As I’m waiting patiently for my next BBQ smoke-out experience (this weekend, maybe?), I’ve been diligently reading up on recipes, researching restaurants, and learning about BBQ competition teams. The OC BBQ Festival is happening this upcoming Saturday June 11th, and I came across SoCal-based Slap Yo’ Daddy BBQ team. The more I learned about this team, the more I was in awe of their success.
Normally when you think of BBQ competition teams and see them on TV, they have these huge, shiny customized smokers that cost upwards of $10k plus. Conversely, the Slap Yo’ Daddy team uses a couple of WSM’s and kettle grills, along with a computer system with a fan that digitally monitors and regulates the temperature of their meats. Since starting in ’08, they’ve been winning awards left and right and are the #4 nationally ranked team in the country. They recently were on TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters show.
Pitmaster Harry Soo uses Asian ingredients, spices and flavors, which distinguishes their BBQ from the competition. Many of his competitors are widely popular in the traditonal BBQ parts of the country, do BBQ competitions full-time, and they have restaurants. Slap Yo’ Daddy is from Southern California, have full-time IT jobs, and still hold their own in the BBQ competition circuit. They truly are weekend BBQ pitmasters. Keep up the great work Slap Yo’ Daddy. I will have to try your BBQ real soon.
Since I’m a newbie on BBQ smoking, I’m trying to soak up as much information as possible. There are some websites out there that go into so much detail, it’s mind boggling. I came across this post today on the OC Weekly blog, talking about some of the differences between various types of wood and charcoal. It nicely summarizes most of what I’ve read in a nutshell:
- Charcoal briquettes: the way to go for low & slow smoking, consistent burn times
- Lump charcoal: burns very hot, inconsistent burn times, perfect for searing/grilling at high temps
- Natural charcoal briquettes: burns hotter and quicker than normal briquettes
- Pre-treated “match light” charcoal: yucky, has nasty chemicals, do not use for low & slow smoking (ok I admit it, I still have some of this stuff in storage)
For my WSM, the original Kingsford charcoal
briquettes is the way to go. It’s relatively cheap, easy to find, and is perfect for low & slow smoking. Regarding types of wood, there’s so much info out there — everyone seems to have their opinion on what works best. That’s the fun part of BBQ, everyone does it differently, and it’s good to experiment. Here are some common BBQ wood types and flavors:
- Apple: slightly sweet but denser, fruity smoke flavor
- Oak: versatile, mild smoke with no aftertaste
- Hickory: pungent, smoky, bacon-like flavor
- Mesquite: sweeter, more delicate flavor than hickory
- Cherry: slightly sweet, denser, fruity smoke flavor
For now, I bought a package of apple wood chunks to start things off. It seems like it’s one of the more popular and versatile woods, and people like to combine it with stronger flavored wood like oak, hickory, or mesquite. One thing I’ve always read is, do not over-smoke. The smoke flavor should be a subtle flavor in the background while eating the meat, not overpowering.