View Full Version : ThWhat is the Best Thing You Learned While Cooking BBQ?

08-25-2011, 09:37 AM
What was the best thing you ever learned while learning the craft or art of BBQ?

What was a breakthrough moment for you that made you understand how to get more consistent in your cooking?

Maybe it was learning how to perfect for now favorite rub or sauce?

Maybe it was experimenting with different temperatures?

Maybe you are still open to try new things?

I think the main thing I have learned is to keep an open mind and to try new
techniques before I dismiss them as bunk.

A closed mind learns nothing.

08-25-2011, 09:40 AM
Patience. During my time of screwing up meat my grandfather kept telling me to "Be patient, don't get in a hurry! You can't rush perfection." I finally "got it".

08-25-2011, 09:41 AM
I'm always willing to try something new and interesting.

08-25-2011, 09:41 AM
Patience. During my time of screwing up meat my grandfather kept telling me to "Be patient, don't get in a hurry! You can't rush perfection." I finally "got it".

Have you tried any high heat cooks?

BBQ Nuts
08-25-2011, 09:43 AM
There are no absolutes when it comes to cooking time for BBQ.

There are general rules (i.e. 1.5 hr per pound for butt) or you can cook to temp. But even when cooking to temp the meat may not be where you want it.

The meat is ready when the meat is ready. So PLAN ACCORDINGLY!

08-25-2011, 09:45 AM
Have you tried any high heat cooks?

Yes, and even within high heat cooks patience must be applied to some degree. :thumb:

08-25-2011, 09:47 AM
Judging doneness by feel, not by temp.

Key words in my realizing this are from bigabytes Basic Brisket Tutorial (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=57882): "I don't know what temperature it is and I don't care." This led me down the road of letting the meat tell me when it's done rather than a device.

Also, I learned about coolering here. Haven't had a house full of hungry folks wanting to kill me since! Helps give me a bigger target to hit time-wise.

08-25-2011, 09:50 AM
Experimenting on different kinds of levels.

08-25-2011, 09:50 AM
To keep good notes. That way when you get something right at least you know what you did! And finding the great people here to help you when you are lost. Thanks to all!!

08-25-2011, 09:53 AM
How to weld...poorly :becky: (still learning)

Yeah, lots of cooking tricks too. And, who knew SPAM was so versitile?

08-25-2011, 09:58 AM
Patience and experimentation

08-25-2011, 10:03 AM
Patience is by far the most important thing I have learned. Yes, experimenting with spices and methods have improved my end results but the reality is - low and slow is all about patience. When you rush BBQ, you ruin BBQ.

Dave Russell
08-25-2011, 10:09 AM
I think the main thing I have learned is to keep an open mind and to try new
techniques before I dismiss them as bunk.

A closed mind learns nothing.

AMEN to that, and I find that I learn something everytime I do something different, despite what I read and what others say. I learn from doing it myself, but but specific to the wsm, I've learned this year that water in the pan most definately helps keep the bone side (exposed meat) moist when smoking chicken. Ever since I got my wsm I just foiled the pan and shot for higher temps to get "decent skin", since that's what you were supposed to do.

Also, I've mentioned it a few times already in the last couple of weeks, but by cooking a couple of pork butts for 16 hrs and then pulling after practically no rest at all, I finally learned why my old UDS bbq was a little moister. Ever since I got my wsm, I've been overcooking my butts by holding too long in a hot cooler, since that's what I read you were supposed to do. By the way, this was not a subjective thing at all because even though these two butts cooked for 16hrs, were pulled at about 198* IT, and I stretched out the stall...there was still a substantial amount of fat and connective tissue left. However, the meat from BOTH butts was at the PERFECT state of doneness, and juicy as all get out. There goes my notion that you won't have nothing to pull out of a butt but the bone and a piece of gristle if cooked low-n-slow.

To sum up, I don't take somebody's word for something without testing it, and I only learn by doing things differently. I think the most important practical bbq tip I've learned first hand is to cook long enough but don't overcook, and cook as evenly as possible.

08-25-2011, 10:10 AM
That 225 isn't a magic number.

Cast Iron Chef
08-25-2011, 10:12 AM
Like many above "IT'S DONE WHEN IT'S DONE".

08-25-2011, 10:12 AM
To keep good notes That way when you get something right at least you know what you did!

I agree notes to know what I did on one cook slash experiment over another is very important. Also finding a great source of information like here has immensely helped. Being patient taking my time, lowering my cook temps and lengthening my cook times however has been the most beneficial to consistent quality in what I'm serving up.

chomper's bbq
08-25-2011, 10:46 AM
I've learned that BBQ is an ever changing journey. Have fun, try something different, when it works write it down and laminate it and put it in a binder. Never mess with your Q at the contest. Share with others that are starting to Q; remember you were there once.

