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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 01-10-2012, 10:40 PM   #1
bigabyte
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Cool Some thoughts on experience and BBQ myths...

How many of us here have always been right about all things BBQ and never had to LEARN first hand?

How many of us here started out believing one thing about some "well known BBQ fact", only to later be surprised to find out that it just isn't true, or at least not true in certain cases?

How many of us here gleaned as much as we could from "The Masters" but didn't really know jack squat about BBQ until trying many different things and learning for ourselves how BBQ works?

How many of us here are still learning secrets to great BBQ?

Just curious is all. Something tells me at least a majority of folks answer these the same way.

I only brought this up because some times it is tough to remember what things were like before all that experience. Some times I wonder if the so-called "sage advice" I am trying to impart to someone new to BBQ isn't just going to be "TOTAL CRAP" (in the legendary words of BigMista) next week.

I have firmly believed some things. I have experimented a lot and learned many things, and have even later found some of what I "discovered" to be "PARTIAL CRAP" (my words this time).

An example. Earlier today someone asked about my Foil Hat Rub recipe. They noticed it had a lot of Paprika in it. They had also read some posts I made a few years back about my "Burning Rub Experiments", where I had documented that I had mostly undesirable results with a lot of paprikas. They were naturally wondering why I had so much in my rub when I seemed to be the guy suggesting that you shouldn't use paprika in your rubs based on the results of my experiments.

The reason, as I explained, is that over the years I have found that some kinds of paprika work very well for either color or flavor in a rub even after cooking, which was why I specified the exact brand and type of the paprika in the recipe (anything else and who knows what you'll get). I also explained that after a lot of experimentation I found the ratio I had of paprika in my rub was the ideal flavor I was shooting for.

Of course, there are always other things that make me step back and realize more and more that there is always more than one way to get things done in BBQ, and to make them work well. I have known this for years now, but each year it seems even more true than ever in so many ways.

I gotta admit, had I been the one asking about Tri-Tips being cooked a certain way years ago, I would have been on it immediately to find out for myself what the truth was. However, that truth would have only really applied to the specific conditions and methods I used in that test really. Once I started learning how there are usually other ways to make things work, the whole "Mad Scientist" thing started to lose its lustre for me, because what was the point of telling people one thing, when it can be exactly the opposite later when done differently?

So anyway, enough of my rambling. Am I just spewing mindless banter again, or does anyone else have thoughts to add?

Just curious what others think. New and old.
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Last edited by bigabyte; 01-10-2012 at 11:11 PM..
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Unread 01-10-2012, 10:44 PM   #2
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Dry mustard in rubs works!
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Unread 01-10-2012, 10:49 PM   #3
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Okay, more to the point, I learn all the time about cooking. I have been cooking since I was aroun 10 years old, I started learning real cooking at that time, helping to cook dinner for a working mom, from there I moved on to many different learing experiences and I still learn each time I cook. I believe it is what makes me a good cook.

I have to say, if I find myself wondering about a certain ingredient or technique, I go about working with it and finding out how it works for me. Often what I end up with is not science, it is just what I end up believing to be true. I am a good cook, I have many techniquies, well beyond BBQ and many of those are questioned by folks, so be it, I listen and try it. I will say, I am not as curious as I once was, I certainly don't try as many things out as I once did, although I do still try out new ingredients, techniques and combinations. I am still excited when something works.

BTW, that dry mustard comment is a reference to a discussion Bigabyte and I had over the efficacy of dry mustard in a rub.
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Unread 01-11-2012, 01:19 AM   #4
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Briskets are easy, it's the overthinking that is the problem...
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Unread 01-11-2012, 01:32 AM   #5
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I am a firm believer that there are two ways to BBQ.
1)My way
2)The wrong way


Just kidding. When I started BBQ'ing, I made all of the rookie mistakes, because I was a rookie and didn't do my homework Now that I have some years and a chitload of cooks under my belt...I'm still a rookie The more I research a certain way to do this, or a secret way of cooking that, the more I realize that no matter what the question is, there will be umpteen million answers for it. What I have found out is to go by what things you know you like best and stick with it. I have tried many different techniques (low-n-slow, hot and fast, fat up, fat down...) and have settled in my ways of how I like to do things. When my friends or neighbors ask why I do some thing or another, I tell them "because that's what I learned works best for me. For you it may be different." What it basically boils down to is-Cook it how you like it, because you're the one eating it
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Unread 01-11-2012, 02:08 AM   #6
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I don't know enough about smoking to have a "way"....all I know is that other than the chickens I tried to smoke, which were an absolute disaster, most things that I have tried have worked well for me....or maybe I don't know enough to know they aren't...all I know is they taste pretty darn good...

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Unread 01-11-2012, 02:13 AM   #7
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I can also spew some mindless thoughts. While there are multiple ways to skin a pig, as we read here and know firsthand, it is difficult to get good results when doing so outside your comfort zone. I grill a very nice salmon. The method is fairly hot and fast. I have a friend who gets a very similar result with a low and slow technique. His method is completely different from mine in every way. I watched him cook it and tried to replicate it, but I could not bring my self to do all the things he did as they were counter to my knowledge. As a result, I failed. His technique works, but it really was beyond my abilities. In sum, you can't teach an old pig a new technique.
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Unread 01-11-2012, 02:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mytmouz View Post
Briskets are easy, it's the overthinking that is the problem...
Yep, briskets are easy, except when they're not. Can't say i've ever been accused of thinkin' too much.

