Pork Barrel BBQ Blog


Book Review: Gastro Grilling by Ted Reader

Gastro Grilling Cover

Over the coarse of the year we get a lot of requests to do cookbook reviews and it is always exciting to see what kind of innovative work chefs and pitmasters around the world are doing. We were particularly excited to receive a review copy of Ted Reader’s latest cookbook, Gastro Grilling: Fired-Up Recipes To Grill Great Everyday Meals, because he is one of the more innovative and griller friendly barbecue cookbook authors around.

After several weeks of reviewing Gastro Grilling we weren’t disappointed. In fact we’re even more excited about Gastro Grilling than when we received it. Gastro Grilling is an outstanding cookbook that should be in the arsenal of grillers across the spectrum from beginner to seasoned veteran. 

If you’re grill addicted and not familiar with Ted Reader you need to be. Reader is one of Canada’s most well known chefs and food entertainers and have a serious addiction to barbecue – he owns more than 100 grills and holds the world record for the largest hamburger ever grilled, weighing in at 590 pounds (How the heck did he flip that burger?)! Reader’s focus is on helping novice grillers become masters with recipes anyone can follow and with more than 20 cookbooks to his name he is doing it with innovative and delicious recipes that are sure to excite everyone’s taste buds! Where he isn’t writing cookbooks you’ll find Reader cooking barbecue at events around the world or acting as a spokesperson or culinary consultant for companies like Safeway, Costco, and TGI Friday’s. Reader certainly has an impressive resume and has established himself as a barbecue and grilling authority. 

Now let’s dig into the pages of Gastro Grilling!

Gastro Grilling has more than 135 recipes that provide simple step-by-step instructions and are accompanied by an exceptional array of photos (and you know our feeling on how important great photos are to achieving a great cookbook). According to Reader, “The word ‘gastro’ comes from ‘gastronomy,’ and most people seem to think that means pretentious. Gastro does not imply pretentious when I’m involved,” says Reader. “Gastronomy means ‘the art and science of good eating.’ There are other definitons in play, but I like this one. It’s simple and the truth and unpretentious; like me and my food.”

Reader breaks the book up into the following chapters: 1) Introduction, 2) Party Starters, 3) Side Kicks, 4) Sandwiches, 5) Meat, 6) Poultry, 7) Fish & Shellfish, 8) Drinks and 9) Desserts. The extensive introduction gives an in depth explanation of what Gastro Grilling is while providing, among other things, excellent information on fuel types (including wood, charcoal and gas), understanding your charcoal fire, necessary grill gadgets and tools, and planking. The exceptional recipes start from the first recipe in the book on page 32 – Reader’s recipe for Cheesy Goodness! is not only innovative (you cook it on a soapstone block), but looks delicious and is sure to get any party started off right! Among the other recipes that immediately peaked my interest are the Smoked Risotto with Fire-Roasted Squash (pg. 108), Grilled Bacon Banh Mi (pg. 122), Grilled Tuna Muffuletta (pg. 137), Smoked Lamb Ribs with Spicy Peanut Sauce (pg. 245), Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Sardines (pg. 300) and Weiss Bier Cocktail with Charred Orange & Bourbon (pg. 345).

One of the more interesting recipes in the book is Dad’s Grilled Steak (pg. 174) where Reader explains how this recipe is where his love of grilling began. For the recipe read the attached recipe card.


We are very happy to give Gastro Grilling our full endorsement and encourage anyone who loves grilling and barbecue to get a copy today!

In addition to the extensive list of cookbooks Reader has authored he is the creator of a line of sauces and seasonings called Ted’s World Famous BBQ and has a line of Ted Reader Signature Series Grills made by Napoleon Grills. Be sure to check out Reader’s full line of products and cookbooks on his website.

Do you want to win a copy of Gastro Grilling, a set of Reader’s signature sauces and rubs and a Pork Barrel BBQ Picnic Pack (1 bottle of each of our sauces (Original, Sweet, Mustard and Carolina Vinegar) and 1 jar of our All-American Spice Rub)? It’s simple to register, all you have to do is leave a comment on this blog post and let us know why you are looking forward to the 2014 BBQ Season and why you need a copy of Gastro Grilling and pantry full of sauces and rubs from Ted’s World Famous BBQ and Pork Barrel BBQ. You have until May 7th to leave a comment. We’ll pick our favorite comment and announce a winner on May 8th.


