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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 01-27-2010, 10:02 AM   #1
jjmassey12
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Default What to base my Q off of

Okay, so I live about 1.5 hours south of Chicago. There are no BBQ places in the area except Famous Daves. Theres a Rib Fest once a year that brings in people on the rib circuit but thats it.

All I have to go off of is: This site, Pitmasters on Tv and my own idea of what is good.

My question is this: How can I try what BBQ should taste like without having to make it a mini vacation or a real vacation?

Would you order some of those Q feasts from some of the more famous eateries around the U.S. orrr? Orrrr? Bueller? Bueller?

I can figure out how to cook what I might like, but that doesn't give me any real world experience. Does this make sense?


thanks for everyone's time.
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Unread 01-27-2010, 10:39 AM   #2
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How far are you from Lafayette, Indiana? I've heard good things about South Street Smokehouse; maybe you could give it a try?

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Unread 01-27-2010, 10:50 AM   #3
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Read as much as you can here. Expierment with different rubs, sauces and woods. Everything I see and hear competetion BBQ is very different from backyard BBQ. You can find a lot of information about moister, color, bite through but bottom line is what you like. I find a big taste and texture difference between low and slow and grilling. Just find what you like and improve.
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Unread 01-27-2010, 10:57 AM   #4
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First things first, start with what you said about finding what you like! That is really all bbq is all about in my opinion!!!! If your not competing just make your self happy. Who cares how someone else does it or creates a flavor profile. Just find a starting point like a basic rub and go from there! If you end up making you ribs with peanutbutter and jelly, and that's how you like it, I say Eat Drink and Drink again!
And that just my 2 cents.

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Unread 01-27-2010, 12:14 PM   #5
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Thanks Terry! I will. As for Lafayette. It's about 3.5 hours away without traffic. If we go south for something I'd check it out. but it's a bit far unless we have a reason to go there.

I think I'll grab a few more bbq books and just go from there.
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Unread 01-27-2010, 12:26 PM   #6
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JJ,

How far are you from Naperville? There's a ribfest there that usually feature some pretty good commercial teams that cook up some higher quality BBQ, and if I remember correctly, they have a people's choice award which is what helps stimulate the quality of the product they're putting out to the public.

Butch Lupinetti (Butch's Smack Your Lips BBQ) used to tour through there and compete, and he always had some great sweet sticky ribs that got me hooked. http://www.smackyourlipsbbq.com/

Here's a link, not sure if it's still active. http://www.ribfest.net/

Good luck!
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Unread 01-27-2010, 12:29 PM   #7
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I would recommend doing a few cooks and asking yourself if you enjoyed the food you cooked. Do not go large, cook a small butt here, a single rack there, and get a feel for what you like and do not like. Keep notes of what you did and what you thought. Once you get into it, you can start to connect with some of the folks in your neck of the woods and get a feel for what others do. I think BBQ is highly individual, even if you want to compete, developing your own palate is key.
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Unread 01-27-2010, 12:33 PM   #8
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When I was in college, there was a little hole-in-the-wall rib joint that I loved to go to when I had a little extra cash (which was rare to be sure). After about a year, they closed. I tried to find someplace that I could get ribs that good but never could. After about another year of concentrated searching, I gave up and decided that if I ever wanted good Q again, I'd have to do it myself.

I got a free Weber Kettle from a neighbor who was putting it to the curb and began experimenting. I concentrated almost solely on ribs: Beef ribs, spare ribs, baby backs, hell even short ribs. I played with different seasonings and sauces, different temperatures, different cooking times and methods... I almost never looked at a book and sure as heck didn't have access to Blogs like this.

After a few years of doing this, I expanded my repetoire to include chicken, then smoking the thanksgiving turkey, then brisket, then pork butts....

All I'm saying, is that for me anway, (and forgive me if I wax all philosophical and crap) making good Que is a journey of discovery. Both of what you like and what you can do. It's not about copying someone else or imitating another's flavor. It's about creating something that you love to eat and that you are excited to share with others (it helps if they like it too, but that's not really a prerequisite).

Cook what you like, how you like it and do that by doing everything you can think of.
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Unread 01-27-2010, 12:44 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjmassey12 View Post
Okay, so I live about 1.5 hours south of Chicago. There are no BBQ places in the area except Famous Daves. Theres a Rib Fest once a year that brings in people on the rib circuit but thats it.

