Smoked Harvest Stuffed Pork Loin

Smoked Harvest Stuffed Pork Loin

Ingredients:

1 ct6 oz. STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
2 ctSmall Apples, Chopped
3 TbspDried Cranberries
1 cupPLANTERS Pecans, Chopped
1 TbspDried Sage Leaves
1 ctPork Loin (4 lb.), Butterflied
1 tbspJim 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.

Day 21: Our First Guest Blog Post

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…

-Michael Quessenberry

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 Beautifulor 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.

Sauces

Day 8: 5 Ways To Improve Your Indirect Heat Cooking Skills On A Small Grill.

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!

-Michael Q

Day 3: Why We Love Smoked Pork (And You Should, Too!)

There are many delicious forms of barbecue, but our favorite is very obviously pork. There are a lot of good reasons for this and you will probably agree that they are all worthy of your attention.

Whole Hog

One of the most ambitious cooks you will ever try is the whole hog. It is a lesson in patience, skill, and technique that few have experienced, but it is worth every minute of experience. When you smoke a whole hog, you better set aside at least 2 days of going nowhere and staying on top of your assignment.

The whole hog is very rewarding and will feed dozens of people. The meat is very tender throughout the shoulders, ribs, and ham areas. When cooking a whole hog it is good to remember that you have time to get it done right. Always set aside 24 – 30 hours of time including prep and serving so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

The whole hog has a distinct and mouthwatering flavor that is unlike any portion of the hog that you might have otherwise cooked separately. You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten a baby-back rib cut directly from the animal. It is absolutely the freshest, juiciest, and most flavorful way to eat baby-back ribs. Follow Michael’s instructions here for an experience that is like none other. Be sure to pick up a few bottles of sauce or rub beautiful to go with the hog.

As a child I remember seeing my first whole hog cook at a BBQ competition. To me it looked like something you would see a tribe cook on some island far away from Arkansas.

Michael Quessenberry
https://jimquessenberry.com/going-whole-hog/

Ribs

My favorite barbecue dish has to be baby-back ribs. Sure there are spare ribs and St. Louis style ribs, but my favorite are baby-back ribs hands down. Let’s break it down. Spare ribs are from the belly and are meatier, larger in size, and often times tougher than baby-back ribs which come from closer to the loin. Because of this, baby-back ribs are more tender and take less preparation and cooking to get a wonderful and flavorful entree. St. Louis ribs are basically just trimmed and squared spare ribs. They’re uniform in appearance and have less grissel on them, but don’t be fooled, they aren’t “back” ribs.

Some folks like “dry” ribs, which when done properly, I LOVE, and some folks like to get messy with saucy wet ribs. I like something a bit more in the middle. My ribs tend to have the chew of a dry rib with a glazy candy shell similar to my shoulders or butts. Using Rub Beautiful and Sauce Beautiful as a glaze, the ribs come off the smoker with a very thick and satisfying bark that will leave you wanting more even if you’re full.

For more information on how I prepare ribs, see Lock and Load Ribs.

Pulled Pork

Ah the classic pulled pork sandwich, an American staple. Although the best sandwiches are often a mix of pulled pork from a whole hog, the traditional pulled pork sandwich is made from the shoulder, butt, or picnic ham portion of the hog cooked on its own, pulled and/or chopped, and placed between two buns with a dollop of homemade coleslaw topped with a squirt of Sauce Beautiful to complete the perfect BBQ sandwich.

 

When cooking a butt or shoulder, I generally season and coat the meat with a very liberal amount of Rub Beautiful and place the meat with the fat side down (to prevent bitterness and greasy meat) on the grate with an indirect heat source. Then I smoke the meat about 4-5 hours to get a good smoke ring in the meat. I do this at about 225-250 degrees. After 4-5 hours, wrap the shoulder or butt in aluminum foil and finish it off to about 195 internally. The bone should wiggle free without hassle when the temp hits 195 to 200.

Pull the meat and/or chop it and serve on sandwiched. Your mouth and friends will thank you.

Day 2: Five Quick Tips For Wood Smoking.

If you are reading this you are probably aware that smoking different woods can bring unique and wonderful flavors to your cooking game.

We wanted to share some tips with you on which woods might be better suited than others during certain cooks.

