Tag Archive for ‘barbeque’

Perfecting a Smoked Thanksgiving Turkey

Yesterday’s smoked turkey

I hardly consider myself a poultry pro.

When I was growing up, I was a picky child. Every time I would go out to eat with my family, when the question of, “Where does everybody want to go eat?” arised, my suggestion was always, “Somewhere with good chicken wings.” When we would go on vacation, it surprised nobody in the family that I was going to order wings everywhere we’d go.

When I grew up, I wanted to learn how to master chicken breast. Not how to consistently produce moist chicken breasts, but how to flavor them in different ways so they wouldn’t become boring. The grocery stores where I live often feature family packs of chicken breasts on sale for $1.99/lb. or under quite often, so it is an easy source of protein to come about. (My favorite method: hot-smoked on the Barrel House Cooker for 20-25 minutes, using lump charcoal, with Caribeque Signature Series Chicken Rub on the breasts — my all-time favorite seasoning for chicken if we aren’t going into the topic of spicy grub).

Turkey is a different beast, though.

I like turkey, but it isn’t something that I crave often. I became so conditioned to having standard, oven roasted turkey for Thanksgiving all my life. Deep-fried turkey is fantastic, but once you get past the skin, turkey still tastes just like regular ol’ turkey.

Fast-forward to last year: my first time smoking a turkey for Thanksgiving. My first time ever hosting a Thanksgiving in my life, at age 27. My mother had a stroke two weeks before Thanksgiving, and it was an emotionally charged time for my family because she was still in the hospital during Thanksgiving. I had my heart set on one ultimate goal for turkey day: I was going to smoke that bird. My method? Hanging the turkey with the EZ-Load Turkey Plus Kit from Barrel House Cooker Co. For the sake of shortening this particular Thanksgiving day story, this method of smoking a bird produced the most flavorful turkey I can recall ever having.

This year, I wanted to outdo myself from last year. This was my preparation for the 15-lb. turkey I smoked for Thanksgiving dinner:

(One caveat: I did not brine this bird, because it was already pre-brined. Keep this in mind if you are planning on cooking a turkey that hasn’t already been pre-brined.)

The day before Thanksgiving, with the turkey being thawed out in the refrigerator for around three days, I sat it out in a pan, removed the giblet package and the neck, and patted it dry with multiple paper towels.

Afterwards, I used duck fat spray (I originally found duck fat spray at Cabela’s, but now many Wal-Mart locations are carrying it for a couple of bucks cheaper) to spray the skin of the turkey. Not only does this spray act as a binder for your rub, but you add an extra layer of fat, yielding more flavor.

Last year, I used the ‘Everything Rub’ by The Killer Cook, which is fantastic, but this year I went a different route: Slap Ya Mama. I wanted to throw down a Cajun smoked turkey. I seasoned the bird liberally with Slap Ya Mama. While it is quite a salty seasoning, I wanted to give the skin enough flavor to where enough would penetrate into the meat by the end of the cook. With the turkey ready to go, I let it sit in the fridge overnight to absorb the seasoning.

I started up my Barrel House Cooker 14D with about half of the charcoal basket with coals while filing a small charcoal chimney up before lighting. After letting the coals burn for 15 minutes, I added them on top of the charcoal basket, placed two chunks of applewood (I used cherrywood last year) onto two separate sides of the coals and placed the base of the Barrel House Cooker onto the bottom charcoal station and closed the lid.

At around 8 in the morning, I added the turkey, hanging it in the cooker using the EZ-Load Turkey Plus Kit. This was about ten minutes after I added the charcoal to the basket.

I let it roll until around 11:45, when the thigh and legs were reading 175-180 and the breasts were reading about 163-164. I removed it from the cooker and allowed it to rest in a foil pan for 20-25 minutes before tenting it with foil. The temperature gauge read 250-255 for the majority of the cook, so I imagine the turkey was cooking at around 300-325.

