One of employees was commenting that the bbq was a little watery and too sweet, and another said the meat was too stringy. I asked them how they liked their barbeque and I got an earful. They asked me what I thought so I offered a few comments. I noted that sauce could be provided on the side so that the individual could add as little or as much as they wanted. A nice sweet sauce, a smokey sauce, and a hot sauce will almost always cover the bases! This got the whole place talking about barbeque and they asked me what else I thought. I said that the pork was so far past overcooked that it was literally disintegrating. Most heads nodded. We talked further and they asked where I got all of my information. I told them that I was a member of the Kansas City Barbeque Society and a Certified Master BBQ Judge.
Later that week, I was asked if the Company provided all of the side dishes, could I provide the the barbequed meat at the annual Fourth of July Picnic. I told them I'd be honored, would love to help out, and asked what did they want- ribs, pork, brisket??? "You decide" was the reply! I took a poll and Ribs and Pulled Pork was the two meats most requested. As I'd provided the catering to my daughter Sara's wedding reception, I had a pretty good idea what to do: Keep the food hot and keep it coming and make it fun.
Skip forward to the party: As soon as I got home Friday afternoon I cranked my stickburner into gear and got started. I was up all night, of course, babysitting (adjusting temps etc.) and was still pulling pork at 6:00 a.m. I'd packed my trailer the night before and simply loaded the meat into the cambros when I finished. I arrived at the park just little after 7:30 a.m. and pulled the smoker out of the trailer. I got 'er fired up as I needed to get the second batch of ribs finished by lunchtime. I arranged my rather large (and heavy) home-built airtank stick-burner to the left side of my trailer, forming an upside down 'L' . To the left of that, I placed a medium length plastic folding table. To the left of that, a large wooden barrel for the BBQ sauce and paper towels, and behind that, turned back toward me I rolled my grill. This made a large 'U' shape which pretty much blocked people from entering the cooking area.
I like to be smoking something so when people ask 'how' and 'why' I can show them instead of just explaining. It's one of the things that can keep an otherwise boring cookout into an experience. I like to place a stack of firewood behind the smoker (with an axe stuck into one of the large chunks of wood.) I also have a fire extiguisher and a couple of orange traffic cones placed near the smoker to block the kids from getting too close- I even warn people not to get too close! The kids seem to love it.
The table set-up was easy. From right to left; a pan with my knives and utensils, a large cutting board, a chafing dish w/lid for the ribs, and a chafing dish w/lid for the pork. As the time for serving got close, I made room in the smoker for a couple of racks of ribs and cranked up the grill to maintain the pork temp and cook the hotdogs and brats provided by the Company for the kids, and those who wanted somthing different.
Rich was kind enough to help me serve, and he was great at it. I was running to and fro, grabbing more pork and slicing portions from the racks of ribs- managing the flow of dogs and brats. I had to turn over the serving to Rich as it got so busy! I was answering questions from the folks on line, and shouting back answers and throwing the ribs form one side of the smoker to the other... it was a blast! I suppose my fellow workers got to see a side of me that they probably didn't imagine. I spent the afternoon showing the smoker to enthusiasts, demonstrating the opening and closing of vents to adjust temperature, explaining the concepts of slow-cooking with wood, flavor profiles, meat injection, and rubs and methods-- it was an all-out BBQ assault!
The only thing better than people telling you that your barbeque is good, is when they come back for more wearing a smile. We had plenty of smiles