December 31, 2011


First 'official smokes' with the new BACKWOODS -- the last 48 hours I smoked a SKIRT-RIB TIPS-13lb brisket and 2 BUTTS.  SO NICE...All the best in 2012 from da' crew at TELL YOU WHAT BBQ.

December 29, 2011


The library at school has a copy of Planet Barbecue by Steven Raichlen so I figured I'd give it a read over the X-Mas break.  For those who have never heard of Raichlen, he is a big time author in the BBQ world and proprietor of the  What appealed to me about this book was that it took a look at BBQ customs and techniques from 60 countries world wide.

The book is categorized by meat type and there are tons of recipes from all over the world.  For you guys who bleed RED, WHITE AND BLUE-- it went deep into the history of  Low and Slow smoking from the USA.  What really fascinated me about this book the most though was some of the traditional DIY rigs that many overseas cultures  have created to cook their meats. If anyone can appreciate homemade ingenuity, it's the man who painstakingly researched and built his own UDS (which the wife loving refers to as my Trash Can!)  Seeing the different types of grills/bbq's throughout the world was a bit mind blowing and also an inspiration for my next project.  Let me introduce you to the German Schwenker Grill!

I'm half German with the temper to prove it so once I read about this traditional German grill in the book I knew I had use my bbq fabrication skills to whip one up.  It seems like the ultimate in portable grill--can use it over any type of fire.  Here's a quick video of a basic one I found.

The coolest thing about this grill is NOT shown in the pic/video above BUT highlighted in Planet Barbecue.  Real Schwenker Grills have small fan blade like airfoils below the grill.  The rising heat from the wood/coals causes the grill to constantly rotate!  Yes Q-Believers--you can have a swinging, rotating grill for an estimated $10 in materials!!!!!!!  Build it and you will officially be known as a Schwenkermeister!!!  I know...awesome!  Don't take my word on it...pick up the book, whip out the welder and burn some meat!!!

December 28, 2011

Texas "Q" in Cold Spring?????

Just had a lunch with Team TYW at a lovely little place in Cold Spring N.Y. "Round Up Texas Smoked BBQ" is a fantastic spot for a bite to eat. Bill greeted us cordially and immediately showed us the ins and outs of the menu. The place has a character and charm that is right up my alley. Low key dining where what comes out of the kitchen is what matters. TYW split up the menu with some chicken, ribs, brisket, chili, cornbread, beans and sausage. It was very quiet for several minutes during chow time which tends to be a good sign. We loved it!!!
The sausage is going to put 80,000 miles on my car this year. The cornbread was so damn moist I thought about using it as a lotion. The ribs were tasty and the frito pie is just a right of passage all BBQ heads should have.
The second time I went to the window was for my wife, I was greeted by Linda, a charming lady with a great big smile who asked if I needed anything else, I noticed a menu item with her name on it "Linda's Green Stuff", you know the old saying "when in Rome, get some Q", well thank God I remembered that one because Linda's Green stuff is down right fantastic. I think that this genius has somehow made celery into a yummy dessert. I would have purchased a gallon container of the stuff had I known. Bill is a solid guy, a veteran and a gentlemen who embraced this little group of "Q" heads and brought in the back to see where the smoke gets thrown. What an operation this guy has going. All in all a great experience with TYW members Coach Beef, Trash Man, Granpappy and the Cleat

December 27, 2011


Wow...the CLEAT brought over some of his PASTRAMI.  Let me TELL YOU WHAT!!  Awesome.  That sammy didn't stand a chance.  Not too smoky, nothin' overpowering.  Just a good ol' 'rami sandwich.  A slather of SWEET & SMOKY mustard, a BUD can.  I like it a LOT.

Gran Pappy~~

December 25, 2011


This is probably the last Christmas where I will actually get to sleep the night before since next year my boy will be almost 3 and actually know what is going on--ie--UP ALL NIGHT!!! I got up and was refreshed so of course it was time to hit the blog! Just a little holiday message from TYWBBQ to cover ALL of our demographics. Sorry for you folks in the Netherlands (yes, I'm shocked too but someone is into BBQ over there and found us!!) but youtube only has so much content!

This is for all our Traditional BBQ enthusiasts!

You might be a redneck if this applies to you!

For our Men/Women kicking ass overseas...

For the BBQers who don't celebrate X-mas!

Merry Christmas from the boys @ Tell You What BBQ!!!

December 22, 2011

Let's Get This PARTY Started!!

 She finally CAME!!! I’m talkin’ bout my SMOKER~~  Hey, c’mon this is a family blog.  The BACKWOODS PARTY arrived today.  MERRY CHRISTMAS and THANK YOU SANTA!

This unit was in a SERIOUS CRATE.  Make sure you have a hammer and crowbar ready.  You don't want to hold up the driver any longer than necessary.  You must inspect the unit BEFORE the driver departs.