This was, hands down, the best turkey I’ve ever eaten, and not one complaint was uttered by the guests (maybe they were just being nice). I have no shame in calling this, ‘perfecting’ a smoked turkey. It was incredibly juicy and absolutely tender.

Some may describe the skin as being too dark, preferring more of a brown skin for their bird, but that also has much to do with what kind of rub you use. Again, I used a liberal amount of Slap Ya Mama Cajun seasoning, and I’m sure that is the reason for the darker skin, as it certainly was not burnt in the slightest.

Drum smokers like the Barrel House Cooker are perfect for poultry. I did not use a water pan. One of the reasons drum smokers are so formidable at producing flavorful grub is that the juices from the meat will hit the hot coals and the vapors resulting from that action will rise and baste the meat during the cooking process. I owe the juiciness of the turkey to that mechanism of the cooker.

I highly recommend giving this method a shot if you have a drum smoker. Your family, unless opposed to smoked grub, will thank you for it, especially on a day to be thankful.

Something to Consider Before Purchasing a Pit Barrel Cooker

When I make a decision on an investment in a product, the first thing I consider is the value of the product versus the price being asked for it. Secondly, and this coincides with ‘value’, I look into the quality of said product: is the brand reputable? Is it durable enough to last? With the time I’ll invest in using it, through enjoyment will I basically receive my return of investment through years of use?

My most viewed post is this one: Is Barrel House Cooker Going Out of Business?

When it comes to already-constructed, available-to-buy drum smokers, the two most talked about options are these two: number one, the most popular, is the Pit Barrel Cooker. Second, it is the Barrel House Cooker.

If you have been following my site, you will notice how often I have posted about Barrel House Cooker. I own both of their models, the 14D and the 18C. I have not held back from posting criticism when I’ve written about the cookers either, so while I’m an advocate, I’m no stranger to avoiding pulling punches in that side of things.

I don’t know what is going to happen with Barrel House Cooker. I am not knowledgeable enough about the legal side of things to comment abou what happened between them and Pit Barrel Cooker. All I know is that the legal conclusion to such matters resulted in portions of the proceeds of the sales of all Barrel House Cookers will fall into the pocket of Noah Glanville, creator of the Pit Barrel Cooker. Using Google, you can find more information about this that can expound on it better than I can.

For the majority of this year, I have noticed that Barrel House Cooker has not had their smokers on sale.

When I considered purchasing either the PBC or BHC, I went with the BHC because I felt it was a bigger bang for my buck. I have found it to be a superior piece of equipment for getting the job done as a drum smoker in comparison to the BHC. I listed my reasons why here.

I have stated in multiple occasions that, if my Barrel House Cookers ever fall apart, that I will likely go ahead and buy a Pit Barrel Cooker, because.. well.. I’m not sure if Barrel House will ever come back. Until they fall apart, I’m happier than a Texan surrounded by smoked beef brisket with using my two BHCs.

Pit Barrel Cooker has a much larger following than Barrel House Cooker. Asides from being available for a longer amount of time than BHC, one of the PBC’s main selling points is that it is a veteran owned operation.

As an American, I’ve been glad to support veteran owned businesses, but I can’t help but feel irked whenever certain companies try to over-emphasize that point when they are trying to gain business. It feels cheap to me. If your veteran-owned company is making a product that I feel is subpar compared to a competitor that isn’t veteran owned, I’m rolling with the the superior competitor. See the first paragraph of this post to consider why I say that. I am not interested in debating the moral compass guidelines behind these two companies, and neither should anybody else asides from those involved in the legal matters, yet if you Google the comparisons between the two cookers, you will find a horde of people stating their opinions while it is all hearsay.

Speaking of hearsay… onto the matters of the title of this post: Something to Consider Before Purchasing a Pit Barrel Cooker

If you take a look at the PBC website, while you will see the big, bold text in the site’s headlines, A VETERAN OWNED BUSINESS, this may mislead you to believe that the PBC is made in America while apparently the cookers and accessories themselves are made in China!

