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Doin' it right

 
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Charles Howse



Joined: 07 Feb 2005
Posts: 10
Location: Jackson, TN

PostPosted: Thu Feb 10 05 1:08 am    Post subject: Doin' it right Reply with quote

I posted this on The Virtual Weber Bullet site yesterday.
Apologies to those on both lists.
-------
I finally got time to go and visit the only place in town that still does it right this morning.
There's a place called Latham's Meat Company that still burns hickory slabs to coals and shovels the coals under the meat.
It's a combination grocery, restaurant and meat market.

I hate to admit it, but this was the first time I had ever been in his restaurant on Hwy 45 North.
(BTW, this is in Jackson, TN, and if you ever get the chance...I'll meet you there.)

I introduced myself to the owner, and told him I was a "backyard bbq'er" and was interested in seeing the last place in town that did it the 'old fashioned way'.
He knows Bill Arnold, and sells the Blues Hog brand sauce.
He greeted me warmly, knew my Dad's old store, and talked freely about the BBQ business.

He said that if he had it to do over, he wouldn't burn wood, he'd go electric.

The only thing that is stopping him from converting now is his old customers. He thinks they would leave if he changed his method of cooking.

He said that running the pithouse is very expensive, he spent over $20,000 in repairs alone for the pithouse last year. It's also very labor-intensive, too. Add in wood, and the incidentals and it gets really expensive.

He also said that it is a dangerous way to cook, because of the possibility of fires, and I think he said that he couldn't get insurance on the pithouse because it's too close to the main building. It needs to be 100' or more away to be insurable. (I could be wrong on this, don't quote me.)

He told me I could look around the pithouse, and I introduced myself to the pitmaster. A little short African-American guy. He told me he's been cooking Q since he was 13 years old.

The pithouse is a cinder block building, about 30 x 40, with an exhaust fan in the eave (that wasn't running).
There are at least 7 pits inside, made of cinder blocks, with doors to shovel in the coals, cooking racks, and covers that look like they were made from plastic 'bus tubs'.

The smoke was really thick. It's one of those days here where the clouds are low, and every breath we took, we exhaled smoke. Actually, I had mixed feelings about leaving...I was glad to get away from all the smoke, but sorry that I had to leave when I did. Didn't get enough time to pick his brain. I'm going back.

There are 4 pits on the outside of the bldg that were holding spare ribs, cut up, that he was cooking for the restaurant's lunch. The tops to these pits were made of aluminum, and he said that the secret to these pits was that they held the heat in really good.

The one thing that I noticed right away was that he uses foil a lot!
Everything of any size is wrapped in foil not only to keep it warm, but to speed up the cooking process.
He had several whole shoulders wrapped in foil, and a whole hog covered in foil.
He said he could cook a whole shoulder in 8 hours.

He said he could tell if something's done just by touching it, and agreed with what everyone has been telling me...it's all about tending your fire.

He was starting to get busy, getting ready for lunch, so I didn't stay too long. He invited me back to hang out any time, and said he would be glad to tell me anything I wanted to know about how to "do it right".

Even though my WSM cooks really good, I am going to go back and hang out with this guy just to learn about him and how he learned to cook, and maybe some of it will rub off on me. I really consider myself fortunate to get to see how really good Q is made the old fashioned way.
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Charles

"Ain't too proud to foil"
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Tony
BBQ Super Pro


Joined: 06 Feb 2005
Posts: 3484
Location: Rehoboth Beach ,Delaware

PostPosted: Sat Mar 05 05 10:22 am    Post subject: Doin' It Right Reply with quote

Charles: I read this post more than a few times;I always find me comin' back to it.
It's not just the Text... It's all about how you put in down.It's as if I were there as I was reading it!
Heck...I was! Nice Job..Keep on Smokin" Regards,Tony
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fatcatmarky
BBQ Fan


Joined: 23 Apr 2005
Posts: 319
Location: Everett, Washington

PostPosted: Tue Apr 26 05 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Charles,

I am totally with Tony on that one. Let us know how it goes when you go visit again.

