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

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 6: Introducing A Revolutionary Method To Master Reverse Seared Pork Chops.

 

Remember that time when we did that one recipe with a gas grill? Me either so that’s not the revolutionary method, but I’ll tell you what is; cold smoking that delicious hunk of pork that we call a pork chop and then sizzle it on both sides to create a delicious, mouth watering, morsel of delectable perfection. I’m bout to blow your mind.

So there’s a few things to remember here.

  • You’re gonna need an effective way to slow smoke or cold smoke the pork chops to an internal temp of say 130 degrees or thereabout.
  • You need pork chops.
  • We’re going to use Jim Quessenberry’s Sauce Beautiful White and Hickory Rub so head over here and order those.
  • Get some asparagus or some other kind of fancy veggies that you want to steam, smoke, or grill.
  • Lemon Juice or fresh lemons and some butter.
  • A hot flat iron skillet.

So first things first, let’s get a nice indirect heat source, preferrably with charcoal or a fruit wood for added flavor and let it mellow out to some nice glowing coals. You don’t want to flame kiss the chops. This part is important for the preparation and flavor. Use a water pan or a divider if you have to but we’re seriously only looking for a smoke source with a little bit of heat.

Next, while that is underway, make sure the pork chops aren’t some “bargain bin 5 for $25” pieces of thin boot leather. Get some 1/2” to 3/4” thick cuts. Don’t be a cheapskate. If you wanted pork jerky you could have gone to a gas station. Let these dudes rest up to room temperature. That will allow the meat to absorb the smoke better when you place them on the heat source.

Now that you’ve let them rest and the fire has a nice glow, place them indirectly over the heat source and let them get some of that fruity goodness of those apple chips smoking. Do this for a few minutes until the inside temp of the chop is like 125-130 or so and then remove them and let them rest once more.

While they are resting, stoke up your fire to a really hot temp and put your trusty ole flat skillet directly over the heat to get damn near red hot. While that’s in progress, dash some Hickory Rub on all sides of the chops while glazing them with a little bit of butter. Let that sit for a minute or two.

Once the surface of the hot plate or iron skillet is extremely hot, drop the chops on it and let them sear for up to 2 minutes on each side. This will tap all the juices in and crust up the seasoning on each side for a flavorful bark. Remove them and place in a warmer or indirect heat chamber while the veggies are being done.

For the veggies, a buttery grilled medley of asparagus, brocolli, cauliflower, and red cabbage will make a savory dish worthy of a five star restaurant. If you are wanting a contrast with a more natural flavor from each vegetable, simply opt for a steamed version of the medley. Top with some cherry tomatoes and you’ve got a side. If you want to add a little starch, go for rice pilaf or scalloped sweet potatoes.

Once the sides are ready and the chops have been seared, plate them with a drizzle of Jim Quessenberry’s Sauce Beautiful White* over the chops with a spritzer of lemon juice over the entire plate. Serve and enjoy.

*Jim Quessenberry Sauce Beautiful White is not affiliated with Reid Martin’s Sauce Gorgeous El Blanco.

Oh by the way, the revolutionary method is to allow the meat to rest between cook times. This may not be obvious, but when you do it right and realize how good it all turned out, you’ll see what I mean. In a fast paced world, sometimes you have to savor the flavor to enjoy things.

Day 3: Why We Love Smoked Pork (And You Should, Too!)

There are many delicious forms of barbecue, but our favorite is very obviously pork. There are a lot of good reasons for this and you will probably agree that they are all worthy of your attention.

Whole Hog

One of the most ambitious cooks you will ever try is the whole hog. It is a lesson in patience, skill, and technique that few have experienced, but it is worth every minute of experience. When you smoke a whole hog, you better set aside at least 2 days of going nowhere and staying on top of your assignment.

The whole hog is very rewarding and will feed dozens of people. The meat is very tender throughout the shoulders, ribs, and ham areas. When cooking a whole hog it is good to remember that you have time to get it done right. Always set aside 24 – 30 hours of time including prep and serving so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.

