I count myself fortunate to be able to live the lifestyle that I do. Between our RV travels and my work travels, I’ve been able to see a large portion of this country. During those travels, I have made it my mission to eat as much BBQ as I can to uncover the hidden gems. Sure, I could have made a list of the top BBQ joints in Texas. However, that’s a list that many others have done already numerous times. What I strive to find are the BBQ joints in the most unexpected places. So without further delay, here is my top 5 list of BBQ joints in places where you’d least expect them:
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Mar 5, 2016 at 11:59am PST
When I think of the SF Bay Area, BBQ is not the first thing that comes to mind. I’d daresay that it’s not even the second or third thing that comes to mind. I had the opportunity to eat at Phat Matt’s BBQ in Oakland, CA early in my travels, and it is totally worth the trip from wherever you are in the Bay Area! Matt and his wife Charlotte crank out delicious meats along with absolutely tasty side dishes. The one thing that makes Phat Matt’s unique from most (I’d daresay all) BBQ joints is that they use no salt in their seasonings. It totally blew my mind at first, but the smoke and other seasonings used in their meats more than make up for it!!
Phat Matt’s BBQ is located at 3415 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609.
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on May 24, 2018 at 11:11am PDT
BBQ at Disney?!?! Yeah I tried that in the past and was left woefully disappointed. But fast forward a few years from that day, and a new BBQ establishment is in places satisfying those who crave good BBQ. The Polite Pig opened at Disney Springs in April 2017 and has been cranking out delicious smoked meats ever since! Well worth adding to your dining destination list if you’re thinking about a stay at the Mouse House!
The Polite Pig is located at Disney Springs (1536 Buena Vista Blvd., Orlando, FL 32830) at the bottom of the escalators adjacent to the Lime Garage.
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Mar 23, 2019 at 5:38pm PDT
This one came out of nowhere. My wife and I spent a month in Las Cruces, NM this past winter, and I was dead set on getting my green chile and New Mexican food fix enough to last the whole year (which I did, but I digress). A college buddy of mine suggested that I check out Mad Jack’s Mountaintop Barbecue in Cloudcroft, NM. And it was worth the 120-mile drive and hour wait in line to get to eat this Texas-style brisket, succulent smoked turkey, and flavorful Kreuz sausage!
Mad Jack’s Mountaintop Barbecue is located at 105 James Canyon Hwy, Cloudcroft, NM 88317.
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Jun 24, 2017 at 10:46am PDT
Montana… my soon-to-be home. The land of the cattle, rolling prairie in the east, and mountain ranges in the west. And also home to Blue’s BBQ in Billings. It’s unassuming location in a gas station does not do it justice at all. They treat that pig, chicken, and cow just as it should be — smoked to mouth-watering perfection!
Blue’s BBQ is located at 523 Hilltop Rd., Billings, MT 59105.
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Dec 7, 2018 at 11:56am PST
I can hear some grumblings already about this choice. “Wayne, you’re 45 minutes from Houston and some amazing BBQ!” And I’d say you’re right. But when I think of Galveston, I think of fresh seafood and not BBQ. But Leon’s BBQ in Galveston has been an establishment in Galveston for over 25 years, slinging some righteous ‘cue. Get the brisket and thank me later…
Leon’s BBQ is located at 5427 Broadway Avenue J, Galveston, TX 77551.
I know you all have some hidden gems out there. It’s your duty to share those top BBQ joints in unexpected places. Share them with the world (and with me) on here, because as my friend Danielle Bennett (who you may know as Diva Q) says: “Life is too short for bad BBQ!”
This past year for me was the year of the marinade. During many of my cooks, I found myself marinading more and more of my meats prior to cooking on the grill or smoker. Marinades are a great way to add surface flavor to thicker cuts of meat, and with thinner cuts that flavor permeates much closer to the center.
If you want to jump directly to the recipe, you can click here. If you’re interested more in the ins and outs of marinades, keep reading…
Basics of Marinades
A basic marinade consists of the following components:
The liquid acts as the carrier for the acid, salt, and flavorings. In many commercial marinades, this carrier is oil. However, Amazing Ribs notes that oil-based marinades will not penetrate meat at all and rather suggests using water as the carrier to make a paste. The acid (usually in form of a fruit juice or vinegar) assists with surface tenderization of the protein. The salt acts as a flavor enhancer, and flavorings are the extra ingredients to make the marinade flavorful!