I fired her up this evening for a ‘seasoning’.  Sprayed the entire unit with cooking spray and fired her up.  Put in ½ a chimney starter and a 2 small pieces of cherry/bark.  Temperature jumped up to 400+ while I was havin’ a Christmas beverage with the neighbor.  I closed side vents (left one side about 1/4inch open) and am waiting for the cool down to about 250-300.  I will let it sit there for about 3-4 hours and she’ll be just about ready.  Next time, I will throw some cheap birds in there for some grease...then she's ready.

Since tomorrow is Christmas Eve ‘EVE’ and THEN Christmas Eve I will be at the JET/GIANT game THEN Christmas Day.  I will not be able to have the ‘first official smoke’ until next week.  I will let you know when that happens.

I will say, I MUST give PROPS to Kevin Rundell of Coxsackie, NYKevin is a Backwoods dealer 'round this part of New York.  I contacted Kevin via the BBQ BRETHREN website. 

It was a LITTLE unnerving to send a check for over $1500—to a dude I never met! However, the Land of Thin Blue Smoke is a brotherhood.  Kevin was true to his word.  Kevin was also kind enough to hook me up after we discussed the fact that shipping ($400) exceed the original estimate.

If you are looking for a Backwoods contact Kevin – a certified Backwoods Dealer.  

By the way, Backwoods Smokers PROUDLY MADE IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!!  Dixie, Louisiana.


Gran Pappy of Pork~~

December 20, 2011

X-Mas BBQ??

The weather is down right balmy outside and it seems that it will be staying that way through Christmas up here in the big, bad Burg! Time to fire up the smoker and add a little flava to your X-Mas dinner! Checkout our recipe section at TYWBBQ for ideas. It's too late for The Cleat's Christmas Pastrami (brine time = 2 weeks) but you can pull off just about any of the other dishes with little to no prep time. If you've got some left over bird, I've been using this Breakfast Hash recipe from Emeril for the past 2 years and have had nothing but compliments! Don't be afraid to experiment and when in doubt--always double the cayenne! It never fails!!!



December 18, 2011

The WAITING is the HARDEST part...

Should be HOURS until that delivery truck stops in front of the house.  Been waitin' on the BACKWOODS PARTY since October.  Paperwork says I need to open the wood crate and inspect BEFORE the delivery guy leaves.  Seems a bit too reminiscent of A Christmas Story.
I will let you know when she arrives!!  I want to mention that I LOVE PIE.  Defrosted some sweet potato pie last night - fabulous.  Actually, it was BETTER this morning after whole wheat pancakes with maple syrup, powdered sugar, strawberries, sausage and bacon.  Man, three cups of coffee a no-joke breakfast and PIE to finish...TELL YOU WHAT - that's how to start your day!!

Thanksgiving is when I made the sweet potato pies.  Froze one that night.  Wrapped it in saran wrap then foil.  Last night I defrosted for 2 hours and warmed it at 300*.  It was excellent -- here is a link to the EASY SWEET POTATO PIE!

What have YOU smoked today??


December 15, 2011

Before I touch upon the HORIZONTAL/OFFSET SMOKERS.  I forgot to mention that, Sunday morning I woke up about 7am and made breakfast for the family.  Figured, if I’m not deer huntin’ I should be doing SOMETHING productive.  Well, my point is, I fired up flapjacks and SLAB BACON.  I bought a ‘slab’ at RESTAURANT DEPOT and sliced some THICK CUTS.  I put the cuts in a tin and placed it on the grill.(Buy yourself a CASE OF TINS – you WILL use them all the time).  Figured might as well let the entire neighborhood wake-up to BACON GOODNESS.

Kept the grill around 250 for a solid hour or so.  Knowing my soon would soon be downstairs saying, “I smell bacon and panPAKES!”  I quickly threw the pieces on the griddle to crisp then placed in a FOIL BOAT with cinnamon sugar and maple syrup.  I DID NOT ‘jumpstart’ the bacon because I planned on a fairly productive day.  “Jumpstart” bacon is the technique I use above WITH Spiced Rum (Captain Morgan’s or Sailor Jerry) in the foil boat along with the bacon, sugar and maple syrup.  WOW…THAT get’s your day STARTED!!

I just sold (well, I pretty much gave it away to a local KCBS judge.  Hope he ‘finds the flame’) my Horizontal SMOKIN’ PRO.  
I used this smoker for a few years.  The unit is economically priced.  It is a super unit for BEGINNERS.  Many have mastered the art of Q' in these units.  If you are serious about investing ina  quality smoker, you want a steel that can hold heat.  The horizontals work with the premise that the smoke exits the side firebox(offset) and flows through the unit to the exhaust.
-Notice the aftermarket temp gauge opposite fire box - never trust the original

-I placed dryer vent hose on the inside of my stack.  This causes the smoke to “find’ the exhaust, instead of a straight vacuum from the fire box.

-I placed two BRICKS wrapped in foil to ‘retain heat’ in the unit

-‘Seal’ the edges – I used hi-temp rope (frays after a while) from a local woodstove store bonded with a hi-temp black caulk – if you don’t want the effort, just ‘stuff” foil around the edges where top meet bottom.