The whole hog has a distinct and mouthwatering flavor that is unlike any portion of the hog that you might have otherwise cooked separately. You haven’t lived until you’ve eaten a baby-back rib cut directly from the animal. It is absolutely the freshest, juiciest, and most flavorful way to eat baby-back ribs. Follow Michael’s instructions here for an experience that is like none other. Be sure to pick up a few bottles of sauce or rub beautiful to go with the hog.

As a child I remember seeing my first whole hog cook at a BBQ competition. To me it looked like something you would see a tribe cook on some island far away from Arkansas.

Michael Quessenberry
https://jimquessenberry.com/going-whole-hog/

Ribs

My favorite barbecue dish has to be baby-back ribs. Sure there are spare ribs and St. Louis style ribs, but my favorite are baby-back ribs hands down. Let’s break it down. Spare ribs are from the belly and are meatier, larger in size, and often times tougher than baby-back ribs which come from closer to the loin. Because of this, baby-back ribs are more tender and take less preparation and cooking to get a wonderful and flavorful entree. St. Louis ribs are basically just trimmed and squared spare ribs. They’re uniform in appearance and have less grissel on them, but don’t be fooled, they aren’t “back” ribs.

Some folks like “dry” ribs, which when done properly, I LOVE, and some folks like to get messy with saucy wet ribs. I like something a bit more in the middle. My ribs tend to have the chew of a dry rib with a glazy candy shell similar to my shoulders or butts. Using Rub Beautiful and Sauce Beautiful as a glaze, the ribs come off the smoker with a very thick and satisfying bark that will leave you wanting more even if you’re full.

For more information on how I prepare ribs, see Lock and Load Ribs.

Pulled Pork

Ah the classic pulled pork sandwich, an American staple. Although the best sandwiches are often a mix of pulled pork from a whole hog, the traditional pulled pork sandwich is made from the shoulder, butt, or picnic ham portion of the hog cooked on its own, pulled and/or chopped, and placed between two buns with a dollop of homemade coleslaw topped with a squirt of Sauce Beautiful to complete the perfect BBQ sandwich.

 

When cooking a butt or shoulder, I generally season and coat the meat with a very liberal amount of Rub Beautiful and place the meat with the fat side down (to prevent bitterness and greasy meat) on the grate with an indirect heat source. Then I smoke the meat about 4-5 hours to get a good smoke ring in the meat. I do this at about 225-250 degrees. After 4-5 hours, wrap the shoulder or butt in aluminum foil and finish it off to about 195 internally. The bone should wiggle free without hassle when the temp hits 195 to 200.

Pull the meat and/or chop it and serve on sandwiched. Your mouth and friends will thank you.

BBQ Smoked Meatloaf

SAVE 35% UNTIL   MONDAY 12/4/17                              ENTER CODE: CYBORG          


Sauce Beautiful - Original &
Rub Beautiful

1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (from 2 slice white bread)
1/3 cup whole milk
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium celery rib, finely chopped
1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1.5 tablespoon Rub Beautiful
1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
1/2 pound ground pork (not lean)
2 large eggs

Garnish: 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Directions

1. Fire up smoker or Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
2. Soak bread crumbs in milk in a large bowl.
3. Cook onion, garlic, and celery in butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low, then cook until bell pepper is tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and stir in Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, Rub Beautiful. Add to bread-crumb mixture then add to onion mixture along with beef, pork, eggs, and parsley and mix together with your hands.
5. Pack mixture into a 9- by 5-inch oval loaf in a 13- by 9-inch shallow baking dish or pan. Let sit in refrigerator for 1 hour to firm up.
6. Remove from loaf pan and place in smoker until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meatloaf registers 155°F, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
7. Sauce with Sauce Beautiful, sprinkle parsley on top. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Sauce Beautiful - Original
Rub Beautiful

How To Cook Championship Style Barbecue with a Gas Grill

Can you really use gas grills in competition?

You can't, but here's a recipe for some damn good ribs using charcoal.

I mean you didn't really think I was serious did you? Gas grill in a barbecue contest? In real life? I'm talking about barbecue, not cheap dollar store meat that's been burnt to a crisp and as dry as the Sahara desert.

