world of flavors is available. See below

BBQ’s unique flavor comes from cooking with an open fire of charcoal and wood. Enhancing the flavor of the smoke by adding aromatic woods, or herbs and spices, to the charcoal gives any food a distinctive smoked taste.

Each type of wood blends particularly well with certain foods. Below are some combinations that will add excitement to your next meal.

Fruit woods
Apple, cherry and peach wood work beautifully with poultry, game birds and pork. Serve a chutney made from the same fruit to underscore the flavor even more.

Sugar Maple
Sugar maple add a sweet, subtle flavor that enhances the flavor of poultry and game birds. Smoke a pork roast with them for a sensational taste experience.

If you like a beautiful golden-brown turkey, pecan is the best. Try it with other poultry products, game birds and pork- for a delicate pecan flavor.

Jack Daniel’s
Made from Jack Daniel’s barrels. Adds a distinctive flavor to beef and poultry.

Woodbridge Vintage Barrel Chips
Made exclusively from recycled 100% American and French Oak wine saturated barrels, which for years have been used in the aging of fine wines. Upon completion of the aging process the five to seven year old barrels are hand selected for recycling into wood smoking chips.

Long a favorite of Pacific Northwest Indians for cooking fresh salmon, alder chips or chunks impart a delicate, wood-smoke flavor which enhances the natural taste of salmon, swordfish, sturgeon, rainbow trout, and other fish. Also excellent with chicken or pork.

One of the most popular woods in the country, mesquite is a scrubby tree that grows wild in the Southwest. Sweeter and more delicate than hickory, it’s a perfect complement to richly flavored meats such as steak, duck or lamb.

The most popular hardwood flavoring in use today, hickory lends a pungent, smoky, bacon-like flavor we associate with Southern-style cooking. Excellent with ham, pork, and beef.

Grapevine cuttings
Traditionally used in the wine-growing regions of Italy and France, grapevine cuttings give a more delicate flavor than hardwoods and are recommended for use with fish and poultry. When used dry, the grapevines produce a quick burst of heat and then smoke lightly to permeate foods with their sweet, wine-hinted flavor.

Herbs and Spices
The uniquely fragrant flavors of rosemary and basil give new life to grilled poultry and fish. Garlic cloves, citrus peels, cinnamon sticks and whole nutmegs can be added to the fire. Water-soak all herbs and spices, dried or fresh, before adding to coals. The seasoning should smolder and smoke, not burn, to a crisp.

Guava Wood
Guava wood has a subtle, semi-sweet aroma. The cut wood is seasoned naturally under the Hawaiian sun for 9-12 months, then hand-split, chipped and packaged to retain maximum flavor. Whether grilling or smoking fresh chicken, pork, fish, lamb or beef, guava wood will complement each flavor differently.


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How Much Wood to Use?


With wood smoke, you are looking for a smoke that is just barely visible.

It is sometimes referred to as the thin blue smoke and is simply that smoke that you have to squint your eyes to see.

It is important to consider airflow when smoking. Good smoke is smoke that is moving around and not trapped inside your smoker!

The way to ensure the smoke is moving is to create a good draft by having an inlet for air and an exit or exhaust for the smoke. This inlet is usually near the firebox area and is sometimes referred to as the intake damper. The exit or exhaust can be a vent in the lid or a pipe protruding out of the top or side of the smoker sometimes referred to as the chimney or stack.

The intake should be at least 1/4 open at all times and the exhaust to be at least 1/2 open to ensure proper air flow.

At any rate, although this is somewhat dependent on the individual smoker, NEVER close either one all the way. You will immediately stop the airflow and the smoke will begin to create creosote on the food and the inside walls of your smoker.

This will most certainly ruin the food for this smoke and future ones due to the buildup within the smoker. If this happens, you will need to thoroughly clean the smoker and re-season it just like you did when you bought it new. Bottom line, keep the air / smoke moving for the very best results.



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To Soak or Not to Soak? That is the Question


There is a reason boats are made out of wood and why we use water to put out fires!