YIKES.


This information is allegedly only reported on tiny print on the packaging according to David H. from this site.

Others have confirmed. Consider what jfmorris from the Amazing Ribs forum said:


Interesting.

It is sheepish of consumers to lambaste Barrel House Cooker in one breath and place Pit Barrel Cooker on a pedestal in another. Two wrongs don’t make a right, but if you are a consumer who looks at a brand and pretends they can do no wrong, you are the problem. I am culpable, too, in a way, because I will choose the design of the BHC over the PBC any day of the week, but we should all aim to hold companies to higher standards and not give them a free pass just because its creator touts his military service history.

Beware of the Race for Followers on Instagram in the BBQ Community

Back in 2018, I was on fire for most of the year as I consistently posted my food photos, largely consisting of smoked meat, on Instagram. Then, as I was finishing my bachelor’s degree, life got busy. November 2018, my mother had a stroke. It wasn’t long after that I took a half-year hiatus. 2019 has been — to be unabashedly transparent — an absolute struggle. My aunt (my mother’s sister, who is like a second mother to me) experienced two extreme health events this year (a heart attack in March and, more recently, diverticulosis that led to an infection that caused sepsis). I took a complete break from all social media to assist in mitigating the ramifications of those tragic health events and attempt to take care of myself in the process.

In returning and leaving again (as it pertains to Instagram), I took notice of why I ever loved posting in the first place: the love of delicious grub and the desire to share it and the want to build genuine connections/friendships with other people who have similar interests. It is a community. The barbecue community.

After the first six months away, I was disheartened to find that many of my former followers had unfollowed me. I was perturbed and felt taken back, because while I had not warned any followers of a break from the ‘gram, I had posted about my mother having a stroke, so I was a little disheartened from losing many, but I can’t blame them for unfollowing, because as far as what they knew, I could have been done with Instagram forever, and they may have just wanted to prune who they are following when it comes to active vs. inactive accounts. Nonetheless, I’m not bitter about it.

I wrote in a post back over the summer about how there is a lot of selfishness embedded in the Instagram barbecue community. Many people will do whatever it takes in order to grow their follower count and expand their page. I appreciate those who do so organically, because that is what I’m trying to do; it is a slow grind, but more worthwhile, because you are doing it through the work of creating content and building relationships along the way vs. the snakes who buy followers and take shortcuts.

I can’t help but feel jaded at times when I see bogus accounts or whenever I receive a follow from a ‘big’ account that I know will unfollow a few days or a week later.

If you ever decide to delve deep into the cooking community on Instagram, I plead for you to do it for the right reasons. Sure, I think many people’s goals (I would be a sheep to say this isn’t mine) is to make a name for themselves and eventually earn some profit along the way, but taking a shortcut won’t lead to as much, because more people than you know recognize phonies. Yes, “there is a sucker born every minute,” but you can tell a jackass (donkey) from a stallion.

The title of this post is written that way, because creating content and watching your follower count increase is a trap. It can become an addiction. Sometimes you might see a spike because one post nets you a high multitude of followers, but then a few posts later you might experience a plateau with little growth, and that should never dissuade you, because your content will be found over a period of time as you grow your page. Patience and persistence, my friends.

Poorly Chosen Brand Ambassadors in the Instagram BBQ Community

I should learn to keep my mouth shut before I become somewhat of a pariah in the Instagram barbecue community, a community that I dearly love due to the amazing amount of people I have met on there during my time posting since 2017. That lesson of learning to keep my trap shut will have to happen another time, because I have another bone to pick with the outdoor cookin’ community on Instagram (here’s the first post). At this risk of sounding like an entitled brat (and I will sound that way; don’t worry — I’ll admit it because I’m aware of exactly what it is), I’m going to drone on for a few minutes. Bear with ol’ Grizz for a few minutes.