  • Open the rib packages and use a pair of fish skinning pliers to pull the membrane (silver skin) off of the back side of the ribs.
  • Trim any excess fat or skin away from the ribs. You'll know if you see it.
  • Be sure to use Babyback ribs. Spare ribs are like spare tires. They work in a pinch, put they're not the best you can use. They're awfully full of gristle.
  • Rub each rack with olive oil to give yourself a somewhat sticky surface on both sides
  • With anything though, rub in moderation...excess rubbing can chaff the meat!
  • Use as much rub beautiful as you can get out of a single can and completely coat each rack with dry rub. You can't over do it because you just want it covered with a layer.
  • Sprinkle some rosemary onto the newly applied Rub Beautiful. Trust me on this. It's a real nice touch and it gives you a fresh hint of flavor.
  • Fire up your smoker and wait til your coals are "peak hot" or when the coals are white and glowing orange inside.
  • Once the smoker is ready, make sure you have an indirect place for the ribs to go and place them away from the flame for indirect heat.
  • Let the ribs cook for a couple of hours at around 250 degrees and check them for heat displacement if you're on a smaller grill. You may have to move hotter sides to cooler areas and rotate to avoid burning. If you're on an indirect smoker you're probably okay without this step. Rotisseries are best for cooking ribs.
  • About midway through cooking, remove each rack, wrap it in foil, and drizzle a cup or two of beer into the foil all over the ribs. Recover and wrap the ribs in the foil.
  • Allow the beer to permeate the ribs and soften up the meat while continuing a slow heat for the next hour or so.
  • Just before they're ready to take up, drizzle a little Sauce Beautiful on each rack and paint it onto the surface with a brush. Let it cook for a few minutes to give your ribs a sweet and sticky bark.
  • Once the ribs are ready to take up and have reached a safe temperature (I prefer 190 degrees), remove the ribs from the grill surface and cut each rack into ribs grouped in threes.
  • Ring the dinner bell, tell everyone to fend for themselves, and crack a cold one. You just made some amazing ribs.

Just a Bayside Girl, Living in a BBQ World

Many may not know my face and name, but I’m the fourth powerhouse behind Jim Quessenberry BBQ. My last name isn’t Quessenberry, nor do I have a round belly or fire-red hair. I don’t live in the Memphis-Jonesboro area and if you ask me the perfect way to smoke a brisket I’m going to have you call the brothers Q. But what I do have is an amazing friendship and now partnership with the Quessenberry Brothers and Jeff Marchetta that started over 5 years ago on the shores of the Outer Banks in Kill Devil Hills, NC.

I have been a Shore Girl my entire life; seriously, I’m from the Eastern Shore of Virginia. An often forgotten peninsula on national and state maps that is usually only seen via the one main road to get to either Virginia Beach or North to Baltimore and Jersey. But if you step off the beaten path and down some backroads, you will find some of the most amazing small seaside towns left in the country as well as some of the best seafood in the world. I lived on the Shore for 18 years, and as most kids in small towns do, packed up and swore I’d never be back again. I graduated from college, got an amazing job and my own apartment in a thriving area with an amazing nightlife. I had everything, or so I thought.

What I bring is a new way of looking at sauces and rubs for cooking. I think out of the box and find interesting and unique ways to use sauces and rubs for seasoning seafood.

You’re probably thinking, what the what?! How can you do this? Here are some of my favorite down-home Shore Girl recipes that you can easily do no matter where you live!

Until my now husband rolled into town, swept me off my feet and I packed all my bags and moved back to the beach with him to be stationed in Nags Head, NC with the Coast Guard. Here I met Lee Quessenberry while working in the same marketing department at the beach and became best friends.

We talked hunting, rooting in the mud and of course cuisine. We swapped recipes, BBQ for seafood and found that we both had a passion for this and Lee asked that I start helping with Jim Quessenberry BBQ. This turned into a friendship with the rest of the team and a now full-blown partnership within our company.

Oysters Raw with Jim Quessenberry

Note: The consumption of raw seafood products is at your own risk. But, don’t be a pansy, give it a try!

