Learning to Cook Smoked BBQ At Home

It’s not as difficult as it may seem to learn how to make your own, wood smoked BBQ at home!  Nor is it an expensive technique to learn, although it can become a ‘habit’ and we all know that they can get expensive as we progress with our skills!  In fact, Jim’s alwaysGQ4U! Competition BBQ heard saying that ‘BBQ is easy to learn to do, but takes a lifetime to master’!  So, perhaps all you need to get started is some basic information about equipment and meat selection and the process itself!  Perhaps you’re already equipped to cook indirect using the low and slow technique, but you need to dial in your skills a bit?  What about cooking the ‘whole hog’…a popular concept on the BBQ TV shows and not too tough to do at home with a small hog!

No matter your interest, as the Catering season begins to wind down, the BBQ Classes begin to crank up here at GreatQ4U!  We’ve already scheduled September dates for our ‘BBQ101‘ and ‘BBQ 201’ as well as our ‘Whole Hog’ and ‘BBQ Business’ classes, they can be found on our website: www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html where by choosing the ‘Pay Now’ option under each class, you can sign up and save your spot as they are limited attendance events!  If those dates don’t work for you, we should have October dates up by the end of cropped-butts.jpgthis week!  In addition to the ‘Master Class’ series of programs, we will also be scheduling ‘Wednesday Night Workshops’ where in 3 hours, we will cover basic BBQ Recipes; preparation, cooking and best of all tasting!  So…stay tuned to the Website or our FaceBook page for more details!

Why learn to BBQ in the Fall?  Well, you can browse back through years of posts here on the Blog to read Jim’s thoughts on BBQ in the cooler months and how it’s even BETTER!  We believe strongly that BBQ is not just for the Summer months and that the cooler cropped-alabama-ribs.jpgtemps of the Fall and Winter lend themselves to some AWESOME product!  SO…check out the classes and save your spot soon, we would LOVE to have you join us at the shop in Mechanicsburg, PA!  We’ve structured the BBQ101 and 201 classes so that you can take a whole weekend and learn all four types of meat cooked in Kansas City BBQ Society sanctioned competitions!  Again, the classes are available to sign up for on the site: www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html

For more information, feel free to e-mail Jim: Jim@GreatQ4U.com – Thanks for reading along and we hope you make this an AWESOME week!

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Cooking on a Wood Fire at Home.

By, Jim Knepper

While it may sound daunting or a bit difficult to do, cooking on a wood fire at your home is probably easier than you think!  In fact, there have never been more options than there are today for you to easily and with minimal effort, enjoy that same wood fired taste that’s so popular with restaurants in your own kitchen!  Well…you wouldn’t want to start a wood fire in your kitchen (unless you’re lucky enough to have it properly equipped)…so here are some pointers on how to get ‘er done!

Without question the easiest way to accomplish this is to purchase a Wood Pellet Grill/Smoker which are available from a variety of manufacturers in all kinds of shapes MM Q3and sizes!  Wood pellet grills use 100% (food grade) wood pellets with no glue or binders, just pressure to shape them.  They are REAL WOOD and accordingly come in many varieties; Oak, Hickory, Apple, Mesquite, Cherry, Alder..you get the point!  You can even find them with ‘flavors’ added such as Garlic or Onion, however I prefer to control the spices I use by application of rubs, mops and sauces.  As the actual logs would burn, so do the pellets…in other words, Oak burns hot and fast, ‘fruit woods’ not-so-much, etc.  Wood pellet Grills are quite versatile and the air blowing into the fire pot that heats the stove creates a natural convection and even heating.  You can use them to Grill, Smoke or Bake and the results will surprise you!  A whole new dimension of flavor to dishes that you are used to coming off a gas grill for sure!

Another common method of cooking with wood is by using charcoal.  Not Briquettes so Primo OVAL XL Grillmuch, but more commonly ‘Lump Charcoal’ which is actual wood and not highly processed.  There are MANY ways to cook with charcoal from the good old Weber Kettle to the modern Ceramic Grill/Smokers that are commonly found in Green and Black colors.  Each has its strengths and weaknesses.  I would start by suggesting that when using lump charcoal, DO NOT use lighter fluid or for that matter, ANY form of ‘accelerant’ unless that’s all you wish to taste on your food!  This is especially important when using ceramics into which any type of liquid accelerant will soak leaving you with a lifetime of ugly flavor.  There are quite a variety of charcoal lighting tools available today from the common ‘chimney starter’ and ‘Hot Rod’ to the more recent hot air lighting devices.  Cooking on charcoal requires some effort, but you are rewarded with a flavor that is unmistakably good!  Like the wood pellet cookers, the Ceramic Charcoal units are well insulated and retain moisture quite well, so they can Grill, Smoke and Bake quite well!