Delaware Triple Threat BBQ – Results & Recap

DE Triple Threat BBQ

The Pork Barrel BBQ Competition BBQ Team kicked off the 2014 competition season in Harrington, Delaware this past weekend at the first annual Delaware State Fair’s Triple Threat BBQ Festival. With 109 teams competing, Triple Threat became the largest inaugural competition in Kansas City Barbeque Society history. Congratulations to Sandy Fulton and her team on running such an exceptional first year contest. In addition to the well run contest the weather couldn’t have been any better, the 70 degree temperatures were a nice break from the Mid-Atlantic’s long and cold winter.

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It was good getting back in the swing of things and competing against one of the strongest fields of teams we are likely to face in 2014. Given that this was our first cook of the year we were pleased with our results and figured out a couple of adjustments that we need to make in future contests.

Icehole Cooler

One of the things we were most excited about was getting to break out our new ICEHOLE Coolers. All I can say is wow, the ICEHOLE Coolers did not disappoint. The ICEHOLE M1 Cooler is the perfect size for a KCBS competition. We were able to fit 24 chicken thighs, 4 slabs of ribs, 2 pork butts, 2 briskets, lettuce and parsley with plenty of ice to keep them cool with no problem. 

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We were also very excited to begin our sponsorship with East Coast Smokin’ Woods. They really hooked us up with a nice load of Hickory, White Oak & Cherry. We had a lot of people come up and ask us about our wood thanks to the huge pile we had on site. Somehow we found a way to get all our gear and all this wood into the truck to bring home.

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We finished 25th out of 109 teams in Chicken and won our table with a 163.4288. Our chicken was moist, but I think the skin could have used a little more time on the pit to get a slightly better bite through. I’m looking forward to spending some practice time between now and the next contest testing out several new recipes using Butcher BBQ Bird Booster


We finished 32nd out of 109 teams in Ribs and took second place on our table with a 159.9772. I honestly thought ribs was our best turn-in of the weekend. They had a nice flavor and a perfect bite. We had one slab that we thought was nice enough to get 8 bones out of. 


We got our only call and finished 8th out of 109 teams in Pork and took second place on our table with a 168.5828. We slightly modified our pork recipe from last year, but still rubbed the Pork Butts down with our Pork Barrel BBQ Mustard BBQ Sauce prior to applying any rub, and if first impressions are any indications of things to come it looks like they were good modifications. Thanks to Butcher BBQ for their excellent Pork Injection.


We finished 47th out of 109 teams in Brisket and took second place on our table with a 153.6916. If there is one place we can point to not having our Competition BBQ sea legs under us yet in 2014 it was in Brisket. Early Saturday morning I was having a nice conversation with Scottie Johnson of Cancer Sucks Chicago as I was wrapping my briskets. I had apparently unscrewed the lid on the bottle I had my brisket marinade in and as I grabbed it to use I decided I needed to shake it up, completely forgetting that I had unscrewed the lid. The result was very little marinade to use on my briskets and a very well marinaded smoker. Given that we ended up cooking these briskets with a lot less marinade than usually we were pleased with where we finished. We’re also looking forward to the next competition where we get to upgrade our meat and start cooking with Meyer Natural Angus briskets!


We finished 17th out of 109 teams with a score of 645.6804. Not a bad way to start the season considering the field included teams like Aporkalypse Now, 3 Eyz BBQ, Chix, Swine & Bovine, Cancer Sucks Chicago & Smokin’ Hoggz BBQ.

Congratulations to Aporkalypse Now on being named Grand Champion (thier second GC in two weeks) and Finn’s Finest BBQ on being named Reserve Grand Champion and Delaware State Champions by MABA.

A huge thank you to our sponsors – Reser’s Fine Foods, ICEHOLE Coolers, East Coast Smokin’ Wood, Butcher BBQ & Meyer Natural Angus – without your support we couldn’t be doing what we love to do so many weekends each year! Thank you for your support and for making such remarkable products! Be sure to support those who support BBQ by visiting our sponsors websites and ordering from them!