Tip #1: Hickory

Hickory has a strong smoke flavor and is best paired with bigger tougher cuts of meat such as pork or beef. My father, Jim Quessenberry was a big proponent of using hard woods such as hickory while slow smoking pork. He is quoted in an interview with Ardie Davis saying, “God gave us one tree, the hickory tree, he knew what were going to do with it.”

Tip #2: Oak

Oak like hickory is best paired with tougher bigger cuts of meat to provide them with a strong smoke flavor. We sometimes use these two woods together depending on availability.

Tip #3: Mesquite

Mesquite like the woods above has a strong smoke flavor, but it could be considered too harsh for pork or poultry. It is kind of in its own category. It is best paired with beef. A beef brisket is a big tough piece of meat. It takes many hours of slow smoking to penetrate and break this piece of meat down.

Tip #4 The Fruit Woods (Apple, Peach, Cherry, etc.)

These woods have a mild sweet smoke flavor and are great to use with more delicate meats like poultry and lamb, but can also be used with pork to sweeten the deal. My favorite combination for pork is a small portion of hickory and lots of apple.

Tip #5 Charcoal

Charcoal can be just the right amount of smoke flavor you need to grill or slow smoke everything. If you aren’t looking to experiment with different woods, and you just want to get the job done, you can use charcoal. Charcoal provides a delicious smoke flavor that’s not too harsh for the delicate meats, but provides enough flavor for the tougher meats.

Day 1: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet On Barbecue

There are many tips and tricks as well as tools of the trade that competitors and pitmasters use quite often to get the best results. We’re going to let you in on a few that we use quite often to get things going. We’ll start with the essential, and that’s fire.

Vegetable Oil and Paper Towel Fire Starter

So there are quite a number of methods for starting a fire including shorting out a car battery, gasoline and matches, dryer lint and a lighter, and so on, but these tend to be dangerous and/or extremely bitter in flavor. I’d like to share our favorite method which is odorless and doesn’t make your barbecue taste bitter.

About 10 years ago or so we were competing in a whole hog and shoulder competition and it was cold outside. Fire was not only necessary for cooking, but to stay warm. Luckily our good friend Jonathan Conley came prepared. He showed up with a gallon Ziploc bag full of folded squares of paper towel soaking in vegetable oil. We simply took one out, crumpled it into a mound about the size of half a baseball and set it under the charcoal chimney. All that was left to do was light one of the paper corners on fire and wait about 15 minutes for perfect white-hot glowing coals.

Use With Caution: Built in Handheld Thermometer

Seriously. Use this with caution. We’re not liable for you doing something dumb and burning yourself. Now that we have that outta the way, here’s a neat trick for at a glance slow smoking of larger meats. Ideally we like to smoke pork shoulders, butts, or even a whole hog at 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit and most of the time our built in chamber thermomometers work, but just like the old saying of Murphy’s Law goes, if it can happen it will. That’s never more true than when you depend on thermometers and they’re broken and/or miscalaibrated and you’re trying to check the heat of your smoke box.

Let’s say your instruments all break. Don’t sweat it. If this happens to you, a handy trick is to palm test the smoke chamber. Now, don’t go trying to palm the firebox. If you do, that’s not on me and your mom should have spent more time teaching you common sense, but alas, you’ll figure it out. The palm test is when you don’t want to open the smoke chamber and lose all the heat, but you want to know confidently that you have enough heat to cook with. It’s simple. Slowly approach the chamber with your palm open. If the heat is too much to bear even before you get close to the smoke box, your cooking too hot and too fast and need to choke down your stacks or your firebox air supply to cool down the fire. If you get to the surface with your palm and you’re able to comfortably place your hand on the surface for a considerable amount of time, then your fire is too cold and you’re on a slow pace to get done. The perfect amount of time to place your hand is to firmly apply your palm for a second or two before it becomes too uncomfortable and burns you. This is usually a decent enough heat to keep things rolling although you’ll want to phone a buddy and get something a little more accurate to read the temp.

All in all it’s a quick trick to keep you rolling, especially if you’re cooking overnight and thermometers aren’t readily available for a few more hours.

 

Turbinado Sugar

Ever see a Boston Butt that looked like the inside of a chimney? Overdone, carburized, burnt to a crisp? We’ve all been there, but what if I told you that all of them aren’t burnt that bad? Would you believe me? What if I told you there is a way to reduce the chances of over caramelization and blackening of the bark on your smoked cuts of pork and still have a sweet flavor? Would you want to know what that is? Sure you would.