08-25-2011, 10:53 AM
Tongs in one hand, beer in the other. :mrgreen:

08-25-2011, 10:54 AM
Patience for me too. Before learning to how to smoke I was always trying to get the fire as hot as possible. Now I know the benefits of low and slow.

08-25-2011, 11:36 AM
Patience, use an internal therm. as a guide only, prep for a long cook the day before and there is more than 1 way to Q and get good results.

08-25-2011, 11:46 AM
As many have said, patience and being in tune with my cooker. :thumb:

08-25-2011, 11:53 AM
It's all about fire control.

chomper's bbq
08-25-2011, 12:20 PM
Have fun, keep learning, write down what works and then laminate it and put it in a binder, don't change things at the contest, and share information with newbees because that's where you started.

BBQ Bandit
08-25-2011, 12:32 PM
It's all about fire control.

Amen! No fire management... no chance for success.

Terry Knife
08-25-2011, 12:38 PM
Judging done-ness by probing, and learning the feel of what's done and what isn't. Proper Coolering, how to keep complete notes. There is tons that I never learned in school that I learned in the yard....chemistry, thermal dynamics, physics, geometry and math.

08-25-2011, 12:40 PM
Good company, good beer and/or beverages and good food. Q'ing is like a fine wine, it's done in its own time. Don't rush it and enjoy the journey.

08-25-2011, 12:43 PM
Tongs in one hand, beer in the other. :mrgreen:
Wrong! Tongs in one hand, cigar in the other and https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-Jodtx8WwSHU/TlaJdwGNb9I/AAAAAAAAAvs/26Djf82gC8I/s640/Beer-Hat.jpg

08-25-2011, 12:47 PM
After suffering a burn that took 3 months to heal and a scar I will have for the rest of my life: I learned to wear gloves. ;)

Lake Dogs
08-25-2011, 12:56 PM
What was the best thing you ever learned while learning the craft or art of BBQ?

You can never have enough beer.

What was a breakthrough moment for you that made you understand how to get more consistent in your cooking?

Consistent? That came from marking down and tracking times and temperatures, measuring precisely how much this and that go in to the rubs, etc. No one breakthrough moment.

Maybe it was learning how to perfect for now favorite rub or sauce?

Learning how helped consistency? No, it didn't.

Maybe it was experimenting with different temperatures?

I like my women hot and my beer cold, however free women and free beer I'd certainly entertain the idea of experimenting with different temperatures.

Seriously, what Saiko said, it took a while for me to learn that 225 isn't the magic number that many profess.

Maybe you are still open to try new things?

Barbecue has been around for 400+ years. During that time there's pretty much been the introduction of aluminum foil. Otherwise there's not been anything new. Sure, if someone comes up with something new, I'm sure I'll give it a whirl.

I think the main thing I have learned is to keep an open mind and to try new
techniques before I dismiss them as bunk.

New, techniques? I'll bet someone did it 200 or more years ago. The label might not've said FEC or Stumps, but it probably was an oven of some type. Even with the advent of foil, may were doing similar techniques with leaves and other materials, so even foil didnt add something new to techniques...


08-25-2011, 12:57 PM
Experimentation is nothing to be scared of. Even when I get it wrong and the food is so-so, my friends still think it is better than the local joints.

08-25-2011, 01:03 PM
Don't dump the chimney when you're barefoot. :cool:

08-25-2011, 01:41 PM
The most important part of the cook, is the resting afterward.

Rob P
08-25-2011, 02:16 PM
What was the best thing you ever learned while learning the craft or art of BBQ?

1. Never cook ABT's over direct heat
2. if you do, never leave them unattended for any period of time so you can take tequila shots and play pool

Mister Bob
08-25-2011, 02:23 PM
Have plenty of beer on hand and don't tell anybody what time dinner is. Takes all the pressure off!

08-25-2011, 02:38 PM
I think the best thing I have learned is "It's done when it's done."

I have also had a great time learning about all the different cookers that are available and how they are different from each other.

El Ropo
08-25-2011, 02:57 PM
Don't fry bacon with no clothes on. :icon_blush:

Sorry, it's not really BBQ, but I was going to use it in BBQ.

Also, after preparing hot peppers, don't go to the bathroom till hands are thoroughly washed. :icon_blush::becky: That was a painful lesson.

I can smoke hot and fast with great results and get a lot more sleep.

08-25-2011, 03:05 PM
I've learned to be patient and enjoy the ride. That no matter how much I think I know, I really don't know squat. That having a good brew on hand is dang near as important as sauce, rub, heat source, and temp control. That there are hundreds of guys all over the country that will help me nail it next time. That adding bacon and smoke improves EVERYTHING. And finally, that I will always need...just ONE MORE cooker.

08-25-2011, 03:23 PM
That when the temperature (outside) is above 105, I can drink 6 beers an hour.