We’ve got some time off between now and our next contest. We’ll see you in Evans, GA on Memorial Day weekend for Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que!

Banjo-B-Que 2014




Pork Barrel BBQ Sauces Now At Menards

Menards' Store Front

We are very excited to announce that Menards is now carrying our line of National Award Winning BBQ Sauces! All four varieties of Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce (Original, Sweet, Mustard & Carolina Vinegar) are on the shelves at your local Menards.

Stop in and stock up for the summer and thank them for carrying Pork Barrel BBQ Sauces!

Find a Menards near you here


Pork Barrel BBQ Kicks Off 2014 Competition BBQ Season at Delaware Triple Threat BBQ Festival

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The Pork Barrel BBQ Competition Team will kick off the 2014 competition BBQ season April 11-12 in Harrington, DE at the inaugural Delaware State Fair’s Triple Threat BBQ Festival. With more than 100 teams from more than 15 states this is sure to be one tough competition. If you’re going to be In Harrington please stop by our cook site and say hello.  

A big THANK YOU to all of our sponsors – Reser’s Fine Foods, Butcher BBQ, East Coast Smokin’ Wood, ICEHOLE Coolers and Meyer Natural Angus!



Smoked Chicken Minestrone
Yields 6
There isn't anything more versatile than left over chicken. Try this hearty soup next time you have some leftover chicken from the smoker, it’s healthy and sure to be a family favorite.
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Total Time
40 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 1 Tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  2. 1 cup Red Onion, diced
  3. 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  4. 1 can (15oz) Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  5. 8 cups Chicken Broth
  6. 2 cups Water
  7. 1 cup Orecchiette Pasta Shells
  8. 4 Carrots, cut into ¼-inch rounds
  9. 1 Parmesan Cheese Rind
  10. 4 cups Tuscan Kale, cut into 1-inch pieces
  11. 1 Zucchini, diced
  12. 1 can (15.5oz) Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
  13. 6 cups Smoked Chicken, shredded
  14. 1 Tablespoon Pork Barrel BBQ All-American Spice Rub
  15. Parmesan Cheese, grated
  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the red onion and cook for 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, approximately 5 minutes.
  2. Add chicken broth and water and bring to a boil.
  3. Add pasta, carrots and Parmesan Rind and cook for 6 minutes.
  4. Add Kale, zucchini and Cannellini beans and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the smoked chicken and cook for 5 minutes and season with Pork Barrel BBQ All-American Spice Rub.
  6. Remove the Parmesan rinds before serving. Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce | Barbeque Sauce and Dry Rubs

Pork Barrel BBQ Giveaway – Win a Copy of Grill To Perfection and a Pork Barrel BBQ Picnic Pack

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If you’re looking to get your hands on a copy of the excellent new book Grill To Perfection: Two Champion Pit Masters Share Recipes And Techniques For Unforgettable Backyard Grilling by Andy Husbands and Chris Hart you’re in luck, we’re giving away a free copy to one lucky person and we’re throwing in a Pork Barrel BBQ Picnic Pack to help get your 2014 grilling season off to a great start.

Just follow these simple steps to enter for your chance to win:

1. Like Pork Barrel BBQ on Facebook by clicking here.

2. Read our Book Review of Grill To Perfection (click here to go to the review) and leave a comment telling us what your favorite food to grill is and why you’d like to win a copy of Grill To Perfection and receive a Pork Barrel BBQ Picnic Pack.

3. Like our Facebook post announcing the contest on our Facebook page.

Follow Pork Barrel BBQ on Facebook and leave a comment on our Grill To Perfection Book Review today. We’ll announce the winner on Monday, April 14. 

Here’s to 2014 being a perfect year of grilling!


Pork Barrel BBQ in Cowboys & Indians Magazine

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We are very excited to announce that there is a great article on Pork Barrel BBQ sauces in the April 2014 issue of Cowboys & Indians Magazine.

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Cowboys & Indians had this to say, “We suggest the original rub and barbecue sauce for starters, but don’t overlook Pork Barrel’s equally delicious variations, either. Try the sweet sauce with chicken, the mustard on pretzels, and use the vinegar blend for a classic South Carolina pulled pork sandwich.”