It is conventional wisdom that you should soak wood chips and chunks before using them in a charcoal or gas grill or smoker. All the books say so. All the TV shows say so. The guys over at experimented with soaking a bunch of different wood, chucks and chips and after 24 hours of soaking , the water barely penetrated solid wood and slightly penetrated the cracks. Most books recommend soaking for only an hour or two. So if the water barely penetrates the wood after 24 hours, what good is 60 minutes?


What happens to wet wood on a grill?


There’s another good reason to not soak your wood. If you toss dripping wet wood on hot coals, the water on the surface can cool off the coals. But as mentioned above, the key to good outdoor cooking is to control your temperature. The goal is to get to a target temp and hold there.

Let’s say the coals or gas jets are 1,000°F on their surface. If the wood surface is wet the wood cannot heat much beyond 212°F, water’s boiling point, until it evaporates by turning to steam. The temp sticks there.

In a grill or smoker, the wood temp will not rise much above 212°F until the water steams off. After the water is driven off, the wood starts to warm and when the surface hits the combustion point, about 575°F, it begins giving off gases. It can then combust and produce smoke.

You might think you see “smoke” when you toss on wet wood, but it is really steam.

One more reason not to soak. Not all smoke is the same. As said before, the best tasting smoke is practically invisible, thin, and pale blue. Blue smoke is better than white, gray, or black, by far. Blue smoke depends on dry wood and a hot fire.

Tip: Some people have problems with chips catching on fire when they throw them on the coals. To prevent this and improve smoke quality, try making a smoke packet by wrapping the wood in foil and poking holes in the foil. Or switch to chunks. You may have to experiment with the number of holes.


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Smoking Food on a Gas Grill


If you are adding smoking wood to a gas grill then you need to arrange to keep the wood isolated from the fire. You don’t want the wood to burn too fast and you don’t want the ash to collect in your gas grill. There are several devices on the market for holding smoking wood chips in your gas grill;

The most common is a cast iron box that fits under the cooking grate and above the burners. A “V Shaped Smoker Box” was designed for your gas grill and works great! It has been expressly constructed to fit between the flame deflector bars of most gas grills which provides direct contact with the heat source for rapid heat up and smoke flavor.

This will help accelerate the smoking of your wood chips and save space on the cooking surface and better yet, all the ashes stay in the smoker box keeping your grill clean and ready to go.

There is even a top hinge for convenient refilling.

The secrets of gas grill smoking are indirect heat and temperature control. In order to smoke successfully, your grill needs to have at least two burners, and it should have a temperature gauge.

Here’s the low-down on what you’ll need…

A gas grill with two or more individually controlled burners under the grate, positioned either side-by-side, or front-to-back. You will place your foil wrapped smoking wood over the left-side burner, and your meat on the right side of the grill. (Or wood in back, meat in front.)

A temperature gauge mounted in the lid. It’s important that you know what the temperature is inside the grill.

If your grill has cast iron grates, it’s important that they are seasoned correctly. This will help prevent the foods from sticking as they smoke, and prevent rust from forming. After cleaning the cast iron grate, coat all sides with vegetable oil, and heat them over low heat in the grill for 30 minutes. Brush on another coat of oil before each grilling session.

I know what you are thinking, “Then how do I keep wood chips from catching fire in my grill or smoker?” As we learned in science class, fire needs air, heat and fuel to burn. The way to limit the chips from catching fire too quickly is to minimize the air to the chips. As mentioned before, it’s best to wrap the chips in a foil pouch and then just poke a few small holes in the top of the of the pouch to let the smoke out. If done correctly it will never catch on fire. Place the wood packages directly over the burner you’ll be using, positioned under the grate and directly on top of the lava rocks or the metal shield. Turn the burner on and set it to medium or medium-high. You’ll need to experiment in order to determine where to start with your grill.

When you see your gas grill smoking, place the food on the grate, opposite the smoking wood, and close the cover. Maintain the temperature at 225 F to 250 F degrees until the food is done.

This method works great and all you have to do is throw out the foil packet once it’s cooled down.