-I turned the long coal receptacle ‘upside down’ in the unit.

-I put a sheet of metal above firebox entry to main chamber - used to diffuse heat

**TYW TIP** - Line the unit with foil – cover everything – this makes cleanup MUCH easier

The biggest drawback with horizontals is the heat displacement.  The grate temp. at the firebox will be significantly HIGHER than the far side of the unit.  Get yourself SEVERAL PROBES (Q’ technology will be forthcoming).  They are essential to know smoker temps. AND meat temperature.  “Q ain’t done by the clock it’s done when the TEMP. says it’s done!”

With horizontals BOTH charcoal and wood are used.  Many Q-cooks will use ONLY LOGS in their horizontals to maintain temp.  The lower-end units are 'hi-maintenance' in regards to holding temps. for extended burns.

Transport can be difficult for one person.

There are MANY companies who sell HIGH QUALITY offset smokers - check them out.  If you are looking to 'just get into smoking' and do not want to spend a lot of money, you can make an ECO (El Cheapo Offset) work for you! Just remember...YOU WILL want to upgrade!!  
You can SMOKE ON THAT~~~

Gran Pappy of Pork~~

December 14, 2011

Best Backyard BBQ ever!!!

How to throw the best backyard BBQ ever!!!

The art of throwing a BBQ has been discussed and written about many times over but I think an interesting twist makes this the best backyard BBQ ever!

v    First- Challenge all your friends who claim to make the best ribs to a backyard throw down!
v    Buy A Trophy and six racks of ribs for each competitor
v    Invite all competitors to make camp at the chosen location the night before so every one can slow cook something to accompany the ribs. My friends have done briskets, pork butts, fatties, ABT’s and pastrami’s over night and then thrown the ribs on in the morning for the contest. Of course hydration is always a key in these situations so be prepared!!!
v    We have chosen people to judge in the past but I think we may move to a peoples choice format in the future.
v    Tell all your guests to make their most interesting dish. People have made everything from appetizers to dessert. The creativity of my friends has been amazing!
v    Buy lots of beverages and ice.

It doesn’t take much after that, garbage cans, recycling bins, pop up tents, tables, plastic silverware, cups paper plates and napkins. And of course the Nepalese yak milk.

So You Want to Compete?


Like a lot of other people I like to eat, especially good BBQ. So the wife and I decided to go to the Hudson Valley Ribfest and check out the local BBQ cuisine. We waded through the lines and got some decent ribs then wandered into the back where some friends from work were competing in the contest. The minute I turned the corner from the county fair playgrounds into the world of competition BBQ I was hooked.  My friends treated us to some competition ribs that placed in the KCBS portion of the event the next day and it was like an explosion went off in my brain. I had to have more of this and soon.
It was a tumultuous sleep that night. The round of golf I was supposed to play that day on the golf course around the corner from my house never even crossed my mind as I hopped on the thruway and drove an hour to get back to the smells, sights sounds and tastes of competition BBQ. My friends were slightly surprised to see me but they knew I had been bitten. I was lucky to be there for the hustle and bustle of competition Sunday when everything is on the line, which sunk the hook even further.

I wondered around the event looking at smokers and talking to anyone that would lead me in the right direction, I purchased wood chips, pulled pork, 4 racks of ribs and this garlic concoction that is the lead car on the train to cardiac arrest. “You don’t have a smoker you idiot “ was what I heard when I returned to my friends, “What are you gonna do with those wood chips?” Everyone laughed at my foolishness including myself. The moral of this story is; “ you can’t make apple pie with a bag of oranges”, Meaning, you better make damn sure you know what you need and when you need it or you are going to spend and awful lot of money on the wrong things.

Looking back at the purchases I have made for BBQ I can honestly say I have thrown away some money. But overall I feel that every penny has been worth it. The team welcomed me with open arms, as a “hanger on”, I would have to handle garbage and cut parsley until I earned my stripes. Fortunately in my first event I was allowed to cook shrimp in the NEBS portion of this contest and happened to take home first place. A check! A Trophy! and a bottle of booze!, my spot on the team was cemented.

The first thing you will need is a team. The most important part of this concept is that you must like these people. You cannot not do it alone!!!  You need to be with people who will make you laugh when the stress is building at turn in time.

The next thing you will need is a smoker, the litany of choices is overwhelming and on a team of seven guys I believe we have six different smokers. We have 2-Big Green Eggs ( XL and L), 1- Backwoods, 1- UDS, 3- different Box Smokers from various box stores.  We usually bring two or three smokers to an event.

The next thing you will need is shelter. We are fortunate to have access to one of the world’s finest traveling accommodations, “The Mallard”. If you do not have a travel trailer or RV I recommend spending your money wisely on some camping gear and quality pop-up tents with walls. You can make your own walls with tarps and those little clamps from BIG BOX STORE , which help to secure the tarp to the frame. Your smokers and workspace need to be covered and clean.