There are companies I have shown clear biases in favor of when it comes to the barbecue/outdoor cookin’ community on Instagram. Chief among them is Caribeque. When I first delved into barbecue, the first business with rubs/seasonings — outside of the Weber seasonings you can pick up at virtually every grocery store in the United States — I ever used were ones by Caribeque. First, it was Honey Heat, and then the All Purpose rub that Kurt Halls (the creator of Caribeque) dropped in July 2017, and later that year I gave the Big & Bold Beef rub a shot. They are all incredible rubs that I use regularly. I support Kurt and his vision for Caribeque, because not only are the rubs amazing (and so is the Caribeque Honey Heat Smack Sauce), Kurt is an awesome, down to earth guy who is all about throwing down delicious grub and sharing that grub-concocting work with others around the world on Instagram.

But this post has nothing to do with Kurt or Caribeque. I only mention Caribeque as a precursor to say this: I only will ever use products I truly believe in and actually use. I will never use a product in my cooking that I think sucks, because why else would I? I don’t want to eat something featuring a rub that sucks, and neither does anybody else. I only endorse what I truly believe to be high quality as confirmed by my tastebuds.

In July 2017, a new start-up small business joined the barbecue world: Reload Rub & Seasoning. I remember the very first time I ever even heard of that name; one of my favorite members of the barbecue Instagram family, @bigjohns_bbq AKA John, posted a video using the rub in a pre-release video. I can only surmise that the creators of the rub sent out the product to various folks on Instagram to test it out. “Sweet,” I thought. I was curious, so I did some digging for some background as to what the hell this new rub was about. Fully Loaded, Reload’s first seasoning, is an all purpose rub purported to be delicious on everything, especially eggs (it is). In my quick research, I noticed that the company is based out of Knoxville, Tennessee. “Wow,” I thought. “I’m from southwest Virginia, which is only a couple of hours away from Knoxville, and not only that, I was born in Johnson City, Tennessee, which is only a little over an hour and a half away from where Reload Rub & Seasoning is based out of!”

I think the company officially launched on July 7, 2017. Based on such reasons of location, the desire to support a brand new company as a method of giving a new product a shot and derived from Big John’s praise of the new rub, I woke up that morning and placed an order for a bottle of it (I still have my order confirmation from when I ordered my first bottle at 9:55 a.m. on that day). I would bet an inordinate amount of cash that I was one of the first twenty people to place an order… to place an order of a rub that I had never tried before, from a brand new company whose product could either be hit or miss!

And so the order arrived a couple of days later (hey, the luck and privilege of living close by) and I posted about it immediately. Again, keep in mind, I bought it only going by the reasons mentioned. There were no official reviews other than ones dished out by those who received free pre-release bottles.

Reload Fully Loaded

Reload Rub & Seasoning Fully Loaded

Reload Rub & Seasoning Fully Loaded with kielbasa, peppers and onions.The first thing I tried Reload Rub’s Fully Loaded on was, as you can see, kielbasa with peppers and onions! It was delicious.

A few days later, I hit up some burgers with it. Amazing. The first time I ever used my 36″ Blackstone griddle a month later, when I screwed up and forgot to properly season it first due to my extreme excitement to test out the flat top cookin’ station, I made burgers with Fully Loaded!

I was hooked. Reload Rub’s Fully Loaded is a delicious, mouthwatering blend that is dominant in sea salt, garlic, onion and paprika among other spices. I became a proud fan overnight, or immediately upon the use of it as my tastebuds were met with a dose of deliciousness in every bite with any food I used it with.

Towards the end of 2017, Reload Rub & Seasoning announced their second rub. Double Action. It is sweet and smoky. I ordered it on release day. Another hit by the small business. In May 2018, out comes their third rub: Packin’ Heat! Another release day buy by yours truly. It might be my favorite from the line given that I’m a lite chilihead and love spicy food. It is amazing on everything, especially fries! Their most recent release dropped in late 2018: High Caliber — it is a chipotle garlic rub. I bet you can’t guess that I also ordered it on its release day! It is fantastic on wings and burgers, but I’m also sure that it’s spectacular on everything.