If you’re looking to drop some BIG BUCKS and go with whole logs and real wood coals, there are a growing number of Freestanding Wood Grill manufacturers out there willing Grillworks42to take your money!  It is the ultimate way to cook over an actual wood fire and typically has a suspended grill with a crank wheel to move the grill up and down so that you can control the heat and cooking process.  This is the real deal and doesn’t deviate very much from the techniques used to cook over a camp fire.  Although, the grills tend to be quite expensive and they do take some time to build up a solid base of ‘hot coals’ to cook on, so they may not be the most convenient!  They are indeed crowd pleasers though both in appearance and taste!

SO…conveniently, if you are looking to learn more about Wood Fired Cooking at home, we are conducting a FREE workshop at our shop in Mechanicsburg next Wednesday night (July 16th) from 7pm until 10pm.  We will review products with demo models for yo to see.  We will also prepare and get to taste some wood fired goodies!  You just bring yourself and a chair (and a beverage if you’d like) and we’ll do the rest…interacting with you and teaching you just how easy it is to cook over a wood fire.  You can join the event on our FaceBook page (https://www.facebook.com/jaktzr#!/events/1509400672609054/) or E-Mail: Jim@GreatQ4U.com to reserve your spot!  The workshop is no cost to you, but limited to 12 people with 4 alternates…so first come, first served!  We also have scheduled some BBQ Classes for August and September on our website: http://www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html if you’d like to go a bit further with your BBQ techniques!

So, either way…think about a wood fired grill at home and don’t hesitate to reach out f we can help!  We’ve got a lot of Primo Ceramic and Myron Mixon Wood Pellet Grills in stock and are always willing to help!

Boy’s Night Out Wednesdays at GQ4U! – Check It!

OK, we know that we haven’t posted in a LONG TIME and rather than list a whole lot of excuses…we think we should pick right up with what we’ve got going on to benefit our customers in and around Central PA!  Most notably, our large selection of in-stock Primo Ceramic Grill/Smokers and Myron Mixon Pitmaster Q3 Pellet Smokers!

What better way to show off the benefits of the products that we sell than to fire them up, have a few friends over and cook up some tasty treats while learning about all MM Q3things BBQ!  Every session, we’ll pick a topic (Rubs & Sauces, Airflow, Smoker Selection, Meat Selection and Prep…etc.) and cover it over a couple of hours in a laid back setting all while we’ve got goodies smokin’ on the products we sell!

It’s a GREAT way to get away for a night and learn some Primo OVAL XL Grilluseful tips surrounded by a group of like minded ‘BBQ Guys’ in an informal, yet informative environment!  OK…SOLD!  When do we start?  Good Question!  Looks like the FIRST ‘Boys Night Out’ BBQ Jam Session will be on Wednesday May 7th!  Still working on firming up a few details, but you heard it HERE first!  Participation will be FREE and limited to the first 12 RSVP’s!

Much more to come as BBQ ‘Season’ progresses and our adventures continue! O’h….and BEFORE y’all start typing THOSE e-mails….we WILL be doing ‘Girl’s Night Out’ as well…probably later this summer! 😀

jak

Have a Heart, Help a Hound!

By, Jim Knepper

To use an old Monty Python phrase; “…and now for something COMPLETELY different!”  Here’s a quick post that’s got nothing to do with BBQ, other than perhaps my Hooveravailability to participate in it!  Those who know me are already aware of the sacrifices that I make for them and those who don’t may be quite surprised or even jump to a few incorrect conclusions to find out that my wife and I provide a loving, stable home to 14 rescued hound dogs!  YES…I said fourteen of them, nine Coonhounds and five Bloodhounds.

