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!

GreatQ4U! – Central PA’s one Stop BBQ Shop!

As we begin our TENTH year of operations and look toward longer and hopefully much OBR Harrisburg 1013warmer days ahead, we are proud to say that after a decade of being a ‘one trick’ pony, we have evolved!  Indeed we still specialize in wood-smoked BBQ Catering and have begun the process of getting the ‘BBQ Battlewagon’ Fire Trucks set up and ready to roll for your Spring and Summer Parties and your Fall Tailgating festivities, but there is obviously more to us than just BBQ now!

As the world of BBQ hits mainstream TV and the number of folks that are getting into the BBQ Restaurant and Catering business evolves, we welcome the new additions to our passion and as I have typed here many times before, we encourage you to experience as many different places as you can!  We all have our own unique twists on how we prepare, season, smoke and serve our BBQ products.  We are proud to say that we’ve been doing BBQ Catering for a decade and that our BBQ has won many awards at Kansas City BBQ Society and other events!  I am proud as a Pitmaster and PBCChef to say that I’ve won national awards for my flavors and creativity, not to mention a commitment to sourcing locally from those who are the best at what they do.  BUT, I also know that we are only as good as our last service and we will never forget that!  Our menu continues to grow and our catering options extend beyond ‘traditional’ BBQ now to accommodate a wider range of tastes, but our core commitment to preparing every meal ‘to order’ and specifically for each event will never change!

Additionally, even as the number of BBQ ‘outlets’ in Central PA continues to grow, there Primo OVAL XL Grillremains a gaping hole for the home chef that is looking to learn how to cook BBQ on their own.  You can watch TV and resort to the internet to learn a LOT about how to ‘do Que’ but there’s no replacement for Experience and we have put ours to work by expanding into Retail sales of Primo Grills/Smokers, Myron Mixon Pellet Grills and Smokers and the affordable and versatile Pit Barrel Cooker along with a whole host of accessories!  We are even MM Q3offering an ongoing BBQ Class series that we will do int he Spring and Fall in the ‘off peak’ months of our Catering schedule to teach folks how to do everything from making your own signature spice blends and sauces to cooking whole hogs and even getting into the BBQ business!

As all of this expansion of services goes on, our focus will remain on service and quality and we want everyone to know that if you’re looking for a BBQ Smoker or Grill or the knowledge to know how to use them, we are indeed your ONE-STOP-BBQ-SHOP!  You can find out more about us online at: www.GreatQ4U.com or our Grills and Smokers at www.BuyAPrimo.com or feel free to call 717-254-1937 or stop by and see us during our off-season weekend hours which are always posted on our FaceBook Page!  We’re on Twitter too! – SO…when you think BBQ in Central PA, think about GreatQ4U! and we’ll do our best to help you out!

BBQ Bravado

By, Jim Knepper

There’s NO shortage of it out there these days and it has been amplified by media attention to our art form and it’s most visible purveyors…competitors.  No doubt that in Meat Rakeorder to take a long, laborious task and make it palatable to TV audiences, there has to be drama, conflict and even occasionally resolution, afterall that’s how TV goes.  It’s also present in the Competition Circuit in no short supply…as it should be.  Afterall, if you’re going to compete, you ought to be doing it to win, hence the purpose of competition.  It’s also increasingly become present among folks who cook BBQ as a business either full or part time and sometimes it’s backed up by the products, others it isn’t.

I am writing this post not to lecture anyone on how to behave as they pursue their love of creating great BBQ nor am I taking a position of me being any better than anyone else, I am instead examining this ‘bravado’ from the perspective of a guy who thinks that the BEST thing about BBQ (next to eating it) are the people who produce it!  Reason for this observation is that recently I’ve connected with some great folks on all ends of the BBQ spectrum via our various social media outlets and have been reminded again just how good BBQ people are in general.  From farmers to butchers and other Pitmasters, large production operations and small outlets of various packaged BBQ products, even BBQ Restaurant and Catering owners who are committed as can be to their art form.

If you’ve never been to a BBQ Competition and you are a fan of the product, I would suggest that you take some time this year and go to one!  You can find one near you on Sam's Tour Richmond 2the Kansas City BBQ Society’s website (www.kcbs.us) and when you go there are a few things you should know.  First of all, there are VERY FEW competitions that will allow the teams to provide you with ‘samples’, primarily because of Health Codes and liability, so you can ask, but don’t be surprised when a team can’t let you taste their goods.  Also, you should know that Friday evening and early Saturday morning are the best times to interact with the teams.  By mid morning on Saturday, things are getting busy and Pitmasters and crew are finishing up ‘turn in boxes’ so they have a pretty focused effort underway.  I think that you’ll find that the folks who compete are in general, a great group of people that are more than willing to answer questions and provide tips.