Another option is to use wood chunks. With wood chunks you can just place them in a foil pouch directly over a burner just as you would with the wood chip smoker pouch.

The great thing about cooking with smoke is all the experimentation it allows you to do. There all kinds of different woods you can use in different combinations. I suggest you start with oak, it’s a good mild wood that won’t overpower your cooking and will get you started on the journey of cooking with smoke. Now you have no excuse not to try smoking on a gas grill!


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Smoking Food on a Charcoal Grill


If you’re just starting out BBQ smoking, you might have heard of the term “Minion Method” once or twice. If you’re already familiar with the term and have used the method, you know that it’s far superior to what the manual tells you to do. If you’re serious about smoking your own BBQ and you want to use charcoal as your heat source you definitely want to know the Minion Method.

The Minion Method is basically a way of setting up the charcoal so that it burns longer, more steady, and more consistent. In general, you won’t have to keep adding more fuel during the cooking process, so it’s perfect for overnight cooking sessions. To top it all off, you can start cooking relatively quickly. If done correctly, it should last anywhere from 6-18 hours at around 225-275 degrees F–perfect for the low and slow meats like brisket and pulled pork. The Minion Method is not meant for smoking at temps of higher than 300 degrees F.


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Basics of Setting Up the Minion Method:


Fill the charcoal chamber to the top with unlit charcoal briquettes

Spread several fist-sized chunks of wood at the bottom (and/or the top) of the charcoal

Fill the chimney starter about halfway with charcoal, light up

When the burning charcoal starts to turn white ash, dump on top of the unlit charcoal

There you have it. The Minion Method.


Minion Method of fire control. Invented by Jim Minion, this is a clever technique of maintaining constant temp for a long time by filling the basket part way with unlit coals and then you pour hot coals on top. The hot coals slowly ignite the coals below them and the temperature remains remarkably steady for long periods of time. Jim Minion, a caterer who invented the technique, started by pouring a Weber chimney fill of unlit coals (80 briquettes) into the grill or smoker and buried about three chunks of wood in the pile. Then put 1/2 a Weber chimney (40 briquettes) of hot coals on top of cold coals, and a lump of wood on top. The exact number of coals will vary depending on the brand you use, the smoker, and the weather.

Harry Soo from Slap Yo Daddy BBQ likes to make a “crater” with his Minion Method. He piles as much charcoal on the sides, almost playing a little game of balance, while leaving a hole in the middle. Then he fills the hole with fully-lit, ash-colored charcoal. That way, the charcoal slowly burns from the inside out.

Now of course, as in the case of BBQ Philosophy, everyone has their own ways of doing things. I like to put a few chunks of wood on top of the charcoal, because I feel that the wood flavor penetrates the meat a lot more at the beginning stages vs. towards the end of the smoking process. Since charcoal is relatively cheap, I much rather put more charcoal at first vs. having to end up re-filling down the line.

There are also those with distinct taste buds, who say they don’t like the idea of smoking with unlit charcoal because it gives off a weird taste. They also say that it’s unhealthy because unlit charcoal briquettes has that chemical taste that needs to be initially burned off (thus turning into the ashy, grey-color). Personally, I’ve smoked BBQ in all different methods and I really can’t tell the difference in taste. That’s part of the fun about BBQ — there is no right or wrong, whatever works for you, just go with it.


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Using Charcoal for Long Cooks


Part of the problem with charcoal is that it starts cold, heats up rapidly, hits a peak, and then slowly cools as the fuel is consumed.

But it is important to keep the temp of your grill or smoker constant. There are several clever solutions. The core concept of them all is that you put lit coals on top of unlit coals, or vice versa, or side by side, and the ignition of the new coals synchronizes with the death of old coals.

They work well with one noteworthy problem. Freshly lit coals put out a lot of smoke, and it is thick white smoke, not the thin blue smoke that makes the best flavor.


The fuse method

To light the fuse, known as the snake, C, or U method, you put the coals in a C or U shape, ignite one end, and walk away. It works remarkably well. Here is how it looks on a

Weber Kettle or a bullet smoker.