Everything Joel and Stacy — the creators behind Reload — create under the Reload Rub & Seasoning label is money.

Reload Rub & Seasoning Hat
When they dropped the first Reload Rub apparel — the Army green t-shirt — I bought it. The hat? Well, take a look above! I bought it!

Reload Rub’s seasonings, to this day, is only second to Caribeque’s rubs/seasonings when it comes to what I’m tossing on my food. If it ain’t Caribeque, then you would have the odds in your favor if you are betting on my use of Reload.

Last summer, Reload Rub & Seasoning began advertising for their ‘Reload Squad’, basically looking to find brand ambassadors for their rub. All one needed to do was email them with an explanation as to why they should be part of the Reload Squad. I think one of the perks included with being part of the Reload Squad involves a big get-together in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which is a place I’ve been to at least a hundred times in my life, given that I used to get up early in the mornings with my family, go down there for the day and come back home in one day’s time. I emailed them my application on August 30, 2018.

Hey guys,

This is grizzly_troy from Instagram. My case for being partnered up with you guys goes way back to July of last year, when you released the first Reload rub: Fully Loaded. Prior to its launch, 'Big' John Anselmo, one of my favorite people from the Instagram food family, posted using your rub while using his outdoor flattop griddle. I was intrigued. I trust the people I highly respect from the 'Q-munity, so the very first day you guys launched your product (at the time a singular one), I bought it, no questions asked. This rub became love at first taste for me.

If you have noticed, I usually am using only a few rubs (in rotation) most of the time when I make a post, and 99.9% of the time it comes down to Caribeque and Reload. I also snagged both Double Action and Packin' Heat on the days they were launched, because my affinity for the rubs was evident from the get-go. I knew that they, too, would be excellent, and they are.

You guys know me by my username handle, but I think you also know that I am very close by you guys. I'm in Richlands, Virginia which is only a couple of hours away from Knoxville. I was actually born in Tennessee (Johnson City) and I'm frequently through those parts (a big reason is because this area here in southwest Virginia is weak in things to do, honestly). The Grizzly Troy handle is for two reasons: I'm a fairly big, hairy dude (Greek/Italian genetics?) and, well, the gray hair. In addition to my Instagram page, I have a work-in-progress site over at http://grizzlytroy.com

That's what you do know, as well as the fact that your rubs have flavored the hell out of my food tenfold. I'm 27-years-old (yeah, the salt'n'pepper hair can fool people) and I'm just about to get my bachelor's degree in business administration in December from King University. I'm always on the go. I have a fair amount of personal marketing experience on the web, mainly in writing, from all the blogs I've delved into over the years.

The biggest thing that I feel I bring to the table is that I am a genuine, keep-it-real kind of 'feller'. I only use products that I truly believe in. I don't spew nonsense to my followers or have I ever tried to promote or sell anything that is not an extension of my beliefs. I'm passionate about food, flavor and community. I believe in building and sustaining relationships, and I'd like to believe that I am capable of representing Reload Rub with gusto. The close proximity to where the magic is made over in Knoxville, my place here in the mountains of southwest Virginia and that same passion for food and flavor that I just described above is my strongest case for this. I am also not afraid to get in front of the camera and talk, which you can see on my page. I would like to eventually set up a YouTube channel if I can get into a groove.

No, I don't have several thousands of followers, but I only hopped into the cookin' community on Instagram last summer, shortly before Reload launched. At the time, I barely had any followers and now I'm just a couple hundred away from a thousand. These are all genuine followers who I believe in connecting and engaging with. I will never, ever buy followers like so many on social media do. What reloads me? I'm an active, caffeine junkie of a man who enjoys being outdoors, often no matter the time of the year. Being a part of the Reload Squad, for me, seems about as natural of a fit as there can be, like wings and beer or even burgers and Fully Loaded.

