The Smokestack Lightning Interview Tapes: Cleveland Rib Mafia

Here we have another segment from the Smokestack Lightning interview tapes. Jim Quessenberry tells his story of locking horns in Cleveland over ribs, and how his ribs went missing like Jimmy Hoffa.

The Smokestack Lightning Interview Tapes: Jim Quessenberry’s BBQ Origins

I have recently come across some amazing recordings that I believed were lost to time. But, I did a little research and uncovered these amazing treasures. I reached out to author Lolis Elie, and he directed me to the Southern Foodways Alliance. He had donated all of the cassettes to them. There is more to come… Listen below as dad tells Lolis Elie and Frank Stewart a little about his beginnings in BBQ. -Michael Quessenberry

Interview with Jim Quessenberry by Lolis Elie and Frank Stewart

Lolis Elie: [00:00:01] Well, how did you get into this barbecue business? And, you can go back before the sauces themselves… the sauce and rub…

Jim Quessenberry: [00:00:10] Um… It’s been basically a hobby all my life, and…

Jim Quessenberry: [00:00:16] Actually, BBQ has been a big part of… uh…

Jim Quessenberry: [00:00:21] Most of our family… uh… celebrations… be it Easter,

Jim Quessenberry: [00:00:28] Fourth of July, all your three day weekends, like your labor day, and Memorial Day, and that type of thing, you know?

Jim Quessenberry: [00:00:37] Um… Even Christmas.

Jim Quessenberry: [00:00:39] Somebody’s always barbecue and something, you know, my brother-in-law over here. He always prided himself and doing a wild goose. I think it’s wild… maybe domestic… he always does a goose for Christmas and you know, I’m always doing something Christmas a big fresh ham or something, but…

Lolis Elie: [00:00:56] You say fresh ham, you mean green or like…

Jim Quessenberry: [00:00:59] Yeah Green ham. Yeah. I didn’t know you knew what a green ham was man.. Where you been learning all this shit?

Lolis Elie: [00:01:04] I used to read Green Eggs and Ham, man.

Jim Quessenberry: [00:01:04] *laughs*

Frank Stewart: [00:01:05] He’s a smart boy.

Jim Quessenberry: [00:01:06] Yeah he is.

Jim Quessenberry: [00:01:13] You’d be surprised how many people don’t know what a green… what green meat is.

Lolis Elie: [00:01:17] Oh no, I, We… The people at Craig’s and Duvall’s Bluff.

Jim Quessenberry: [00:01:21] Yeah.

Lolis Elie: [00:01:21] I was trying to figure out if they were doing green or slightly smoked, so I got the terminology. But I can tell you where I got it from. The guy at Cozy Corner, Ray Robinson… When you go talk to him, tell him, Uh.. you know, tell him you know us. In fact, we told him we come here to see you.

Jim Quessenberry: [00:01:34] Yeah.

Lolis Elie: [00:01:34] We told him about you.

Jim Quessenberry: [00:01:36] Yeah, I want to meet him.

Lolis Elie: [00:01:37] Also, he has a totally different style from everybody else… If we even talk about food… half… shoot… At this point, half the time it’s not about barbecue. It’s one of our stop off points. If we finish, you know, doing Memphis in May, We will crash there for a minute.

Jim Quessenberry: [00:01:51] Yeah, I’m gonna check him out, but I need me a new place to stop.

Frank Stewart: [00:01:54] Oh Yeah. He’s efficient. He closes at 7.

Jim Quessenberry [00:01:54] Oh really?

Lolis Elie: [00:02:02] Yeah.

Jim Quessenberry: [00:02:02] Independent type dude… That’s what I like.

Frank Stewart: [00:02:03] Opens promptly at 10, and closes promptly at 7.

Jim Quessenberry: [00:02:03] That’s great!

Frank Stewart: [00:02:03] He is not open on Sunday and Monday.

Lolis Elie: [00:02:03] Right.

