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.
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.
Over the past three years it has been apparent to us that your presentation game must be on-point if you want to boost sales in local and regional grocery stores and specialty shops. As we’ve grown over that time, we’ve begun to see other local barbecue sauce companies take notice and follow our lead. Going from coolers and the ever so familiar off-white, light pink, and greige (gray-beige) crockpots with the little flowers on the side to mirror finish serving dishes shows just how important it is for barbecue sauce startups to stay relevant, appetizing, and approachable. Without anymore delay, here are five things you can do today to stay relevant in your local grocery stores and marketplaces.
5. Boast the Benefits, Don’t Baffle With Bullshit
Early on in our demonstrations at grocery stores there were two idealogies about how to best approach potential customers to try the product. As it turns out, most customers are smarter than the average bear and can smell bullshit a mile away. Who knew? You can boast and brag visually using trophies and/or banners without constantly reminding the customer how good you really think you are. No one likes a braggart and they especially don’t like one that initially approaches them with a loud and abrasive claim regardless of merit. Rather than asking the customer if they’ve heard about your recent accolades or publications, ask them if they’d like to try a free sample of the goods. That is what you’re there to do after all; sell your products.
Pro-tip: set up a table with a trophy or two (if you have them) but don’t focus on the trophies. Focus on the customer and the sample.
Let the products speak for themselves. No one’s ever heard of “Meatwave Magazine.”
4. Interact on a Personal Level.
So many of your customers will remember you and unfortunately you may not remember all of them. It’s a tough line to walk because you don’t want to offend anyone, but you have to interact on a personal level that engages. Talk with the customer as they’re trying the product. Ask them what they like or dislike most about your product while they’re tasting it. You’ll create a level of respect and integrity with them and it will help you create lasting bonds with your customers. It also serves well for feedback. Customers that are comfortable will be candidly honest with you.
Pro-tip: Check the contents of the customer’s cart. See some kind of meat? Offer the right product for it. Start a conversation and then offer a sample.
Thank you for coming by our demonstration today. Let us know how we did. If you are on Facebook, be sure to search for us and like our page. You can leave feedback there as well.
3. Conserve But Don’t Go Skimpy on Samples.
When’s the last time you ate a cracker with barbecue sauce on it and thought to yourself, “I really need to get a pack of saltines to go with this sauce. It is soooo good! I can’t wait to get home and drizzle this on some crunchy crackers!” I would venture a guess that you probably haven’t ever knocked down the grocery store door to get to some crackers when you’re thinking about barbecue. Your customers aren’t thinking that either. Serve them up some pulled pork cooked and served with your products. Get the taste in their mouth and the sale will follow.
Pro-tip: Use restaurant squeeze bottles with nozzles for accurate and conserved application of the sauces.
Save the crackers for a last ditch effort if you’ve run out of meat.
2. Vegans, Vegetarians, and Hipsters OH MY!
We never wish to alienate anyone during a demo, but as the old saying goes, you can’t please everyone. Now that being said, some folks are spending time and money on crackers, kale, jack fruit, and other substitutes for meat. We encourage all people to try our products and for the most part are fairly friendly to special dietary needs, but we never lose sight of our industry and that is barbecue; smoked, flavorful, and delicious meats with a sweet and tangy flavor profile. When you start chasing niche markets while losing sight of your bread and butter customers it becomes a slippery slope that can be hard to overcome. We welcome all people to use our products, but it is difficult for us to begin tracking all of the dietary needs and fads as they come and go. Expect pulled pork, sauce, and rub at our demos.
Pro-tip: Avoid confrontation with PETA and other activists by offering fruit as an alternative. If that doesn’t work, refer to the store manager for assistance.
A quick upgrade is to offer a fruit such as an apple slice instead of crackers. It is juicy and accents barbecue seasons and sauces quite well for those who won’t eat meat.
