Pioneering Days of BBQ

In the early days of competition BBQ, the rules were just being written. It was like the “wild west” days of BBQ. Many techniques were not mainstream, and even some at the time were considered cheating, such as injection. In this audio clip from 1987, Jim Quessenberry gives Ardie Davis a tour of his whole hog smoker, which at one time had a propane burner in it. The main source of heat was the propane, but it was indirect, and allowed for using logs for the smoke flavor. The thing was as big as a camper trailer and cook easily 4 or more hogs at the same time. Listen below…

Jim Quessenberry and Ardie Davis talk smokers and whole hog.

Jim Q: 00:00
Alright, when I built this thing, I built it to take to Cleveland to a rib championship, but cost efficiency is the main thing there, You know? I have this burner here… This 500,000 Btu burner, It came out of one of these green house furnaces. Alright, that burner, See I use instead of a wood box under there… And then I put me a little log in there for the smoke. You dig? All right, see you draw your heat underneath your water jacket, back up, and back across and it pulls that little hickory smoke over and back. Okay… The Memphians and all, had a little problem with the rules. They didn’t want a propane man out here. So… I built that firebox. It does a wonderful job. It’s just a little slower than propane. Hey my man… (talking to a passer by)

Ardie D: 00:53
I didn’t taste any…

Jim Q: 00:54
Alright! Alright! How you doing? I’m Jim Quessenberry. Good to see ya. (talking to a passer by)

Ardie D: 00:57
I didn’t taste any whole hogs worth a smoke that was as good as yours.

Jim Q: 01:00
Thanks… now, part of that is the wood I use.

Jim Q: 01:04
What we do… We cut that hickory…

Ardie D: 01:06
You can see that red ring on it.

Jim Q: 01:08
That’s Sandy… That’s my girlfriend.

Ardie D: 01:09
You got it hands down… or there’s something wrong.

Jim Q: 01:21
Man I appreciate that, but I’m so damn anxious, I don’t wanna know. I don’t wanna disappoint myself if I don’t make it.

Ardie D: 01:21
You can’t. That’s the thing. I mean uh… in a contest like… You can come in last…

Jim Q: 01:26
Well sure…

Ardie D: 01:27
I don’t know… I don’t know what it is. He makes the best that I’ve tasted here. I mean, it is good stuff.

Jim Q: 01:35
Boy, I appreciate that… Grab you a little nibble off that shoulder over there. That’ll give you a little sample right there.

Smoked Harvest Stuffed Pork Loin

Smoked Harvest Stuffed Pork Loin

Ingredients:

1 ct6 oz. STOVE TOP Stuffing Mix for Chicken
2 ctSmall Apples, Chopped
3 TbspDried Cranberries
1 cupPLANTERS Pecans, Chopped
1 TbspDried Sage Leaves
1 ctPork Loin (4 lb.), Butterflied
1 tbspJim Quessenberry’s Rub Beautiful

Directions:

Recommended: 1 serving sauce (Sauce Beautiful Original, Hot, White, or Gold)

1. Start off-set charcoal fire in Weber grill. Make sure coals are burning well. We like to add apple wood chips for an added sweet smokey flavor.

2. Prepare stuffing according to instructions on the box. Remove from stove top; stir in apples, cranberries, pecans and sage.

3. Lay butterflied loin flat with sliced side up. Spread layer of stuffing on top side of loin; Roll the loin up with the stuffing inside, placing the end seam down, on sheet of aluminum foil or aluminum pan covered in cooking spray. Use butcher twine to hold the loin together. Season with Rub Beautiful.

4. slow smoke until meat is (160ºF) approx. 45 min. Rest 10 min. before slicing.

Bacon Wrapped Quail Breast Sliders

Bacon Wrapped Quail Breast Sliders

This recipe is a game changer (pun intended). Here in Northeast Arkansas we like to hunt, grill, and eat.  We like to change things up a bit from the normal grilled chicken, burgers, etc.  Game recipes are starting to grow in popularity.  Cregeen’s Irish Pub in Jonesboro, AR has been using Jim Quessenberry’s products on their BBQ sandwiches, nachos, and wings for several years.  They wanted to add some game to their menu which gave them a chance to introduce Quessenberry’s white BBQ sauce to their customer base.  Sauce Beautiful – White is perfect for poultry, fish, and goes good on a pulled pork sandwich just as well.  If you want to try your hand at an amazing dish that is guaranteed to delight, follow the recipe below. If you happen to be in the Jonesboro, AR area and aren’t looking to grill for yourself, Come by Cregeen’s Irish Pub and get these sliders paired with a tall cold beer.