Jim Quessenberry’s Prime Rib

Jim and his Arkansas Trav’lers cooking team took the grand prize and first place for his prime rib recipe at the Irish Cup Invitational Barbecue Festival in Ireland in 1985. Timing is important on this one; practice makes perfect!

1 5-pound standing rib roast,
nicely marbled

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 bottle of Sauce Beautiful – White

1/4 cup olive oil

Freshly cracked black peppercorns

With a boning knife, carefully separate the rib bones from the roast, keeping them in one piece. Then remove the lip, or fat, layer in one piece. This will leave you with three pieces of meat: the ribs, the lip, and the ribeye.

Sprinkle the ribeye with garlic powder, then reassemble the three pieces and tie them tightly with butcher’s string, binding each rib. Brush the roast generously with olive oil, then cover the entire surface with cracked pepper. Insert a meat thermometer in the center of the roast.

Cook in a closed barbecue unit (Jim preferred his Weber kettle) over medium (250°F) indirect heat. Cook for 2 to 3 hours, checking frequently after 2 hours, to an internal temperature of 140°F for medium rare. Then wrap the roast tightly in foil and head for the kitchen; it’s carving time. (The foil wrap is important, as it allows the roast a little extra steaming time.) Carve into slices at least 1/2-inch thick There should be a slice to fit everyone’s preference, from the well-done outside tot he rare center. Serve with Sauce Beautiful – White.

Serves 10

Pioneering Days of BBQ

In the early days of competition BBQ, the rules were just being written. It was like the “wild west” days of BBQ. Many techniques were not mainstream, and even some at the time were considered cheating, such as injection. In this audio clip from 1987, Jim Quessenberry gives Ardie Davis a tour of his whole hog smoker, which at one time had a propane burner in it. The main source of heat was the propane, but it was indirect, and allowed for using logs for the smoke flavor. The thing was as big as a camper trailer and cook easily 4 or more hogs at the same time. Listen below…

Jim Quessenberry and Ardie Davis talk smokers and whole hog.

Jim Q: 00:00
Alright, when I built this thing, I built it to take to Cleveland to a rib championship, but cost efficiency is the main thing there, You know? I have this burner here… This 500,000 Btu burner, It came out of one of these green house furnaces. Alright, that burner, See I use instead of a wood box under there… And then I put me a little log in there for the smoke. You dig? All right, see you draw your heat underneath your water jacket, back up, and back across and it pulls that little hickory smoke over and back. Okay… The Memphians and all, had a little problem with the rules. They didn’t want a propane man out here. So… I built that firebox. It does a wonderful job. It’s just a little slower than propane. Hey my man… (talking to a passer by)

Ardie D: 00:53
I didn’t taste any…

Jim Q: 00:54
Alright! Alright! How you doing? I’m Jim Quessenberry. Good to see ya. (talking to a passer by)

Ardie D: 00:57
I didn’t taste any whole hogs worth a smoke that was as good as yours.

Jim Q: 01:00
Thanks… now, part of that is the wood I use.

Jim Q: 01:04
What we do… We cut that hickory…

Ardie D: 01:06
You can see that red ring on it.

Jim Q: 01:08
That’s Sandy… That’s my girlfriend.

Ardie D: 01:09
You got it hands down… or there’s something wrong.

Jim Q: 01:21
Man I appreciate that, but I’m so damn anxious, I don’t wanna know. I don’t wanna disappoint myself if I don’t make it.

Ardie D: 01:21
You can’t. That’s the thing. I mean uh… in a contest like… You can come in last…

Jim Q: 01:26
Well sure…

Ardie D: 01:27
I don’t know… I don’t know what it is. He makes the best that I’ve tasted here. I mean, it is good stuff.

Jim Q: 01:35
Boy, I appreciate that… Grab you a little nibble off that shoulder over there. That’ll give you a little sample right there.