A 1-to-1 ratio of liquid to acid works well for heartier cuts of meat such as beef. For white meats and more delicate proteins, a 2-to-1 ratio (or 3-to-1) is more appropriate. The marinade time is important as well. For large hearty cuts, you’re safe to marinade all day. However, more delicate meats such as chicken do not need as much time (or the texture will be off). And seafood and vegetables need at a most 30 minutes.
Common Myths of Marinades
Marinades Penetrate Deeply
Since most meat is majority water, there’s simply no more room for further anything else to penetrate. The only exception here is salt, but even then it takes salt a full day to penetrate 1 inch deep into meat.
Simply due to the fact that there’s not much penetration of marinade into meat, there is very little tenderizing that will take place beyond the surface of the meat.
Longer Marinade Times are Better
This is not always the case, especially depending on the protein and acid content of the marinade. More delicate proteins that are marinaded for too long will turn the meat mushy and “faux cook” the protein.
My Marinade Process
I went with a 2-to-1 ratio of liquid to acid in this marinade, and I split that evenly between oil and water. Because I was working with red meat, I decided to forego a heavy use of sugary flavorings and went with a more savory flavor profile. My 3 secret ingredients in this marinade are beef stock concentrate, a smoked barrel aged balsamic vinegar, and ground coffee. The goal here was to go with a powerful flavor, and I would call it successful!
I’ve mentioned to people that I have a blog, but that it’s been on a bit of a hiatus. Tonight I took a quick look, and it’s been over a year since I’ve written!!! Totally unacceptable. But I’m still around, despite best rumors! So let’s see how 2017 went… in a nutshell: FAST!
On the BBQ Front
BBQ has continued to be very good to me despite my hibernating tendencies. One of my biggest highlights of 2017 was attaining my KCBS Master Certified Barbecue Judge credentials! And on my first attempt, nonetheless!
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Jan 24, 2017 at 4:39pm PST
Along with picking up Master CBJ status, I also became a KCBS Certified Table Captain! Becoming a table captain is one of those things that was always on my radar, but I never really pulled the trigger until when I took the class prior to the 2017 American Royal.
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Aug 31, 2017 at 2:55pm PDT
Speaking of the American Royal, I got the privilege to judge again in 2017. For me, the American Royal is akin to a great big reunion of friends where I just also happen to judge and eat some damn fine BBQ!
And don’t think that I slacked off in the cooking front either. A huge perk for the summer of 2017 was some friends loaning us a Big Green Egg to cook on for the summer in exchange for teaching them how to use it. Now that was an offer I couldn’t refuse! And while I love my Weber Jumbo Joe, there’s something to be said for having access to such a versatile cooker.
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Jul 2, 2017 at 3:23pm PDT
And cook on it we did! From pizza to rack of lamb to beef ribs, everything was fair game! But my favorite thing that I cooked this summer was a buffalo tri-tip. I came up with a special marinade for this beauty, and the end product was a work of art!
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Aug 9, 2017 at 5:57pm PDT
And even though I was on a break, some fine BBQ product manufacturers were gracious enough to continue to work with me! Two of my favorites are Grilla Grills and Mojobricks. I got to spend some time with Shane Draper over the holidays. Shane works extensively with Grilla Grills as their BBQ consultant (for lack of a better term). Shane is the brains behind the Grilla Grills line of sauces and rubs, and wow are they fantastic! The flavor profiles are spot on, and I highly recommend any of them.
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Feb 2, 2018 at 8:20pm PST
For those who don’t know, Mojobricks are a compressed all-natural wood product that uses organic polymers to hold together the wood fibers and create a slow-burning wood product. They’re available in multiple smoke flavors (Competition Blend, Cherry, Apple, Maple, a “Mapple” blend) and three different sizes to provide various amounts of smoke over time.
Currently Mojobricks is running a Kickstarter campaign to increase retail presence and invest in display equipment needed to better promote their product. If you’re interested in helping out, their Kickstarter campaign can be found here. It’s a worthy product worthy of investment.
On the RV Life Front
The RV life continues to be kind to us. In October we made our biggest change when we upgraded from a 26′ travel trailer to a 35′ fifth wheel!
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Oct 9, 2017 at 5:38pm PDT
For quite some time we had been discussing upgrading to a fifth wheel. However, an opportunity presented itself in October and we decided to make the move. So far it’s been great!! Much roomier than the travel trailer, and the overall tow length is only one foot longer than the trailer.