There are also those with distinct taste buds, who say they don’t like the idea of smoking with unlit charcoal because it gives off a weird taste. They also say that it’s unhealthy because unlit charcoal briquettes has that chemical taste that needs to be initially burned off (thus turning into the ashy, grey-color). Personally, I’ve smoked BBQ in all different methods and I really can’t tell the difference in taste. That’s part of the fun about BBQ — there is no right or wrong, whatever works for you, just go with it.


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Tips for smoking on a Charcoal Grill


NEVER use liquid charcoal starter unless you want your meat to taste like lighter fluid!

Monitor temperature by adding 8 to 10 fresh briquettes at a time.

Keep the heat at about 225 F and resist the temptation to constantly peek under the hood. Heat and smoke escape each time you open the lid, sacrificing aroma and flavor while extending the cooking time. Remember, barbeque is a “low and slow” process.

Start with a small amount of wood to see how you like the flavor, then add more for a more intense smoky taste. Don’t overdo it though, and don’t add wood after the first half of the smoking process. Adding wood too late can impart a bitter flavor to the meat and ruin your barbecue, and most importantly, after your food reaches around 150 F, it doesn’t absorb smoke anyway.

Because a pan full of charcoal produces a limited supply of heat, you will need to preserve as much heat inside the cooker as possible. Heat will be lost by removing the lid to check your food, so resist this temptation as much as possible.

Excessive wind will also make the charcoal burn faster, so try to place your smoker where wind is minimized. If necessary, you can build a temporary windbreak to help control the loss of heat created by the wind chill factor. This is important since temperatures must be in the 225 F to 250 F to properly smoke your meat. Remember, as the air temperature falls, the chilling effect of any wind that is present increases as does your fuel consumption.

When smoke cooking large quantities of food, be careful to adjust the airflow vents so that the fire will not cook too hot and burn out too soon. Never close the airflow vents completely unless you want to extinguish your fire. You can monitor your cooking temperature with a temperature gauge inserted in the lid of the smoker.

When cooking large cuts of meats such as turkeys, hams and large roasts, place the food at the far end of the cooking chamber away from the fire. This will allow the food to smoke cook more slowly over a longer period of time. If the temperature begins to decline before you have finished the smoking process, add more fuel until the temperature rises to the desired level.

It might sound obvious, but if you cook with charcoal, you need to have a plan on what you are going to do after the cook. Properly disposing of used charcoal is more than simply sending it to the landfill. You can get much more use out of it and if you BBQ as much as I do, you can save money too.

The first and most important thing you need to do with the charcoal that you use, is to allow the coals to burn out completely and let ashes cool at least 48 hours before doing anything with it.


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Smoking With Gas and Electric Smokers


There are two types of gas smokers categorized according to the fuel they use. One is propane smoker and the other one is the natural gas smoker. In using a propane gas smoker, you will have the advantage of having twice the energy it can give compared to a natural gas. Propane-fueled smokers are very convenient and portable, but you need to be careful and make sure that the propane tank is situated away from the smoker because the smoker tends to be extremely hot during the operation.

Natural gas smokers, on the other hand, are best and safe for home use since they can just be connected to the natural gas supply in your homes. And the best thing about using a gas smoker is that you are using a clean gas burning fuel, so there will be no worry in cleaning ashes. They are also easy to light and can easily maintain the temperature in a click.

Advantages of a Gas or Electric Smoker

Many people prefer an electric smoker to the traditional wood and charcoal type. It is easier to use and also simpler to start up. There is no need to get the charcoal lit, and the temperature is more even. Many charcoal smokers provide varying temperatures as the coals burn and are topped up. Not only that, but air flow through traditional smokers is not always consistent and you tend to get much wider temperature differences between the bottom and top sections of smokers such as bullet smokers and ovens.

An electric smoker offers more even and consistent heat and airflow, and you tend to get the same results consistently each time you cook. You can set the temperature you want and the thermostat will provide that, and you can also walk away and leave it because there are no coals to burn away and the oven switches itself off after the allotted time.

