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Pork Barrel BBQ Blog

 
 

Heath, how did you get into BBQ?

Since Brett and I started Pork Barrel BBQ I’ve been asked dozens of times by friends, family and customers how I got into BBQ and why I decided to turn my love for it into a business venture. Although there are a number of reasons that influenced my decision, none was as big of an influence as my dad, Rex Hall.

 
The picture above was the first BBQ contest I ever participated in (and I was lucky enough to be working with my dad) – it was held in Jefferson City, Missouri at the Jefferson City Public Library in the mid-1990’s. We’ve come a long way since then and when I say “we’ve” I mean my dad and I and our quest to always provide the best BBQ to our friends and family that we are capable of providing. Thanks again dad!

I’ve posted before on how important his love of the grill was and how much it has influenced me and helped get me to where I am today. Growing up my dad was like the postal delivery man of the grill – rain, sleet, snow, hail, sun, fog, hot, cold it didn’t matter, winter, spring, summer and fall he was outside grilling up chicken, ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, quail, corn, potatoes and just about anything else that can be grilled for our family meal.

So the most complete answer to how I got into BBQ and decided to turn my love for it into a business is because of my dad, a great teacher of many lessons to me. He taught me how to BBQ – from lighting a fire to seasoning meat. He, along with my mom, taught me that no star was out of my reach if I wanted to hold it in my hand – all I had to do was reach for it and work hard. They taught me the importance of doing whatever you are doing to the best of your ability – no one can ask more if you do your best. They also taught me about the importance of integrity, honesty and good communication – all traits we promise to bring to Pork Barrel BBQ on a daily basis.

Dad, thanks for sharing one of your passions with me because without your guidance and lessons there would be no Pork Barrel BBQ today.

 

Greatest Compliment Ever – Customer Says Pork Barrel BBQ is better than Kansas City BBQ Giants Arthur Bryant’s & Gates

I was following Pork Barrel BBQ on Twitter the other night when Pork Barrel BBQ received the greatest Barbecue compliment ever from http://www.twitter.com/claffee in a tweet:

@claffee Had a bbq rub taste test on the Iberico pork ribs the other night – @porkbarrelbbq beat Arthur Bryant’s and Gates in my opinion!”

We’ve never met @claffee (but he clearly has great wisdom and should be followed on Twitter) – but he clearly has some great taste – because he is 1) using Pork Barrel BBQ’s All American Spice Rub, and 2) is eating Iberico pork ribs.

For those of you who don’t follow meat – Iberico ribs just recently became available in the Washington D.C. market thanks to the amazing folks at Wagshals and Jose Andres. We did a post on heritage breeds of pigs earlier this year – so if you want to learn more about the topic, read Heath’s post here.

We are incredibly humbled that someone would compare our products to Kansas City BBQ greats like Arthur Bryant’s and Gates BBQ. We will keep working hard to deliver great BBQ at prices all Americans can afford. As two guys from Kansas City, we hope Pork Barrel BBQ’s dry rubs and sauces someday have the reputation of Arthur Bryant’s BBQ and Gates BBQ.
 

Just Attended a Great Block Party with BBQ – Affirmed Why We Started Pork Barrel BBQ

My family just attended a great block party – of course, I was attracted to the BBQ grills. I took a photo of the three BBQ grills that had been rolled out of several backyards to create the temporary kitchen on the lawn. The food (burgers, hotdogs and bratwurst) was excellent (I had three brats and didn’t have to cook at all!), and the entire experience just affirmed why we founded Pork Barrel BBQ. There is something uniquely American about a great BBQ that lets people forget their worries and come together as a community. Particularly in these economic times, where there just seems to be an extra pressure surrounding everything, it was truly amazing to watch how 75 people celebrated the good things in life. If you want to bring this celebration to your backyard – be sure to try our All American Spice Rub!