Our main rub, Rub Beautiful, is made of Turbinado sugar just for that reason. Turbinado sugar is raw cane sugar before it has been processed, bleached, or had molasses added to it like brown sugar. Most people will confuse it with brown sugar, but it is in fact the mother of all sugar. The reason it is so much better for a finished bark on your barbecue is because it hasn’t yet been processed and has a higher threshold for crusting and turning black under high heat. In fact, when mixed with paprika or chili powder in your rub base (not unlike Rub Beautiful) it will give you a beautiful brick red color during the caramelization stage of smoking the meat. It makes for a beautiful finish and wonderful taste that’s not overpoweringly sweet, not crunchy or burnt, and defintely not bitter. It’s a neat trick that’s sure to please your next barbecue audience whether in competition or in the back yard.

Other Quick Tricks

  • No prep table? Easy, use a truck tailgate and some aluminum foil.
  • No wind for the firebox? Use a shop fan.
  • Dirty grates and no brush? Heat em up and ball up a wad of aluminum foil to scrub them with using a stick.
  • We’ll do a whole separate blog post on aluminum foil and duct tape.

This is my passion!

You know when you are growing up and everyone asks you, “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” As a kid, I remember thinking, I want to be a farmer, a cook, or a Ninja Turtle.  The first two choices were because I looked up to my dad, he wore those two hats, and of course I knew I couldn’t really be a Ninja Turtle I had no way to obtain Mutagen, It was just something to entertain my friends and I as a kid. I was distraught when all of my friends quit playing Ninja Turtles and began being Power Rangers. At some point, our pretending to be mutants and super-heroes faded and my friends and I got into liking girls and being competitive in sports instead. I even began to tear down the awesome TMNT wallpaper border in my bedroom for fear that I would get made fun of if my brother’s friends came over and saw it. Little did I know that being a nerd would ultimately become cool.  Lee and I grew up as kids that played outside making forts in the nearby creek, but also had a love for video games.  Our love for video games started with our dad’s Commodore 64. Dad was always into technology. His interests in computers set me and my brother on a path that would eventually lead us to our careers. We tore up a lot of computers, and made some expensive mistakes, but we learned the ins and outs of computing.

Farming became a bust for Dad in the 90s as it was for many small farmers. You couldn’t make a living on it anymore. So, that was out for me as well. I don’t think I was really that interested in the first place. So, I knew then what my real passion was. It had transcended through all the years of my interests and hobbies. I remember being just 3 or 4 years old and standing in a chair next to the stove helping dad cook our BBQ sauce. He would call me his “little saucier”.  Mom being the very crafty woman that she is came up with the original packaging of the first gen Sauce Beautiful. The first gen jars were a lot like the throwback labels we still use in our retro gift basket, but first gen jars were quart sized Mason jars with a picture of the iconic caricature of dad holding the world champion trophy stuck on the front, and actual black watch plaid tied onto the top as a dome cover. It wasn’t until later we had the labels made to look like the plaid.  Lee and I grew up marketing this sauce and cooking along side our mom and dad.

The mid to late 90s were not quite as fun, we had financial issues, and other family issues, that ultimately led to our brand new hobby sauce business having to go out of business. No need to relive that here, except to say that through it all Lee and I held on to our passion to make our sauces and rubs for those friends and family lucky enough to know we were still boot legging it to make ends meet. Also, there weren’t many nights we would cook a meal inside. We had a Radio Flyer red wagon with a Weber Smokey Joe in it. Dad would send Lee and I to pick up groceries, Lee to drive and me to pick out the good veggies and meat for grilling. Needless to say we got a little grill time in.

Fast-Forward through the years, Lee and I both took our interest in computers and got degrees in Computer Science, It was a long road, and very hard at times, but through it all, our passion to cook and make sauces and rubs shined through. I smoked a whole hog for my junior prom. We catered the end of the year party every year at our apartment complex when we moved to Jonesboro to go to college. We even built our first barbecue sauce selling e-commerce website as a project for our software engineering class.