After our time in Montana was up for the year, we headed south for the winter (in dramatic fashion, as always, when trying to beat a major snowstorm that was coming into the area). But we survived and got to spend time in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and San Antonio on our travels south.
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Nov 13, 2017 at 7:33pm PST
We spent the remainder of the year on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Then a couple of weeks into the new year, we made our way north towards Oxford, MS. After spending a couple of weeks there (one of which I was gone for work travel), we made our way back south to Opp, Alabama to this hidden gem of a state park there.
Happy 2017! We’re a month and change into the new year, and there already appears to be much going on in the world of grilling, BBQ, and all things related. Personally, it has been an eventful year so far! We’re slowly making our way west, so keep checking in to see where we are! Here are some things (more than five) that you may be interested in checking out:
The new year isn’t starting so hot for RTIC Coolers, with a binding settlement being reached in a lawsuit between them and YETI coolers. RTIC will be forking over some cash to YETI and discontinuing sales of all products brought up in the lawsuit.
ThermoWorks is having an open-box sale on their Thermapen Mk4. Normally $99, these are going for $76! (NOTE: this is an affiliate link, and if you purchase through the link I will make a commission. Regardless, I am a super fan of all things ThermoWorks!)
Enjoy your weekend! Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!
I judged at 2 great KCBS contests in Montana — the Montana BBQ Cookoff in Absarokee and the Carnivores Classic in Missoula. I highly recommend both of these contests and hope to be back to both in 2017.
I scratched another item off my BBQ bucket list — judging at the American Royal! Originally I was only accepted for the Open and the Open Sides, but I was fortunate to also get in to the Invitational!
We made our trek back east and south for the winter. If anyone is interested in seeing how we went, here’s a map.
Judging at the American Royal was nothing short of awesome! There are always some fun stories that come out of it. Also amazing was Operation BBQ Relief’s party at the Royal, PigAPalooza! I was able to get around and get lots of pictures, and here they are!
But anyway, enough of the reminiscing on this summer. Let’s get right to the point. I’m giving away a bunch of my favorite BBQ things for the holiday season!! Here are the list of items one lucky person will win:
The super-fast Thermapen Mk4! Rotating backlit display while keeping the same super-fast temperature readings you’ve come to know/love.
Rub/sauce combo from Grilla Grills. This offering has taken the rub and sauce market by storm. With a great flavor balance and versatility, you’re sure to be pleased!
A bottle of Ubon’s Bloody Mary mix. Starting as a concept developed by pitmaster Garry Roark over 20 years ago, this Bloody Mary mix combines the traditional Bloody Mary flavors with Ubon’s BBQ sauce to make your tastebuds dance.
Two packs of Mojobricks Bar-B-Qubes. An eco-friendly compressed wood product that gives you a beautiful wood smoke flavor.
And finally, a $20 Amazon gift card. Because while it’s not cold hard cash, it’s as close as you’ll get!
In addition, two other lucky people will receive a ThermoPop from ThermoWorks!
I love giving people multiple chances to win, so the widget below shows all the ways you can enter and win. And for the fine details… This contest ends on Thursday at 11:59:59pm EST and is open only to US residents. Winners have 24 hours after being notified to claim their prize, or a new winner will be chosen in his/her place Good luck!
Those who keep a close eye on me know that I like my bourbon nearly as much as I like my BBQ. In fact, my first introduction to bourbon was through Four Roses Single Barrel. What an introduction that was! So when asked to come up with a BBQ sauce recipe based on Four Roses Yellow Label bourbon, how could I refuse?
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Jun 21, 2016 at 7:27pm PDT
For those not familiar with the Four Roses brand, the distillery is based in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. They distill ten separate bourbons using a combination of two mash bill recipes and five different yeast strains. Their standard Yellow Label (80 proof) expression blends all ten of these distinct bourbons, while their Small Batch expressions (90 proof) blend four of the bourbons together and their Single Barrel expression (100 proof) comes from a single barrel.
Naturally, in order to conduct research on the best way to use this bourbon in a BBQ sauce, I had to do some taste testing. I found this bourbon to be a very easy and very smooth drink — no overly dominant or complex flavors. This would make a great component for an Old Fashioned cocktail — one of my favorite cocktails. To pay homage to this classic drink, I came up with a BBQ sauce recipe incorporating the elements of an Old Fashioned. Hope you enjoy!
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on May 26, 2016 at 8:08am PDT
Yesterday the results of the 2016 American Royal “Best Sauce on the Planet” contest were released. Kick Ash sauce placed fourth out of 106 entries in the spicy tomato-based sauce category and scored an incredible tenth place out of 450 entries! And for good reason — this is a very tasty BBQ sauce.