Raw oysters have been a part of the seaside life since the early 1600’s with the founding of Jamestown. Captain John Smith (Yes, the Pocahontas guy) made his way around the Chesapeake Bay and visited many areas of the Eastern Shore of Virginia, including a small island now called Saxis Island which was founded in 1624. From this landing going forward, waterman have made their living off of oystering and crabbing in the area, including my family. These watermen worked long hours to dredge and catch these delicacies for others, while feeding their family part of their catch and what else they could grow in the harsh conditions. This created a cultural breeding ground for some of the finest seafood recipes around.

Oyster lovers have many opinions about what you should and shouldn’t use as a dipper/garnish while eating raw oysters; there are nearly as many opinions about the best oysters in the world (Spoiler Alert: Seaside Oysters from the Eastern Shore win every time). Here are some garnishes that we oyster fans find acceptable to have with oysters:

Horseradish
Melted Butter
Hot Sauce Beautiful

DO NOT USE CRACKERS AFTER HAVING AN OYSTER! Our noses will fly high at you!

Of course, in my humble opinion the best combination of dipping sauces for raw oysters includes Jim Quessenberry Hot Sauce Beautiful and melted butter. It gives the oyster the fire of horseradish without the grain of the condiment and a smooth finish thanks to the melted butter.

  • 1 Peck of Oysters (Feeds a couple of people)
  • Horseradish
  • Melt a couple of sticks of butter in a saucepan.
  • Crack open oysters with an oyster knife.
  • Apply butter, Hot Sauce Beautiful, and/or horseradish.
  • Throw your head back and toss the oyster in your mouth.

Oysters Rockefeller with Jim Q Hot Sauce Beautiful

This recipe will give you about 3 dozen beautifully seasoned Oysters Rockefeller. Add amounts as needed for larger batches and bushels.

If possible, choose smaller oyster meat shells so there is space for your added garnishes.

  • 3 Dozen Fresh Oysters (Bonus Points for Chincoteague Seaside Oysters)
  • 6 Tablespoons Butter (Did I mention this won’t be a Paleo Recipe?)
  • 6 Tablespoons of Fresh Minced Spinach
  • 3 Tablespoons of Finely Chopped Onions
  • 5 Tablespoons of Breadcrumbs
  • *Jim Quessenberry Hot Sauce Beautiful to Taste
  • ½ Teaspoon of Worcestershire Sauce
  • ½ Teaspoon of Rock Salt (Regular Salt Works as Well in a Pinch)
  • Grated Cheese to Desired Preference
  • Old Bay to Taste (DUMP IT ON THERE)
  • Lemon Wedges to Taste
  • Pry open them SOB’s and toss the back half of the shells.
  • Drain excess water from the oysters, leaving only a small amount under the meat.
  •  If you’re wondering what to do with shells, post-dinner they are great for filling in potholes (Shore Pro-Tip for my Mid-West Fans)
  • Melt your butter and add all products into your mix.
  • Slather mix over oysters and broil oysters approximately 5-10 minutes dependent on heat source. You are looking for the edges of the mixture to curl or bubble and they are ready.
  • Slap them on a plate, let cool for 5-10 minutes and get your saucy seaside delight on!

Steamed Shrimp & Crabs

I know you’re thinking….how on earth can you use Jim Q for shellfish? Really it is an easy concept. What is the main ingredient for steaming shrimp & crabs? Drumroll….OLD BAY!

Old Bay is an absolute must for any self-respecting seafood recipe. I will never tell you to not use this seasoning in replacement of anything because I’m certain my relatives that have passed will come down and strike me with lightning. So, use it! Mix Old Bay with Jim Quessenberry’s Rub Beautiful to make a spicy mix that will delight the tastebuds. Combine Vinegar, Beer, Water and your season mixed into the appropriate size pot and have yourself a low-country boil no matter where you are. Throw in some potatoes and corn and you have yourself a full meal!