Mark
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roxy
BBQ All Star


Joined: 29 May 2005
Posts: 9329
Location: Wasaga beach, Ontario

PostPosted: Mon Jun 06 05 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Technology is a good thing, for the most part, but I do think in the case of BBQ its not. Q is a food of love and that means time spent with lots of attention and this ole boy'z doing it up right.
Some times things need to be left alone. I do understand why a lot of places are going electric or gas. Commercialization effects every aspect of life and America is one of the largest contributers to it, but damn, if we not careful you wont be able to get "real Q" short of your own backyard.

And that would be a sin if you ask me.
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Chargriller Akorn
WSM
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GTgrillers
Newbie


Joined: 09 Jun 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Philly

PostPosted: Thu Jun 09 05 6:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Commercialization effects every aspect of life and America is one of the largest contributers to it, but damn, if we not careful you wont be able to get "real Q" short of your own backyard.

And that would be a sin if you ask me.


To tell you the truth....i don't think that is a bad thing...BBQ...Is something that you learn from the ones before you..(Family, friends..etc..) The backyard is the foundation...BBQ (to me) represents goodtime.....A chance to get closer, or bond with the people you love....Commercialize all you want...just stay out of my backyard
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roxy
BBQ All Star


Joined: 29 May 2005
Posts: 9329
Location: Wasaga beach, Ontario

PostPosted: Thu Jun 09 05 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hmmmm...
I dont get the connection between the quote of what I said, what you said, and the original post. I was in agreement with Charles in that the "Old way" he was talking in his post is the best and how it is getting to be that the only place you can find BBQ done the "old way" is in the backyard. That is just an observation. I was making a comment on commitment to tradition and how for the sake of profit businesses are selling out. If we are not careful it will become a dying artform as it almost did after the second world war. With the wave of people switching to grilling, Q'in almost died out. That knowledge was not passed on. My grandfather used open pit method, he did not teath that to my motherso how do I know of it.. Hence my point.
With the influx of moderization in cooking methods, load and forget computerized gas smokers for example. Old methods and knowledge will disappear again unless we, the consumers of such product demand more from venders.
By the way, I was refering to retail BBQ found at places like Charles mentioned and restaurants.

Sorry you didn't understand what I was trying to say....
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Chargriller Akorn
WSM
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GTgrillers
Newbie


Joined: 09 Jun 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Philly

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10 05 3:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No..No...it was not that I didnt understand what you were sayin....Its just that I detect worry from you in your statements.....I was making the point that there is no need to ever worry about true Q'ers fading out because the pure love for Qing is instilled in many people. BBQ places will come and go...However, for every commercial spot, there are 1000's of people that keep the true flame alive.....It's Americas nature to copy and mass produce...To make a buck....But Amarica also has the purist who will always stick to tradition....No need to ever worry.......
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roxy
BBQ All Star


Joined: 29 May 2005
Posts: 9329
Location: Wasaga beach, Ontario

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10 05 6:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

GT:

Im glad you made your last post I got what you mean as well. It is too bad the general public will settle for second rate Q, or thats the way it seems here in Ontario. The worst thing that has happened to the restaurant business is the franchise.
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Chargriller Akorn
WSM
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GTgrillers
Newbie


Joined: 09 Jun 2005
Posts: 25
Location: Philly

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11 05 4:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roxy....Thank you....It's people like you, myself.,..and most on here that will keep the true Q alive....Cheers!!!!! Wink
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roxy
BBQ All Star


Joined: 29 May 2005
Posts: 9329
Location: Wasaga beach, Ontario

PostPosted: Sat Jun 11 05 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Amen brother, now with the weekend upon us all, let us go and prepare our burnt offerings to the smoker gods...
I on the otherhand will have to defrost some of my pulled pork stores and dream of next month when I get to go up to the family cottage and make my offerings...

Heres to everyone having a great weekend.
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Chargriller Akorn
WSM
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