Okay down to the details:
  •  1 or 2 folding tables and leg extenders, Extenders are 13 inch long pieces of 11/2 inch pvc that slide over the legs to raise your workspace.
  • A plastic shelving unit helps to hold all your stuff and keeps the tarp in place.
  • Sufficient charcoal for 2 days of cooking.
  • Big contractor garbage bags to throw everything in when the rain hits.
  • A master plan of when everything needs to go in the smoker, remember, “ in the smoker” is different than “start the smoker”.
  • Wood Chips, Brines, fire starters, tongs, gloves ( several pair), thermometers, rubs, mustard, olive oil, spices, cast iron skillet, hydration canisters, Toolbox with everything you can think of Clorox wipes, heavy duty tin foil, tin trays, paper plates, plastic forks and knives, lots of napkins, meat cooler, beer cooler, cooler and towels to drop meat temperature, rubber gloves, Insulated rubber gloves for handling meat, large container hand sanitizer, Buckets and dishpans to wash up, hoses, extension cords, Food for yourself, water and a great attitude.

The team needs to define roles and be willing to sacrifice for the greater good.

Thank god we have a guy who handles all the applications and dues for the team. I would rather go to three different stores in holiday traffic to find Nepalese Yak milk then fill out an online application and collect dues money but it has to be done. You need three people minimum for a contest, there are way to many deadlines and things to forget during a contest for one or two people to handle. Dri-erase boards help to keep track of it all.
You need to stop, walk around the event, and check out all the cool stuff that is going on.

I hope this helps someone, somewhere, I am pretty sure writing it all down just helped me! I am absolutely positive that I forgot a bunch of stuff but that is why I have teammates.

Thanks,  The Cleat

December 13, 2011


I found a short video from the guys at HOWTOBBQRIGHT.COM  that details the basics of making your first UDS.  I can’t stress enough the need to go simple with the first one.  At the end of this post I’ll throw up some pics of more complicated builds that you might aspire to emulate for build 2.

Some key points you need to know going in:
Again—DO NOT GET A BARREL WITH THE RED LINER!!!  It is a pain in the ass to grind off!

No matter how clean the barrel appears, give it a long burn bonfire style then was with soap.

Do not go galvanized on your fire box—just basic scrap metal.  Many will tell you not to use any galvanized hardware at all but I don’t subscribe that notion.  Chemistry tells us that the zinc won’t melt until way past the point that I could blaze this barrel so it’s no big deal. 

A valve is not necessary for one of your intakes but nice.  I have seen plastic PVC valves used but I don’t because sometimes I blaze my barrel and they could melt.  I have made many drums that are just 4 holes covered by 4 magnets that work phenomenally.  El cheapo pizza magnets will work but the thin plastic curls up when prolonged to extended heat.  I order thicker, legit car magnets and solved that problem.

If you are going to use the flat lid that comes with your drum you will want to recess your first grate a bit further down on the barrel to accommodate beer can chickens or a turkey.   A 22.5” kettle lid is nice—keep your eyes peeled on craigslist or grab an el cheapo from Wal-Mart!  For more space and a slightly larger diameter, use the bottom of the grill!
Bigger is better when it comes to your thermometer!  Most BBQ thermometers have a short neck that will give you the temp reading on the edge of the barrel.  It might be 30-50 degrees hotter in the middle of your grate directly over the fire.  I use cheap, long turkey fryer thermometers to get a more accurate center temp.  Calibrate your thermo using boiling water before using!

DO NOT PAINT THE INSIDE!!!!  Season before the first cook.  Coat the walls with PAM spray or whatever grease you have laying around and then cook some sausages.  Watch the magic happen as the sides become nice a seasoned!

You do not have to paint your UDS!  I loved the look of mine all rusted up but my wife went NUTS!!!  Some guys have had success with good old Rustoleum spray paint.  I use a base of the high temp BBQ paint and then coat it with whatever normal spray paint I can find to save money.  It works great and is cheap.   High temp engine paint is also an option for those who engage in overkill!

Do not go crazy if you have leaks around the lid.  Pound out your lid to give you the best fit possible but some leakage is no big deal.  Overkillers might want to purchase some Big Green Egg felt gasket to shore everything up.  AVOID the fireplace rope gasket as it has fibers that could flake off and get into your BBQ goodness!
Here ends the lesson on intermediate UDS theory.  As you can see, a lot of science and research has gone into the Redneck Microwave.  Below is a preview of what you can do when graduate from the advance course!


December 11, 2011


Today I planned on my next smoker review – THE HORIZONTAL – however, before I get to that I want to give you some Q’ REVIEW!!  Yesterday, my wife and I drove to POTTSVILLE, PA. for BBQ and a BEER.  Wait, WHAT!??  “You drove 280 miles to eat BBQ and have a BEER!??”  Yes, GET TO KNOW ME!

So, the wife and I drove to America’s Oldest Brewery in POTTSVILLE, PA for a brief stop at the YUENGLING BREWERY brewing since 1829.  Then we headed back down route 61 to IT’S JUST BARBECUE in Deer Lake, PA.  IT’S JUST BARBECUE is located just north of the CABELA’S off route 78. 