But before we dive in, let’s learn a little more about the man behind the BBQ…
Henry Leimkuehler began smoking meat at home for friends and family back in 2008. He bought his first professional smoker in 2011 and met his wife, Barbara, also a food lover, at the same time. It was fate. They began competing in the KCBS (Kansas City Barbecue Society) competitions throughout the summer of 2012, where they won seven top 10’s in five of the events. Then fate intervened again. Shortly after the Leimkuehlers married in the fall of 2012, Henry got diagnosed with Stage 3 Multiple Myeloma cancer, an incurable but treatable blood cancer that affects the bones and kidneys. So for the next year, Henry battled for his life. After achieving a complete response to his daily chemotherapy, Henry worked on ideas for his dream BBQ company.
Finally, that dream came true when they purchased the Little Red Trailer in 2015. They opened Smokin Pigs Ash BBQ, LLC in June 2015 for roadside concessions and catering. After repeated requests from customers, Henry worked on his own unique BBQ sauce. “Kick Ash” was created and professionally bottled in December 2015 by Patter Fam Sauces from Wheelersburg, Ohio. Smokin Pigs Ash likes to call it “Sweet with a little heat”.
Tomato concentrate, high fructose corn syrup, distilled vinegar, salt, mustard, apple cider vinegar, apple juice, dark corn syrup, molasses, honey, apricots, Worcestershire sauce, butter, tomato paste, brown sugar, lemon juice, black pepper, garlic powder, onion, crushed red pepper
Describing the Sauce
This sauce is your classic thick tomato-based sauce. It has that consistency that people think of when they think of BBQ sauce. The sauce is not overly syrupy sweet, but it is definitely sweet, smoky, and peppery. It has that deep red color that is the staple of most classic BBQ sauces and a good feel on the tongue.
Kick Ash Sauce is a great sauce for those who may not like things super hot but want some spice in their life. Because this is a thick sweet sauce, I recommend using it as a finishing glaze rather than using it throughout the cooking process. It also works beautifully as a condiment — yes, I’m one of those guys who will dip his French fries in BBQ sauce.
How I Tested the Sauce
Let’s just say my wife and I used this sauce every chance we could! It worked great as a topping for BBQ nachos as well as a finishing sauce on hot dogs and pork chops. We liked this sauce so much that I had to scramble to get pictures before we used up all of the product.
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on May 13, 2016 at 5:59pm PDT
This is a sauce worth ordering, ladies and gents! The combination of sweet, spicy, and peppery makes this one a hit! As for the future, Henry and Barbara dream of more barbecue recipes and new innovative barbecue sauces, so I’m looking forward to what they come up with next!
For weeks, Weber has been hyping up a new product line. There has been much speculation around the internet as to what the new grill would be. Today, Weber revealed their new products: the Summit Charcoal Grill and the Summit Charcoal Grilling Center.
The grill, targeting the market for kamado style cookers, appears to blend the better aspects of the Smoky Mountain smoker and Weber’s classic kettle grill while adding some new elements. The cooking grate is now 24.5″ in diameter, providing 452 square inches of cooking space. Also, the cooking grate has a removable center piece that allows Weber accessories to fit in there (wok, griddle, poultry roaster, etc.). Instead of a removable lid, the lid is now hinged. The Summit charcoal grill series also comes with a gas ignition system, allowing those who primarily cook over gas to make a smoother transition over to charcoal.
Both of the offerings in the Summit charcoal grill series now feature double-walled insulation. The lid retains a top damper, while the bottom of the grill uses the One Touch system for air flow. The new addition to the One Touch system for the Summit charcoal grill series is a spot for low-and-slow cooking. That, in combination with an adjustable charcoal grate system and hinged heat diffuser plate, should allow owners to be able to swap between low and slow cooking and hot and fast grilling.
Purchasers of the Summit Charcoal Grilling Center will get a stainless steel side table that has a charcoal holder, a tool rack, and a wire rack for storage. For those who go with the Summit Charcoal Grill, their grill will sit in a wheeled nest (similar to what the kettle grills use already) that has a bottom wire rack for storage.
The suggested retail price for the Summit Charcoal Grill is $1,699. For the Summit Charcoal Grilling Center, the MSRP goes up to $2,299. If anyone has the opportunity to cook on one of these in the near future, I’d love to hear about your experience.