As you may already know, after college Lee and I decided to pick back up were we as a family had left off so many years ago, and start making our sauces and rubs commercially as well as competing in contests. We have had some bumps in the road, but we have picked up a few trophies of our own and made some good friends and fans along the way.  The journey doesn’t end here, I see the successes and the pitfalls we have had in our last few years resurrecting our brand, and no matter where the road may take us I will never give up, because This is my passion!

Thanks for Reading!

Michael Q



How To Cook Championship Style Barbecue with a Gas Grill

Can you really use gas grills in competition?

You can’t, but here’s a recipe for some damn good ribs using charcoal.

I mean you didn’t really think I was serious did you? Gas grill in a barbecue contest? In real life? I’m talking about barbecue, not cheap dollar store meat that’s been burnt to a crisp and as dry as the Sahara desert.




  • Open the rib packages and use a pair of fish skinning pliers to pull the membrane (silver skin) off of the back side of the ribs.



  • Trim any excess fat or skin away from the ribs. You'll know if you see it.



  • Be sure to use Babyback ribs. Spare ribs are like spare tires. They work in a pinch, put they're not the best you can use. They're awfully full of gristle.



  • Rub each rack with olive oil to give yourself a somewhat sticky surface on both sides



  • With anything though, rub in moderation...excess rubbing can chaff the meat!



  • Use as much rub beautiful as you can get out of a single can and completely coat each rack with dry rub. You can't over do it because you just want it covered with a layer.



  • Sprinkle some rosemary onto the newly applied Rub Beautiful. Trust me on this. It's a real nice touch and it gives you a fresh hint of flavor.



  • Fire up your smoker and wait til your coals are "peak hot" or when the coals are white and glowing orange inside.



  • Once the smoker is ready, make sure you have an indirect place for the ribs to go and place them away from the flame for indirect heat.



  • Let the ribs cook for a couple of hours at around 250 degrees and check them for heat displacement if you're on a smaller grill. You may have to move hotter sides to cooler areas and rotate to avoid burning. If you're on an indirect smoker you're probably okay without this step. Rotisseries are best for cooking ribs.



  • About midway through cooking, remove each rack, wrap it in foil, and drizzle a cup or two of beer into the foil all over the ribs. Recover and wrap the ribs in the foil.



  • Allow the beer to permeate the ribs and soften up the meat while continuing a slow heat for the next hour or so.



  • Just before they're ready to take up, drizzle a little Sauce Beautiful on each rack and paint it onto the surface with a brush. Let it cook for a few minutes to give your ribs a sweet and sticky bark.



  • Once the ribs are ready to take up and have reached a safe temperature (I prefer 190 degrees), remove the ribs from the grill surface and cut each rack into ribs grouped in threes.



  • Ring the dinner bell, tell everyone to fend for themselves, and crack a cold one. You just made some amazing ribs.

Let’s Go on a Barbecue Adventure in Jim & Donna’s Lunar Rover: A 1980’s Chevrolet Astro Van

It’s been a crazy week this week. My neighbors decided to burn their leaves in a pile on top of the cable tv tap for the block that I live on, my mother is in the hospital for pneumonia, I’m just now preparing my tax documents, and my family is in mourning over the loss of my Uncle Dave. It’s not the normal grind I’m used to when it comes to running a business or two on the side, but I will prevail. In the meantime, I’d like to tell you a story. It’s a story I’ve unearthed during long blocks of thought and reflection and it all began returning to me when the environment was just right on a late trip back to Jonesboro from seeing my mother in the hospital in Searcy.

I guess it was in the flat bottomlands and delta between Possum Grape and just north of Newport, Arkansas that I really felt the chill of memories tingling up the back of my spine. There I was, alone in my red truck, with the windows down and the thermometer sitting at a perfect 66 degrees. I had the radio on listening to one of my very long and curated Spotify playlists called “Cool Summer Nights,” a playlist mostly comprised of 1980’s pop and rock music with some relics from the 1960’s and 1970’s thrown in for measure. It was the soundtrack of my life from birth to age 8 and was often blaring through the speakers of my first spaceship, a mid 1980’s Chevrolet Astro Van that my mom and dad drove. The fainting glow of the sun just below the horizon, the rush of damp cool wind from the delta bottoms blowing through my hair, and the beat of the end of an era marching me right along down Rock’N’Roll highway 67 was something I have been missing for a while. I began to visualize myself along with my family in a simpler time; a time before BBQ sauce was a commercial endeavor for my parents, much less Michael or me.