08-25-2011, 03:27 PM
Don't dump the chimney when you're barefoot. :cool:
I know what you mean. I learned this one the hard way too! :mad2: Amazing what you forget after a few brewskies. :becky:

08-25-2011, 04:15 PM
Learned that BBQ is really an art. And its mighty fun to learn!

Sent from my ADR6400L using Tapatalk

08-25-2011, 04:25 PM
A Thermapen IS worth the money :thumb:

08-25-2011, 05:39 PM
the single most important, breakthrough, thing i learned about BBQ...

is how to type www.bbqbrethren.com

i consider this community freind and family. through creativity, teaching, secrets, bickering, bantering, praising, and bashing, we all learn alot more than just cooking.

now as far as BBQ cooking alone stands..buy a WSM.

but seriously, knowing how to know when it's done. and that takes practice, no single "moment" there. and that goes for all cooking, not just BBQ.

oh, and 275 might be a magical number.

08-25-2011, 05:41 PM
One thing I've learned about cooking in general...

It's not always about the quality of the food... The quality of the company always trumps this, so don't worry if things aren't perfect. You'll still remember it as one of the best meals ever if you love the people you eat it with. Having great food just adds more to the mix.

08-25-2011, 05:50 PM
That fire is hot even after your charcoal has been sitting in the grill for 2 days buried in ash

08-25-2011, 06:04 PM
Best thing I learned? I should have started my BBQ journey with a UDS. Man they just work so darn well.

Consistency? Limit my changes when I repeat a dish and stay simple. Most of the time, simple is best.

08-25-2011, 06:55 PM

08-25-2011, 08:20 PM
Besides those already mentioned, one of the best tip I've received was when I was having issues with temp control on my first Big Green Egg. One of the veteran Eggheads told me to "trust the Egg". He meant to quit diddling with it and let the Egg do it's job. It help tremendously.

08-25-2011, 09:17 PM
It's done when it's done

Temp is not doneness

Meat tastes good, go easy piling on the seasonings and exotic ingredients


08-25-2011, 10:14 PM
Building this:


Dallas Dan
08-25-2011, 10:14 PM
My wife will never understand why I can't give her the exact minute the meat will be ready. :tsk:

08-25-2011, 10:27 PM
So far, I think the best thing I picked up seems to be the most simple idea there could be. Yet, somehow, it was the most difficult thing to learn.

-- screw the recipe, forget the time suggestions, and go with the flow--

another big thing to learn was:

-- "Ya gotta dance with the girl that brung ya." In other words, I had to learn to trust myself more. I know what's going on for the most part. I need to be more confident in my skills.

08-26-2011, 12:01 AM
I learned that charcoal trumps LP every day of the week. Also that it isn't how fast you can get it done, it's how good it tastes when it gets done.

08-26-2011, 12:17 AM
That I can't start consuming beer before getting the fire started and settled.

08-26-2011, 07:17 AM
An older veteran told me the smoker comes with a "thermometer not a clock"...

Gary in Va
08-26-2011, 07:47 AM
Sit Back, Relax, and let the smoke work it's magic!

08-26-2011, 10:25 AM
you can never have enough beer :thumb: :clap2: :bow: :becky:

08-26-2011, 10:42 AM
Just to slow down and pay attention too what the meat is telling you!!!! Also I have become much more humble about my cooking (I am still very confident, because its great) I am much more open to suggestions from people of like mindset... The Brethren!!! I experiment alot more and the main thing is I have fun when cooking!!!:thumb:

08-26-2011, 10:46 AM
the best thing I have learned is that it isn't a one man show. It's family, friends, kids, neighbors and pretty much anybody who likes to relax have fun and eat well.

08-26-2011, 11:30 AM
Less is more, don't over season so that you end up overpowering the meat. When I first started out I would use every spice and marinade in the pantry. You couldn't even taste the meat.

Learned to cook the different meats to the proper doneness instead of overcooking everything.

How to control fire and temp.

08-26-2011, 11:39 AM
That I can drink a whole thirty pack:shock:

08-26-2011, 12:13 PM
That it's not the cooking device, it's the cook.

08-27-2011, 10:24 AM
#1. Don't sweat the small stuff.
#2. Cook it like you like it and not anyone else.
#3. My worst bbq is better than anyone around me I know, best bbq. this leads me to the next tip.
#4. If you go to a bbq restaurant, in general be prepared to be highly disappointed.
#5. Change things up, experimenter to learn and keep things up beat and fresh on your table, even I get tired of same old same old bbq.

08-27-2011, 10:59 AM
Learning what foil, a towel and a cooler can do to smoked food. Just amazing.

08-27-2011, 11:12 AM
If you're looking you're not cooking.

Start your minion small and catch it on the way up.

08-27-2011, 11:15 AM
PATIENCE! It's done when it's done:thumb:

08-27-2011, 11:37 AM
Don't stress the swings.