Let me add, this part of America is hard working, blue collar people.  Every field seemed to be filled with pickup trucks and pumpkins (hunters in blaze orange). The common Pennsylvania practice of the ‘deer drive’.  Hard work and deer huntin’ – that’s AMERICA.  (As a side note, I planned on getting’ out to hunt this mornin’ but spent a bit too much time around the fire last night.  As my good buddy Mike says, “You can’t serve two masters!” )

Notice the Traeger's in the background

After the quick photo-op outside, I checked out the TRAEGER SMOKERS chuggin’ away in the parking lot.  We ordered a sampler platter (only $17.99) that included pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked chix breast,  ¼ rack, 2 sides and sauce samples.  We also ordered the brisket chili.
The SAMPLER with chili 

We sat down and I grabbed the paper towels to ready for the inevitable.  ALL good Q’ joints need paper towels on the table.  My wife was not happy with her seat because she was facing the beautiful flat screen tv – only because it was showing 1,000 WAYS TO DIE.  Not exactly appetite inducing! 

My wife makes an award winning chili so she tends to be ‘chili critical’.  However, the diced brisket in this chili makes it very nice.  

The pulled pork was VERY moist and the SWEET/HOT sauce was delicious!!  I highly RECOMMEND this sauce.  The brisket was diced, for those who prefer a sliced portion. 

The beans were  EXCELLENT.  I wanted to take a tub and a spoon for the ride home but my wife gave me that, “You’re kidding me, right?” look.

The smoked chix breast was VERY MOIST.  The breast was sliced and had a great taste helped by a good rub.

It is clear from the New Holland Summer Fest BBQ Competition awards within the restaurant IT’S JUST BARBECUE is getting the job done both as an establishment and on the competition circuit.  OH!  I HAVE TO MENTION the STUFFED BAKED POTATO.  The folks next to us ordered two.  The potato was filled with, well, WHATEVER you want!!  Including cheese, onion, jalapenos…next time, for sure.

So, for that next trip out to CABELA’S be sure to turn LEFT out of the lot onto rt. 61 NORTH and get yourself to IT’S JUST BARBECUE for some good ol’ Q!

Yours in SMOKE, 

Gran Pappy~~

December 9, 2011


Greetings QUE-BELIEVERS! I offer up to you the first of my ongoing series of articles about the greatest cooking device this side of the Ronco Research and Development Lab—THE UGLY DRUM SMOKER (UDS).
The UDS is a vertical smoker that works on the same principles that Pappy described in his article detailing vertical smoker theory. I have made close to 10 of these contraptions and have found what does and doesn’t work for my liking. Everything I learned initially about the UDS can be traced back to the largest forum thread in the history of the free world located on the BBQ Brethren site. You want to talk about a wealth of knowledge! Engineers, machinists, scientists and Q-nuts have racked up nearly 9000 posts on there since 2007! I read the first 6000 2 summers ago. Now I change diapers!

Why should you choose to make or buy a UDS? Check this out:
  1. Price—pound for pound the cheapest smoker out there IF you make your own. I’m taking orders if you want-$150 WITHOUT DELIVERY
  2. Efficiency—because of the design and the thickness of the metal, the UDS will blaze for hours and very little charcoal. A 10 lbs. bag of charcoal can easily get upwards of 12 hours at smoking temps!!!
  3. Ease of use—once you figure out your barrel, it truly is a set it and forget it machine.
  4. Volume—currently I run 2 cooking grates and a round lid on top. That is space for 8 racks of ribs laid out FLAT! It is almost impossible to fill that damn thing. The Fish borrowed it once and had 40lbs of chicken legs in it at once!!! Unreal! I’ve done a beer can TURKEY in it before with room to space. Plus—mine has room for another grate too!
  5. Moisture and Flavor—a UDS does not use a water or drip pan so that dripping from the meat hit the coals, vaporize and give the meat a true open pit flavor. This also keeps the moisture in the barrel very high so meat tends to not dry out and needs little spritzing.
  6. Cook Time—because of the design of the machine, food is cooked a bit more directly than on most smokers. This speeds up the cook time so you aren’t outside all day!

Though it can be made with any size steel drum, the basic/traditional model is based on a 55 gallon drum. Intake holes are drilled in the bottom of the barrel with some type of exhaust vent on the lid. An elevated fire box in placed at the bottom of the barrel and a least one grate/rack is placed at the top for the meat. That’s really the basic unit.
Barrels can be found though all sorts of resources. My first UDS and the one I still use today at home and in competitions came free via an ice cream supply company in Valley Cottage, NY. I was a rookie and had no idea what I was looking for other than a food grade barrel. Unfortunately I made the biggest rookie mistake possible and procured a drum with the dreaded “red liner” inside. AVOID THIS!