1. Presentation is 9/10 of The Law
No one wants to eat BBQ from your grandma’s crockpot and they especially don’t want to eat it from your tailgating cooler. While these are great for tailgating and making things portable, you’re here to make a first impression that lasts. We were guilty of using aluminum pans in coolers to keep the meat somewhat warm, but after you open the lid a few times the heat is gone and the condensation starts to dry out the meat.
The logical solution is to get a warm dish that will keep the meat moist, warm, and tender. So get a crockpot right? Well that can work, and it does in a pinch, but what if you’re outside or yards away from a power outlet? What if your crockpot looks like something that should be on “The Antiques Roadshow?” What if you have bright orange extension cords looking like a construction site? Are you sending the right visual message? Probably not. Ditch the crockpot for a professional chafing dish with portable fuel burners, some silver flatware, and while you’re at it, throw in a fitted table cloth with your logo on it. We’ve seen other demo booths follow in our footsteps to give a professional “you got your shit together” look with a simple fitted table cloth and some silver flatware.
Pro-tip: Chafing dishes are an expensive but necessary tool that will give your game some much appreciated next-level respect from customers. It will speak for itself. People can’t help but look into it like a mirror. If you’re serious about your groundgame in local grocery stores, you’ll buy a chafing dish right now and keep the crockpot in your kitchen.
We’ve all had our experiments with wood, charcoal, and even gas when cooking outdoors, but did you know that charcoal was originally used for several other reasons including art, medicine, makeup, and metallurgy?
Image By DryPot – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12649706
Charcoal in Art
Charcoal has been used as a pigment for ages to represent the color black. From the earliest paintings and inscriptions to modern art, charcoal is a favorite among a long lineage of expressionists and artists alike. Furthermore, charcoal is microscopically absorbant and can be used as a pigment for dyes used to create black and grey fabrics.
Charcoal in Medicine
Charcoal is one of a few age old home remedies for dietary and digestive issues. For centuries people of the ancient world all the way to today have used charcoal to settle stomach aches and other digestive issues. It is so popular that charcoal is still used today in pill form to address and treat ailments.
Charcoal in Metallurgy
Charcoal is a fairly clean burning fuel when compared to wood and other organic rich fuel sources. That’s because charcoal has been through a process called pyrolysis, which is like fire anaerobics for trees. That means that wood or other vegetation like Bamboo, is heated to high temperatures with the absence of oxygen which consumes the organic matter and water and dries out the vegetation forming a charred black carbon substance we call charcoal. Since the wood has been burned once, the main byproduct, smoke, is cut in half leaving a combustible substance that puts out way less smoke. When you have less smoke, you can forge and weld metals with fewer impurities which allows for a better quality metal. Charcoal has fueled blacksmith forges from the early beginnings of the bronze, iron, and industrial ages throughout today.
Charcoal in Cosmetics
Like the dyes and paints mentioned before, charcoal can be ground into a microscopic powder pigment and used in a wide variety cosmetic products because it is absorbed very well by the skin and has staying power. Maybe she’s born with it? Maybe it’s Royal Oak?
Charcoal in Cooking
Naturally charcoal is a fuel of choice for many barbecue enthusiasts, and it’s American as Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer… Yep that’s right, charcoal as we know it in the briquet form was invented by Zwoyer in 1897 in Pennsylvania. So 6 years before the Wright Brothers were jumping off of sand dunes with a giant kite, Zwoyer was getting a patent on charcoal, literally one of the most abundant and widely used fuels in the world, because he made it into nice consistent square briquets. And you thought Steve Jobs was a visionary. LOL. This guy reinvented reburning wood and patented it.
It doesn’t stop there though, Henry Ford got into the game and changed it FOREVER. Henry Ford needed a way to recycle and reuse wood byproducts and horsefeed used in his automobile factories so he took the charcoal briquet idea and ran with it. He began producing charcoal and selling it which founded a little company called Kingsford.