All I have to go off of is: This site, Pitmasters on Tv and my own idea of what is good.

My question is this: How can I try what BBQ should taste like without having to make it a mini vacation or a real vacation?

Would you order some of those Q feasts from some of the more famous eateries around the U.S. orrr? Orrrr? Bueller? Bueller?

I can figure out how to cook what I might like, but that doesn't give me any real world experience. Does this make sense?


thanks for everyone's time.
Smoque looked good on Diners Drive Inns and Dives but maybe it's not, is it worth trying.
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Unread 01-27-2010, 12:47 PM   #10
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Capn Kev:

Yes. I'm a huge fan of Ribfest. I go every year and sample as much as my stomach and wallet will allow.

Iandarc:

I agree. I share this sentiment exactly with cooking. Went to school for it, cooked in several restaurants and am just overall a food enthusiast. While it is personal, I just find that trying other food inspires me, both with new ideas and to find out what I surely don't like.

Southern:

I think I'm just starting where you were. I just can't find anything decent so I need to make it myself! I was given a cheap smoker and while it's sketchy at holding a temp I think I might take a bit out of Harry Soo's book in Pitmasters and wrap it in a water heating blanket to plug up the cracks and insulate it.

Regardless, the advice is appreciated and everyone is right. Ultimately it's what I want to eat. We shall see how that goes!

Thanks ya'll!
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Unread 01-27-2010, 02:35 PM   #11
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It might still be a little bit of a drive, but in Southern Illinois, Mike Mills owns several locations of his 17th Street Bar and Grill. I'd highly recommend you make a trip and taste some of the best ribs you'll ever eat in a restaurant.

http://www.17thstreetbarbecue.com/

Mike is called "The Legend" for good reason, and takes great pains to train the cooks at all his restaurants his flavor profiles. It's a rare thing in a multiunit operation to have consistently high level BBQ at all locations.
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Unread 01-27-2010, 02:42 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjmassey12 View Post
Thanks Terry! I will. As for Lafayette. It's about 3.5 hours away without traffic. If we go south for something I'd check it out. but it's a bit far unless we have a reason to go there.

I think I'll grab a few more bbq books and just go from there.

I would do this and experiment.

Some good ones off the top of my head are Steve Raichlen's BBQ USA (big book that will give you an overview of various regional types), Smoke and Spice (can't remember the authors offhand), and Adam Perry Lang's Serious BBQ.
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Unread 01-27-2010, 02:48 PM   #13
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Mike Mills is a legendary BBQ competition champion. He has a few joints in southern Illinois. It would be a long drive from your location, but I'm sure it would be worth the trip.

http://www.17thstreetbarbecue.com/Locations.htm
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Unread 01-27-2010, 02:53 PM   #14
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If you are lookin for BBQ in Chicago you might try Honkey Tonk BBQ. The brisket, sausage and pulled pork were pretty good. My wife got the babyback ribs and they were not. Didnt try the spares. I remember Smoke Daddy being good but I haven't been there for a few years.
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Unread 01-27-2010, 06:35 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kurtsara View Post
Smoque looked good on Diners Drive Inns and Dives but maybe it's not, is it worth trying.
Smoque (It's just north of downtown Chi-town on Pulaksi) is definately worth the trip. It can be difficult to find a place to park, as there's no real parking lot for the place. But there's a Metro or maybe L station just to the north (I think it's north) of the restaurant, and you can park there along the street. Maybe even call the restaurant beforehand and ask where is the best place to park. The 3 times I've been there, I've only tried the brisket and sausage though, so that's all I can really speak for. The sausage, he imports from one of the Mikeska's in TX, and it's excellent. Having tried numerous legendary and not so legendary BBQ joints all across texas, Smoque weighs in with the better ones in texas. The only thing bad thing I can say about the brisket is that perhaps it's a little TOO tender, if there is such a thing. I guess it depends on your tastes though. My brisket, as well as all that I've tried in Tx, is NEVER that tender. So again, I'll defer back to what you like. It's very moist though, I must say. Anyway, if you're only 1.5 hrs from Chicago, I'd say make a day trip, and try Smoque for lunch, and Honky Tonk BBQ like someone else suggested for dinner, though it doesn't have to be in that order.
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