The period marked the upheaval surrounding the inevitable beginning of the fall of the U.S.S.R., Michael and I had a pet snapping turtle named Michael (Duke) Dukakis, The end of the Cold War was nigh, and George Bush was making play for a presidential bid. Dad had already been to Ireland to win the International BBQ Cooking contest once and was returning to do it again. The period was between 1986 and 1989, specifically 1987, with some memories peppered in from other years in the range. The backseat of the van with giant side windows, a sliding door, and no presumptions about knowing how to drive reminded me of an astronaut sitting in a capsule with star fields on all sides. I can remember reclining back in the seat and hearing the radio play thinking to myself that there was no place I’d rather be than right there with my mom and dad as mission control creeping slowly down the gravel roads looking at stars, thunderstorms, coyotes, and deer. We spent hundreds of nights on the St. Francis River Levee fishing, frog gigging, and watching the FedEx planes with landing gear engaged, flying in and out of Memphis like bright white army ants marching to and from a colony, single file and never late.

Some of those nights on the farm ended with a toolbox or cooler full of bullfrogs. I guess it was destined to be in my blood, but Dad was frog gigging when I was pushing my way into the world. I am almost positive it was out of season since my birthday is March 31st and as far back as I can consciously remember, frog season begins on tax day, April 15th, but I digress. Once my brother and I got older there were nights when Dad and his best friend Arthur Lee McDaniel would take us along for the ride. They were masters at frog hunting. We’d roll out in my mom’s van with the night’s sky as our canvas and spotlights as paint brushes. Arthur and Dad would be high-fiving each other in the front seat driving across cow pastures and fields looking for ponds, swamps, rivers, and ditches to catch frogs. Sometimes Dad would just fit as many of the slimy jumpers as he could down the bib of his overalls and hop his way back to the van. Arthur would run and catch the fast ones and put them in his cooler. We’d come home and have dozens of frogs to eat.

Many of those turn rows, gravel roads, and levees ended up back at home where Dad would have a giant smoker or cooker fired up to cook enough for 100 when he needed to cook for 10. I can remember swatting mosquitoes sitting on our screened in front porch watching Dad pull hot aluminum foil apart with his fingers, cussing up a storm, shaking his hands with burns, and basting a big pork shoulder or a dozen or more whole fryer chickens with a mop and a saucepan full of homemade Au Jus. I can still feel the refreshing breeze of the dew fallen grass breaking the monotony of the still of night. The air was fresh and cool with the occasional hint of Au Jus and a slight sting of vinegar, spices, and smoke. The radio was usually tuned to FM 100 or Rock 103 out of Memphis and there was always a Phil Collins or The Police song keeping time and marching through the night. I’d usually lie there in a folding chair or one of my bean bag chairs and keep one eye pried open just watching and listening to my Dad work. After Michael and I finally settled in for the evening it was one of the best times for us to learn the ways our Dad cooked. We’d watch with content until we either drifted off completely or were reluctantly running hand and foot back and forth to the kitchen to grab utensils, pans, ingredients, and so on.

On the nights when we weren’t at home during the summer, we were usually on a river bank somewhere in the mid-south preparing our speeches for the BBQ judges, sharpening our knives, playing flag football with the other teams’ kids, and helping Mom and Dad prepare for judgment day at a regional Memphis in May circuit BBQ contest. While other kids were camping with their parents, uncles, brothers, and cousins, Michael and I were camping at Tom Lee Park in Memphis listening to tall tales of bullshit and trickery from all over the world. When we weren’t in Memphis, we were hanging out in Little Rock, Nashville, and every small town in between. Everywhere a new place, but every person new or old was a familiar face. No matter the venue, we went there via a Chevy Astro van. No matter the mission ahead, the van was our portal to whole new worlds complete with a starry night sky and alien lifeforms all too different from Cherry Valley, AR. As a child of the 1980’s the older I get the more I long for another night under the stars with my family making fun of old drunkards, sometimes punching them in the face, and sugaring up to my older cousins’ new wives or girlfriends.

Before you go, I want to leave you with a recipe for frog legs that will have you hopping onto our online store and buying a few things to get your 80’s montage on while you grill some shrimp and drink Bloody Mary’s with your friends.