You can get thermometers or thermocouples that retain the maximum temperature reached in their memory, so you can also check that the proper meat temperature has been reached without having to be there continuously. In that respect electric smokers are generally safer from a cooking point of view.

Some people believe that electric smokers don’t give the same flavor as the traditional types, but why not? You get the smoke and flavor from the wood not the charcoal, and if you use the right type of wood for the meat, such as hickory with pork and ham, or maple for poultry then you get as good if not better results with the electric smoker because the temperature is more even.

In summary, electric smokers are significantly more convenient, offer more regular results day in day out and the flavor and smoke will also be more regular because it is not tainted by the charcoal. The electric smoker is also easier to keep clean and generally healthier because of its ability to maintain a set temperature throughout the cooking cycle.


Just Remember, never use a smoker indoors; fumes from the charcoal and wood are toxic. Always follow smoker operating instructions and safety warnings found in the owner’s manual.


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Using a Smoking Gun



The Smoking Gun makes your kitchen and bar creations appealing and unique. There are virtually no other methods that allow you to make such big flavor and aroma differences so easily. The Smoking Gun offers an alternative to traditional smoking methods.

Today turning even salads, chocolate, meringue, sauces, butters and fruit into unique new culinary sensations is possible by adding a measured amount of natural, cool smoke. The Smoking Gun makes adding flavors and adjusting their intensities easy. Your selection of combustibles including various types of wood chips, teas, herbs, spices and even hay and dried flowers is limited only by your imagination. The durable, hand-held Smoking Gun operates on just four AA batteries allowing you to experiment and create signature culinary creations at extremely low cost per serving. Simply fill the Smoking Gun chamber with your choice of combustible, turn it on, light with a match or lighter and apply the smoke where you want it.

There are a few ways to add smoke to cocktails. The first is to use an intrinsically smoky ingredient, like single malt scotch or pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika). Another is to infuse the drink with actual wood smoke.

When choosing your ingredients, aim for smoky spirits. Scotch whisky — the ultimate smoky spirit — owes it distinctive iodine-smoke flavor to peat. Or try mescal, which is made in Mexico’s Oaxaca region by smoking the hearts of agave and other cacti.

A handheld smoker is the latest weapon in a barman’s arsenal, and smoked cocktails are turning up at cutting edge bars from Brooklyn to San Francisco.
According to master mixologist, Dale DeGroff and his book The Essential Cocktail smoke adds a richness, complexity, and depth of flavor that can make a respectable cocktail great and a great cocktail a work of art.

Smoke guns come in two basic models, but both work on a similar principle. You load in the hardwood sawdust of your choice, turn on the fan, and shoot smoke into your favorite cocktail. Excellent just got better.


Weapon #1: The Smoking Gun by PolyScience. It looks like a black plastic handheld hair drier. You put hardwood sawdust in the smoke chamber. Switch on the battery-powered fan and light the sawdust with a match. For smoking cocktails and other beverages, a rubber tube fits on the end of the Smoking Gun: simply insert it in the liquid. Cover the glass or bowl with plastic wrap and fill with smoke. Repeat as necessary.

Weapon #2: The Aladin Smoker. Shaped like an upright metal cylinder, the Aladin has a fan in the bottom section, a sawdust holder at the top and a smoke chamber with a flexible plastic hose for directing the smoke.


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Cooking and Recipes

When putting together a meal decide the best way to prepare the dishes quickly and easily. Start off with some great appetizers for the grill or other appetizers.

If you want tradition then you need a good recipe for Potato Salad, Cole Slaw or Barbecue Beans. There are over 800 recipes on this site for you to choose from to create a great menu for your 4th of July Party.





Appetizers | Marinades | Rubs | Chili | Vegetables | Sandwiches

Pizza | Meats | Sauces | Breakfast | Desserts | Holiday | Drinks |

Equipment & Technique |


Vegetarians at a BBQ? 

