Barbecue Recipes - Pulled Pork Enchiladas

Pulled pork prepared in a smoker is one of my favorites. You get a ton of meat out of a 7-8 pound shoulder and it makes several meals for several days. But with all my house guests hanging around over the holidays, I started feeling a little guilty about feeding them pulled pork sandwiches day after day! Then the thought struck me...Everyone loves mexican food right? How about enchiladas with pulled pork filling? Here's how I did mine:

1 package of corn tortillas
1 package of shredded monterey jack cheese (or a mexican white cheese if you can find it)
2 10 oz cans Old El Paso green chile  enchilada sauce
Fresh sliced avacado (optional)
Fresh cilantro (optional)
Whatever pulled pork you have left; warmed up

Steam your corn tortillas in the microwave for 30 seconds or so by placing them between damp paper towels.
Mix some of the enchilada sauce with the pork to make your filling, just enough to moisten it a bit
Spoon pulled pork filling into the center of each tortilla and roll up, placing seam side down in a glass baking dish. Make as many as you like.
Pour enchilada sauce over the rolled up enchiladas to completely cover
Sprinkle cheese over the top. I usually go heavy on the cheese, but that's just me!
Microwave on high until cheese is completely melted. You could also bake uncovered at 350 degrees
until cheese is melted.
Garnish with avacado slices and a few sprigs of cilantro if desired

I like to serve the enchiladas with beans and rice. Canned black beans are good, so are refried beans.
The smokiness of the pulled pork makes these enchiladas awesome! ENJOY!!!!!

Turn Your Love of Barbecue Into Cash!

Everyone who reads my blog knows just what a fanatic I am for barbecue. I love to eat it, I love to make it, and I love to enter it in competitions. What you may not have known is that I also sell it. My partner and I do
a little catering on the side and have turned our passion for barbecue into easy cash.

Catering can be a very fun and profitable business. Whether you are just looking for some part time income, like me, or want to go after it with both guns a blazin', a catering  business may be just the opportunity you've always dreamed of. There are some tremendous resources out there for starting a catering business. They show you how to keep your overhead low to get started, manage cash flow etc. The best resource I've seen, and I've looked at a lot is: Starting a catering business.

Also, for those of you considering taking your potential business on the road, this one here is another great guide that will show you the ins and outs of taking your catering to the next level: Mobile Catering on a shoestring budget. Comment on this post and share your success story with me! Best Wishes...

Barbecue 911

I got a call about a week ago from  a friend who wanted to order a smoked brisket and pork butt for family Christmas. I got everything prepared ahead of time and threw them in the freezer. I have found that cooking my brisket and pork just slightly shy of the final temeprature and then freezing them works great. You thaw them for a couple of days, wrap them in foil and finish in the oven. They taste as fresh, smoky and juicy as if you'd just pulled them out of the smoker. So my plan would be perfectly executed in time for their Christmas day lunch. Or so I thought...

My friend called me yesterday morning and asked if she could pick the food up because her guests would be there soon. Imagine my panic when she told me they were celebrating Christmas a week early! I had TOTALLY misunderstood her when she'd orderd it last week! Both the brisket and pork butt were frozen solid in my freezer and her luncheon was starting in an hour and a half. I rushed home, grabbed everything and headed to her house. I had one hour to work with and really wasn't sure what the heck to do. All I could think of was to try and get a good microwave defrost on both and try and speed cook them in the oven at a high temperature. To make a long story short, I manged to have the brisket  hot, sliced, juicy, tender and ready to eat in about 2 hours. The pork butt still needed quite a bit of time and I left, after giving them instructions on how to finish it.

From what they told me today, both the brisket and pork butt were completely devoured by their family and friends. There were no leftovers and everyone absolutely loved them. Thawing slow smoked barbecue in a microwave would never have been my choice, but in an emergency, I'm happy to report that it worked like a charm!

How About Some Barbecue Sauce Simmering On Your Stove?

Barbecue sauce recipes seem to be a pretty hot search engine topic right now, so I thought I'd share one of my favorites. Obviously there are millions of ways to make a good sauce. And there tend to be regional preferences. Depending on what part of the country you live in, your sauce preference may be vinegar based, mustard based, tomato based, sweet, savory, thick, runny and on and on. Being from the midwest, I grew up eating the Kansas City style sauces, which are tomato based and tend to be sweet, smoky and thick.

Remember when you are smoking or grilling with sugar and tomato based sauces such as this one, you will burn the sauce unless you apply it near the very end of the cook. Burnt sauce isn't very tasty and I don't want you telling me my sauce sucked because you burnt it!