 

www.CookManFood.com

If you’ve got a few extra minutes and your looking for a great food site surf on over to our friends at Cook Man Food from Durango, Colorado at CookManFood.com. The guys were kind enough to post several blog posts featuring our All American Spice Rub. Check out post 1 and post 2while you’re checking out their excellent food blog.

Here is the Mission Statement of Cook Man Food –

Mission Statement – Good food, good friends, a good drunken story, that is how we want everyone to live. It could be the guys getting together for a football game and enjoying the latest twist on a Turducken, it could be climbing a few 14,000 foot peaks over a weekend and eating bacon wrapped elk bundles stuffed with cheese and mushrooms. There are many trips and places where the man food philosophy comes into play. This site will help you learn better ways of cooking other than your noodles with ketchup or your fast food no flavor crap. We all eat three meals a day (sometimes five) we might as well enjoy them all to the fullest. This site will help teach the trade and craft to do that with ease

 

 

Pork Barrel BBQ Crosses 13,500 Followers on Twitter!

We at Pork Barrel BBQ spend way too much time on the computer – but have found Twitter to be a great tool for connecting with BBQ lovers around the world! We are pround that Pork Barrel BBQ is the largest BBQ Twitterer and hope that you’ll continue to follow and support us by visiting us at http://www.twitter.com/porkbarrelbbq

 

Pork Barrel BBQ Wins Big at the Safeway National Capital BBQ Battle

We are proud to report that our mission of bringing championship BBQ into the backyards of all Americans took a big leap forward this weekend! We entered our first ever BBQ competition, and decided to try out our rub and recipes against some of the biggest and best BBQ’ers in the nation at the Safeway National Capital BBQ Battle – out of over 50 teams, we took 2nd place in the Best BBQ Sauce in the Nation competition and 4th Place for our Pork Shoulder covered in our All American Spice Rub:

We want to send special thanks to our family and friends who came to visit us and eat free BBQ. A special shout out goes to Rex with SavoryReviews.com.

And a HUGE thanks to Heath’s parents for travelling from Jefferson City, Missouri and helping us out all weekend:

And here’s the Pork Barrel BBQ family!

We stayed true to our backyard roots and cooked all our food on the Weber Smokey Mountain Cookers and only used our All American Spice Rub:

Here’s our pork shoulder getting going:

And here’s the finished product:

Here’s of shot of Heath and his amazing brisket (look at that smoke ring)!

We had an amazing time and learned a lot from the great BBQ talent that was competing – thanks again to Safeway for hosting such a great event in Washington DC!

 

Come See Pork Barrel BBQ this Weekend at Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle

 

 

 

 
Pork Barrel BBQ hopes to see you this weekend at the 17th Annual Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle, June 27-28 in Washington, D.C. The Barbecue Battle takes place between 9th and 14th Streets, on Pennsylvania Ave., NW.

 Saturday June 27 is the Kansas City Barbecue Society Event and we will be preparing brisket and pulled pork.

Sunday June 28 is the Memphis in May Barbecue Event and we will be preparing ribs and pulled pork.

Come on down and say hi and enjoy the festivities. Admission for the event is just $10 for adults/$5 for kids ages 6-12/Free for kids 5 & under.

In addition to Pork Barrel BBQ’s Competition Barbecue Team there will be top competition barbecue teams from around the country vying for over $40,000 in cash and prizes. The Safeway Demonstration Stage will host celebrity chefs who will share their secrets with you through cooking demonstrations. Stop by The Safeway Sampling Pavilion for free food samples and recipes. There will be vendors selling barbecue from around the country (Memphis Ribs – Carolina Chicken-Texas Brisket) for your dining pleasure. In addition to great barbecue, there will be over 30 bands performing on 3 stages all weekend long.

The best thing about the weekend is that it is for charity. Admission to the Barbecue Battle includes a donation to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.

For highlights of last years Barbecue Battle check out this page on the 2008 Barbecue Battle.