If you or some of your guests are vegetarians you can still do some 4th of July entertaining, only vegetarian style. Vegetarian grilling can be more than just veggie burgers, but you will be a success if you make them from scratch.



Remember to cool things off with some Frozen Delights or go the extra mile with Italian ice cream. There is a lot you can do with desserts like a nice dish of dirt, Summery Fruit Candies or a margarita pie.



Don’t forget the iced tea, or even the iced coffee. Coordinate your drinks with the meal and the season. A nice Sangria will go great with grilled foods. There are also a lot of cool, refreshing summer cocktails you can choose from. You might even what to check out some patriotic drinks for this July 4th. Of course no great cookout is complete without beer. What you need to make this even particularly patriotic is a good selection of beers. Refresh your knowledge of all things whiskey. You will know what you are talking about.


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BBQ Links




  9. West Virginia Hot Dogs


Current BBQ Links


Beef Cuts & cooking methods

ask the meat man BBQ recipe E-book

Looftlighter Fire Lighting Tool

Drop Bottom Chimney Starter

Drop Bluetooth Connected Scale

cave tools

Blackstone Griddles & more

Weber Grill Parts

RECIPE – Fire Roasted Oysters

Adjustable Dry Rub Shaker -  Medium and Coarse Grind Seasonings, Stainless Steel, 1-Cup Capacity

Best grill brush –  Enso Grill Master Grill Brush Heavy Duty 18″

Best inexpensive grill tongs - OXO Good Grips Grilling Tongs, 16-Inch, Silver

Igloo® Party Bar™

Fresh Pork Cuts – buying guide

The Smoking Ho

Oakridge BBQ Rubs – Amazon

Cooks Illustrated – Meat Book

How to BBQ right  - blog

rick bayless blog

MARCONDA’S BLOG – Recipes from Uncle Louie’s Kitchen

The BBQ Central Show

RECIPE: Spicy BBQ Beer Shrimp

Pork Cooking Methods – .pdf

Complete BBQ Guide

North Carolina Historic BBQ Trail 


10 Grilling Recipes for Cinco de Mayo

  1. Skirt Steak Fajitas
  2. Stuffed Poblanos with Black Beans and Cheese
  3. Mexican-Style Grilled Corn
  4. Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
  5. Mexican Chorizo
  6. Chorizo Stuffed Poblano Peppers
  7. Beer-Marinated Chicken Tacos
  8. Mexican Roadside Chicken
  9. Chicken Fajitas
  10. Chili-Spiced Skirt Steak Tacos


Star Wars Lightsaber BBQ Tongs (22” Long)

Story Que- Online BBQ Magazine

Chef Ted Reader - BBQ lover 

National Barbecue & Grilling Association – facebook page


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BBQ Links Archive


BBQ Pit Boys

dee jays smokepit – smoking wood guide

The BBQ Brethren

BBQ Dry Rubs – A weber superfan site


Joy of Grilling

Grilling 24 x 7

Grill Girl

Grillin Fools

Nibble Me This

Extraordinary BBQ

Amazing(ribs) Temperature Guide

Mission BBQ

Smoker – Cooking


Bar B Clean

Grilling For Heroes

Smoking pit

BBQ – 4 – U Forum

Grill Spot – Parts & Accessories

Kiss My Smoke

America’s Test Kitchen – Grilling (subscription required)

Tri Tip Recipes – Pinterest

USDA Summer Food Safety Tips

Memorial Day “Smokeout”

Pork Rib Primer

Cuts of Beef Primer

Pork Cuts Primer

Franks Red Hot Recipes

Tips for BBQ


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Fourth of July Playlists


4th of July Playlists:
With a father and grandfather who both served in the Army, Dierks Bentley kept his blessings in check when creating his “Ultimate 4th of July Mixtape” for Pandora. The country star includes uplifting, inspirational tracks such as One Republic’s “I Lived” and Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind,” along with patriotic songs like Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.”