Another great byproduct of the increasing popularity of BBQ is the amount of folks who are getting ‘into’ the BBQ Business.  From full and quick service restaurants to roadside Roll TideBBQ ‘shacks’ there are LOTS of outlets for authentic smoked BBQ products these days and you should support as many of them as you can if you’re a true fan.  Sure, there will be those you like more than others and you’ll most likely even have a favorite, but every Pitmaster’s got their own twist and signature taste and BBQ isn’t a ‘one-size-fits-all’ proposition.  There are many ways to get to that finished product and the more you cook the better you get.  In my humble opinion there’s too much ‘mine is better than so and so’s’ in our market place, worse there’s never really any need for openly trashing a place that you don’t like as a way of supporting the place (or places) that you do like…it doesn’t really serve any purpose and I think subverts the history of BBQ which is a very communal art.

Lastly (because no one wants to spend their whole Monday morning reading my thoughts) I would say that if you’ve got a local butcher or a farm in your area that pays Embroidered GQ4U Logoclose attention to how they raise their animals or even raises ‘heritage’ breeds of proteins, you should do all that you can to support them.  It’s not only helping the BBQ community to thrive by increasing the availability of product, it’s healthier!  I read somewhere recently that if you buy pre-packaged hamburger meat in a super-store, you could be getting meat from >150 cows in every burger!  You won’t find that at your local butcher or local farmer’s market and it keeps the money you spend in your community.

So, while there is NO shortage of bravado out there in the BBQ world about how mine is better than so-and-so’s or you don’t know what you’re doing if you don’t use MY techniques, there are far more folks in the BBQ community that are willing to commit to their art and their customers.  They talk mostly about their own product and Tuffy and Jimpassionately about where their proteins come from and how they prep and cook them, not about their competitors.  We support each other and we do far better together than we do individually it’s not such a crazy concept.  It’s good to be proud of your BBQ and if there’s a spot you don’t like, don’t go back.  As for the competition circuit, it’s ultimately up to six judges who’ve spent a lot of time learning how to judge and tasting all kinds of different BBQ.  Not everyone wins every time because the palates of the judges changes from competition to competition and table to table and that’s a good thing!

Don’t let the BBQ Bravado throw you off, there are a TON of good people in BBQ and I would say that if you’re interested in consuming, cooking or competing…go out and get some, you’ll find a bunch of great people and a growing number of them making great product!  Of course, I’m always available to ‘talk BBQ’ and we do teach classes, do catering and more!  Visit us at www.GreatQ4U.com or give us a call at 717-254-1937 to learn more about GreatQ4U! – Thanks for reading along and have a GREAT Monday!

Learn to Cook Smoked BBQ from Some Pros!

Earlier this Spring we rolled out our ‘BBQ Master Class Series’ on the website: http://www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html  and we chose some dates that were apparently a bit early in the ‘season’ for most, so we are in the process of re-working the dates and will VERY SOON be announcing dates and times for the classes.  Additionally, we will be announcing the date for our Appetizing Appetizer and Paddling session along the beautiful Susquehanna River with our friends at Blue Mountain Outfitters!  That class will be a half day of cooking some tasty and trendy BBQ Appetizers and half day of trying out the latest and greatest canoe and kayak gear at a VERY scenic location!

Our ‘BBQ Master Class’ series will NOT focus on Competition BBQ…we can refer you to a number of classes that are focused specifically on that taught by Competition ‘regulars’…instead, we will be teaching everything from ‘Basic’ to ‘Advanced’ BBQ Techniques including meat selection and preparations.  Cooking techniques and methods.  Using different fuel sources and more.  We are even offering a class for folks who may be thinking of starting their own BBQ Business!  We promise LOTS of valuable information and the best part is we get to EAT the results of our work at the end of the class!

SO….if you’re looking to learn how to do BBQ the way that the Pros do…we can hook you up!  Stay tuned to the Blog and Website for Dates and Times of classes that we will be doing in cooperation with our good friends at ‘The Pit Shack’ and ‘Coal Cracken’ BBQ’!  http://www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html or you can e-mail Jim@GreatQ4U.com

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Clocks Move Forward and So Do We!

