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 15: Five Things You Should Know About Charcoal

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.

Day 11: Why Are We Celebrating? Giveaway Announcement

I am nearing the end of this day as I write this, but I wanted to share with you guys why we are celebrating today. If you have read the blog the last few days, you know today is our late father’s birthday, but it is also the go live date of when we took JimQuessenberry.com live in 2016! I’m not going to try to follow Lee’s last blog post because it was really good. So, without further adieu…

We are celebrating by offering a new giveaway! Click Here for Details!

Day 9: National BBQ Month

Sample Plate of BBQ

Today starts one of my favorite months, the month of May. I love May because it is when the weather starts to warm up, and the BBQ grills start to come out. May is a month where the skies can be sunny and the temperature is neither too cold nor too hot. I say that, but I do live in Arkansas where the weather can change drastically on the day. I remember a few years back, in May, on the East side of the state, it was in the high 60s to low 70s, and in the West side of the state it was actually snowing. “Classic Arkansas”. But generally speaking, May is perfect for BBQing and has been consequently named National BBQ Month.

Classic Arkansas
Classic Arkansas

As for me the beginning of May brings back fond memories because 1.) It meant the school year was nearing it’s end, and summer was in grasp. 2.) My friend, Brad’s pool was about to open up. 3.) The Memphis in May BBQ Contest is about to happen. As kids, Lee and I used to ride around the streets of Cherry Valley, AR on our bicycles with the other kids from our neighborhood. We often times would end up at a friend’s house doing summer activities such as: swimming in a horse trough or creating a huge slip and slide using a water hose, a roll of foam rubber, and some baby oil or dish soap. But, the one day that I always looked forward to was Mother’s day, for the obvious reason… yes… I love my mother. Also, it just so happens to be the day that my friend Brad Benefield’s parent’s open their pool. That has remained a staple for summer time fun for me, even til this day. Brad and his wife Natausha often invite me, our friend Seth, and Seth’s wife Eli to come swim at his parent’s pool once it opens. What used to be just fun in the summer has become a tradition we refer to as Pool-B-Q. Brad’s mother Cindy grills up some burgers, hot links, hot dogs, and sometimes chicken. We typically slather ALL THE THINGS up in some Sauce Beautiful and completely disregard the don’t swim after you eat rule.

During the middle of the Month is when The Memphis in May BBQ Contest begins. This was my father’s favorite contest. He liked it for many reasons. One reason of course being it’s proximity to where we lived, only about 50 mins away, but dad was also fond of Memphis itself. Memphis is a cool town, with it’s strong roots in Blues, Rock, and BBQ. Dad loved music, food, and people, and what better venue than Memphis in May BBQ Festival to be around all of those things? I’m not certain if dad attended the first MIM contest, but I know that he did attend the second one in the late 70s, and all the competitors were under one tent in the Orpheum parking lot. A lot has changed since then. Dad competed there until the mid 90s, receiving a handful of trophies, but what proved to be more significant were the friends he had made in the competition BBQ scene. He made friends with many people who are big names in competition BBQ these days such as Ardie Davis, Carolyn Wells, the late Silky Sullivan, and the late Billy Bones to name a few. Like him, a lot of those friends were defining what we know today as American BBQ, and Competition BBQ.

Ardie Davis and I
Ardie Davis and I

 

What this May brings us besides fond memories, is opportunity. We plan to vend at a several events this year to grow our business, and I have a secret for you guys. We have another giveaway to announce in two days. Details to come… We chose May 3rd because it is dad’s birthday, and also the 2 year anniversary of taking www.jimquessenberry.com live. Keep the smokers rolling and beers flowing my friends.

Day 5: The Ultimate Glossary of Terms About Barbecue

Lots of things have happened lately in our little part of the world of barbecue, but it’s been such a busy day that I haven’t had time to tell you all a story. Instead, I have challenged myself to think of as many slang, jargon, and technical terms about barbecue so that you can have a laugh or become more knowledgeable or both.

