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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 06-16-2014, 09:37 PM   #1
Boshizzle
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Default Direct heat and indirect heat techniques reconciliation

In the South, there is a debate about direct heat barbecue techniques (open pit) and indirect techniques (offsets, verticals with diffusers, reverse flows, etc.)

Originally, all southern BBQ was cooked with direct heat. It seems that the government required health requirements that started around the turn of the century caused a big switch to indirect cookers in many areas. Anyone have any citations for that?

In one of his books, Steven Raichlen called cooking BBQ with indirect heat "smoke roasting." I'm not sure I agree with that.

I can tell you that direct heat does create BBQ with a different flavor than indirect heat BBQ. Just head out to Snow's BBQ in Lexington, TX for a side by side comparison. The ribs are cooked with direct heat and the brisket with indirect.

Are there any brethren who have strong opinions or any information on why indirect BBQ techniques are still considered southern BBQ cooking techniques?
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Unread 06-17-2014, 10:28 AM   #2
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I'm very interested in this subject. Thanks for bringing this up, Boshizzle.

I will be following this post to read people's opinions.
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Unread 06-17-2014, 11:01 AM   #3
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As a boy I attend may a community BBQ where Clods where cooked over block/brick open pits. My grandad & my dad both along with some others shoveled a lot of post oak & mesquite coals over night at the community center to feed the masses. Those days sadly are long gone with the me generation. It is this reason I love the flavor cooking directly over the fire I get from my UDS, IMO it is true BBQ flavor. Don't get me wrong I love the flavor I can get from an offset but it's more of a smoky profile. Cooked right it's all GOOD!
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Unread 06-17-2014, 11:05 AM   #4
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I think the folks at Scott's in Hemingway would strongly disagree about the statement that "indirect BBQ techniques are still considered southern BBQ cooking techniques". You might try reaching out to Rodney to get his thoughts on the subject and maybe his take on the movement from open pits to indirect. Here is NY times slideshow about Scott's for those of you that are not familiar.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2...ow/index.html#
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Unread 06-17-2014, 11:17 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShencoSmoke View Post
I think the folks at Scott's in Hemingway would strongly disagree about the statement that "indirect BBQ techniques are still considered southern BBQ cooking techniques". You might try reaching out to Rodney to get his thoughts on the subject and maybe his take on the movement from open pits to indirect. Here is NY times slideshow about Scott's for those of you that are not familiar.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2...ow/index.html#

Great video and yes, there does seem to be something nostalgic about shoveling coals into the pit for direct cooking.
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Unread 06-17-2014, 11:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShencoSmoke View Post
I think the folks at Scott's in Hemingway would strongly disagree about the statement that "indirect BBQ techniques are still considered southern BBQ cooking techniques". You might try reaching out to Rodney to get his thoughts on the subject and maybe his take on the movement from open pits to indirect. Here is NY times slideshow about Scott's for those of you that are not familiar.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2...ow/index.html#

Gotta love direct and the vinegar cider pepper based sauce he talked about...I'm hooked on it. I'm in Scotts corner!
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Unread 06-17-2014, 06:42 PM   #7
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ShencoSmoke,

Yep, that's part of the debate. You have places like Scotts but then you have Lang smokers out of Georgia that a lot of southern BBQ are cooked on.

One other problem with direct pits in our modern world is the fire hazard. They are much more prone to have grease fires in them than the indirect cookers and fire marshals don't like them because of it.
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Unread 06-17-2014, 06:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boshizzle View Post
ShencoSmoke,

Yep, that's part of the debate. You have places like Scotts but then you have Lang smokers out of Georgia that a lot of southern BBQ are cooked on.

One other problem with direct pits in our modern world is the fire hazard. They are much more prone to have grease fires in them than the indirect cookers and fire marshals don't like them because of it.
When grease has NO chance to build up there is not chance of grease fires. Look at any UDS that let's the drippings just burn up in the fire. It's silly to say direct pits are fire hazzards imo. LOL...maybe for people that don't clean their pits out.