So what does all this have to do with Jim Quessenberry BBQ? Well for one you won’t be seeing us using any of Hank Hill’s propane and propane accessories, but furthermore, we prefer to cook most everything with charcoal for a smooth, longlasting, and well controlled fire. I prefer Kingsford, but Royal Oak will do in a pinch. I suppose that makes me a Ford man afterall.
Tell you what, why don’t you grab a bottle or two of the good stuff in our shop and share some of your charcoal grilling techniques with us. We’d love to hear your stories.
Apple Wood Flavors Are Very Similar to The Pome
Apple wood provides a fruity and delightful hint of flavor when used to smoke ribs, chicken, porkchops, or other white meats. It is a goto for many competitors in the competitive world of barbecue. Unlike Hickory which I wrote about earlier, Apple trees and the apples themselves have a ton of wildly varying symbols and meanings throughout mythology, religion, and folklore. The Pome (fruit) of the Apple is associated with many healing recipes and other remedies.
Apples Have Strange Religious and Mythical Powers
The Apple Was Eve’s gift to Adam from the tree of knowledge. Apparently women have unfortunately experienced the gender gap in pay and education since the beginning of time. Eve gave Adam the fruit and well we all know what happened after that. Or do we? Apparently the Apple tree was also the tree of eternal life in the Garden of Eden so I mean, what gives? Talk about a tough test of religious faith.
Apple Blossoms Are Associated with Beauty
The Apple blossom is a symbol of beauty in ancient China. It is used often to depict natural beauty in nature and adorned on gowns and robes for the most beautiful women in China. At least it wasn’t the forbidden fruit that ruined humanity forever right?
Apple Trees Are Sacred in Many Ancient Religions
Apple trees were sacred to the Druidic and Celtic people as well as the Brythonic people of ancient Europe. The tree was often associated with many health benefits as well as immortality and eternity. This makes Apple probably one of the most iconic trees and symbols throughout the ancient world. So far it’s immortality, sin, beauty, and knowledge. I am stoked about apple wood. Get it? Stoked?
BONUS: Apple Wines and Apple Pomes Have Healing Power
Apple wine is an old recipe for healing and ridding the body of illness. I mean don’t go out and get drunk on Apple wine and think you’re going to cure the common cold or cancer, but antioxidants in apples are known to help with many ailments and are solely responsible for the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Baked apples have often been used to sooth sore throats and apple juice is a common treatment for other ailments related to the body.
In Retrospect, I Love Apples and Apple Wood
When cooking with Apple wood it is often times recommended to mix it with a mild hardwood. I prefer to blend my smoke between Apple and Hickory for a sweet smoky flavor. Apple when used by itself for too long or with a lot of smoke can be overpowering and provide a bitter taste. Use it with a water pan to get a fruity steam/smoke mix that allows your meat to stay moist will attracting a hint of sweet fruity flavor. I prefer to use Apple shavings or Apple wood chips rather than large logs so that I can control the amount of Apple smoke used for cooking and smoke flavoring. Apple works best with a lower temperature around 225 fahrenheit for longer cooking times. I recommend pairing with an apple cider vinegar baste while cooking chicken or pork. It gives you a little acidity to break down the meat and permeate with flavor. Top it off with a mixture of Sauce Beautiful and your vinegar baste and you’ve got a glaze that will delight the senses.
What does anyone know about cooking to temp these days? That’s a tough question depending on the crowd. There are lots of myths and facts around cook temperatures that you should know.
Pork Doesn’t Have to Be 165 Degrees
Most if not all poultry should never be consumed prior to reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Most people are familiar with this as Poultry is often a carrier of Salmonella and when undercooked can lead to extreme illness or even death, but Pork is a different story. Pork on the other hand has a minimum safe temperature of 145 degrees. Pork that is reheated needs only 140 degrees.
Safe Temperatures aren’t always “Done” Temperatures
A big misconception is that the safe temperatures are when the meat is done. This is technically true when avoiding food-borne illnesses but is often lacking in tenderness if the temperature has just arrived. For instance, we cook our Boston Butts to an internal temperature of 190 degrees before allowing them to rest and continue retaining warmth in a cooler. At 190 the bone will slide right out and the pork is at maximum tenderness and moisture. This is just before it rests and we pull and serve.