“To me, the Fourth of July is all about celebrating the great country that we live in, the freedoms we have and the people that have fought and died to keep those freedoms alive and well,” says Bentley. “Whether as a kid growing up watching fireworks, or just now thinking about all the freedoms we get to enjoy thanks to the folks in the military, these songs make me think of the Fourth of July.”

Bentley includes a lot of songs for those backyard barbeques and fireworks shows, as well, playing old favorites ranging from Garth Brooks “Ain’t Goin’ Down (‘Til the Sun Comes Up)” to U2′s “With or Without You,” and newer party-ready tracks like Pharrell’s “Happy” and his own “Sideways.” And in the spirit of his new album, Black, which is all about relationships, Bentley includes a lot of love songs — from Brothers Osborne’s “Stay a Little Longer” to Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love.”

Listen to Dierks Bentley’s “Ultimate 4th of July Mixtape” on Pandora here.
Dierks Bentley Mixtape


Brobible Playlist


Billboard Playlist


Mashable Playlist


Spotify #1


Spotify #2





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Fourth of July Drinks


White Wine-Berry Sangria


Red, White & Blue Italian Ice Champagne Floats


Boozy Snow Cones


Red, White, and Blue Strawberry Jelly Shots


Red, White and Blue(berry) Margaritas




Blue Hawaiian


Fourth of July Infusions

If none of these Fourth of July drinks are quite doing it for you, you can also create an infusion that’s red, white or blue. You could either serve it straight up or use it in cocktails to add some Fourth of July colors.

  • Marshmallow Infused Vodka – infuse some vodka with marshmallow. This one tastes great – lightly sweet – straight up, or you can substitute it for vanilla vodka or Bailey’s in other recipes.
  • Jolly Ranchers Vodka – this is the easiest way to create some red and blue flavored vodkas. The flavors will be cherry or Cinnamon Fire for the red, and raspberry for the blue.
  • Skittles Vodka – infusing the red, white and blue Skittles from the Skittles American mix in vodka results in beautiful colored and flavored vodka.


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Fourth of July Desserts


Fruit-Tart Flag


Watermelon Granita


Red, White and Blueberry Trifle


Red, White and Blue Cherry Pies


Crispy-Treat Cheesecake Bars


Red Velvet-Blueberry Ice Cream Pie


Red, White and Blue Cake Roll



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BBQ Tips & Tricks


Here are some tips that will ensure you’ll be the perfect barbecue host

    • Keep all your barbecuing tools handy – tongs, chopping boards, insulated gloves, brushes ect. Have a plan to light your charcoal, and don’t use lighter fluid, nobody wants to taste it. Always use natural charcoal free of additives.
    • Never mix together different raw foods (i.e. fish and chicken) in the same marinade. Always keep in separate containers. Use separate chopping boards and utensils for handling raw and cooked foods to prevent cross-contamination
    • Remove meat and poultry from the fridge an hour before cooking and leave covered in a cool kitchen until required. This will help bring the food back to an ambient temperature, and will result in a more succulent cooked result.
    • Always know how many guests you are expecting and make sure you are seated near to the kitchen. This means you won’t be barging past your guests when going to and from the house.
    • Keep plenty of iced water handy – particularly if you’re barbecuing on a hot day. If you stick with the beer or wine your guests will soon be dehydrated (and you maybe too tipsy to tend the barbecue).
    • Prepare dressings for salads and marinades for the barbecue in advance to be one step ahead of yourself. You can even make your very own mayonnaise. Meat & Poultry will benefit from marinating overnight in the refrigerator rather than for an hour just prior to barbecuing, so do as much preparation ahead of time as possible.
    • Have a good link to a weather website, preferably one with live doppler radar, so you know what is coming and when.
    • If you’re having a barbecue at night, don’t forget to consider the lighting.
    • Check with your guests if they have any special dietary requirements.
    • Burning citrus candles is a great way to keep the bugs at bay and stop them biting your guests, especially if you’re serving any sweet food or drinks.
    • If you’re having an afternoon barbecue, make sure there’s plenty of shade to avoid sticky sun burnt guests.
    • Pork, sausages, burgers and chicken in particular, must always be cooked through to the center. It might look cooked on the outside but can still be raw in the middle. Check by piercing the thickest part with the point of a sharp knife. If the juices run clear then the meat is ready. Any sign if pink juices will require further cooking. Get yourself a digital thermometer, it’ll come in handy, trust me.
    • Be aware of wind direction and the proximity of neighbors when placing your BBQ.
    • Clean your charcoal barbecue after each use, once the grill has cooled down – a wire brush and warm soapy water is all that is needed – little and often is secret. Your gas barbecue can be cleaned by simply burning off the grill for 10 minutes. Have a plan for your used charcoal.