It all began when I was doing Transplant medicine and adopted a retired Police Bloodhound only to find out that Bloodhound rescues across the country were filled to capacity and Bloodhounds were being put down daily due to a lack of resources.  I have been familiar with the breed since I was a child and have had a few Bloodhounds over the years, but Hoover quickly became a trusted and loyal friend…the best that I have ever had.  When we lost him to a neurologic ‘event’…I began to look for replacements and quickly had three, one of whom a local vet ‘accidentally’ killed when we had him neutered.  So we found another male and then two more girls for a pack of five.

Then, the Coonhound folks got a hold of me, we adopted one and wound up on e-Hound Sofamailing lists that are horrible: ‘These are the dogs that no one wants and unless they are taken by 4pm today, they will be put down’ or something to that effect with photos and stories.  It was horrible and within months we had nine; six of which were hours away from euthanasia because no one wanted them and three that were turned loose in the mountains to die.  They all have idiosyncrasies and most were filled with parasites and starving, but once nourished with love and food they got great Vet care and live without many ‘rules’ in our home.  In fact, they all know that at any time during the day they can come to my desk and I’ll drop whatever I am doing to give them some love!

I’ve been called all kinds of things because of these dogs and there are NO shortage of folks that I never did anything with before we adopted the ‘pack’ who tell me always Sheena, Conway & New Friendsabout how much I am missing out on, but to be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way!  They don’t need to be scared, sick or worried about where their next meal is coming from and that will remain our commitment to them until the day they cross that rainbow bridge!

So, if you’re thinking about getting a dog, do some homework and consider a hound.  They are NOT retrievers or pointers or setters…they have some quirks and require a bit more attention and they are high energy dogs contrary to popular assumption…but they are loving and smart and make great companions.  There are far too many of these breeds being put down for no other reason than no one wants them!  If you need information about where you can get one, e-mail me and I’ll be happy to help: Jim@GreatQ4U.com – Have a GREAT week y’all! – jak

Luke & Beulah

What’s the BEST Smoker for Me?

By, Jim Knepper

I get asked this a LOT and while I do have a ‘standard’ response…it would be reckless for me to not point out that our new retail shop sells Primo Ceramic Grill/Smokers Primo Kamodo Grill(which I believe to be the most versatile outdoor cooking ‘system’ available) and will soon be stocking Pit Barrel Smokers (<$300 with all you need to start cooking)!  That said, this is again somewhat of a ‘trap’ question because every BBQ person’s got their own opinions and mine is just one in a cacophony of them.

So, what is the best smoker for you?  One that you USE!  Doesn’t matter what your budget or whether you use wood, charcoal or pellets, how fancy or ‘high tech’ it is or if you made it out of an old 55 gallon drum, if you use it and enjoy doing so, it’s the best smoker for you.  BBQ is a primal concept and as long as you’ve got a fire and the ability to regulate the temperature in the chamber, you’re set!

That said, there are of course a number of factors that make it easier or harder to PBCachieve a consistent temperature in the cooking chamber such as: insulation, air flow (very important), convection and knowledge of the ‘zones’ in your particular smoker.  Much of this can be accomplished with practice and/or some easy to do home modifications.  Less expensive or home made smokers may require a bit more attention, but they can still get the job done!

Alas, it seems a bit of a cop out on a Friday, but just like anything else that you own, the best is the one that you use the most and the more you use your smoker, the better you’ll get.  Smoking adds a whole new dimension to the iGrill 1flavor profiles of just about any food and it’s a worthy endeavor for just about any foodie or home chef.  If you need online resources, there are a LOT of them.  My perennial suggestions are to begin with the Kansas City BBQ Society (www.KCBS.us) and the National BBQ Association (www.nbbqa.org) and then move onto your local or regional BBQ organization…here in PA we are fortunate to have the Mid-Atlantic BBQ Association (www.mabbqa.com) and there are TONS of online forums like the BBQ Brethren, a great group of helpful and committed enthusiasts (www.bbq-brethren.com) and the BBQ Backyard (www.bbqbackyard.com) just to name a few.  You’ll find that folks are for the most part, welcoming and more than willing to share information and answer questions!

Of course, if you ever need help or advice, we are online at www.GreatQ4U.com and only a phone call (717-254-1937) or E-Mail: Jim@GreatQ4U.com away! – Smoke on and have a GREAT weekend! 🙂 – jak

Want to Learn How to Do ‘Real Deal’ BBQ?