Texas Crutch – This is a technique where simply wrapping the entire cut of meat, whether pork or beef, in aluminum foil to speed up the cook time and tenderize the meat. It allows very little moisture to escape and significantly decreases the time it takes to reach a desired internal temerature. Some frown upon it, but we use it in many different cases for a variety of simple and effective reasons.

Indirect Heat – Cooking a piece of meat that is offset from the heat of the grill or firebox. The heat is transferred through convection to the meat for a slow and juicy cook. When mixed with smoking techniques you get a juicy and delightfully smoky flavor.

Direct Heat – Just like it sounds. Steaks, burgers, and pork chops are mostly cooked on a hit grill or surface directly over the source of heat. Think conductive heat.

Cold Smoking – It’s not quite what it sounds, but cold smoking is when you cook meat slowly, and I mean s-l-o-w-l-y over a reduced amount of heat. Think of a smokehouse that makes smoked jerky. The cooking is done at temperatures often in the 100-200 degree range and over several hours to days. It’s a unique and traditional form of cooking where meat is often hung up in closet sized sheds and smoke is flowed through the chamber from a very indirect heat source.

Temps – Slang for checking the temperatures of both the meat and your smoker or grill.

Whole Hog – Literally a whole pig that is roasted over a fire or indirect heat.

Babyback Ribs – Ribs from the back near the loin of a pig.

Spare Ribs – Ribs from the bottom or stomach area of the pig.

Yard Bird – Chicken.

Marinading the Chef – Drinking beer, booze, or spirits while you wait on a large cut of meat to cook.

Dry Ribs – Ribs that are often associated with Tennessee characterized by an abundance of chili powder, paprika, red pepper, or other spices to form a dry texture on the surface of the ribs. Traditionally served without barbecue sauce on them.

Wet Ribs – Ribs served with an abundance of barbecue sauce slathered onto the surface of the ribs.

Well Done Steak – To plead with the chef or grillmaster requesting that you’d like to be punched directly in the face for being a giant moron with terrible taste.

Turbinado Sugar – Raw sugar from the cane.

Red, White, and Black – A commonly used rub recipe consisting of chili powder, salt, and black pepper.

White Sauce – Something Big something Gibson something something Alabama tradition… We sell our own. You can buy it here.

Table Sauce – A sauce like Heinz 57, A1, Worcestershire, etc.

Serving Sauce – A sauce you would serve your BBQ dish with or prepare the dish with near the end of the cook or just after when you’re ready to serve. Could be considered a finishing sauce.

Thermometer – A fancy heat measuring device that nearly always goes missing.

Hickory – God’s gift to mankind so fire would have purpose.

Gas Grill – Something you take to a metal recycling facility for pocket change.

Have any others you’d like to add? Send us a comment below.

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 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.

365 Days of Barbecue

Good afternoon friends and family! I wanted to let you all know that JimQuessenberry.com is having its best year ever and to reward all of you for being our friends and fans, we’re going to be journaling our adventure one day at a time with our 365 Days of Barbecue blog.

Topics will always be about barbecue but with some different takes and twists on subject matter. We will continue to share recipes along the way so that you can get the most out of your barbecue experience with us. We hope that you find the blog to be informative and engaging as well as honest.

Let’s get started witha few newsworthy posts happening the past few days.

We’re on Amazon!

View our seller profile here. Our four top sellers are listed including our brand new Sauce Beautiful Gold. Of course you can always order online here at the website as well. Either way we’re excited to offer our products to a wider variety of customers.

We Just Made A Batch of Everything!

With the success of being featured on a few YouTube series and the announcement of Amazon, our Winter to Spring transition wiped us out of product. We’ve been fortunate to have higher than last year sales early in the year and have had to continue hitting the kitchen as often as possible to keep up.

Be sure to sign up for our various coupon mailing lists and subscribe to our blog for 365 Days of Barbecue

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