Chicken Cooked Medium Rare?
No. Just no. This is dangerous and can kill you. Never ever for any circumstance think this is a good idea. Yes there are lots of dumbass people sharing images of “medium rare” chicken on Instagram but this is absolutely careless and dangerous. Never ever do this.
Pink Meat Is Always Undercooked
This is not always a simple yes or no, but for steaks, burgers, and even pork chops, this can be misleading, especially when you’re slow-cooking with smoke. Because smoked meats can turn pink with the permeated smoke in the meat, some people think the pink meat is raw when it is in fact cooked. Just don’t do this with chicken.
Last but Not Least, Rest Times Allow Meat to Cool
In most cases this is simply not true. Resting is a technique that actually allows the warming center of the meat to continue increasing temperature for a few minutes while the outside cools. This is done with steaks, pork loins, and more to reach a desired temperature thus creating an ideal first cut or bite that is cooked evenly and is very juicy.
Hello everyone. It’s time for a science and history lesson. First I would like to apologize for the late blog post. I am late by a whole day, but I am here to make that up to you along with a giveaway we’re doing and some other fun ideas. In memorium of my old man on his birthday, we’re out to celebrate with all of our friends and family right here on the website, but first we gotta get the fire started and there’s no better wood to smoke with than Hickory in my opinion.
The Pawchohiccora and the Carya
Hickory Trees are from the genus Carya which means “nut” in Ancient Greek. While I am not up to snuff on the whole of ancient mythologies, I can safely say that Hickory has had a long history of being used for a variety of useful tasks including many different recipes in the Powhatan tribes of Virginia before and during the founding of the British-American colonies. Those recipes used the nut of the Pawchohiccora (Hickory) Tree and included a broth and a pulp used to flavor beans, vegetables, and broths as well as to create flour for breads. The Hickory nut was common all the way until the 19th century for cakes, breads, and cookies.
Several years ago my Dad knew what many legends of barbecue have said for generations, and that was the fact the God put the Hickory tree on Earth for a reason, and the reason was that he knew what we were going to do with it. He gave the Texans mesquite because the soil was too poor to grow Hickory. That’s how we’re going to be using Hickory for the purposes of today’s blog.
Hickory has been used for several hundreds of thousands of years for campfires and cooking all over the world. The distinct aroma and savory flavor it produces when used to smoke meat is something many would find difficult to beat in life. The flavor is not as sharp as Mesquite or other hardwoods, but is also not as fruitful or sweet as a fruitwood. Because many consider it a “Fire Elemental” wood, it goes hand in hand with preparing food as well as making tools forged from fire. Compared to “Air Elemental” woods suchs as pine, cedar, and other conifers, Hickory is suitable for a pleasant and slow burning fire. It is dense and very strong under stress. This causes an even and manageable heat for smoking. Hickory when burned produces a smoke that is relatively free of harsh oils and waxy residue. This allows for long cook times without fear of ruining your meat with an overpowered falvor or aroma.
When mixed with a light amount of fruitwood (Apple is a favorite) Hickory produces a salty-sweet smoke that is amazing for bacon, hams, and other white meats such as chicken and even turkey. My personal favorite is a batch of Apple-Hickory smoked bacon with a light glaze of Maple syrup. You can’t beat a candied bacon made from Nature’s gifts to mankind.
Hickory For Utensils
Hickory has qualities unmatched by many other types of wood when it comes to longevity, hardness, durability, and strength. Used as a handle in shovels, pick axes, and other told of labor, Hickory has enough tensile strength to dig or pry anything apart without breaking. Until recently, Hickory was the only wood used in baseball bats and has been phased out for Ash as of late. Many other culinary uses of Hickory include cutting boards, knife handles, wooden spoons, and rolling pins.