1 onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

2  C ketchup

1 C water

1/2 C cider vinegar

1/4 C canola oil

1/4 C worcestershire sauce

1/4 C apple juice

1/3 C dark brown sugar

1 TBSP honey

1 TBSP chili powder

1 TBSP ground cumin

1 TSP ground cinnamon

2 dashes tobasco sauce

Combine all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until slightly thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Pour sauce through a strainer to remove the onion and garlic. Adjust seasonings to taste. Let cool to room temperature. If not using immediately, place in a container and refrigerate for up to a week.

What I Learned Over the Weekend

Ok here's one that should give all you experts a good laugh. I used to think I knew a lot about operating a smoker but found out over the weekend that I still have a few things to learn. The smoker our team uses allows you to raise or lower the front end to allow for proper draining of the grease which then drips right out of the bottom into a foil pan that we place underneath. I neglected to make this adjustment Friday afternoon when I moved the smoker to a different area that was not level. Instead of draining down towards the end, out the bottom and into the drip pan, the grease just kind of stayed in one place and built up. I noticed that the drip pan was empty but for some unknown reason, didn't want to spend the time to investigate why. Eventually the grease built up so much that it spilled into the firebox! You can imagine what happened next!

This is a mistake that I will only make once. Luckily we got the fire out and were able to get the smoker cleaned out and no damage was done. To novice smokers or anyone who gets busy and just isn't paying attention, be sure your smoker is adjusted properly and that the grease is going where it's supposed to. Grease fires can really be a problem!

Barbecue Pitmasters On TLC

Did you catch episode number 2 last night? This was one centered around a contest in Murphysburo, IL and was a combination of MBN  and KCBS sanctioned entrys. Totally new format for me and a couple of the "Pitmaster" teams seemed a bit confused by it as well.

Where were Paul from Pablo Diablo and Tuffy from Cool Smoke? They didn't appear at all on last night's episode. Not as much drama in this episode as the premier. Johnny Trigg almost got into it with a drunk and later took $100 from  him in a brisket wager. That was about the extent of any real action. As usual, Myron was the big winner. Pretty uneventful.

Want to barbecue like a champion and cook using competition barbecue secrets?

Throughout my blog, I've been giving you  barbecue tips, secrets and recipes you can use to barbecue like a champion. However, as you probably imagined, there is a lot more to it than what I could fit in a blog post. I really want to provide you with EVERYTHING! I'm talking about step-by-step instructions with full color photos to make mouth-watering pulled pork, tender and juicy beef brisket, fall off the bone smoky baby back ribs and melt in your mouth chicken and turkey. I got my hands on a book a couple of years ago that has forever changed the way I cook barbecue, and the unbelievable results I am getting. There are a lot of barbecue books out there. The stores are full of them, the internet is full of them. Most of these "how-to" books are mostly recipes with very little time spent on the real secrets of barbecue. I really didn't want recipes. What I wanted was a book that would actually tell me what to do! I wanted the secrets that the true barbecue masters were using. I have looked at a lot of books and there is only one that stands out like this. One book that tells you EVERYTHING you need to know about true authentic slow smoked championship barbecue. This book was written by a barbecue team that is tearing it up in competitions all over the country and they will tell you how they're doing it. You will soon be cooking this way too!  To learn once and for all how to barbecue like a champion   you've GOT to check out this book!

Cold Weather Smoking Tips

Not sure what the temperature is where you are at right now, but I did some cooking last weekend in pretty frosty temperatures. Right now it’s in the 20’s and I have another cook coming up this week. Smoking in cold temperatures and nasty weather can create a whole new set of challenges, and if you are planning to do it, you might want to consider a few tips:

1. Smokers are made of metal and depending on the thickness of your smoker’s metal chamber; it can really be affected by cold temperatures. This means that not only will it take your smoker longer to heat up, but you will use more fuel, it will be more difficult to keep your temperature consistent and most likely longer to cook your food. You can still get excellent results; you just need to be aware.

2. It’s always important to resist the temptation to open your smoker too often when you are cooking. This is especially true in frigid weather. Each time you open that smoker you could easily be adding anywhere from 15-30 minutes to your cooking time so please keep this to a minimum! A great tool that I recommend is a digital programmable thermometer that allows you to keep the lid on the smoker closed and check the internal temperature of the meat as often as you want. You can pick one of these up for about $25. For a few bucks more you can get a remote one that can be monitored inside your nice warm house!

