Barbeque is simply the outdoor cooking of meat on a grill or spits over an open flame or coals. Taste and preparation methods differ regionally throughout the US and even the world. The smoked brisket tacos you devoured in San Antonio and the skewered mystery meat you fearlessly gobbled down after your fifth Singha in Bangkok are really all examples of barbeque. However, for me, Que means smoked meat cooked low and slow. I love the smell, flavor, texture, and juiciness of properly smoked meat. Growing up in LA, my exposure to gamma radiation was higher than my exposure to real smoked Que. There was one Que restaurant in Culver City where I grew up called Stern’s Barbeque. As I recall they did an okay job, but it went under when I was still young and dumb. In my experience when I ordered barbequed chicken or ribs in So Cal. it was usually first parboiled, finished on a grill, and then slathered in about a half-inch of brand x sauce. Yuck.
For me, the light really came on when I took my first trip to Texas with my pal Steve and had smoked brisket at the original Rudy’s in Leon Springs outside of San Antonino. It was like finding a twenty-dollar rock to a crack head. I was hooked. Regrettably, I did not begin trying to do smoked Que at home until several years later. My first attempts involved a conventional outdoor gas grill and small smoke boxes filled with smoldering wood chips. My ignorance level was high, and the smoke level was very low. Next, I bought a Mastercraft electric smoker. It used wood chips and worked okay for about six months then suddenly stopped. After we made the great cross-country move, I decided it was time to get serious. I researched stick burners vs pellet smokers vs chip burners and settled on a Yoder 640 pellet smoker and have not looked back. The thing holds heat and smoke perfectly and can be controlled remotely. In fact, I can make a 20-minute run to the airport (19 miles away) and adjust the temperature of the pit from my phone while I’m waiting for Ryan and Emily in baggage. It’s made in Kansas and is built like a brick you know what. Next time I’ll share a few simple “recipes.”