Recently my lovely wife picked up a small spiral sliced ham to cook for dinner. Because she’s currently in the middle of preparations for a huge show for her business, I offered to cook the ham on my Weber Jumbo Joe. At least that was the excuse I offered up — in reality, I’ve been itching to try this for quite some time. And since the ham was pre-smoked and pre-cooked, all I really need to do was to reheat it. But why just reheat it when you can smoke it again and make it a double smoked ham!?!?
Traditional spiral sliced hams have a bit of a sweeter flavor profile, usually due to the brown sugar glaze that gets applied towards the end of cooking. To keep to this general trend, I had to go with a sweeter BBQ rub. Sure, you can concoct your own seasoning blend, but there are too many good choices out on the market to need to do that. I decided to go with a seasoning blend that is extremely popular with Big Green Egg / Kamado Joe owners: Honey Hog BBQ rub by Meat Church BBQ.
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Feb 21, 2016 at 10:30am PST
As a sweeter BBQ rub, Honey Hog BBQ rub played right into the flavor profile that I wanted. I slathered yellow mustard over the outside of the ham and liberally applied Honey Hog BBQ evenly all over the ham. After a rest in the refrigerator for an hour or 2, I pulled the ham out, sprayed the ham with vegetable oil spray, and applied a second thinner layer of Honey Hog BBQ rub. Then the ham went into the refrigerator again to rest and get cozy until cooking time.
As a side note, I originally tried applying vegetable oil to the outside of the ham for the first coating, but it did not adhere well to the ham.
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Mar 20, 2016 at 10:40am PDT
I can’t thank David Somerville of Quality Grill Parts for supplying me with the Weber Jumbo Joe for my journey into full-time RVer-hood. It is a piece of equipment that is often underrated. Like its larger kettle siblings, the Weber Jumbo Joe is a versatile grill. In addition to direct heat grilling, you can do low and slow smoking or indirect smoke-roasting on it that tastes just as good as food that comes off of other dedicated smokers.
I set up the Weber Jumbo Joe for indirect heat by keeping the charcoal (Royal Oak lump charcoal) to one side of the grill. The bottom damper was approximately 3/4 open, while the damper on the lid was all the way open. For the smoke element, I used a couple of small apple wood chunks plus one Competition Blend Bar-B-Qube from Mojobricks (available for purchase from Amazon).
Since the ham was pre-cooked, all I had to do was reheat it. You’ll want to take the internal temperature of the ham to between 140 and 145 degrees. For me, my cook time was an hour and a half total. Your mileage may vary depending on the size of the ham and the temperature at which you’re cooking. If you’re cooking in the 275 degree range, estimate cook time at 15-20 minutes per pound. Higher temperatures (such as the 325 degree range) drop the cook time to about 12 minutes per pound.
With every spiral sliced ham comes that little magical packet of glaze. It’s nothing more than brown sugar and other additives to thicken it when cooked in hot water. You can choose to pitch it and make your own glaze (as most people do). For this cook, I used 1/3 of the packet of glaze mix and blend it with 2 cups of Swamp Boys Sauce that I then heated in the microwave. This gave the sauce (which is an excellent sauce, by the way) a different sweet element that suited the ham.
The first glazing occurred 30 minutes prior to the cook being done. When glazing, I made sure to get some of it in between the spiral cuts. It was a beautiful sight — a red color that looked absolutely amazing!
A post shared by Big Wayner (@bigwaynerbbq) on Mar 20, 2016 at 2:36pm PDT
For my first attempt at a double smoked ham, I was very pleased! The only thing I would do differently would be to periodically rotate the ham so that one side isn’t closest to the heat for the duration of the cook. Other than that, I would totally cook this again!!
A double-smoked ham is a great and easy way to amp up that spiral sliced ham to a whole new level. Preparation is very easy, and the results are awesome! Hope you enjoyed reading!
(NOTE: The Weber Jumbo Joe was provided to me by David Somerville of QualityGrillParts.com as part of a promotional agreement. This blog post is a sponsored post as part of that arrangement. Amazon links on here are referral links that help support the blog.)
We’re almost halfway through the month of January. And it’s payday for me too, so it’s naturally a great day! But here are five things you may be interested in reading to add some BBQ and grilling sunshine to your dreary winter days:
ThermoWorks is in the middle of two-week sale on their ThermoPop. It normally costs $29, but it can be purchased for $21. (NOTE: The link is an affiliate link. Purchases made through that link will go to support this blog.)