Ingredients:

9 ctQuail, Dressed
1 tbspJim Quessenberry’s Rub Beautiful
½ tspBlack Pepper
9 slicesBacon
2 tbspButter or Margarine, Melted
2 pkgs4 pack – King’s Hawaiian Savory Butter Dinner Rolls
1 ctRed Onion, Small (Optional)
1 btlJim Quessenberry’s Sauce Beautiful – White

Directions:

Step 1

Sprinkle quail with Rub Beautiful and black pepper. Wrap breasts with bacon slices using toothpicks to hold in place. Place, breast side down, in a roasting pan. Brush with melted butter.

Step 2

Grill wrapped breasts on direct heat (out of pan) for 3 to 4 mins per side (Or place pan in oven at 450° for 10 mins) Place pan of wrapped breasts on indirect heat of smoker/grill (Or in oven) Bake at 325°, covered, 40 to 45 minutes or until internal temp up to 160°. Then Let stand 5 to 10 minutes before plating.

Step 3

(Optional) Sautee red onion rings in butter using a skillet over direct heat.

Step 4

Remember to remove toothpicks from breasts.  Place 3 breasts on 3 rolls per plate with optional sautéed onions.  Serve with a dish of white sauce for dipping, and a favorite side. (Ex. Onion Rings, Potato Salad, Side Salad, Fries, Etc.)

Serves 3 people

Serves 3

Life Happens: And Sometimes it’s Good

Hey guys! Lee and I have been meaning to continue our blog, but things have been really busy… in a good way.  We have been busy making, distributing, and demoing our products. This weekend was a bit of a break for me, as I have been smoking Boston butts almost every weekend.  I catered a friend’s wedding, then I smoked up some butts for our demo. We double teamed the demo weekend. I set up in Harrisburg at the Edward’s Food Giant, and Lee and Jeff set up at the Edward’s Food Giant in Bryant.  If you have never been to the one in Harrisburg, you should go.  They have groceries, supplies, guns, and awesome BBQ sauce.  I know where I am going if there is a zombie apocalypse… Anyway, the manager of the Bryant, AR store saw our display in Harrisburg a few weeks back and loved it. So we now have our products in Bryant as well.

On top of all the busy BBQ things we have been doing I also got a new day job. I put in my notice at Rural Sourcing, and started at E.C. Barton and Company as a software developer.  Leaving Rural Sourcing was tough, I worked there for 8 years. I have made lots of friends there, and learned a lot.  I still plan to have lunch with my former coworkers pretty regularly. I also look forward to getting to know my new work family.  I can already tell that everyone seems to jive pretty well there.  On my second day at E.C. Barton’s Lee and I catered BBQ for the Independence Day work lunch.

This weekend I didn’t cook anything. But, it too has been a little busy. Jeff and Patrick are on vacation, and Jeff normally does all of our online order shipping. Well no sooner than he went on vacation we got 3 orders from our website, and 2 from Amazon.  So, I have been trying to gather shipping supplies and get those out.  Isn’t that how it typically goes? lol  Like if you are working retail and you send someone home because your labor is getting high, then you get busier than ever. I’m not complaining… I enjoy having the sales, I just think it’s funny.

Stay tuned we will be posting pretty regularly again…

Day 20: What is your favorite Beer?

Crack a cold one!

It’s summer time, and what goes better in the heat of the summer when grilling out by a pool than a cold beer? Maybe beer isn’t your thing… that’s ok… it wasn’t always mine either. I’ve always heard that beer is an acquired taste, and in my own research, I have found that to be true as well. If you simply say you don’t like beer, and you haven’t given many different beers a chance, you may be missing out.

I had decided I wasn’t a fan of beer when I was younger, after trying to drink a Bud Light. It wasn’t until I had a wheat beer that I decided for the first time, I like beer. Things have changed since then as I have tried other types of beers, and I have come full circle. Bud Light is still not my favorite light beer, but if it is the only beer available I’ll drink it. Here are some different types of beers, and my experience with them:

Light Beers and Domestics:

Domestics are your general daily drinker beers. They are typically lightly colored and have a crisp taste that is not heavy on the stomach, and have a hint of barley, malt, hops etc. (Budweiser, Coors Banquet, Miller Genuine Draft, etc.) Light beers are the domestic beer’s low calorie counter part. They typically have the same palate as the domestic beer they are a counter part too, however I am a fan of Budweiser more so than Bud Light because I believe it tastes better. My favorite Light beer is probably Miller Lite, and then second is Coors Light.