3. If you are dealing with heavy wind or snow or rain, look for a place to put your smoker that provides you with a bit of cover, especially from the wind. Nothing will screw up you temperature like a strong wind rushing through the smoker’s vents and fire box! Also, you will want to position the smoker so that a strong wind is not rushing directly in.

4. You might want to consider investing in a blanket made of fire resistant material to cover your smoker with. This will help hold a more consistent temperature in the smoker, as well as shield it from some of the more extreme elements you might be dealing with.

The bottom line is you can still produce excellent results in your smoker regardless of the temperature outside. It will be more challenging though, and it helps to be prepared. And there really is something extra special about a juicy smoked turkey or a mouth-watering slab of ribs on a cold winter’s night! Believe me, it’s worth it.

Some Secrets & Tips For Great Pulled Pork!

What lover of barbecue doesn't enjoy mouth-watering pulled pork? Whether it's piled high on a plate, sandwiched on a toasted bun, or topped with cole slaw, pulled pork is a classic. Problem is, most of what passes for pulled pork in a restaurant is pretty disappointing and doesn't do the real thing justice. Here are some secrets to getting competition quality in your back yard smoker.

Before placing the pork butt (shoulder) in the smoker, remove most of the fat cap. Sure fat is flavor, and a lot of it will render down into the meat, helping to provide flavor and moisture, but you'll still be left with a big layer of blubber to remove later. This takes away from the dark flavorful bark (crust) that is essential to the final product. So just leave a micro-thin layer of fat and apply your favorite rub generously to all sides of the shoulder. If you do this right, you'll end up with a dark crust that is made of meat and rub and won't have to be thrown away! Also, always use a bone-in pork butt. The bone adds flavor and also is a built-in thermometer.

Let the shoulder cook at 225 degrees for about six hours and then wrap it in foil for the remaining time. If I am at home, I'll usually transfer the wrapped product to my oven and turn it up to about 300. You really don't need the smoker at this point. The butt has absorbed all the smoke it's going to take on and another six hours in the smoker can use a lot of charcoal and wood. At about 300 degrees in your kitchen oven, you can really speed up the process. The pork butt is ready when the bone removes easily and cleanly from the meat. It should pull right out with little effort.

Leave the foil package open and let the butt rest for at least a half hour before you start tearing in to it. Transfer it into a roasting pan or something large with sides on it. This is because you will be pouring all of the juice that collected in the foil wrapper. This makes your juicy pulled pork even more flavorful and juicy. Do NOT throw that liquid away! Pull the pork into bite-size shreds or pieces. Mix in some more of the rub you used on it earlier and mix that thoroughly through the meat. Invite some friends over and be prepared for them to make a huge deal out of your barbecue skills. Absolutely incredible food!!!!

One last thought that you may want to try: If your smoker still has some heat and smoke going, put the pulled pork in a foil pan and put it back in the smoker for a half hour or so, tossing it around every 5 or 10 minutes. Twice-smoked pulled pork is even better!

Quick Tip For Better Smoked Ribs

If you've ever smoked ribs you know that keeping them moist and juicy is critical to the final product.
I'd like to pass along something that I learned from a championship barbecue competitor and professional chef last year when I was competing at the American Royal.

He walked up to me and my partner at about 4:00 AM while we were prepping our ribs and told us how
he gets his ribs to look plumper and have a meatier and juicier texture. It was so simple that we couldn't believe it had never ocurred to us. He told us that when you place your ribs in the smoker, (bone side down of course) lay them out flat and straight, and then push each end of the slab towards the middle, which will kind of squish the bones together. It shortens the slab a bit, but you'll immediately see how much meatier and plumper they look.

I really believe this resulted in a much more attractive slab, as well as meatier and juicier one. The judges must have thought so too, because those ribs took 4th out of nearly 500 teams!

Christmas Turkey On the Smoker

I know what many of you are probably saying right now. I already HAD turkey at Thanksgiving! Well, that might be true, but unless you had an expertly seasoned and marinated turkey that was slow smoked to perfection and literally melted in your mouth, then you just had a run-of-the-mill turkey. I’m going to tell you how to prepare the best turkey you’ve ever eaten, one that you can serve to your guests this Christmas that they’ll still be talking about after the holidays are over.

To make the best turkey you’ve ever eaten, you’ll need the following:

• 1 young turkey. I recommend fresh over frozen, but that’s up to you. Remember, a frozen turkey takes 24 hours per 5 pounds to thaw in your fridge, so allow enough thawing time. Also, try and find a turkey that has not been previously injected with a water solution. Turkeys without this solution are getting harder to find these days so don’t worry about it if you can’t find one. It will still work fine.