  • 24 frog's legs, skin removed



  • 1 (4 ounce) packet saltine crackers, crushed



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour



  • 1/2 cup cornmeal



  • 1 teaspoon minced onion




  • Rinse the frog's legs and pat dry; set aside. In a large resealable bag, combine the saltine cracker crumbs, flour, cornmeal, onion, and Hickory Steak Rub. Shake to mix. In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.



  • Heat the vegetable oil and peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. The oil should be about 1/2 inch deep.



  • Dip the frog's legs into the milk and egg, then dip into the cracker mixture until evenly coated. Carefully place them in the hot oil. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes per side. If the legs start to brown too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Drain on paper towels before serving.

  • To Cook



  • 2 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • Marinade



  • 2/3 C. soy sauce



  • 1/2 C. olive oil



  • 2 T. brown sugar



  • 1 1/2 t. ground ginger



  • 1 medium yellow onion minced



  • List Item2 cloves garlic, minced




  • Combine marinade ingredients and marinate shrimp overnight in the mixture.



  • Skewer shrimp and grill over direct charcoal heat for approximately 20 minutes.



  • Serves 4-6




  • 1 teaspoon celery salt



  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish



  • lime wedges



  • lemon wedges




  • Garnishes: cherry tomatoes, celery stalks, Shrimp Quessenberry, pickled okra, olives, or pickled green beans



  • In a large pitcher, mix tomato juice, vodka, barbecue sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce (optional), celery salt, and horseradish.



  • Moisten the rim of each glass with lime or lemon wedge; dip rims in celery salt. Fill glasses with ice and tomato juice mixture. Garnish with lime wedges, lemon wedges, tomatoes, celery, shrimp, okra, olives, and green beans, if desired. Makes about eight cocktails each 8 ounces.

6 Tips On Driving A Clown Car Through a Labyrinth of Success

1. Get A Clown Car

Back in late 2015 our business was operating using a measly clown tricycle. It was red, had the fringe streamers hanging from the handlebars, and painted with a crazy red spiral on hub-capped rims. It was the epitome of textbook tricycles. We even had a bear that rode on the back pedals while Michael wore his bright red honking nose cruising aimlessly from one ring to another begging for circus peanuts. It was a tired and sad grind that we were hopelessly stuck with for the foreseeable future. If only we had some good advice or a drive to do more…

It was another long year in the showbiz and through tireless promotions, canvassing, and local shows and as our promoter I had grown weary of watching Michael and the Bear twirling around in circles for peanuts. Something had to give way. It was then, in that very moment that the three of us, very talented tricyclists, realized what we needed to do. It was a bold move and it would forever forge us in the fires of fraternal fortitude, but it had to be done. With great humility and sacrifice the bear and Michael and I as clowns approached The Great Boy, Runner of Errands, Manager of Leads, and Artist Now Formerly Known as Shareholder of whom wisdom and knowledge has no limits, with a question regarding what to do next in regards to expanding the Greatest Show in Northeast Arkansas into other realms of the land. He spoke and said unto us,

“I can just see it now. Y’all ridin’ up there to REDACTED DISTRIBUTOR’s place all piled in a clown car, making deals, and clowning like y’all do so well. Give me a f$%^ing break!”

It was in that moment that we knew we must immediately get a clown car, so we got three; well two that run and one in a garage, as well as a new clown to add to the show.

Unfortunately for The Errand Boy, this act of pure wisdom drew all of his power from him and he had to be put out to pasture to wait for another group of clowns to bring him along for the ride. In this single act of selflessness the Errand Boy became the Artist Formerly Known as Shareholder left to reflect on his choices and grow bitter while claiming that,

“Q-Sauce Taste Like Ass.”

only to walk away with a dented 1980’s refrigerator.

In the mean time we, the bear and two clowns, needed to move on and begin driving the clown car forward to the next act. Along the way, we claimed a sailor named Lynn, our newest clown, to our troupe and have been navigating a labyrinth of success.

I’d like to share some of the obstacles we’ve faced and how you can drive your clown car to success as a business, or at least avoid obvious pitfalls and barricades along the way.

2. Beware! Clown Cars Run On Fuel

Believe it or not, your clown car runs on the same gasoline, diesel, or electricity as other similar automobiles with exception to maybe the Batmobile and the Delorean from Back to the Future, but more often than not (about 99.99975%), your clown car will physically run on liquid fossil fuels or electricity. In this case, you must constantly fuel up the car to make deliveries and no fuel burns faster than your own. Unfortunately when you’re operating a business and bootstrapping it from the ground up, there are sacrifices to be made for the betterment of the company and your clown car is no different.