Wheat Beers:

My first favorite beer is Blue Moon. Blue Moon is a wheat beer. Wheat beers are typically light in color, sweeter in taste, and pair well with oranges or lemons. Many actually are made with some sort of fruit as the basis of their aroma and taste. I have had a few blueberry wheat beers in my day. It’s like drinking a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. Most wheat beers don’t have a harsh bitter after taste. As a beginner of beer drinking, I have found the after taste to be pleasant compared to other beers I have had before. Some wheat beers have a clove taste and aroma to them. These are not my favorite, but I do enjoy them from time to time.

Pale Ales, IPAs

Pale Ales and IPAs or India Pale Ales are among my least favorite beers. Most that I have had are light to amber in color, and have a very distinct hops flavor to them. The taste of hops in a beer starts out with a nice grassy, earthy taste, but abruptly finish with a bitter after taste. Many people love it. I am not a fan. I do like the beginning crisp grassy taste. Sam Adams has what they call an IPL or India Pale Lager. I am a fan. It has the grassy crisp upfront taste that reminds me of spring time, followed by a clean lager finish that isn’t super bitter.

Porters, Stouts, Dunkels:

Most of the beers I spoke about above are preferred during Spring and Summer. Porters, stouts, and dunkels are more for fall and winter. They are darker, and tend to be heavier on the stomach. Porters, stouts, and dunkels generally have more of a malted taste. They generally seem to have more body to them, and can be slightly sweet. Often times porters and stouts may be blended with choclate or coffee. My usual go to dark beers are 1554, Warsteiner Dunkel, or a good coffee stout like Gotta Get Up To Get Down from Wiseacre Brewing Co. in Memphis, TN

This list is in no way complete for the many types of beer there are, but I wanted to share some of my favorites, and least favorites. Let us know what beer you like to crack open when you fire up the BBQ.

Before I go, here’s an accidentally discovered awesome marinade recipe:

Take a light beer and mix it with our Sauce Beautiful in a 1 to 1 ratio. Makes an awesome splash/mop marinade. You can also heat it up and melt a little butter in it.

Day 19: Remembering Our Loved Ones

Hello friends,

So much has been at play this month. We started out the month by launching our current giveaway (Free BBQ Sauce). We began blogging like crazy. (Check it out) We have been demoing at some stores and contests. Memphis in May International BBQ Contest was last weekend. (I got to see some familiar faces there in the BBQ world). All of these things have kept us super busy, but you guys have kept us motivated. We love BBQ and to see that you do too makes us very passionate!
We want to show our appreciation of your support, and do so in remembrance of our father who accomplished so much in the world of BBQ. Dad loved cooking in general, and he loved people. Click here to learn about who our father was.
Alongside our father, we also want to take this time to remember all the men and woman who have died for our rights in this country. We are here because of their ultimate sacrifices, and it is important to remember that, and not take everything for granted.
While you are cooking out on Memorial Day, enjoying some wonderful BBQ, or chowing down on some grilled burgers and hotdogs, remember what the day is about.

Thanks for your continued support!

Michael Quessenberry

Coupons:

‘JIMFTW20’ FOR 20% OFF OUR ORIGINAL RECIPE BBQ SAUCE
‘THEBRAVE’ FOR 10% OFF EVERYTHING IN THE STORE EXCEPT COMBOS

Day 13: How to Make Your Burgers Go from Ordinary to Extraordinary Using One Simple Ingredient

First, get your fire started. I like to build a fire on one side of my grill to have a side for fast cooking and a side for slow cooking, or a holding area. I will share why later. I usually do my grate cleaning once the fire is lit and everything is warming up as the heat makes it easier to clean.

Next, get a bowl or pan to put your meat into, and then take your meat (preferably 80/20 ground beef) and spread it out by separating it into smaller clumps.

Season your meat by sprinkling salt and pepper on it and mixing it about. At this point many people will mix in a raw egg or breadcrumbs, you can do that if you like, but it is not necessary. The idea is to use the raw egg and/or breadcrumbs as a binder to help make the meat stay together, and the breadcrumbs also make the meat go a little further.