The liner is a protective layer to prevent the steel of the drum from reacting with whatever food/chemical is inside. It must be removed or particles from it will flake off due to the heat from your cook and end up in your food! You can burn it, sand blast it or grind it off by hand but it isn’t easy and takes forever. NEVER AGAIN!!! Now I purchase completely clean, reconditioned barrels down to the bare metal from a recycling facility in Newburg, NY. So worth the half hour drive and the $20 price tag! I still burn out the barrels by making a massive bonfire but that is only because I’m a pyromaniac and have problems!

The fire box is probably the hardest part of the entire build. Theoretically, you could just dump the coals/wood right into the bottom of the barrel but your fire would suffer from poor air circulation and would get snuffed out by the ash prematurely. Oh, yeah—and your barrel would be trashed and rust out much quicker.
Most people make their box out of a small 18” coal grate off of a Webber kettle grill. You wrap expanded metal, chicken wire or basic sheet metal with tons of holes drilled in around the grate to form a cylinder with the grate at the bottom. It is best to elevate the box a few inches off the bottom so I used 4 long bolts through the crates. Most also put a handle at the top of the box to allow ease of movement into/out of the drum. I used an old wire hanger.

The top of the drum is much easier. Why the 55 gallon drum is perfect for the UDS is because the dimensions of the drum fit most 22.5” grates exactly. I buy the Weber replacement grates but any 22.5” will work. You suspend the grate off of 3 or 4 bolts you drill through the sides of the drum. If your barrel comes with a removable lid then you are in business. Remove the bung hole plug for the exhaust or drill it in yourself, a 2” hole will do fine. You can also use the top or bottom of a donor kettle grill as a lid but you will have to make modifications to it, more than likely by beating the shit out of it with a hammer like I did for my first. My new and improved lid is so complex it will get its own article later.

Temperature inside the smoker is controlled by opening or closing the intake holes at the bottom. The more open, the more air is drawn in and the high the temps. A simple way to do this is to cover the holes with pizza magnets and remove as necessary. I have gotten my barrel to almost 500 degrees but can make it sit anywhere between 225 and 300 that I choose. Most of the time my cooks go off at about at about 255-266 degrees—perfect for what I do!

That should give you an idea of the basics behind the machine. I highly encourage anyone interested to scan through the Brethren UDS forum. Next time I will get into modifications to the basic design.

“Waitin’ on a Friend…”- WHICH SMOKER IS BEST FOR YOU??

Received word that my BACKWOODS PARTY is ready for shipping. Woo-hoo!! Santa’s coming early! The ‘girl’ is ready to get crated and shipped. The PARTY is a top of the line smoker. Put it this way – the shipping cost alone is OVER $400.00. Remind me to disable my wife’s access to this BLOG!
You say, “I can’t do this. That is SO way out of my league, actually, were not even playing the same sport!” SO, not true. There are numerous types of smokers for all skill and price level. You certainly will find a ‘reasonably’ priced smoker. Notice, I did not say ‘cheap’. You get what you pay for.
The idea of a smoker is to hold heat for an extended period of time. A ‘cheap’ model is comprised of low grade materials that will not hold temperature – the goal is to maintain that consistent LO n’ SLO. For example, if I am ‘smokin’ butts’ I like to be pinned around that 230*. Our resident TRASH MAN, cooks a FABULOUS rib in his UDS (Ugly Drum Smoker) upwards of 270*. Different people cook at different temps – that will be discussed down the road.
PROPANE NOT acceptable for BBQ competition. Some say propane ‘Q’ is not acceptable for consumption!!! Not true – propane is convenient and consistent. Just not authentic.
Today, we discuss the VERTICAL/BOX/UPRIGHT...we will get to the others.
In my last entry, I wrote about my 1st time - the year was 198…Oh, sorry, we’re talkin smokers. My first smoker was a BOX style. The vertical is set up with the heat source on the bottom. A pan is used to hold to the coal/wood. Above the fuel source is a water pan. Above the H2O are the racks. There are 2 vents on each side at the fuel level. The top of the unit has a damper which is similar to the side vents.
The general rule is the MORE air allowed to enter the fire box (bottom) the HOTTER the fire. Each individual unit will vary. Only through PRACTICE will you be able to consistently maintain your temperature.
Fire box – Wood Charcoal (charcoal made from wood – do NOT confuse this with wood CHUNKS) will create LESS ash than the traditional briquettes (think Kingsford). Briquettes tend to burn evenly, however, they create significantly more ash over a long burn. Another consideration is the ‘binding’ agents used in the briquette process. (TYW BBQ will address types and brands of charcoal down the road)
*TYW tip – place some type of grate under your coals– I use old gutter guard material
The idea is that as the coals burn, the ash will fall through the grate thus avoiding the ash ‘choking out’ the fire - avoid using galvanized metal in your smoker -
Water Pan
WHY is this in my smoker? The water pan is used to regulate temperature within the unit, as well as provide moisture over long cooks.
*TYW tip - use HOT WATER in your pan
Often, you will find that the water makes it difficult to reach temperature. This can also be caused by other ‘weather’ factors. Using, HOT water in the pan will allow you to reach temperature faster – thus, burning less coal. Also, some Q'ers use SAND in the water pan. Sand will regulate some heat - but will not eat as much fuel as the water. Be sure to check your water pan after 3 hours or so.
Many also claim that apple juice in your pan will help ‘sweeten’ the meat. Moisture is VERY important in the Q’ process. We will dedicate a later entry to ‘keepin’ you meat moist’ (Spray bottles are perfect!)
Meat placement – Everyone has different opinions on which rack to place your meat in the upright smoker. The ONLY definitive is do NOT PUT raw chicken above your fully cooked meats.
For example, chicken takes significantly less time to cook than say…a butt. If you are cooking all your meats in the upright place the chix on the bottom shelf. The bottom shelf will USUALLY cook quicker because it is closer to your heat source. So, you should be aware that meat rotation is usually prudent throughout the course of a cook.
How do I clean my Vertical??
-You can prevent some cleaning by being proactive. LINE the water pan with FOIL. This will make cleaning the water pan MUCH easier.
-Wiping the unit with a damn…oops, damp cloth is sufficient. Many people avoid chemical cleaners in their smokers. Be sure to clean each grate well to prevent rust. Soaking grates in oven cleaner and then rinsing VERY WELL does the trick.
Well, whaddayawaitin for!!?? Start SMOKIN’!!
Gran Pappy~~