• Kosher salt

• Brown Sugar

• Honey

• Your favorite barbecue rub

• Apple juice in a spray bottle

• Large aluminum foil roasting pan

• Aluminum foil

• A crowd of hungry people

First thing you are going to do is mix up a brine solution to soak your turkey. Brining poultry is an age old process that uses osmosis to pull moisture into the turkey and whatever flavorings you have added. This will result in a moister turkey that doesn’t taste flavorless down deep in the meat. The typical basic brine recipe calls for a gallon of water to one cup of salt. If your turkey has already been infused with a solution, I recommend using a little less salt, maybe ½ - ¾ cup per gallon of water. You will need to submerge the turkey completely under the solution, so use enough gallons of water to cover the turkey. Add enough salt for each gallon of water. The best way to dissolve your salt is to mix it with hot water first and stir it till it is dissolved. Then you can add it to the water. Do the same with a few cups of brown sugar and honey. Make sure you get all of this as dissolved as you can. Ice the water down until it’s very cold, remove the giblet bag and neck from your turkey and place it in the brine, making sure it is completely submerged. Let it soak overnight. Add some ice every six hours or so, to keep the water cold.

OK, 24 hours is up and you are ready to start smoking. Pull the turkey out of the brine, rinse the turkey completely in cold water to remove the brine, pat the turkey dry and put it in the refrigerator. It helps to let it air chill for a few hours to dry out the skin a bit. If you have time, do this. Build yourself a nice fire in the smoker and bring it up to 300 degrees. I like to use apple wood for turkey, but cherry and pecan work well too. While the smoker is coming up to temperature, start preparing your turkey. Tie the wings closely to the body with butchers twine to help keep them from getting too dark and drying out. Generously rub a good poultry dry rub all over your bird including inside the body cavity. I use a rub that is sold at barbecue specialty stores in Kansas City, called Plowboys Yardbird rub. Use whatever you like though.

Next place your turkey breast side DOWN in a large aluminum foil roasting pan. Starting it out this way will help ensure a juicier breast. Place the pan in your smoker and shut the lid. Check the turkey after about 1 ½ hours. If it is beginning to get a nice color on it, spray lightly with apple juice to flavor it and keep it moist. At around the 3 hour mark, flip the turkey over breast side up and leave it that way for the rest of the cook. When you flip it over, you’ll need to re-add BBQ rub to the breast. Don’t worry if the breast has flattened out a bit, it will pop back in to shape.

Try to keep your heat as close to 275 degrees as possible. Keep spraying the turkey with apple juice and as pan juices collect, you can baste it with these as well. When the breast reaches about 165 degrees, remove the turkey from the smoker, cover it with foil and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. Turkey is ready to eat at about 170 degrees but the temperature climbs a bit after you remove it from the smoker or oven. So pulling it at 165 is just about right. Enjoy and have a Merry Christmas!!!

Barbecue Pitmasters Was Great Last Night!

Hope all you barbecue nuts had a chance to catch last night's first episode of TLC's new cable series Barbecue Pitmasters. If you did, you probably learned some of the secrets and tips the big boys are using to create melt in your mouth barbecue that can win big money! I particularly am a sucker for reality shows, not all of them, but this one really reeled me in. I love the drama created by Paul, the cocky Texas chef who was considered the "Rookie" among the cooks. Between his flat tire, to falling asleep (Passing out? I've never seen a sober person sleep THAT hard) to bragging about kicking everyone's butts to finishing dead @#$ last I got a huge kick out of him. Then they interview him at the end and he's like, "Would I change anything for next competition? Probably not!"

OK, I'm gonna jump in here Paul, and give you a few tips. Now I don't know how they do barbecue in Texas, but the crap you turned in got you EXACTLY what you should have gotten! And if you keep doing what you are doing, you will keep getting what you got. First of all,

1) Carry a spare tire for your rig
2) Don't let your fire go out for however many hours it was out. Especially when you already lost a day and are behind schedule
3) You need to use less direct heat or something. It was difficult to tell exactly what technique you are using, but indirect heat and foil wrapping your meats after a few hours will keep them from turning BLACK!
4) KCBS judges like a little sauce on their food. You don't need to go crazy with it but a nice finishing glaze would have done wonders for the appearance and probably the flavor of your products
5) Your boxes (presentation) needed a lot of work. The main thing I noticed was that they were WAY too full and arranged haphazardly without much thought put into them. Although greenery is not technically required for KCBS, it would have helped you. Judges expect to see uniform size pieces arranged perfectly on a beautiful bed of greens.