 

 

 

 

 

Washington Post – Where There’s Smoke, There’s Flavor

We don’t usually agree with much that is written in the Washington Post, but really enjoyed the article this week by Andreas Viestad, author of “Where Flavor Was Born” and co-host of the new public television series “Perfect Day.” You can read the article at the Washington Post’s website here, or take a read below – if they keep writing great stuff about BBQ, we might just have to subscribe!


Where There’s Smoke, There’s Flavor

Why We Crave It, and How to Do It With Or Without a Grill

By Andreas Viestad
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Smoking isn’t even half as bad as it has been made out to be. The 19th-century satirist and Know-Nothing Party activist George D. Prentice put it succulently: “Much smoking kills live men and cures dead swine.”

Although smoking cigarettes has nearly become anathema in modern society, smoking foods is more in vogue than ever. Smoke, it seems, is like a fifth flavor (or sixth, if you allow for umami), with the ability to transform, contrast with and accentuate the food that has been exposed to it, whether that is salmon, pork, fruit, chili peppers or tea. In gastronomy, smoke is the door to another room, a lively, hazy space that is at once promising and almost limitless, yet also dark and dangerous.

Today smoking is done mainly for flavor, or rather for the distinctive aroma compounds it imparts. That has not always been the case. Smoking has been a part of our cooking for as long as we know. With an abundance of game and fish at certain times of the year and an acute, often life-threatening scarcity at others, our ancestors used smoke as a way to preserve food. By hanging meat or fish over an open fire, one would speed the drying process and keep flies away. After prolonged smoking, the meat would be not only dry but also coated in tarry substances with the dual ability to kill bacteria and form an impervious layer that sealed out air and hence protected against oxidation.

The flavor was only a pleasant side effect in a world where enjoyment always came second to survival. In my native Norway, where the smoking of foods seems to have been the rule and not the exception, it was not until the 18th and 19th centuries, when British and German “salmon lords” started visiting the country to fish its rich waters, that the ubiquitous smoked salmon was upgraded to delicacy status.

Exactly what makes smoked foods so appetizing to us is still a scientific unknown. Like smoking cigarettes, it just doesn’t make sense: Why would we deliberately expose ourselves — and with such great pleasure — to the impurities left on our food by fire? Perhaps it is genetically implanted in us from a time when all cooked food was slightly smoked and all uncooked food was unsafe.

Smoked food does allow for more and different flavors. Few savory dishes do not benefit from the addition of a little bacon. But the smoking process itself seems inaccessible and mysterious to many home cooks.

I discovered the joy of smoking (food) by chance about 10 years ago, on a visit to the basement of the apartment block where I was living. There, in searching for the water main, I found a dark room, one of those places that give you the shivers but also a vague, exciting feeling that a treasure might be nearby.

And so it was. After I flicked the light switch, the room remained nearly as dark as before: The walls were completely covered in tar. I had come across the smoking room of a long-abandoned butchery. The smokers there still seemed to work, so I bought some wood shavings, returned and started a fire. On my trial run, I set off the fire alarm at 11 p.m., resulting in a rear court full of sleepy and worried neighbors.

But after I started closing the door more efficiently, I quickly progressed. With professional-grade equipment, smoking was not difficult, and in the following months I exposed everything but my neighbors to my new hobby: curing my own bacon and smoked salmon and also lamb shanks, cheese and even an ice cream base, in a strange and not altogether unsuccessful attempt at smoked vanilla ice cream. (It was just as good when I simply cured the vanilla bean.)

The most surprising result was a green apple that managed to remain as fresh as ever, its characteristic cool, crisp acidity combined with deep, rich smokiness reminiscent of an Islay malt whiskey.

Smoking without special equipment can be more of a challenge. But it is far from impossible. The most important thing is to know your limitations. Broadly speaking, there are two main techniques. One is cold smoking, in which the food is smoked at temperatures under 100 degrees Farenheit (37 Celsius), often at specific, even lower temperatures. That is how most smoked salmon is produced and how the flesh manages to keep that silky, uncooked texture.

