Jim, describe for me the old pure, unadulterated barbecue of the old days. Used to be a big event… now days people say “We’re gonna have barbecue” They come over for a few hours in the afternoon, and they slap something on possibly even the grill. But back in the old days. I’m assuming they stayed up all night it was a big event. They prepared for it and describe a real barbecue back in the old days for us.
00:34 Jim Quessenberry
Well when I was a little boy out there at Birdeye, every fourth of July, the local people, primarily black people, they were they would dig these pits in the ground. And they always had two or three goats they’d barbecue. a lot of people did hogs and all, but … at Birdeye they did goats on the fourth July, and they would make an all day all night ritual out of the dern thing they’d they would slaughter those goats and dress them and have them on the fire, you know, and and they built a side fire,
where they burn the wood, and they would render the hot coals. And then take a shovel and you know… sift the coals in under the meat. And they would stay up all night with that with those goats, and I remember, I was a little boy, and I used to be so upset when dad make me go home, you know go to bed.
I never was old enough to stay up with them, and I just really envied them, you know, and…
They would stay up all night long?
01:34 Jim Quessenberry
All night long, and eat the next day and they had enough to feed everybody, and somebody would take some home and everything… and those things I know went on all over this at least southern part of the country.
Now I’m not sure whether you had this at Birdeye, but were there for example music related to some of these? …like some of the barbecues would people bring their guitars and fiddles?
01:49 Jim Quessenberry
Oh yeah, I’m sure they did. I don’t remember that being a part of it there at Birdeye, but I’m sure… but now I tell you what… but they may very well have done that at Birdeye.
Because I’ve heard lots of stories about ole BB King, who back in those days, BB King hung around over there at Cold Water and Twist all the time. And a lot of the old plantation owners and all tried to keep him run off because he’d be on somebody’s front porch playing that guitar and they couldn’t get people back in the fields because he’s pulling them and drawing them, you know.
[00:00:00] Lolis Elie: How did you get into the actual barbecue business? Did you start off doing some competitions or…
[00:00:06] Jim Quessenberry: Yeah. Uh, well, see, I was in food service in Memphis. I was in …. with the Britling cafeterias over there. B, R, I, T, L, I, N, G, and uh, they’re an old company. They have cafeterias in Memphis. They have a cafeteria is in Nashville called B and w cafeteria.
[00:00:31] They have cafeterias in Kentucky, Louisville, Lexington, and all up in there called, uh… Blue Boar… Blue Boar like a boar hog. And, uh, the actual company, is a very, very old company that came out of… Uh… It came out of Birmingham years and year ago, but, uh, It’s an old family owned company. I worked for them for oh, four or five [00:01:00] years, four years, I guess. Which, you know, I’ve always been interested in food, I mean, even as a hobby. Well, I got into it as a business there. And I’ve always been into barbecue. My folks, that’s what the idea did to entertain when we were kids. Uh, you know, the both of them together kind of made a, uh, an indelible impression on me. So, uh, when these contests started coming along. It was a natural pursuit. You know, something I knew I was pretty fair at, so I just started doing them. And. uh..
[00:01:34] Lolis Elie: What year was that?
[00:01:36] Jim Quessenberry: Woo… uh… ’78 maybe…
[00:01:39] Lolis Elie: You do Memphis in May in ’78? first one?
[00:01:42] Jim Quessenberry: Yeah, been to every one of them. Under one name or other. We’ve been under a lot of different team names was always, always been me. And, a lot of my folks that I have now, have never, you know, have never been to two or three contests. A lot of folks I had with me back then, don’t go [00:02:00] to them anymore because they’ve all decided they’re too old. Me, I don’t ever get too old.
[00:02:04] Lolis Elie: Hmm… Did you ever win any of them?
[00:02:07] Jim Quessenberry: Yeah, we won uh… second one year… We won second in the second year they had it, we second in whole hog. We won third in… I believe 84, and uh… I won a comp… A side competition they had over there one year. John Morel was one of the sponsors. They had a contest called The Jet Net Ham Contest, which is nothing but a boneless ham in a jet net. And I won that. And that was really an accomplishment ‘cause it had about 200 entries. Um, but, uh, we’ve been pretty consistent about scoring fairly high. During one little period there, like about a five or six year period, we didn’t… We didn’t come in any worse than tenth place, which in a place… competition that big, that’s pretty good. Of course, we’ve come in… We’ve [00:03:00] literally brought up the rear before. You know.