As a seafood lover, I love to hear about other recipes! Send your seafood inspired-Jim Q recipes to us at [email protected]

  • 1 Bottle Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 Gallon Vinegar
  • 1 Gallon Water
  • 2 lbs shrimp
  • 1 dozen new potatoes
  • 5 gallon pot
  • Mix 1 gallon of water, 1 gallon of vinegar, 1 gallon of PBR, and a seasoning bag with a bottle of Old Bay and a bottle of Rub Beautiful into a slurry in a 5 gallon pot. Allow the slurry to come to near a boil.
  • Add shrimp, crab, corn, and potatoes to the slurry and stir as they boil. Boil until potatoes are almost soft.
  • Drain water and pour the food onto a giant picnic table covered in newspapers and dig in!
  • Serves a good sized family, a basketball team, or a 2 person sailing team (they work up a huge appetite.)

Let’s Go on a Barbecue Adventure in Jim & Donna’s Lunar Rover: A 1980’s Chevrolet Astro Van

It's been a crazy week this week. My neighbors decided to burn their leaves in a pile on top of the cable tv tap for the block that I live on, my mother is in the hospital for pneumonia, I'm just now preparing my tax documents, and my family is in mourning over the loss of my Uncle Dave. It's not the normal grind I'm used to when it comes to running a business or two on the side, but I will prevail. In the meantime, I'd like to tell you a story. It's a story I've unearthed during long blocks of thought and reflection and it all began returning to me when the environment was just right on a late trip back to Jonesboro from seeing my mother in the hospital in Searcy.

I guess it was in the flat bottomlands and delta between Possum Grape and just north of Newport, Arkansas that I really felt the chill of memories tingling up the back of my spine. There I was, alone in my red truck, with the windows down and the thermometer sitting at a perfect 66 degrees. I had the radio on listening to one of my very long and curated Spotify playlists called "Cool Summer Nights," a playlist mostly comprised of 1980's pop and rock music with some relics from the 1960's and 1970's thrown in for measure. It was the soundtrack of my life from birth to age 8 and was often blaring through the speakers of my first spaceship, a mid 1980's Chevrolet Astro Van that my mom and dad drove. The fainting glow of the sun just below the horizon, the rush of damp cool wind from the delta bottoms blowing through my hair, and the beat of the end of an era marching me right along down Rock'N'Roll highway 67 was something I have been missing for a while. I began to visualize myself along with my family in a simpler time; a time before BBQ sauce was a commercial endeavor for my parents, much less Michael or me.

The period marked the upheaval surrounding the inevitable beginning of the fall of the U.S.S.R., Michael and I had a pet snapping turtle named Michael (Duke) Dukakis, The end of the Cold War was nigh, and George Bush was making play for a presidential bid. Dad had already been to Ireland to win the International BBQ Cooking contest once and was returning to do it again. The period was between 1986 and 1989, specifically 1987, with some memories peppered in from other years in the range. The backseat of the van with giant side windows, a sliding door, and no presumptions about knowing how to drive reminded me of an astronaut sitting in a capsule with star fields on all sides. I can remember reclining back in the seat and hearing the radio play thinking to myself that there was no place I'd rather be than right there with my mom and dad as mission control creeping slowly down the gravel roads looking at stars, thunderstorms, coyotes, and deer. We spent hundreds of nights on the St. Francis River Levee fishing, frog gigging, and watching the FedEx planes with landing gear engaged, flying in and out of Memphis like bright white army ants marching to and from a colony, single file and never late.

Some of those nights on the farm ended with a toolbox or cooler full of bullfrogs. I guess it was destined to be in my blood, but Dad was frog gigging when I was pushing my way into the world. I am almost positive it was out of season since my birthday is March 31st and as far back as I can consciously remember, frog season begins on tax day, April 15th, but I digress. Once my brother and I got older there were nights when Dad and his best friend Arthur Lee McDaniel would take us along for the ride. They were masters at frog hunting. We'd roll out in my mom's van with the night's sky as our canvas and spotlights as paint brushes. Arthur and Dad would be high-fiving each other in the front seat driving across cow pastures and fields looking for ponds, swamps, rivers, and ditches to catch frogs. Sometimes Dad would just fit as many of the slimy jumpers as he could down the bib of his overalls and hop his way back to the van. Arthur would run and catch the fast ones and put them in his cooler. We'd come home and have dozens of frogs to eat.