December 7, 2011


If names like MYRON MIXON, MIKE MILLS, BOB GIBSON, RAY LAMPE and JOHNNY TRIGG make you smoke with envy, YOU are in the right place. If you have NO IDEA who these people are then YOU TOO are in the right place.

Let me first clarify the NUMBER ONE BBQ ERROR: If you invite me over for “burgers n’ dogs” that ain’t a BBQ! That my friends is a GRILLIN’.

Now, if you say, “Hey, Gran Pappy, c’mon over for a BBQ!” NOW, I’m gettin’ hungry. Because BBQ means LO n’ SLO. THAT, my brothers and sisters, is a BBQ.

Remember kids:


Lo n’ Slo = BBQ

Now, don’t get me wrong. Like I stated earlier, I LOVE A GOOD PARTY. I have spent hundreds of hours eatin’ delicious food off the grill. Summer, spring, rain, snow…NOTHING stands between ‘a man and his grill’!! Damn that BOBBY FLAY!

However, the key to BBQ is lo, slo and smoke. Sounds easy, huh? Well, the concept is at least. Round bout the turn of the century, I purchased a Great Outdoors Smoky Mountain smoker (pic above). I wanted to venture into this ‘realm of smoke’. I figured, “How difficult could this really be?” Well, I had SO MUCH to learn. And the beauty is I’m learnin’ every day. I was a sponge for information, anything and everything Q’ related. I spent hours on the internet and morphed from SMOKING MEAT FORUMS (my first smoking home) and the Smoke Ring to the BBQ BRETHREN, a brotherhood of BBQ FANATICS.

Yes, I was initially hesitant when I fired up that first batch of coals (if only I had known about ‘chimney starters’ or the ‘minion method’!) I put some ‘chicken rub’ on that ½ bird. Coals – hot. Bird – in. Mesquite chunks – on.

Door closed. We have SMOKE~~~ crack beer. Sit down in chair. I AM A MAN!!

Several hours of watchin smoke later, I opened up that box. Wow…I did it. That WAS EASY!! < The FIRST TIME is always left better as a pleasant memory>>

It was that easy. Since that time I have purchased smokers, grills, accessories, books, videos…the journey continues.

~~Gran Pappy of Pork

December 6, 2011

A Q'less foray into BLOGGING

Well…this is my first foray into the world of BLOGGING.  For some time I couldn’t imagine WHY someone would want to read and/or subscribe to a ‘stranger’s blog’ (I was always thought BLOG stood for Barbeque Lovers On Google!!).  However, I realized this technology is both informative and (at times) entertaining! 

Who is this guy and WHY am I reading this??  Let me introduce myself.  (First a DISCLAIMER!!! )
  1. Anything printed herein and following MAY OR MAY NOT BE ENTIRELY TRUE,
  2. Nothing ‘printed’ can be used to incriminate and/or incarcerate any member of Tell You What BBQ (herein, known as TYWBBQ).
  3. All readers of this blog agree to be INFORMED, ENTERTAINED and probably OFFENDED by pithy witticism and at times, nonsensical rhetoric
  4. By agreeing to the aforementioned terms, please feel free to use any information herein enclosed and PLEASE contact TYWBBQ with any questions and/or comments you may have regarding anything/everything Q’ related!
With that said…deep breath… I am a founding member of Tell You What BBQ.  My interest in ‘Q’ stems from love of food and fun <fun usually involves meat, smoke, heavily iced beverages, music and more often than not, a parking lot.  I LOVE my family and my friends (well, some of them)<~~THAT is an example of sarcasm, another service we offer here at TYWBBQ.  I am PASSIONATE about honesty, and giving back to those military personnel who served and currently serve this great country.  However, my PASSION is BARBEQUE (and beer—but that’s a WHOLE different BLOG!)