What makes this burger so good is the secret ingredient I use when seasoning and patting them out. My secret ingredient is none other than Sauce Beautiful, I like to mix about 1/2 cup per pound. I mostly just eyeball it. You want the sauce to act as the binder you are looking for, but don’t use too much or the sauce will do just the opposite, and make the meat fall apart more easily.

Then, roll up your meat into balls about the size of the palm of your hand. Then smash the balls into disc being careful not to let the discs split around the perimeter as the patty spread out. I like to make 1/2″ to 3/4″ patties. Some people like them thinner.

When you get your burgers patted out take your thumb and indent each patty right in the center, this will help to prevent the patty trying to return back into a ball shape as it cooks.

At this time, it should be about time to grill these awesome looking patties. you wanna put the burgers directly over the heat. Let the burger cook with a closed lid for about 5 mins per side for medium, and little longer for well done. If you have flare ups be sure to have some water handy to tame the fire. If you try to turn a burger and it is sticking to the grate, it probably hasn’t cooked on that side long enough. once the patties are firm and not falling apart, you can move them to the indirect heat, and add your favorite slice of cheese. I am a pepper jack fan myself. The burgers will continue to cook on the indirect side, and also the cheese will melt.

Once the cheese is melted onto the patty the burger is ready to go onto a bun. I like to toast the buns and then take a burger patty fresh off the grill and place it on a bun. Serve with your preferred condiments, and enjoy! The burgers will be really great tasting and not dried out as the Sauce Beautiful also helps to retain the moisture as the burgers cook. I call it the Quessenburger!

Day 11: Why Are We Celebrating? Giveaway Announcement

I am nearing the end of this day as I write this, but I wanted to share with you guys why we are celebrating today. If you have read the blog the last few days, you know today is our late father’s birthday, but it is also the go live date of when we took JimQuessenberry.com live in 2016! I’m not going to try to follow Lee’s last blog post because it was really good. So, without further adieu…

We are celebrating by offering a new giveaway! Click Here for Details!

Day 9: National BBQ Month

Sample Plate of BBQ

Today starts one of my favorite months, the month of May. I love May because it is when the weather starts to warm up, and the BBQ grills start to come out. May is a month where the skies can be sunny and the temperature is neither too cold nor too hot. I say that, but I do live in Arkansas where the weather can change drastically on the day. I remember a few years back, in May, on the East side of the state, it was in the high 60s to low 70s, and in the West side of the state it was actually snowing. “Classic Arkansas”. But generally speaking, May is perfect for BBQing and has been consequently named National BBQ Month.

Classic Arkansas
Classic Arkansas

As for me the beginning of May brings back fond memories because 1.) It meant the school year was nearing it’s end, and summer was in grasp. 2.) My friend, Brad’s pool was about to open up. 3.) The Memphis in May BBQ Contest is about to happen. As kids, Lee and I used to ride around the streets of Cherry Valley, AR on our bicycles with the other kids from our neighborhood. We often times would end up at a friend’s house doing summer activities such as: swimming in a horse trough or creating a huge slip and slide using a water hose, a roll of foam rubber, and some baby oil or dish soap. But, the one day that I always looked forward to was Mother’s day, for the obvious reason… yes… I love my mother. Also, it just so happens to be the day that my friend Brad Benefield’s parent’s open their pool. That has remained a staple for summer time fun for me, even til this day. Brad and his wife Natausha often invite me, our friend Seth, and Seth’s wife Eli to come swim at his parent’s pool once it opens. What used to be just fun in the summer has become a tradition we refer to as Pool-B-Q. Brad’s mother Cindy grills up some burgers, hot links, hot dogs, and sometimes chicken. We typically slather ALL THE THINGS up in some Sauce Beautiful and completely disregard the don’t swim after you eat rule.

During the middle of the Month is when The Memphis in May BBQ Contest begins. This was my father’s favorite contest. He liked it for many reasons. One reason of course being it’s proximity to where we lived, only about 50 mins away, but dad was also fond of Memphis itself. Memphis is a cool town, with it’s strong roots in Blues, Rock, and BBQ. Dad loved music, food, and people, and what better venue than Memphis in May BBQ Festival to be around all of those things? I’m not certain if dad attended the first MIM contest, but I know that he did attend the second one in the late 70s, and all the competitors were under one tent in the Orpheum parking lot. A lot has changed since then. Dad competed there until the mid 90s, receiving a handful of trophies, but what proved to be more significant were the friends he had made in the competition BBQ scene. He made friends with many people who are big names in competition BBQ these days such as Ardie Davis, Carolyn Wells, the late Silky Sullivan, and the late Billy Bones to name a few. Like him, a lot of those friends were defining what we know today as American BBQ, and Competition BBQ.