Smoked Harvest Stuffed Pork Loin

Smoked Harvest Stuffed Pork Loin

Ingredients:

1 ct 6 oz. STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
2 ct Small Apples, Chopped
3 Tbsp Dried Cranberries
1 cup PLANTERS Pecans, Chopped
1 Tbsp Dried Sage Leaves
1 ct Pork Loin (4 lb.), Butterflied
1 tbsp Jim Quessenberry’s Rub Beautiful

Directions:

Recommended: 1 serving sauce (Sauce Beautiful Original, Hot, White, or Gold)

1. Start off-set charcoal fire in Weber grill. Make sure coals are burning well. We like to add apple wood chips for an added sweet smokey flavor.

2. Prepare stuffing according to instructions on the box. Remove from stove top; stir in apples, cranberries, pecans and sage.

3. Lay butterflied loin flat with sliced side up. Spread layer of stuffing on top side of loin; Roll the loin up with the stuffing inside, placing the end seam down, on sheet of aluminum foil or aluminum pan covered in cooking spray. Use butcher twine to hold the loin together. Season with Rub Beautiful.

4. slow smoke until meat is (160ºF) approx. 45 min. Rest 10 min. before slicing.

Bacon Wrapped Quail Breast Sliders

Bacon Wrapped Quail Breast Sliders

This recipe is a game changer (pun intended). Here in Northeast Arkansas we like to hunt, grill, and eat.  We like to change things up a bit from the normal grilled chicken, burgers, etc.  Game recipes are starting to grow in popularity.  Cregeen’s Irish Pub in Jonesboro, AR has been using Jim Quessenberry’s products on their BBQ sandwiches, nachos, and wings for several years.  They wanted to add some game to their menu which gave them a chance to introduce Quessenberry’s white BBQ sauce to their customer base.  Sauce Beautiful – White is perfect for poultry, fish, and goes good on a pulled pork sandwich just as well.  If you want to try your hand at an amazing dish that is guaranteed to delight, follow the recipe below. If you happen to be in the Jonesboro, AR area and aren’t looking to grill for yourself, Come by Cregeen’s Irish Pub and get these sliders paired with a tall cold beer.

Ingredients:

9 ct Quail, Dressed
1 tbsp Jim Quessenberry’s Rub Beautiful
½ tsp Black Pepper
9 slices Bacon
2 tbsp Butter or Margarine, Melted
2 pkgs 4 pack – King’s Hawaiian Savory Butter Dinner Rolls
1 ct Red Onion, Small (Optional)
1 btl Jim Quessenberry’s Sauce Beautiful – White

Directions:

Step 1

Sprinkle quail with Rub Beautiful and black pepper. Wrap breasts with bacon slices using toothpicks to hold in place. Place, breast side down, in a roasting pan. Brush with melted butter.

Step 2

Grill wrapped breasts on direct heat (out of pan) for 3 to 4 mins per side (Or place pan in oven at 450° for 10 mins) Place pan of wrapped breasts on indirect heat of smoker/grill (Or in oven) Bake at 325°, covered, 40 to 45 minutes or until internal temp up to 160°. Then Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before plating.

Step 3

(Optional) Sautee red onion rings in butter using a skillet over direct heat.

Step 4

Remember to remove toothpicks from breasts.  Place 3 breasts on 3 rolls per plate with optional sautéed onions.  Serve with a dish of white sauce for dipping, and a favorite side. (Ex. Onion Rings, Potato Salad, Side Salad, Fries, Etc.)

Serves 3 people

Serves 3

Life Happens: And Sometimes it’s Good

Hey guys! Lee and I have been meaning to continue our blog, but things have been really busy… in a good way.  We have been busy making, distributing, and demoing our products. This weekend was a bit of a break for me, as I have been smoking Boston butts almost every weekend.  I catered a friend’s wedding, then I smoked up some butts for our demo. We double teamed the demo weekend. I set up in Harrisburg at the Edward’s Food Giant, and Lee and Jeff set up at the Edward’s Food Giant in Bryant.  If you have never been to the one in Harrisburg, you should go.  They have groceries, supplies, guns, and awesome BBQ sauce.  I know where I am going if there is a zombie apocalypse… Anyway, the manager of the Bryant, AR store saw our display in Harrisburg a few weeks back and loved it. So we now have our products in Bryant as well.