I think it was in late September or early October when Reload announced their Reload Squad. I’m going to sound like the most entitled idiot in the world, so forgive me dearly here, but I thought that I was a shoe-in. I was one of the very first people to buy it on its launch day (without even trying), tirelessly supporting the brand with posts and purchases of each subsequent rub on its launch day, buying seasonings to pass out to friends and family, bragging about how excellent it is, conversing with Reload regularly, featuring the rubs in various videos, etc. Furthermore, the Reload brand is rooted in outdoor activities, especially hunting (hence the name ‘Reload’); I’m not a hunter but I’ve expressed explicit support for hunting, because 1.) venison and elk is delicious (to name two things), and 2.) there are too many deer roaming around here, causing vehicular accidents. If that’s not enough, I’m closer to Knoxville than the Reload Squad members that were chosen (except for maybe one or two), and southwest Virginia is a rural, agricultural haven for hunting.

Needless to say, Reload Rub & Seasoning goofed up by passing me by. I was not selected as part of the Reload Squad. Initially, I was deeply hurt by being picked over, because I felt like yours truly and Reload was (is) a match made in heaven for all the exceptionally valid reasons I’ve mentioned throughout this entire post. I expressed this discontent with a close friend who said, “They flubbed up. You will have better, more prosperous opportunities in the future.” (In trying to keep this site a bit clean, they used a different F-word other than ‘flubbed’).

I began rationalizing their ultimate lackluster choice, however, by considering one big factor: I had under a thousand followers on Instagram. Perhaps if I had a couple of thousand followers, they would have chose me. It is a no-brainer that any company on Instagram who chooses brand ambassadors wants to bring on members with a decent amount of followers due to the desire for such members to post about and bring attention to the brand, but I’ve also witnessed Instagrammers with less followers than me become brand ambassadors for other companies. I have no interest in playing some sketchy ‘game’ on Instagram. I’m in it for the long haul by accruing followers the old fashioned way; I refuse to ever pay for followers or engage in fishy tactics to increase my follower account other than by building genuine relationships and honest networking.

Still yet, I parted with all the salty feelings I felt because I felt ridiculous to feel so entitled despite what I feel to be valid reasons, foolish or not on my behalf.

Let me not forget to mention that perhaps it was a positive thing I was not chosen, because my life became exceedingly difficult in November of 2018, when my mother had a stroke. A minor stroke in a major region of her brain, something that she is still dealing with the side effects from over seven months later as she slowly, but surely, heals. This naturally coincided with me posting less and, shortly after, I spent half a year away from the ‘gram. I would have made a terrible brand ambassador during that time, to be frank, because of my absence, even though I was still using Reload in my cooking multiple times a week. I want to express deep appreciation for Kurt from Caribeque, Chuck (@c_train707), Ron (@cptnron302), Wes (@sunnysidebeachesbbq) and Jimmy (@borderbangerbbq) for reaching out to me over my time away to check in with me to see how things are doing.

This has nothing to do with wanting anything for free. I can buy my own Reload Rub products just fine, as I have. This is more-so about wanting to be part of the Reload family as I find myself to be a natural fit (hence my use of the saying, ‘a match made in heaven’ a few paragraphs back) for the business as a natural brand ambassador due to my outdoors loving background, the location to where I live in close proximity to Knoxville as well as my legitimate love for the rubs/seasonings and what the company stands for. I’m as natural of a fit to that family as salt & pepper is to a smoked beef brisket.

Anyhow, when I saw the final Reload Squad roster that was announced, I had an audible laugh that escaped out loud.