Schedule a couple of days to go shopping for the items on your lists. Here is a simple countdown to take you through the final two weeks leading up to the big day.

Two Weeks Before:

- Confirm your guest list, order your beef if fresh and give out specific assignments to guests that are contributing meals.
- Finalize your shopping lists.
- Inventory your table and kitchen supplies.
- Make arrangements to borrow or rent any items that you lack.

One Week Before:

- Purchase wine, beer, soft drinks.
- Shop for non-perishables.
- Select music.
- If using frozen meats, plan the day to begin to thaw. The rule of thumb is to allow one day for every five pounds of meat.
- Make a plan for cleaning your house, particularly the rooms that will likely be seen by guests. De-clutter the messiest rooms first.

Two Days Before:

- Purchase all perishable ingredients.
- Begin cleaning and chopping any vegetables for the dips and side dishes.
- Bake and freeze any pies or other desserts that can be frozen.
- Prepare recipes such as dips, marinades, sauces. Make a written plan for cooking your meal.

One Day Before:

- Clean the bathroom, dust and vacuum all rooms guests will be using, especially the dining room and kitchen and back deck.
- Set the table if you are setting up a buffet; take out all of the serving pieces.
- Finish preparing and bake your pies.
- Prepare and refrigerate salads.

Day of the Party:

- Ask someone to pick up any bread or rolls or ice you may need.
- Finish preparing appetizers, first courses, and/or side dishes.
- Turn on your music.
- Take fifteen minutes before guests arrive to freshen yourself and relax.
- Welcome guests.
- Start Cooking
- Set out the food, and count your blessings!

Preparing a BBQ doesn’t need to stressful. Many dishes can be prepared many hours in advance of the meal. Some preparations benefit from sitting for a time before being served. Even if the whole dish cannot be completed early in the day, the preparation of the ingredients can be. Ingredients can be cleaned, cut, blanched, and otherwise made ready for their final cooking.

Plan Ahead

If you decide what to cook early, have all ingredients on hand, and cook some of the meal ahead of time, you can save yourself a lot of stress. On the day before you can make your pies, and prepare and refrigerate salads.

Simplify Cooking

If you can take shortcuts, take them. For example, you can buy pre-made dips, and marinades, and bake pies purchased from the store.

Try Fewer Side Dishes

It’s a lot of fun to have a feast, and there are many creative recipes this time of year, but if you cut down on side dishes, you can save yourself quite a bit of time and effort. Just pick a side and vegetable or two, and make a lot of them. This way, while there’s less variety, there’s plenty of food.

Let Others Help

Another fun way to simplify your meal is to let others help with the side dishes. If you’re having other people come, you can just let everyone bring a side dish or dessert while you supply the meat. If you’re only cooking for your own household, you can let everyone in the house be responsible for one side. This lets everyone feel good that they’ve contributed to the joy of the feast.

Final Tips

Try to relax and enjoy your guests. Accept help when it’s volunteered – you don’t have to do it all by yourself. Remember that everything doesn’t have to be perfect to build those long-cherished memories. Many times it’s the little imperfections that nestle into the warmest spot of your heart.


Perhaps more important than hosting a BBQ, observing the 4th evokes a special feeling of pride and patriotism, celebrated with 4th of July fireworks shows, parades and displaying the American flag.

After all, it was patriot John Adams himself who declared in 1776 that the 4th of July should always “ be commemorated ….with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.


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