Good Monday morning to all our readers!  (….or whatever day/time you happen to be reading this for that matter)  We hope that you are well rested despite the fact that for those of us who live in states that DO the ‘Daylight Saving’ time thing, we all got less sleep over the weekend.  Although, we like to think of it as a sort of ‘Fast Forward’ toward Spring! Yep, ‘glass half full’ and we are ONE HOUR closer to Spring…Damn the Groundhog!

Along with the warmer days and extended light during our evenings, we are gearing up for an exciting ‘BBQ Season’ around here and we’ve got a LOT going on!  We have LISTENED to our customers and made several changes as a direct result of your requests!  Perhaps on of the best examples of this are the NEW and varied offerings that we have created in our Day long ‘BBQ Classes’ which are filling up fast!

We continually get calls about “Q-U” (our ‘BBQ University’) which until now was centered entirely on our customers and a bit cost prohibitive because it entailed taking our Big Smoker ‘offline’, bringing it to your location and cooking up a storm!  NOW…we have scheduled a few different options; First Up is our ‘BBQ Master Class Series’ which is designed to be taken individually or all together in order to go from BBQ Novice to RibsBBQ Expert and even BBQ Business owner!  Our First Class, ‘BBQ Basics’ is scheduled for April 21st in Marysville, PA and we should be setting dates for the remaining classes this week! (Advanced BBQ, Whole Hog and Starting a BBQ Business) This series is limited to 25 students per class at $150 per person or $500 for all four.  Course fee includes everything you’ll need for the class, a tasty meal following class and all course materials.   ***These are NOT ‘Competition BBQ’ Classes – Our emphasis is on helping the BBQ Enthusiast to learn to cook at home or as a Business venture.  We’re happy to refer you to plenty of Competition courses in the Mid-Atlantic region if that is what you are looking for!***

In addition to the “BBQ Master Class” series of programs, we are adding other courses that we think will be both informative and FUN!  The first class in this series will be ‘BBQ Appetizers and Paddling’!  Again taught in Marysville, PA along the shore of the beautiful Susquehanna River, we have teamed up with Blue Mountain Outfitters (Central PA’s Premiere Paddlesports Outfitter) to spend a morning learning how to cook some innovative and tasty BBQ Appetizers and then spend the afternoon enjoying the tasty treats while checking out the latest Paddling Gear and Boats available.  At $100 per person (30 person limit) this class will fill up fast and is scheduled for June 2nd.

We’ll be adding even more classes to the schedule in the weeks to come, including one featuring ‘Cooking with Iron’ focused on the versatile and useful Dutch Oven, another on ‘Cajun Cookin’ such as Gumbo and Crawfish Boils!  We will even be conducting a class on Roasting Vegetables….specifically fresh peppers from Hatch, New Mexico while they are ‘in season’ and fresh from the fields!  If you’ve got a suggestion for a course topic, let us know and we just might add it onto our schedule: Info@GreatQ4U.com – If you’d like more info or if you would like to sign up for the classes, give us a call at 717-254-1937 or check our website for the latest updates and an online Info request form: http://www.greatq4u.com/BBQ_Classes.html

As if THAT wasn’t enough, we are working diligently to enhance our ability to do the Whole Hog Roasts ROCK!‘Whole Hog’ either at our location for delivery to yours or Onsite at your location.  We get LOTS of requests every year to do ‘Hog Roasts’ as opposed to our ‘Pig Pickin’s’ which are a bit different.  Cooking hogs in our Smoker is a long and loving process that typically requires 24+ hours and is a bit costly because of the amount of wood pellets that we burn during that process.  It certainly is more costly than cooking over charcoal in a rental ‘Pit’ or thin skined ‘Hog Roaster’ and so we have sent folks looking for cost effective Whole Hog roasts to other purveyors in years past!  NOT THIS YEAR!  We have found a Roaster that will provide the kind of quality that folks are used to from us at a FAR MORE economical price point and hope to be online and Operating by June!  SO….if you’re looking for a Whole Hog for an upcoming picnic, give us a call at 717-254-1937 or drop us a Booking Interest form from our website: http://www.greatq4u.com/Event_Booking_Interest.html and we’ll be happy to prepare an Estimate based on your specific needs!

Well, that’s a LOT of information for a Monday morning, so we’ll let you get on with your week!  We hope that you make it a GREAT one and that you keep us in mind for ALL of your BBQ needs, whether it be learning to do it at home or having us bring the BEST ‘Real Deal’, Wood-Smoked BBQ and Sides straight off the smokers to you and your guests!  We’ve got you covered!