To read the blog post click here


Book Review: Grill To Perfection by Andy Husbands and Chris Hart

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As daffodils and tulips begin to push their way through the frigid top soil, bookstores across America prepare for the coming warmth of spring and summer with welcoming displays of the seasons new crop of BBQ and grilling cookbooks. Sifting through the countless new titles can be an intimidating task, especially when your looking to take home a gem within the mounds of new titles. In each of the past two springs barbecue fans have been greeted at bookstores with two such gems from World Champion Pitmasters Andy Husbands and Chris Hart. In 2012 they released Wicked Good Barbecue, which in my opinion, is the class of all low and slow/competition quality Cue’ tutorials to come out in years and in 2013 their follow up effort, Wicked Good Burgers, gave burger fans a reason to expect more than just a patty and slice of cheese between a generic hamburger bun. I’m pleased to report that just as welcome of a sight as the season changing from winter to spring is the sight of Husbands and Hart’s latest effort, Grill To Perfection: Two Champion Pit Masters Share Recipes and Techniques for Unforgettable Backyard Grilling, available April 1st!

Before we dig too deep within their new book, I think it is important to know a little bit about the authors whose years of experience and creative minds give us more than 80 fantastic new recipes in Grill to Perfection.

Andy Husbands biggest claim to fame in the culinary world is being a member of the elite group of chefs who have been nominated for a James Beard award – Husbands is a James Beard “Best-Chef” semi-finalist. He is the chef and owner of Tremont 647, in Boston, where he has been satisfying diners for more than a decade with his American cuisine. Husbands appeared as a contestant n the sixth season Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsey on Fox and is a member of the award winning iQUE competition BBQ team. 

Chris Hart sealed his spot in the ranks of barbecue royalty in 2009 when his iQUE competition BBQ team left Lynchburg, TN as world champions and winners of the Jack Daniels Invitational World Championships. For more than a decade Hart and the iQUE team has been dominating competition barbecue in the Northeast with a breathtaking 35 Kansas City Barbecue Society Grand Championships. In 2011, Hart competed on the Food Network’s barbecue competition themed show, Best in Smoke.

Now that we’ve introduced the authors lets dig into the pages of Grill to Perfection.

The nine pages that make up the  Introduction are perhaps the most important pages in the book, highlighting everything from types of grills to building a fire to cleaning your grill. A basic understanding of these pages will make executing the recipes that are broken down into chapters which highlight five backyard grilling techniques – Hot Direct Grilling, Medium Direct Grilling, Low Direct Grilling, Hybrid Two-Zone Grilling and Low & Slow Two-Zone Grilling – that much easier. Don’t forget to check out their list of tools they always have on hand when grilling (pg. 10).

All great cookbooks are built on a foundation of exceptional recipes and Husbands and Hart don’t disappointing in Grill to Perfection. In Grill to Perfection you will find recipes that run the gambit from backyard classics like Charcoal-Grilled Ribs (pg. 145) to inspired out of the box recipes like Elvis’s Grilled Banana Split (pg. 138). The diversity of the recipes in Grill to Perfection are sure to help take this summer’s backyard barbecue’s to the next level. Among the can’t miss recipes are the Honey-Grilled Hot Pepper Jelly (pg. 68), the Backyard Clambake on Your Grill (pg. 102), the Grilled Striper Fillet with Summer Corn Succotash (pg. 116), and the Pumpkin Bread in a can with Chocolate Sea Salt Butter (pg. 173). In my opinion, it is very difficult for a cookbook to become great without recipes being accompanied by outstanding photos and Ken Goodman once again captures the essence of many of the recipes with his mouth watering photography.  

One of the most inspired and unique recipes in Grill to Perfection is the recipe for Thai-Flavored Pork Belly Skewers (pg. 99), an appetizer that is sure to make the guests at your next barbecue leave asking when you’ll be inviting them back. Click here to find the recipe in the Pork Barrel BBQ Online Recipe Book


No matter if you are a seasoned veteran of the backyard grill or a rookie who just got their first grill and are ready to start your barbecue journey this summer, you will find Grill to Perfection both educational and inspirational. When you find yourself perusing that display of this years barbecue and grilling books do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of Grill to Perfection, it is certainly a gem!