Caption: Jeff drives the clowncar with a trophy in it just to feel special. It makes the shows much better when the trophies are there.

When you first start out, your clown car needs to fit the job it is handling. For instance, our clown cars are both early to mid nineties Ford trucks. One is an F-150 and the other is a Bronco. The F-150 is our main hauler and we use it to set up and tear down our demonstrations, haul tables and chairs, haul palettes of ingredients, and haul our clown in training to and from clown workshops. The Bronco is used for short distance deliveries and local hand to hand deliveries making appearances all over Northeast Arkansas. It is useful in the rain because the cargo space is contained and has a roof.

Doing all of these trips in the clown car(s) will burn an immense amount of fuel. If you remember, I stated that your own fuel burns faster than someone else's. While this is true, it is also more efficient because it is your sacrifice and you don't have to reimburse another clown or live in the pocket of another circus. This means that not only is the gasoline yours, but the profits of the business are yours as well. We prefer to use our own fuel to operate our clown car(s) because that means we keep a larger portion of revenue without worrying about paying anyone back.

3. Be Careful! Drive Slow When You Need To.

When we were on our tricycle, we were driving it as fast and hard as we possibly could to get from show to show. It was taking a toll on us and the trike. We even tried to pull a giant steel barbecue smoker with it and just barely got that smoker to its destination before we had to return the circus peanuts that we borrowed to pay the guys that built the smoker. We learned that going to fast and picking up too much weight along the way was bad for the clown trike mobile and we decided to take things down a notch for the new clown cars.

The thing is that no matter what happens, if you intend to grow your circus into a full three ring event, you're going to need a reliable clown car. That means you need to take it easy and cautiously and move in a single forward progression as you take the hills, curves, and bumps along the way. Driving the clowncar too fast will cause the giant 3D bobblehead on top to bounce off, or even worse, you're going to crash it. The road from here to showbiz is full of curves and hills, but there are staightaways too.

4. Be Swift! Take Straightaways At Full Speed.

If your tank is full and the highway is clear, move as fast as you can to build your business with the resources you have. The importance here is on the RESOURCES YOU HAVE. If you don't have the resources you need to set up your circus tent and stunt track, then review what you do have and make the best of it. It's difficult to run a race without tires, fuel, energy, and some tune-ups along the way, but when you have that stuff accounted for and the getting is good, then go get it. For a short while, throw caution to the wind and let the wind blow through your curly clown hair. It feels good to run a business that gets ahead once in a while. When the opportunity is there, take it.

5. Be Vigilant! Don't Take Jokes from Other Clowns.

Sometimes when you're on the straight and narrow path to the next show you'll run across some other clown that would rather see your clown-car crash and burn than be successful. When this happens, don't drink the Kool-aid. Just smile, honk your big red nose, flip em the bird, and keep rolling. People will often tell you that other people detract from your work or ideas because you have something the don't. Sometimes this is true, but sometimes people are just assholes. It doesn't pay you either way to find out. What does pay is the incentive to work and strive to put your best foot forward. Allowing an amateur clown to get under your skin shows vulnerability and weakness. Taking time to slow down and address these detractors wastes fuel and destroys your ability to recover from the mud slinging.

6. Always Set Waypoints.

Not knowing where you want to go in life is a sure fire way to not know where you're going. When you're in your clowncar, its no different. Before you depart for your next circus act, research a place and set goals for your next event. Learn as much about the new event or location as you can before heading that direction. Upon arrival, assess the situation and see if the event or place is as it seemed. If its not, don't commit any new resources to it. Unfortunately for us, we didn't know where we wanted to be with our adventure in building BBQ smokers for other clowns and we kept committing resources to a project that ended up producing a third of what was expected AND almost didn't pay back the loan taken out to build with. This is probably reason numero uno of why you should plan and debrief all the people in your clowncar before you make hasty decisions. Fortunately we've since been in better communication with all the people in our clowncar and have had fewer collisions and accidents along the way.

For a taste of what our clown car can deliver to you, have a look around in our shop. Be sure to use the word CLOWNCAR for a discount during checkout.