According to my experiments and all the experts and books I have consulted, cold smoking is very difficult without the right equipment, such as an abandoned smoking room in the basement. You can build your own smoker from cheap or free parts, such as an old metal pipe and a refrigerator. But it will take hours of construction and calibration for it to work properly and for you to be able to control the temperature.

Hot smoking, on the other hand, can be the simplest thing in the world, a re-creation of any Stone Age meal. An open fire will do. If you have a grill, you can throw a handful of sawdust or wood chips on the burning coals and cover it with a lid to concentrate the smoke. (In a gas grill, you need to place the sawdust on a metal tray directly over the burners.)

A couple of years ago, we were filming a segment on smoking for an episode of my television series “New Scandinavian Cooking.” The location was a remote, road-less farm, and there was no room for the smoker in our helicopter; all we had was a camping stove, a pot and some wood shavings. By throwing those shavings into the bottom of the pot and hanging small river trout from the top, we managed to achieve the same perfectly cooked and smoked fish that our smoker would have produced. But I am afraid the pot will never be the same again.

The idea of smoking food indoors is intriguing but impractical; there is almost no way to flavor your food without also seasoning your home. Before you try, you might want to ask yourself how much you really hate being outdoors and whether you would allow a dozen people to smoke a pack of cigarettes in your kitchen if they promised to stand near the kitchen fan or window.

I have tested several indoor contraptions, and even though I quit smoking cigarettes 15 years ago, you would never guess it if you visited me the weeks after these experiments. Enough smoke managed to seep into my kitchen to give it a real pre-smoking-ban-dive-bar character. (For gadget enthusiasts, there is a small, hand-held smoker called the Smoking Gun, available from PolyScience for $80. The amount of smoke is so limited and controlled that it is easy to contain; on the other hand, there is not enough for the food to be properly smoked, just lightly seasoned.)

But you can always cheat. If you do not want to smoke but want more or different flavor from what can be achieved by adding smoked salmon, bacon or smoked salt to a dish, liquid smoke is an alternative. I had always felt that the bottles of often-overpowering condensed smoke were the result of some sinister process, like the manufacture of artificial vanilla (a byproduct of cellulose production). But Kent Kirshenbaum, an associate professor in chemistry at New York University, tells me liquid smoke is completely natural, insofar as putting smoke into a bottle can be natural.

Kirshenbaum says he initially was repulsed by the product. But after researching it for a recent Experimental Cuisine Collective workshop in New York, he found it to be little more than carefully controlled smoking of water (a few brands also add molasses, sugar and vinegar; that is stated on the label). The problem of liquid smoke is mostly one of scale; it is very easy to use too much, rendering food almost inedible.

And whereas all smoke, as we know, contains carcinogens, the controlled smoking plus an ensuing filtering process has removed if not all, then most of these compounds. So, at least from a health perspective, the best approach might be to pretend that you are smoking rather than to actually light up.

Andreas Viestad, author of “Where Flavor Was Born” and co-host of the new public television series “Perfect Day,” can be reached at http://www.andreasviestad.com or food@washpost.com. His Gastronomer column appears monthly.

 

Grant Random TV at the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival

Check out the latest video from our buddies Ben and Grant – we even make a cameo appearance in this one. The video is of the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival that Pork Barrel BBQ participated in last week.

All we can say about this video is that Grant is hilarious and as always Ben has put together a professional quality video.

Check it out now!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rti5mfwqVLk

 

Pork Barrel BBQ on WFNR 1500

Heath got up early this morning to be on WFNR 1500 to talk about Pork Barrel BBQ and the 17th Annual Safeway National Capital Barbecue Battle that we will compete in over the weekend.

If you are looking for something to do this weekend come on down to Pennsylvania Ave., NW between 9th and 14th Street and check us out in our first competition. The Battle runs from 11:00 to 9:00 on Saturday and 11:00 to 7:00 on Sunday.
We hope to see you there!!!!