Commercial pits is something entirely different with the volume they do. The rule still applies that if the majority of the grease is burned up and cleaned up daily there shouldn't be much of a chance of being a hazard. I'm sure places like Scotts knows what they're doing otherwise they'd have been burnt down long ago.
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Unread 06-17-2014, 06:59 PM   #9
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I agree with Bo, that's why almost all of the direct cook pits are located in outbuildings and not connected to the restaurants. Fires at those places are common.

I'm in the camp that direct heat pits define "old school" Q. As you know, in this part of Virginia 90% of what people consider "BBQ chicken" is cooked on open pits. I think the same could be said for pit beef to our north in Maryland and Pa.

I think 15- 20 years from now (or maybe sooner) the open pit styles will no longer be legal, sadly enough. The health department regulations only get more stringent. I think as a group we need to protect our traditions. That can be accomplished by education and maybe even political lobbying.

I hope your book comes out soon!
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Unread 06-18-2014, 03:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fwismoker View Post
When grease has NO chance to build up there is not chance of grease fires. Look at any UDS that let's the drippings just burn up in the fire. It's silly to say direct pits are fire hazzards imo. LOL...maybe for people that don't clean their pits out.

Commercial pits is something entirely different with the volume they do. The rule still applies that if the majority of the grease is burned up and cleaned up daily there shouldn't be much of a chance of being a hazard. I'm sure places like Scotts knows what they're doing otherwise they'd have been burnt down long ago.

Fact is, lots of BBQ joints have burned up throughout the years due to grease fires in their pits.

http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/wh...oke-theres-ire

Quote:
Where There's Smoke, There's Ire

Two grease fires destroyed Louie Mueller Barbecue's 1959 brick pit in Taylor this past weekend—just as John Mueller's new trailer opened in Austin.


WRT Scott's in Hemingway...


http://www.scnow.com/observer/news/a...9bb30f31a.html


Quote:
Scott’s BBQ smokehouse in Hemingway burned in early Wednesday fire

A suspected grease fire destroyed anything that would burn in the fire pits of Scott's Bar-B-Que early Wednesday morning. All that remained were the 14 concrete fire pits and an outer, concrete wall garnished with dangling debris and charred tin.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 07:10 AM   #11
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Cooking a pig(in my youth) started with a shovel and blocks. needed water bucket for fires. Later barrel cookers on wheels. needed smaller shovel and water bucket or hose. Now we are up to offset pits. no shovel and the bucket is under the pit. much easier and safer in my opinion.

Later,
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Unread 06-18-2014, 07:32 AM   #12
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There must remain a place for Open Pit BBQ despite the fact that all of these things are very much bespoke.

What's required is a standard set of maintenance rules for Open Pit BBQ. It doesn't matter how different the construction is, an open pit will need cleaning out once or twice a week, having the grates scrubbed and the ashes and dust swept out blah blah blah.

Just about every BBQ joint in the US should be able to follow these simple rules and then have the freedom to build pits allowing them to give something different in smoke and flavor profile to the paying public.

If you can't do that, we'll be sitting down to Crockpot BBQ real soon!

Cheers!

Bill
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Unread 06-18-2014, 07:38 AM   #13
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Bo is something like a beast. Yet another great thread. One of my favorite things to cook on is my block pit fired with coals burned down from wood.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 08:23 AM   #14
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Scotts is on the bucket list. A real BBQ joint.
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Unread 06-18-2014, 09:36 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Demosthenes9 View Post
Fact is, lots of BBQ joints have burned up throughout the years due to grease fires in their pits.

http://www.texasmonthly.com/story/wh...oke-theres-ire





WRT Scott's in Hemingway...


http://www.scnow.com/observer/news/a...9bb30f31a.html
Too bad to see that. I guess when you cook hundreds of pounds daily stuff can eventually happen. I still am all about cooking over real wood, nothing compares.

Quote:
Originally Posted by smoke ninja View Post
Bo is something like a beast. Yet another great thread. One of my favorite things to cook on is my block pit fired with coals burned down from wood.
Use it more often!
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