Hickory for Building and Woodworking
Hickory is a slow growing wood and has been used far less in the last several decades due to deforestation. It has been replaced by fast growing pines and other easily replaceable trees as a cost effective and somewhat better for the environment building material, but let me be the first to tell you that Hickory built furniture and reclaimed wood holds high value in my book of hobbyist woodworking. It is sturdy and is probably singlehandedly responsible for the old saying “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.”
Hickory is a wonderful wood for utility and smoking barbecue. It also just so happens to be the driving flavor behind our highly sought after steak rub. Before you go, take a look at Jim Quessenberry’s Steak Beautiful.
So, you wanna improve your skills on cooking indirectly, but you don’t have a fancy offset smoker, no worries. There are a couple of tools and tricks you can use to get the desired results of indirect heat.
#1: Charcoal Basket and Drip Pan:
I often use this method on my Weber kettle grill. The basic idea here is to partition your fire to one side of the kettle using a charcoal basket. Then place a foil pan or sheet fashioned into a pan on the charcoal grate at the other side of the kettle. This will not only catch the drippings of the meat above, but it will also shield direct heat from hitting the meat by providing a buffer between it and the burning charcoal. This method is great for slow cooking ribs without a true smoker. Water can be added to the pan to make the cook chamber atmosphere more humid to aid in keeping the meat moist while cooking.
#2 Build a Brick Wall:
Let’s say you don’t have a charcoal basket for your kettle grill, or you have a different type of grill. No worries the same idea can be applied by setting the coals up at one side of the grill, and building a wall up to the cooking grate with bricks. The wall will provide the buffer between the meat and fire that is desired, and also once the bricks are warm, they will provide consistent heat as it slowly permeates through.
#3: Ring of Charcoal or The Snake Method:
This method is some what new to my bag of tricks, but i have found it to be very useful when I want to smoke a Boston Butt, but don’t want to break out the huge smoker or don’t wanna spend lots of money on tons of charcoal to smoke one butt on a larger smoker. If you have a small smoker you won’t need this method, but again if you have a Weber kettle grill or even a cheap burger and hotdog cooking tailgater, you can use this method and put some delicious slow smoke on a Boston butt or turkey or any thing that can fit in your small grill. So here is how you set it up. Take charcoal brickets and neatly stack them around the perimeter of the charcoal grate where it meets the side of the kettle. Leave space between the start and end of the ring so you don’t accidentally burn both ways at the same time. Start your fire on one end and it will slowly burn around the perimeter for many hours, at a nice low and slow pace. You can also sprinkle your favorite wood chips over the ring of charcoal to keep a steady regimen of smokey goodness cooking into the meat. I like to start my fire so that it burns clockwise, it helps indicate what hour of cooking I’m in. After you start your fire. place the cooking grate over it and place your meat in the center of the cooking surface. I like to place Boston Butts it in an aluminum pan, but leave the pan uncovered. It lets the Butt get the flavorful smoke, stay moist because it cooks in it’s own juices, and it acts as a buffer between the fire and the meat.
#4 The Stack Add-On:
There are a few different extensions you can add on to Weber kettles that move the cooking surface higher above the coals for a slower cook. In this type of situation the coals are still under the cooking surface, but not close enough to flame kiss a steak. If you are like me you like the idea of having the versatility of an add-on like that, but never think to buy one. I think it’s funner to create indirect heat using the methods mentioned above.
#5 Electric Smoker:
If you have access to electricity this is one of the easiest and consistent ways of smoking and using indirect heat. The heat is provided from a heating element much like an electric oven, and the smoke is typically created by feeding wood pellets or pucks via an auger or conveyor into the heating element creating smoke. These smokers are nice to have when cooking at home, but are generally not permitted in BBQ contests, as they make things way to easy and consistent. Taking the skill out of it.
I hope you enjoyed this article, as you can see the basic idea is to move the food away from direct heat to slow down your cooking process, and add that wonderful flavor we all love. Come back tomorrow for more BBQ tips, tricks, and stories!