Well then, we can hook you up!  We’ve still got space in our early Spring and Summer BBQ Classes that will be taught at our shop in Mechanicsburg, PA and we would LOVE to have you!  After a somewhat rocky start with the cancellation of our January classes due to the first of several ‘Snowpocalypses’ and a sub zero cold snap that would have made teaching impractical if not unworthy of the investment, we have got things in gear now!

We are offering courses that range from Basic to Advanced, Whole Hog and even how to start and successfully operate your own BBQ Business either as a Part-Time or Full-Time venture.  Our cooking classes will not focus on how to cook ‘Competition BBQ’ although Chef is a 15+ year member of the Kansas City BBQ Society and a Certified BBQ Judge.  Our reason is that we sell Primo Grills and Smokers which are geared to the home cook AND there are far more folks who cook BBQ at home than to compete.  BUT…if you’re interested in learning how to compete on the ‘BBQ Circuit’, we’ve got LOTS of friends across the country that ARE teaching Competition classes and we can hook you up, just let us know when and where you’re available and we’ll look for a class that meets your needs.

Our Basic BBQ Class will cover everything that the home cook needs to know about cooking BBQ ‘Low & Slow’ over wood or coal.  What cuts to use, how to prepare them, equipment needs and considerations, making spice rubs and sauces and more.  Advanced BBQ will build on those blocks and further explore anatomy, butchery, preparation (including injections and cures), exploration of various time and temperature control devices and different types of smokers and more.  Whole Hog will cover how to source, prepare, season, cook and serve the whole hog at home.  We will cook three hogs total, two by different methods: Indirect smoking and Indirect, Top down roasting in an insulated cooking chamber.  The third hog will be butchered and students will have a chance to see and understand the anatomy and techniques to break down a hog then how to cook each component.

If you’re interested in starting a BBQ Business and can’t make it to the class, we can come to you as full service Hospitality Consultants.  If you’ve already got a business and need help with anything from food costs and profit margins to web site design and development or SEO…we can help you with that too!  We approach every consulting customer as an individual and don’t use any ‘cookie cutter’ solutions!  We listen carefully, watch operation and administration and offer objective advice that will help to improve your operation.

SO…for more info about our BBQ classes, visit our web page at: www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html or if you’d like more info about our Hospitality Consulting visit: http://www.greatq4u.com/Hospitality_Consulting.html OR if you’d just like to talk “Q”…you can call us: 717-254-1937 or E-Mail me: Jim@GreatQ4U.com

Hey, Is it still cold out there?

By, Jim Knepper

OK, so I don’t typically begin posts with a rhetorical question, but thought it appropriate today as there are quite a few of us that have simply had it with this cold snap.  That Groundhog had better be wearing shades this year, ’cause if he sees his shadow, he’ll need a security detail to get back into that hole!

Not a long post this morning, much going on despite the cold!  Still working on our Spring and Summer schedules and doing our best to keep ‘Station Q’ warm and ready Station Qfor all the work that has yet to be done on the ‘BBQ Battlewagons’ for the Spring/Summer competitions and Fall Tailgates.  Should have our ‘Tasting Room’ put together by the end of the month so we can give customers a sense of not only how delicious our food is, but how our presentation and service will look at their events!

Also, still a few spots left in the April 5th Whole Hog class Whole Hog Roasts ROCK!at our shop in Mechanicsburg, PA.  We are limiting class size to 15 people and will be cooking 3 hogs: One on ‘the smoke’, another in La Caja China using top down indirect heat and the third will be used to demonstrate preparation techniques, anatomy and basic butchery of the whole hog!  Should be a GREAT class and well worth the $275 investment…you will leave with FAR MORE than knowledge!  You can sign up/pay at our website: http://www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html

We’d LOVE to cater your Spring or Summer event with our ‘conventional’ catering OR with an Antique Fire Truck that’s set up to ‘Respond’ to your party needs and quench Primo All-In-One Kamodothe hunger of even the hungriest guests!  Just give us a call soon to save a spot on the calendar and we will be happy to get you a written estimate!  We’ve also got Pre-Season pricing on ALL in-stock Primo grill/smokers so you can get a great deal on a ceramic Grill that will last a lifetime and is 100% ‘Made in the USA’!

Know someone looking to cater an event, or looking for a GREAT Grill/Smoker?  Refer a friend and we’ll hook you up too! – Give us a call at – 717-254-1937 or e-mail me: Jim@GreatQ4U.com for more info! – STAY WARM! 🙂 jak