My mother ran a bar/restaurant from about 1982-1995.  The place was appropriately called, BONES.  Sooo, as a frosh in high school I was indoctrinated into the world of SMOKING.  I’m talkin’ bout RIBS!!  Now, I MUST say the ‘smoke’ I am referencing was ...< the risk of losing all credibility> the renown ‘liquid smoke’ – available in many fine retailers.  I had NO IDEA that a BBQ PURIST would shame such a thought.  Well, MY, OH MY, HAVE I LEARNED.  And YOU TOO shall become ENLIGHTENED on ALL THINGS ‘Q.

As we progress this journey TYWBBQ  will espouse on  topics such as: SMOKERS, SAUCES, INJECTIONS, RESTAURANTS, Q’ TECHNOLOGY, COMPETITION TIPS, RUBS (tonight , dare I say, I GRILLED –as my esteemed colleague, the Trash Man (we'll explain that later) waxed earlier “the other fossil fuel” - three ribeyes (one using the ubiquitous MONTREAL Steak Rub and  two using TASTY LICKS BBQ COMPANY’s ‘redeye red meat rub’ and ‘original smokin’ good BBQ rub’.  SHAMELESS PLUG to follow…Let me tell you, I CANNOT WAIT to review some of the award winning RUBS used here at Tell You What BBQ –FRED at FRED’S MUSIC & BBQ SUPPLY ( sent me FREE samples of NO JOKE RUBS!!!  More about those in the forthcoming RUB REVIEW installment.

As I am sure you figured out if you are STILL reading this, BBQ IS MY PASSION – as well as the rest of our crew.  We ALL HAVE differing opinions, as we should, and those add to the dynamic of our team.  Everything you read here will be from the heart and will make YOU more comfortable with BBQ, entertaining, grilling, cooking…the possibilities are endless.  I look forward to our journey together…now, LET’S GO KICK SOME ASH! 


Trimming the Fat!

I just uploaded my take on South Carolina Ribs to the Award Winning Dishes section of If you like hot and spicy, add a bit more of the hot pepper. If you don't...apparently like many KCBS judges...cut out the spice and add another Tbls of brown sugar. I found a great article on the perfect trimming technique for St. Louis ribs on the Meatwave. Checkout it out!

Rub it...Smoke it...Pull it!!!

December 5, 2011

Can BBQ be healthy?

Absolutely! I know, traditional bbq cuts of meat are very high in fat and considered low quality.  The beauty of bbq is the low and slow smoke method renders much of the off during the cook.  The worst part of most dishes from a health standpoint is actually the sauce you add!  More sugar than a cane field!  What, you thought the flavor came without a price?  Momma was right--nothing in this world is free!  Stay tuned for more info on healthy Q!

December 3, 2011

Why subscribe to our blog?

Seriously?  Do you really need to ask!  What could be more important than BBQ?  In this blog we will continually bring you into the world of competition BBQ.  Even if you don't have the bug to enter a contest, the tips and tricks you pick up here will take your next backyard cookout or tail-gate party to the next level!  We plan on releasing many of our award winning recipes and passing on our contest proven knowledge to those who love the 5th food group--BBQ!  We will be doing reviews of different sauces and rubs along with putting various smokers to the test so you know what works and what doesn't!  Our goal here at the blog is spread all that we have learned and hopefully pick up a few tips in the cooking department. 

What is TYWBBQ?

We are to BBQ as the Beatles were to bad hair and rock n roll!  Who is TYWBBQ?  You're kidding, right?  Only Sloatsburg, New York's premier competition BBQ team.  We are affiliated with KCBS and have competed in NEBS contests as well.  This blog paired with our website will offer our unedited rants along with recipes, bbq how-to's, bbq FAQS, smoker reviews, grill reviews, cookbook reviews and contest info.

Established in 2008, TYWBBQ is quickly turning into the premier Competition BBQ team in suburban NY...certainly the top team in the entire Village of Sloatsburg at press time. This ragtag band of current and former high school teachers are united by their love of breaking each others chops and savoring quality BBQ. And BEER too!!  A select fraternity for middle aged fathers, which offers nothing towards humanity in terms of community service, is a great way to describe this outfit.  Accompanied on their many adventures by the ever faithful RV, The Mallard, TYWBBQ is set to avoid their wives & children and take the BBQ world by storm!

Born out of the desire to create succulent carnivorous dishes at various NASCAR events, TYWBBQ eventually found the KCBS circuit and the collection of hardware began. The team has an assortment of smokers that ranges from Dizzle's 2 mortgage payments Backwoods Smoker to the TrashMan's homemade UDS that set him back about $37.  The Development Team also is working furiously with a few members to wean them of their addiction to natural gas and move them to the better fossil fuel—charcoal!  New for 2011, TYWBBQ has moved into the event catering realm.  Don't be scared...we are professionals!  At TYWBBQ, we don’t claim to be perfect…we just claim that our food is!!