I recently attended a BBQ class taught by competitive smoker Troy Black. He was in Mesquite, Texas as part of the Real.Texas.Festival. to teach the grilling public how to create real BBQ with real wood smoke. He competes on the KCBS circuit, so he wasn't in the competition held during the weekend which was sanctioned by the Lone Star Barbecue Society. For more info on the competition, check out the article in the Dallas Observer.
Troy began the class with a description of the myriad options for true dedicated smokers, with the most economical option being a Weber Bullet Smoker. The rigs he uses for competition are simply too extravagant for the average backyard cook.
The next lesson was about ribs. He explained the different available rib cuts, then discussed his method for smoking which begins with a dry rub, then a trip into the smoker for about 4 hours, followed by a finishing sauce to provide a nice glaze.
As I rushed over to Mesquite for the class, I didn't have time for dinner. Luckily, Troy opened up a few racks to show the class what the finished product would taste like. While they were lighter on the smoke than I like, these were tender and flavorful baby backs.
Pulled pork was next which begins with a pork butt (the upper part of the whole shoulder) and a different recipe rub. This cut is full of fat, and stays moist even after a long cooking period. Going against standard practice for most home cooks, Troy swears by cooking with the fat side down rather than up. He does this top preserve the bark on the top of the meat, rather than having it stick to the grate. The results on my plate showed that he knows what he's doing. It was the best meat of the night.
Brisket was the final cut discussed. Troy always smokes a whole brisket rather than bothering with just a flat cut. He has yet another rub recipe for this cut, and specialty sauce just for beef. Unfortunately, he covered the beautiful slices of beef with the sauce before serving, but I was lucky enough to get a crusty corner that the other attendees left behind. It had great flavor and was plenty tender. I wanted more.
If you're wondering about this guy's credentials, just check the standings from the latest KCBS event in Huntsville, Alabama. The Learn2Q.com finished second out of 71 teams.
If you want to get the same experience, you can catch Troy this weekend in Owensboro, Kentucky where he'll be teaching a class similar to the one I attended. He doesn't yet have another stop scheduled for Texas, but I'll let you know when he does. Until then, you can purchase his instructive DVD from his website, or grab his book from Amazon The Big Book of BBQ.
- BBQ Snob