We “never get too old.” That’s why Sauce Beautiful has been the preferred choice for thousands for over 30 years.
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.
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
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.
Steve Ray standing in for Greg Rempe as the guest host of The BBQ Central Show asked the other embedded correspondents of the show, Doug Shiding, David Huff, and Jon Solberg who they would choose to be inducted into the The Barbecue Hall of Fame®.
Steve Ray and Jon Solberg both gave a nod to Jim “The Arkansas Trav’ler” Quessenberry due to his pioneering career in competition barbecue along with the impact he made on many current barbecue legends, teams, and competitions along the way.
We’re all holding our breath until 2pm CDT May 29, 2019 when Greg Rempe will announce the winners on the show. Wish us luck! Live stream is below:
Holy smokes! We’re giving away a Weber Smokey Joe just to see who can step up and claim bragging rights for their recipes involving tabletop grills. Think you have a good dish? Well then dish it out.
Are you the master of bratwurst at your local picnic table? Do you live in a van down by the river but yearn to entertain guests by cooking steaks one at a time? Are you a vegan looking to start small on your journey to real food? If so, the Smokey Joe is right for you. If you already have one and are an ace grillmaster of all things small, let us know. We want to hear about it. Leave a comment below and be sure to check out our latest giveaway.
In the mean time, here’s a simple bratwurst recipe fit for a tabletop king!
Go get some Johnsonville Brats at your nearest grocery store. If you like the cheese ones, that’s cool. We’re going to add a little twist of flavor to them that will set you apart from the rest of your tailgate team. Got the brats? Okay good. Fire up the Smokey Joe with a handful of coal.
Now we need some other ingredients. Crack a cold one. Drink about half of the beer just to get your mind set and then fill the can or bottle back up with Sauce Beautiful to make a 1:1 beer to sauce ratio mix.
This is where the magic happens. Pour that beersauce mix into a sauce pan or some other kind of container where you can mix it up. If you have a baste brush, that’s great. If you don’t, get a spoon and get to mixing. Once the beersauce is mixed well, set the brats in the pan and let them rest while you carve up an onion.
Mince or slice the onion into pieces that are just small enough to be bitesized but not too small that they can fall through the grill later on. Roll up some foil and/or use a camp pot or small pan with a quarter stick of butter and the onion slices. Dash them with Jim Quessenberry’s Steak Beautiful for a nice even seasoning and then sautee them in the foil/pan/pot over the coals of the Smokey Joe.
While the onions are cooking and making things smell so good, make sure your fire has a nice pleasant orange and white glow but not raging with flames. Lay the brats on and let them warm. DON’T BURN THE DAMN THINGS! I’ll know. Brats are best cooked slow. Eventually the brats will begin to plump over the warm coals. Baste them a few times with the beer sauce mix. Let them warm until they look like they’re going to explode. That way they’re super juicy. Pull a view onion slivers from your sautée pan/pouch and place them over the brats to get a little char grill flavor.
Once the brats are plump, you can serve them. Take them up along with the onions and serve on large hot dog buns. Spread a few onions on top and drizzle with sauce beautiful for a nice summertime treat at the campsite or back yard.
If you’re interested in more information on the Smokey Joe, here’s a brief history from Weber.
Every so often I like to take a moment to pause and look around. I like to reflect on the successes and lessons learned during this journey. I often think to myself and wonder what my Dad would be thinking if he saw what we’re up to. I can’t help but wonder what he’d think of the time, organization, and production we’ve so meticulously developed through repetition, trial, and error.
Would he have better ideas on processes we use? What would his thoughts be on the new recipes we’ve developed on our own? I don’t doubt that he’d embrace and like everything we’ve done, but I would wonder what his first impression would be.
As I wonder all of this I begin to think to myself about the successes our team has had and the growth we’ve had that are beyond anything Dad ever produced and I smile. Moreover I think to myself how we couldn’t have done it without help from our partners, vendors, facilities, and more importantly, our fans.