On top of all the busy BBQ things we have been doing I also got a new day job. I put in my notice at Rural Sourcing, and started at E.C. Barton and Company as a software developer.  Leaving Rural Sourcing was tough, I worked there for 8 years. I have made lots of friends there, and learned a lot.  I still plan to have lunch with my former coworkers pretty regularly. I also look forward to getting to know my new work family.  I can already tell that everyone seems to jive pretty well there.  On my second day at E.C. Barton’s Lee and I catered BBQ for the Independence Day work lunch.

This weekend I didn’t cook anything. But, it too has been a little busy. Jeff and Patrick are on vacation, and Jeff normally does all of our online order shipping. Well no sooner than he went on vacation we got 3 orders from our website, and 2 from Amazon.  So, I have been trying to gather shipping supplies and get those out.  Isn’t that how it typically goes? lol  Like if you are working retail and you send someone home because your labor is getting high, then you get busier than ever. I’m not complaining… I enjoy having the sales, I just think it’s funny.

Stay tuned we will be posting pretty regularly again…

Day 20: What is your favorite Beer?

Crack a cold one!

It’s summer time, and what goes better in the heat of the summer when grilling out by a pool than a cold beer? Maybe beer isn’t your thing… that’s ok… it wasn’t always mine either. I’ve always heard that beer is an acquired taste, and in my own research, I have found that to be true as well. If you simply say you don’t like beer, and you haven’t given many different beers a chance, you may be missing out.

I had decided I wasn’t a fan of beer when I was younger, after trying to drink a Bud Light. It wasn’t until I had a wheat beer that I decided for the first time, I like beer. Things have changed since then as I have tried other types of beers, and I have come full circle. Bud Light is still not my favorite light beer, but if it is the only beer available I’ll drink it. Here are some different types of beers, and my experience with them:

Light Beers and Domestics:

Domestics are your general daily drinker beers. They are typically lightly colored and have a crisp taste that is not heavy on the stomach, and have a hint of barley, malt, hops etc. (Budweiser, Coors Banquet, Miller Genuine Draft, etc.) Light beers are the domestic beer’s low calorie counter part. They typically have the same palate as the domestic beer they are a counter part too, however I am a fan of Budweiser more so than Bud Light because I believe it tastes better. My favorite Light beer is probably Miller Lite, and then second is Coors Light.

Wheat Beers:

My first favorite beer is Blue Moon. Blue Moon is a wheat beer. Wheat beers are typically light in color, sweeter in taste, and pair well with oranges or lemons. Many actually are made with some sort of fruit as the basis of their aroma and taste. I have had a few blueberry wheat beers in my day. It’s like drinking a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. Most wheat beers don’t have a harsh bitter after taste. As a beginner of beer drinking, I have found the after taste to be pleasant compared to other beers I have had before. Some wheat beers have a clove taste and aroma to them. These are not my favorite, but I do enjoy them from time to time.

Pale Ales, IPAs

Pale Ales and IPAs or India Pale Ales are among my least favorite beers. Most that I have had are light to amber in color, and have a very distinct hops flavor to them. The taste of hops in a beer starts out with a nice grassy, earthy taste, but abruptly finish with a bitter after taste. Many people love it. I am not a fan. I do like the beginning crisp grassy taste. Sam Adams has what they call an IPL or India Pale Lager. I am a fan. It has the grassy crisp upfront taste that reminds me of spring time, followed by a clean lager finish that isn’t super bitter.

Porters, Stouts, Dunkels:

Most of the beers I spoke about above are preferred during Spring and Summer. Porters, stouts, and dunkels are more for fall and winter. They are darker, and tend to be heavier on the stomach. Porters, stouts, and dunkels generally have more of a malted taste. They generally seem to have more body to them, and can be slightly sweet. Often times porters and stouts may be blended with choclate or coffee. My usual go to dark beers are 1554, Warsteiner Dunkel, or a good coffee stout like Gotta Get Up To Get Down from Wiseacre Brewing Co. in Memphis, TN

This list is in no way complete for the many types of beer there are, but I wanted to share some of my favorites, and least favorites. Let us know what beer you like to crack open when you fire up the BBQ.