Ardie Davis and I
Ardie Davis and I

 

What this May brings us besides fond memories, is opportunity. We plan to vend at a several events this year to grow our business, and I have a secret for you guys. We have another giveaway to announce in two days. Details to come… We chose May 3rd because it is dad’s birthday, and also the 2 year anniversary of taking www.jimquessenberry.com live. Keep the smokers rolling and beers flowing my friends.

Day 8: 5 Ways To Improve Your Indirect Heat Cooking Skills On A Small Grill.

So, you wanna improve your skills on cooking indirectly, but you don’t have a fancy offset smoker, no worries. There are a couple of tools and tricks you can use to get the desired results of indirect heat.

#1: Charcoal Basket and Drip Pan:

I often use this method on my Weber kettle grill. The basic idea here is to partition your fire to one side of the kettle using a charcoal basket. Then place a foil pan or sheet fashioned into a pan on the charcoal grate at the other side of the kettle. This will not only catch the drippings of the meat above, but it will also shield direct heat from hitting the meat by providing a buffer between it and the burning charcoal. This method is great for slow cooking ribs without a true smoker. Water can be added to the pan to make the cook chamber atmosphere more humid to aid in keeping the meat moist while cooking.

#2 Build a Brick Wall:

Let’s say you don’t have a charcoal basket for your kettle grill, or you have a different type of grill. No worries the same idea can be applied by setting the coals up at one side of the grill, and building a wall up to the cooking grate with bricks. The wall will provide the buffer between the meat and fire that is desired, and also once the bricks are warm, they will provide consistent heat as it slowly permeates through.

#3: Ring of Charcoal or The Snake Method:

This method is some what new to my bag of tricks, but i have found it to be very useful when I want to smoke a Boston Butt, but don’t want to break out the huge smoker or don’t wanna spend lots of money on tons of charcoal to smoke one butt on a larger smoker. If you have a small smoker you won’t need this method, but again if you have a Weber kettle grill or even a cheap burger and hotdog cooking tailgater, you can use this method and put some delicious slow smoke on a Boston butt or turkey or any thing that can fit in your small grill. So here is how you set it up. Take charcoal brickets and neatly stack them around the perimeter of the charcoal grate where it meets the side of the kettle. Leave space between the start and end of the ring so you don’t accidentally burn both ways at the same time. Start your fire on one end and it will slowly burn around the perimeter for many hours, at a nice low and slow pace. You can also sprinkle your favorite wood chips over the ring of charcoal to keep a steady regimen of smokey goodness cooking into the meat. I like to start my fire so that it burns clockwise, it helps indicate what hour of cooking I’m in. After you start your fire. place the cooking grate over it and place your meat in the center of the cooking surface. I like to place Boston Butts it in an aluminum pan, but leave the pan uncovered. It lets the Butt get the flavorful smoke, stay moist because it cooks in it’s own juices, and it acts as a buffer between the fire and the meat.

#4 The Stack Add-On:

There are a few different extensions you can add on to Weber kettles that move the cooking surface higher above the coals for a slower cook. In this type of situation the coals are still under the cooking surface, but not close enough to flame kiss a steak. If you are like me you like the idea of having the versatility of an add-on like that, but never think to buy one. I think it’s funner to create indirect heat using the methods mentioned above.

#5 Electric Smoker:

If you have access to electricity this is one of the easiest and consistent ways of smoking and using indirect heat. The heat is provided from a heating element much like an electric oven, and the smoke is typically created by feeding wood pellets or pucks via an auger or conveyor into the heating element creating smoke. These smokers are nice to have when cooking at home, but are generally not permitted in BBQ contests, as they make things way to easy and consistent. Taking the skill out of it.

I hope you enjoyed this article, as you can see the basic idea is to move the food away from direct heat to slow down your cooking process, and add that wonderful flavor we all love. Come back tomorrow for more BBQ tips, tricks, and stories!

-Michael Q