Over the past 4 years we’ve had our ups and downs, but year after year we build upon the last. We’ve launched six products, three of which are original to the new generation of Jim Q. We’ve expanded our reach both online and in regional stores. We’ve made lasting connections with great people and we’ve added flavor and happiness to thousands of people.
To each and everyone who has and continues to support us, we thank you.
For starters, we have an all new set of products with maximum flavor. We have a Georgia gold style sauce with just the right amount of mustard tangy punch, a mix of spice, and finished off with a smooth sweet slather of brown sugar. It’s one of our new favorites and is featured in this month’s Grill Masters Club.
Sauce Beautiful Gold.
When you take the inspiration we’ve had over the years combined with the experience that was inherited from generations of recipes handed down from our family members, things get exciting in the kitchen. The last few years have brought two newer recipes to our collection that are sure to please those of you looking for a more savory flavor profile without a ton of sweet overpowering your palette. We learned from our good friends over at Big Bob Gibson’s that Alabama style white BBQ sauce is great for fish, chicken, and beef. It’s a tangy lemon, horseradish, mayonnaise blend with lots of zing.
Sauce Beautiful – White
The other savory option we have for you is our hickory seasoned Steak Beautiful , an Arkansas favorite featuring one of our favorite smoke flavors, Hickory wood smoke. This rub is absolutely made for steaks, brisket, beef ribs, or burgers. We’ll give any Texan a run for their money with real trees not bushes, because “God gave the Texans Mesquite. He knew their soil was too poor to grow Hickory.” ~Jim Quessenberry
Smoked Harvest Stuffed Pork Loin
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
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.
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.
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.
(Optional) Sautee red onion rings in butter using a skillet over direct heat.
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
I’ve been hoping to capture some of the thoughts of my good friends and family and share them here. You all may get tired of Lee and I writing all the time. 😛 I thought to myself.. why not get a few friends that love food and love to write about food to share their thoughts and ideas. The following is our first guest blog post by one of my longest friends, Brad Benefield. Stay tuned for other guest blog posts as well. Some maybe about our dad in the prime of his career, and some may also be about food in general, all should be interesting and entertaining…
Growing up with the Qs by Brad Benefield
Jim Quessenberry, or “Quess” as everyone called him, said the recipe for Sauce Beautiful came to him in a dream. Growing up around him, that doesn’t surprise me in the least. Most of us as children begin with an almost infinite capacity for creativity and imagination. For whatever reason, that ability is often lost as we begin to age, with only a small ember still burning within us. It always appeared to me that Quess never stopped dreaming. If anything, his imagination and creativity seemed to become bigger with each year he was on earth. In my memories of Quess that is what stands out to me; He was always creating, joking, and dreaming. Creativity just seemed to flow from him. People loved to sit and talk with him because you never knew what to expect. Every day he had a new joke to tell, a new recipe to cook, or a new invention to build.
As a kid, I knew very little about BBQ beyond the idea of throwing meat over a fire. After becoming friends with Michael and meeting Jim, I quickly learned that it was much more than that. The work and nuance that Quess and the other great cooks put in to making truly great BBQ elevated it closer to an art form than just making a meal. Everything had to be just right: the quality of the meat, the type of wood in the smoker, the sauce, the rub, the temperature; it all culminated into some of the best food I had ever eaten. Also something about the way BBQ is prepared feels like an ancient thing that we forgot about somewhere along the way. There is something very peaceful in the practice gathering around a fire with friends, smoking a pig, and enjoying each other’s company.
Even as a kid, I knew Sauce Beautiful, or as everyone in our hometown knew it “Quessenberry Sauce” was something special. It has been wonderful to see the sauce grow and change over the years. I know Jim would be happy to see how Michael and Lee have kept his dream alive and added their own creativity to their father’s legacy. The original Sauce Beautiful is still the same wonderful thing Quess dreamed up so many years ago, and Michael and Lee’s new white and gold sauces add a new spin to that give even more originality to an already unique product. I feel confident in saying wherever the story of Sauce Beautiful goes in the future, there will always be a new joke, a new story, and a new dream just around the corner.