Day 14: 4 Things You Had No Clue About When It Comes to Apples and Apple Wood

 

Apple Wood Flavors Are Very Similar to The Pome

Apple wood provides a fruity and delightful hint of flavor when used to smoke ribs, chicken, porkchops, or other white meats. It is a goto for many competitors in the competitive world of barbecue. Unlike Hickory which I wrote about earlier, Apple trees and the apples themselves have a ton of wildly varying symbols and meanings throughout mythology, religion, and folklore. The Pome (fruit) of the Apple is associated with many healing recipes and other remedies.

Apples Have Strange Religious and Mythical Powers

The Apple Was Eve’s gift to Adam from the tree of knowledge. Apparently women have unfortunately experienced the gender gap in pay and education since the beginning of time. Eve gave Adam the fruit and well we all know what happened after that. Or do we? Apparently the Apple tree was also the tree of eternal life in the Garden of Eden so I mean, what gives? Talk about a tough test of religious faith.

Apple Blossoms Are Associated with Beauty

The Apple blossom is a symbol of beauty in ancient China. It is used often to depict natural beauty in nature and adorned on gowns and robes for the most beautiful women in China. At least it wasn’t the forbidden fruit that ruined humanity forever right?

Apple Trees Are Sacred in Many Ancient Religions

Apple trees were sacred to the Druidic and Celtic people as well as the Brythonic people of ancient Europe. The tree was often associated with many health benefits as well as immortality and eternity. This makes Apple probably one of the most iconic trees and symbols throughout the ancient world. So far it’s immortality, sin, beauty, and knowledge. I am stoked about apple wood. Get it? Stoked?

BONUS: Apple Wines and Apple Pomes Have Healing Power

Apple wine is an old recipe for healing and ridding the body of illness. I mean don’t go out and get drunk on Apple wine and think you’re going to cure the common cold or cancer, but antioxidants in apples are known to help with many ailments and are solely responsible for the old saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Baked apples have often been used to sooth sore throats and apple juice is a common treatment for other ailments related to the body.

In Retrospect, I Love Apples and Apple Wood

When cooking with Apple wood it is often times recommended to mix it with a mild hardwood. I prefer to blend my smoke between Apple and Hickory for a sweet smoky flavor. Apple when used by itself for too long or with a lot of smoke can be overpowering and provide a bitter taste. Use it with a water pan to get a fruity steam/smoke mix that allows your meat to stay moist will attracting a hint of sweet fruity flavor. I prefer to use Apple shavings or Apple wood chips rather than large logs so that I can control the amount of Apple smoke used for cooking and smoke flavoring. Apple works best with a lower temperature around 225 fahrenheit for longer cooking times. I recommend pairing with an apple cider vinegar baste while cooking chicken or pork. It gives you a little acidity to break down the meat and permeate with flavor. Top it off with a mixture of Sauce Beautiful and your vinegar baste and you’ve got a glaze that will delight the senses.

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 4: 55 Racks of Ribs for A Good Cause

 

Michael Quessenberry and the Northeast Arkansas Legal Support Professionals Raise nearly $1,400 for NEA families.

Michael Quessenberry and Amelia Harris worked together to cook and sell 55 racks of Jim Quessenberry’s Rub and Sauce Beautiful candied ribs in order to help the Northeast Arkansas Legal Support Professionals Group assist with their regular philanthropic events. The group aides with scholarships, donations, and other assistance alongside CASA and other family assistance groups throughout the Northeast Arkansas region.

Michael cooked all night on Wednesday April 25th and through the morning of April 26th in order to present the ribs to each of the donating members of the fundraiser. The ribs will be delivered at 5pm on April 26th.

The Arkansas Trav’ler Championship Tradition

The Arkansas Trav’ler BBQ Cooking team has historically provided catering services in official and some not so official capacities for over 35 years. When Jim started the competitive cooking team he had already been cooking and providing for those in need for several years. His big heart and bigger head paved the way for his sons, Lee and Michael, to carry on a tradition of giving back to the community.

For inquiries about how we can help your next fundraiser, give us a shout or email us at [email protected]

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.

This is my passion!

You know when you are growing up and everyone asks you, “What do you wanna be when you grow up?” As a kid, I remember thinking, I want to be a farmer, a cook, or a Ninja Turtle.  The first two choices were because I looked up to my dad, he wore those two hats, and of course I knew I couldn’t really be a Ninja Turtle I had no way to obtain Mutagen, It was just something to entertain my friends and I as a kid. I was distraught when all of my friends quit playing Ninja Turtles and began being Power Rangers. At some point, our pretending to be mutants and super-heroes faded and my friends and I got into liking girls and being competitive in sports instead. I even began to tear down the awesome TMNT wallpaper border in my bedroom for fear that I would get made fun of if my brother’s friends came over and saw it. Little did I know that being a nerd would ultimately become cool.  Lee and I grew up as kids that played outside making forts in the nearby creek, but also had a love for video games.  Our love for video games started with our dad’s Commodore 64. Dad was always into technology. His interests in computers set me and my brother on a path that would eventually lead us to our careers. We tore up a lot of computers, and made some expensive mistakes, but we learned the ins and outs of computing.

Farming became a bust for Dad in the 90s as it was for many small farmers. You couldn’t make a living on it anymore. So, that was out for me as well. I don’t think I was really that interested in the first place. So, I knew then what my real passion was. It had transcended through all the years of my interests and hobbies. I remember being just 3 or 4 years old and standing in a chair next to the stove helping dad cook our BBQ sauce. He would call me his “little saucier”.  Mom being the very crafty woman that she is came up with the original packaging of the first gen Sauce Beautiful. The first gen jars were a lot like the throwback labels we still use in our retro gift basket, but first gen jars were quart sized Mason jars with a picture of the iconic caricature of dad holding the world champion trophy stuck on the front, and actual black watch plaid tied onto the top as a dome cover. It wasn’t until later we had the labels made to look like the plaid.  Lee and I grew up marketing this sauce and cooking along side our mom and dad.

The mid to late 90s were not quite as fun, we had financial issues, and other family issues, that ultimately led to our brand new hobby sauce business having to go out of business. No need to relive that here, except to say that through it all Lee and I held on to our passion to make our sauces and rubs for those friends and family lucky enough to know we were still boot legging it to make ends meet. Also, there weren’t many nights we would cook a meal inside. We had a Radio Flyer red wagon with a Weber Smokey Joe in it. Dad would send Lee and I to pick up groceries, Lee to drive and me to pick out the good veggies and meat for grilling. Needless to say we got a little grill time in.

Fast-Forward through the years, Lee and I both took our interest in computers and got degrees in Computer Science, It was a long road, and very hard at times, but through it all, our passion to cook and make sauces and rubs shined through. I smoked a whole hog for my junior prom. We catered the end of the year party every year at our apartment complex when we moved to Jonesboro to go to college. We even built our first barbecue sauce selling e-commerce website as a project for our software engineering class.

As you may already know, after college Lee and I decided to pick back up were we as a family had left off so many years ago, and start making our sauces and rubs commercially as well as competing in contests. We have had some bumps in the road, but we have picked up a few trophies of our own and made some good friends and fans along the way.  The journey doesn’t end here, I see the successes and the pitfalls we have had in our last few years resurrecting our brand, and no matter where the road may take us I will never give up, because This is my passion!

Thanks for Reading!

Michael Q