Many of those turn rows, gravel roads, and levees ended up back at home where Dad would have a giant smoker or cooker fired up to cook enough for 100 when he needed to cook for 10. I can remember swatting mosquitoes sitting on our screened in front porch watching Dad pull hot aluminum foil apart with his fingers, cussing up a storm, shaking his hands with burns, and basting a big pork shoulder or a dozen or more whole fryer chickens with a mop and a saucepan full of homemade Au Jus. I can still feel the refreshing breeze of the dew fallen grass breaking the monotony of the still of night. The air was fresh and cool with the occasional hint of Au Jus and a slight sting of vinegar, spices, and smoke. The radio was usually tuned to FM 100 or Rock 103 out of Memphis and there was always a Phil Collins or The Police song keeping time and marching through the night. I'd usually lie there in a folding chair or one of my bean bag chairs and keep one eye pried open just watching and listening to my Dad work. After Michael and I finally settled in for the evening it was one of the best times for us to learn the ways our Dad cooked. We'd watch with content until we either drifted off completely or were reluctantly running hand and foot back and forth to the kitchen to grab utensils, pans, ingredients, and so on.

On the nights when we weren't at home during the summer, we were usually on a river bank somewhere in the mid-south preparing our speeches for the BBQ judges, sharpening our knives, playing flag football with the other teams' kids, and helping Mom and Dad prepare for judgment day at a regional Memphis in May circuit BBQ contest. While other kids were camping with their parents, uncles, brothers, and cousins, Michael and I were camping at Tom Lee Park in Memphis listening to tall tales of bullshit and trickery from all over the world. When we weren't in Memphis, we were hanging out in Little Rock, Nashville, and every small town in between. Everywhere a new place, but every person new or old was a familiar face. No matter the venue, we went there via a Chevy Astro van. No matter the mission ahead, the van was our portal to whole new worlds complete with a starry night sky and alien lifeforms all too different from Cherry Valley, AR. As a child of the 1980's the older I get the more I long for another night under the stars with my family making fun of old drunkards, sometimes punching them in the face, and sugaring up to my older cousins' new wives or girlfriends.

Before you go, I want to leave you with a recipe for frog legs that will have you hopping onto our online store and buying a few things to get your 80's montage on while you grill some shrimp and drink Bloody Mary's with your friends.

  • 24 frog's legs, skin removed
  • 1 (4 ounce) packet saltine crackers, crushed
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • Rinse the frog's legs and pat dry; set aside. In a large resealable bag, combine the saltine cracker crumbs, flour, cornmeal, onion, and Hickory Steak Rub. Shake to mix. In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.
  • Heat the vegetable oil and peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. The oil should be about 1/2 inch deep.
  • Dip the frog's legs into the milk and egg, then dip into the cracker mixture until evenly coated. Carefully place them in the hot oil. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 5 minutes per side. If the legs start to brown too quickly, reduce the heat to medium. Drain on paper towels before serving.
  • To Cook
  • 2 lbs. shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Marinade
  • 2/3 C. soy sauce
  • 1/2 C. olive oil
  • 2 T. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 t. ground ginger
  • 1 medium yellow onion minced
  • List Item2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Combine marinade ingredients and marinate shrimp overnight in the mixture.
  • Skewer shrimp and grill over direct charcoal heat for approximately 20 minutes.
  • Serves 4-6
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • lime wedges
  • lemon wedges
  • Garnishes: cherry tomatoes, celery stalks, Shrimp Quessenberry, pickled okra, olives, or pickled green beans
  • In a large pitcher, mix tomato juice, vodka, barbecue sauce, lemon juice, Worcestershire, hot sauce (optional), celery salt, and horseradish.
  • Moisten the rim of each glass with lime or lemon wedge; dip rims in celery salt. Fill glasses with ice and tomato juice mixture. Garnish with lime wedges, lemon wedges, tomatoes, celery, shrimp, okra, olives, and green beans, if desired. Makes about eight cocktails each 8 ounces.