Before I go, here’s an accidentally discovered awesome marinade recipe:

Take a light beer and mix it with our Sauce Beautiful in a 1 to 1 ratio. Makes an awesome splash/mop marinade. You can also heat it up and melt a little butter in it.

Day 19: Remembering Our Loved Ones

Hello friends,

So much has been at play this month. We started out the month by launching our current giveaway (Free BBQ Sauce). We began blogging like crazy. (Check it out) We have been demoing at some stores and contests. Memphis in May International BBQ Contest was last weekend. (I got to see some familiar faces there in the BBQ world). All of these things have kept us super busy, but you guys have kept us motivated. We love BBQ and to see that you do too makes us very passionate!
We want to show our appreciation of your support, and do so in remembrance of our father who accomplished so much in the world of BBQ. Dad loved cooking in general, and he loved people. Click here to learn about who our father was.
Alongside our father, we also want to take this time to remember all the men and woman who have died for our rights in this country. We are here because of their ultimate sacrifices, and it is important to remember that, and not take everything for granted.
While you are cooking out on Memorial Day, enjoying some wonderful BBQ, or chowing down on some grilled burgers and hotdogs, remember what the day is about.

Thanks for your continued support!

Michael Quessenberry

Coupons:

‘JIMFTW20’ FOR 20% OFF OUR ORIGINAL RECIPE BBQ SAUCE
‘THEBRAVE’ FOR 10% OFF EVERYTHING IN THE STORE EXCEPT COMBOS

Day 13: How to Make Your Burgers Go from Ordinary to Extraordinary Using One Simple Ingredient

First, get your fire started. I like to build a fire on one side of my grill to have a side for fast cooking and a side for slow cooking, or a holding area. I will share why later. I usually do my grate cleaning once the fire is lit and everything is warming up as the heat makes it easier to clean.

Next, get a bowl or pan to put your meat into, and then take your meat (preferably 80/20 ground beef) and spread it out by separating it into smaller clumps.

Season your meat by sprinkling salt and pepper on it and mixing it about. At this point many people will mix in a raw egg or breadcrumbs, you can do that if you like, but it is not necessary. The idea is to use the raw egg and/or breadcrumbs as a binder to help make the meat stay together, and the breadcrumbs also make the meat go a little further.

What makes this burger so good is the secret ingredient I use when seasoning and patting them out. My secret ingredient is none other than Sauce Beautiful, I like to mix about 1/2 cup per pound. I mostly just eyeball it. You want the sauce to act as the binder you are looking for, but don’t use too much or the sauce will do just the opposite, and make the meat fall apart more easily.

Then, roll up your meat into balls about the size of the palm of your hand. Then smash the balls into disc being careful not to let the discs split around the perimeter as the patty spread out. I like to make 1/2″ to 3/4″ patties. Some people like them thinner.

When you get your burgers patted out take your thumb and indent each patty right in the center, this will help to prevent the patty trying to return back into a ball shape as it cooks.

At this time, it should be about time to grill these awesome looking patties. you wanna put the burgers directly over the heat. Let the burger cook with a closed lid for about 5 mins per side for medium, and little longer for well done. If you have flare ups be sure to have some water handy to tame the fire. If you try to turn a burger and it is sticking to the grate, it probably hasn’t cooked on that side long enough. once the patties are firm and not falling apart, you can move them to the indirect heat, and add your favorite slice of cheese. I am a pepper jack fan myself. The burgers will continue to cook on the indirect side, and also the cheese will melt.

Once the cheese is melted onto the patty the burger is ready to go onto a bun. I like to toast the buns and then take a burger patty fresh off the grill and place it on a bun. Serve with your preferred condiments, and enjoy! The burgers will be really great tasting and not dried out as the Sauce Beautiful also helps to retain the moisture as the burgers cook. I call it the Quessenburger!