Have had my most consistent good results with the hot & fast method i learned here.
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Unread 01-11-2012, 02:16 AM   #9
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This thread has to be immiediately shut down. Eventually the truth about BBQ will come out. The CIA, NSA, FBI, ATF or some other other three letter orginazation will shut this down. Before it does......... bbq is all different from every piece of meat, from me to you, using the same methods. I'll argue with anyone that it is an art and not science. There are timelines, formulas and other nonsense to get to the perfect BBQ everytime... let me know how that works out for you. The motto for this forum should be .... IT'S DONE WHEN IT'S DONE. The whole.. meat/fire/smoke thing has been going for a long time.
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Unread 01-11-2012, 05:37 AM   #10
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Heaven knows I've qued my share of disasters over the years, but I've also turned out some awesome cooks. I prefer the KISS method, and I think cooking is a lot like music.....you like what you like. There are so many variables in barbecue, but one thing is certain..where there is smoke, there is fire....throw on some meat and enjoy!


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Unread 01-11-2012, 06:20 AM   #11
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My philosophy for most things in life has been "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Why should BBQ be any different? I don't cook to compete, I cook for enjoyment. We all have our own method to the madness. The only thing that matters is do YOU and yours enjoy it? If yes, then carry on!

Now if you feel like you're in a rut and want to try something different, then this is the place to come for some fantastic ideas. And fellas, please stop bashing the ones who cook a cut which will remain nameless like a brisket. OK, you may now rip me a new one for bringing that up.
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Unread 01-11-2012, 06:22 AM   #12
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I've made all the mistakes. I've even invented several mistakes myself. The number one thing I've learned over the years (and am continuing to learn) is to relax and enjoy and not be too uptight about every little thing in a cook (I don't compete). For me, it's not an exact science. I like to read BBQ books and experiment. That has helped me quite a bit. When I cook -- BBQ or something else -- I have basic recipes that I use and then I just add stuff until it tastes the way I want. Sometimes that's not much, but if I'm in a different mood, the rub I'm making might go in a completely different direction.

If I was to bring someone into the world of Qing, I would start by giving them some general advice and direction, perhaps pass along one of my basic Q books (like "Low and Slow") and then invite them over to smoke a butt. Nothing is more forgiving than a butt.
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Unread 01-11-2012, 07:07 AM   #13
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> How many of us here have always been right about all things BBQ and never had
> to LEARN first hand?

100%. Or they haven't begun to learn yet. I was talking to Myron's son a few weeks ago about this very thing. Even the son of the great Myron Mixon had to learn first hand. Wisdom, for some reason, is learned, and cannot be taught without experience.


> How many of us here started out believing one thing about some "well known
> BBQ fact", only to later be surprised to find out that it just isn't true, or at least
> not true in certain cases?

100%. Oh if I had a dime for every time I've talked about this!!! Shoot, may of the books written by "masters" will steer you wrong quickly. I relied heavily on books (literally, there wasn't a www yet) when getting started; I've burned 3/4ths of them now as fire starter...


> How many of us here gleaned as much as we could from "The Masters" but
> didn't really know jack squat about BBQ until trying many different things
> and learning for ourselves how BBQ works?

That's truly the real secret of the thing and it's tough to get it through to rookies; that they'll unfortunately have to experience it, and try different things before they even begin the journey that is learning BBQ.


> How many of us here are still learning secrets to great BBQ?

For me, this is the fun of it. I'd venture to say that even Myron would say this too.



I know, you were asking rhetorically, and yet I bothered to answer... Sorry.
You're right. No one way works for every case. Some paprika is great; some isn't. For some foiling works; for others it doesn't, and for some it doesn't because they use the wrong foil or wrong technique foiling (as my teammate learned as did I because I never though of doing it the way he'd done it, and ****ed if it didn't mess everything up).

It's fun this way.

For the young bucks coming in to it I highly recommend that they have fun and enjoy it and heed the sage advice that comes across. However, experiment. That's all part of learning. Also, somehow, learn which advice to follow and which not to follow. To me, that was toughest. Often times the "wise old owl" type doesn't say much because they dont have the need to say much. It's that salesguy type that knows a little about something and feels the need to hear himself that is chock-full of advice. Just ask him!!! :-)
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Unread 01-11-2012, 07:22 AM   #14
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Yes.
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Unread 01-11-2012, 07:56 AM   #15
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It's much easier for me to pick up on things if I get some hands on learnin', or at least looking at some pictures..... although I still read a lot, and take notes of things I want to try out. I learn things from other folks all the time, and always enjoy adding to the world of knowledge, that's what it's all about. (and this applies to many other things, not just Q) And the big thing for me is knowing my way is not the only way, so I can adapt in order to give you something close to what you like. A good example here is sauce.... I don't use much sauce, but if you want your ribs glazed or dripping in sauce.... I have no problem making yours that way.

One of the "facts" that I believed for a long time, and later found out was a myth was: The fat cap on brisket melts and is absorbed into the meat, helping it stay juicy.... food science proved that's not possible.

And speaking of briskets, I learned to cook them low and slow and for 25 years or more that's the way I did them. In the last 10 years or so I've listened and learned that higher pit temps work too, and found out they work good for me.

As far as still learning goes.... scraping the skin on thighs was the most radical thing I learned about, and my results were amazing. One of the things I picked up on in Scottie's BBQ class was a simple observation about the blade bone in a pork butt... in fact, when I watched him pull a butt the light went off for me. When I pull a butt, the first thing I would do is slip out the bone to prove to myself and others that the butt is cooked perfectly, then I would pull the meat. Scottie used the bone as a reference point, showing us all the different muscles and how to deal with each one, and so forth and so on. When he was done, the meat was all broken down and the bone was the only thing in the center of the cutting board.
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