Can't wait for next week's show. Incidentally, if you missed the show they have reruns all week. Check your tv guide!

New Barbecue TV Series Starts Tonight On TLC!

The cable channel TLC is premiering a new 8 episode series which starts tonight at 9:00 PM Central. BBQ Pitmasters will feature some of the biggest names on the competition barbecue circuit and travel with them as they cook in various high stake competitions around the country. One of the episodes was shot at the American Royal in Kansas City about 6 weeks ago. Our team's tent was located right next to the Wood Chicks, who are featured in this series. It was fun visiting with Lee Ann of the Wood Chicks and the film crew as they shot footage for the show. I will definitely be tuning in to watch BBQ Pitmasters tonight. If you are new to barbecue and wondering what all the hype is about, I encourage you to tune in as well. You'll get to see up close and personal, just what a bunch of fanatics we are and how much fun we have at our sport!

What Is the Best Type of Smoker To Use?

Ask a dozen barbecue experts this question and you'll probably get a dozen different answers. It's a really individual preference based on what you can afford, what you are used to and what you have good success with. The bottom line is, a skilled pitmaster can create a great smoked product with just about anything you give him. There are teams right now who are having great success on the barbecue competition circuit cooking in old rusty trash cans that have been converted into smokers!

Smokers fall into two basic categories; wet smokers and dry smokers. As the name implies, the wet smoker makes use of a water pan which is situated underneath the grate that the meat sits on. The idea behind this is that steam is created which supposedly helps keep the meat moist and juicy. These are typically the upright bullet type smokers made popular by companies like Weber and Brinkman. They are normally fairly small and inexpensive. The drawbacks to them are that if you need to smoke large quantities of meat you'll need several of these smokers since they don't hold much. Also, if you need to cook at a higher temperature, they often have trouble maintaining a temperature much above 225 degrees. Usually when I see a team cooking with a bullet smoker, they'll be using several.

The dry smoker is the type my team uses and the type I use at home as well. They are typically horizontal or upright in shape and have the fire box off to the side. This is what is commonly referred to as an "off-set" smoker. The heat from the fire box moves into the main chamber where the meat is sitting. Although it is obviously extremely hot inside the firebox, the heat inside the main chamber will stay very comfortably at anywhere from 180-275 degrees, depending on how much fuel you have in the firebox and how you control the air vents. Popular off-set smokers are made by The Good One, Traeger, Weber, Blue Ridge & Tucker. Not all smokers use off-set fireboxes. Some, like Hasty-Bake, have the fire box underneath the cooking grates but allow you to raise and lower the coals to reach the desired temperature. And don't let anyone tell you that a Weber Kettle charcoal grill can't be converted into an excellent smoker. Simply arrange the fire to one side of the pan and put the meat on the other side, or put a water pan in the middle and arrange the coals around the outside of the water pan.

Whichever type of smoker you choose, which brand you settle on, and price you end up paying, make sure your smoker has a temperature gauge that actually indicates degrees Fahrenheit. The gauges that indicate cool, medium and hot are worthless and a smoker with no gauge is even less predictable. Remember, the key to tender, juicy smoked barbecue is low and slow, with a consistent temperature of somewhere between 200-250 degrees. I like to go with about 225.

Barbecue - Is It Smoking Or Grilling?

I guess the best place to start is to make a distinction about barbecue and just what it really is. Basically, barbecue falls into two categories: (1) Low & slow and (2) Hot & fast. Typically, the hot and fast method involves grilling at a high temperature (300-500 degrees) over direct heat, usually with the use of either a charcoal grill or gas grill. This is the method most common to the backyard barbecuer. It's fast, easy and popular. Although there is an art to doing it right, the average novice can turn out pretty decent food with just a little practice.

The other method of barbecue is low and slow. This involves cooking at a lower temperature (200-250 degrees) over indirect heat by using charcoal and hardwood to make smoke. Depending on what food you are cooking and the temperature you are cooking at, this process can take anywhere from 2-15 hours. The focus of this blog will be on the low and slow method of cooking with smoke that creates a flavor and texture that will be an unforgettable dining experience.

Introduction To My Blog

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog. I've set this up as a forum for passing on what I have learned about the art of barbecue (and yes, it IS an art!) I wanted to turn my passion for barbecue into something that would allow me to share it with others who share the same passion, or are just curious about learning to barbecue. It's my hope that whether you are a serious competitor and trying to kick your game up a notch, or a backyard novice, who wants to impress his friends and neighbors, that this site will offer you something and give you a resource to learn new things and share what you know with other barbecue afficienados.