Thai-Flavored Pork Belly Skewers
Serves 4
This isn't your average pork belly dish. Infused with classic Thai flavor this pork belly appetizer is sure to be the hit at your next barbecue!
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  1. 1 cup/240 mL water
  2. 1/2 cup/90 g brown sugar
  3. 1 stalk lemongrass, thinly sliced
  4. 2 pieces star anise
  5. 1 two-inch/5 cm cinnamon stick
  6. 2 teaspoons/10 mL coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  7. 2 teaspoons/10mL red pepper flakes
  8. 1/4 cup/60mL soy sauce
  9. 2 tablespoons/30 mL fish sauce
  10. 2 tablespoons/30 mL white vinegar
  11. 1 pound/450g pork belly, skin removed, cut into 1"/2.5 cm-square slices, each 1/4"/6 mm thick
  12. 10 scallions, thick white part cut into 1"/2.5cm-pieces
  1. n a small saucepan over high heat, bring to boil the water, brown sugar, lemongrass, star anise, cinnamon stick, coriander and red pepper flakes. Boil for 30 seconds, then remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until completely cool, about 2 hours. Add the soy and fish sauces and vinegar.
  2. Place the pork belly chunks in the marinade for at least 4 and up to 24 hours.
  3. Thread the pork belly and scallion alternately, starting with pork belly (scallion should be perpendicular to the skewers). Each skewer should have 3 pieces of pork and 2 scallions.
  4. Build a low direct fire. Spread an even layer of unlit charcoal in the bottom of the grill. Fill a chimney one-third full with charcoal. Stuff two sheets of newspaper in the bottom of the chimney and light it. When the coals are fully engaged – you should see flames peeking over the top – pour them over the unlit charcoal. If using a gas grill, light the gas and adjust the temperature on both sides to low.
  5. When you can hold your hands over the fire for no more than 8-10 seconds, clean the grill grate. Place the skewers directly over the fire, with the exposed wooden ends pointing the edge of the grill, and grill for 30-45 seconds, until the meat starts to brown. Flip skewers over and repeat. Continue this process for about 4 minutes, until the meat is dark brown, almost black in some areas.
  6. Serve hot, and make sure you get one for yourself. These will not last long.
  1. Equipment: Ten 8"/20 cm wooden skewers, soaked in water for at least 4 hours
  2. We found that grilling these over a low grill helps build a wonderful sticky-crunchy texture. Make sure to flip the skewers over every 30-45 seconds. Soaking the skewers in water helps keep them from burning.
Adapted from Grill To Perfection: Two Champion Pit Masters Share Recipes And Techniques For Unforgettable Backyard Grilling
Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce | Barbeque Sauce and Dry Rubs


Smoked Tomato Soup
Serves 6
Nothing says comfort food like a warm bowl of tomato soup on a cold winter night. Try our Smoked Tomato Soup to take the standard to the next level. Great served with a Smoked Gouda & Brisket Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
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Total Time
40 min
Total Time
40 min
  1. 15 ripe Plum Tomatoes, halved
  2. 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  3. 2 Tablespoons Pork Barrel BBQ All-American Spice Rub
  4. 2 Tablespoons Butter
  5. 2 cups Red Onion, chopped
  6. 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  7. 2 Tablespoons Fresh Thyme, chopped
  8. 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  9. 4 cups Chicken Stock
  10. ¼ cup Heavy Cream
  11. ¼ cup Basil, finely chopped
  12. Salt & Pepper
  1. Slice tomatoes in half and brush with half the olive oil and season with half of the Pork Barrel BBQ All-American Spice Rub. Grill tomatoes over a charcoal fire with hickory chips for 7 minutes.
  2. In a medium Dutch oven, heat the remaining olive oil and butter over a medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, thyme and season with the remaining Pork Barrel BBQ All-American Spice Rub. Sauté until the onions and garlic are softened and becoming translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and stir for 2 minutes. Deglaze the pan with 2 cups of chicken stock and stir for 2 minutes.
  3. Pour the onion and garlic mixture into a food processor and add the smoked tomatoes and process until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the Dutch oven and add the remaining 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Stir the cream into the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Divide the soup into bowls and sprinkle with basil.
Pork Barrel BBQ Sauce | Barbeque Sauce and Dry Rubs