You see, again, Reload is rich with patriotic pride and outdoor hobbies (once again — hunting included) in its brand. When I saw the roster, most of the members chosen to be their brand ambassadors fit that mold, which is excellent — something I have no qualms with — and the same choices I would have made if I were Joel and Stacy, because if you look at their Squad roster, you will see it littered with hunters and/or outdoorsmen/outdoorswomen. Perfect choices.

However, my chief complaint lies in the fact that one of their members is… is… is from New Jersey. Who, wait, what, huh? Exsqueeze me? I took a look at this person’s Instagram; there’s no mention of Reload Rub in their Instagram bio, and I took three minutes to quickly peruse their last 60 (!!!) posts and saw that Reload is only mentioned three times. Obviously it would be shortsighted to only ever use one rub in each dish (one of my favorite combinations when making smashburgers on my Blackstone griddle is to use Caribeque Big & Bold on the burgers and Reload Rub Fully Loaded on the caramelized onions and mushrooms), but this is a supposed brand ambassador — a city slicker who seemingly is bereft of outdoor hobby-related activities — who hardly ever posts about the brand.

But I get it. I’m no dummy. I understand how things operate. This person has ever 17 times the followers I do, so obviously they were chosen due to being a big name in the community, but my annoyance over this selection is rooted in the fact that everything about them, asides from being involved in culinary ventures, is the antithesis of everything the Reload brand allegedly stands for. It is like Jess Pryles from Hardcore Carnivore asking a vegan to be a brand ambassador. I’ve struggled to make sense of this selection other than summing it up by the company wanting to use a random popular big name to pump out the fine name of Reload Rub & Seasoning. Despite that New Jersey native’s massive following, I would bet every penny from my checking account that I have influenced and sold more people on Reload’s products than them by virtue of my own genuine passion and excitement for the brand’s culinary friendly goodness.

I’m not attacking that person’s character by any means; I’m only stating the glaringly obvious from my perspective, biased or not. That person has a wonderful page with photos of delicious food and homemade recipes featuring products that are easily accessible rather than obscure items. They are a fantastic asset to the Instagram cooking community as a whole because of their contributions. However, from what I can tell, they have nothing in common with anything the Reload Rub & Seasoning brand stands for other than a desire to cook (which everybody in the community inherently has), and their fit in the family is very much like a beef brisket in a crockpot. I also have a sneaking suspicion that they did not even send an application to be a part of the Reload Squad but rather Reload contacted them due to their big following, but I definitely could be wrong and I’m willing to admit it as soon as I find out if that is the case, if I ever do.

Signing up a city slicker as part of a rural, outdoors-heavy brand is like me — little ol’ small town, rural southwest Virginia livin’ Troy — being a brand ambassador for a BBQ company from New York City whose brand’s personality is rooted in living up in the expensive streets of NYC. Fits like a round peg in a square hole.

Yes, I’m being unabashedly judgmental, but I find every bit of this to be valid. I find that ‘Squad’ member choice to be disingenuous.

I learned the majority of what I know about business from my late father. He owned a business selling coal mining parts in Oakwood, Virginia. He believed in genuine honesty and creating long-lasting relationships with customers. He conducted a great deal of his business at mining sites in Kentucky who ordered a horde of parts from him; he would often thank them by buying them bourbon and tickets to Kentucky Wildcats college basketball games. He believed in expressing unfettered appreciation via such means. Maybe I’m old fashioned and look at the bigger picture of things rather than quick solutions or short-term goals that are temporary and tantamount to a fart in the wind in the end.

Keep in mind that I’m writing this post while wearing Reload’s latest t-shirt, comically enough. I love the company and have an overwhelming love for both Joel & Stacy for being good-hearted people who created my second favorite line of rubs/seasonings in the world with Reload, but it’s just another bone I have to pick with the community at large. I still use their products weekly due to my extreme enjoyment of them.

I considered scrapping this post altogether, but this has been stewing in the back of my mind for nine months. If you think I’m over my head and these qualms are ridiculous, feel free to let me know, because I know how outrageously entitled I sound. I’m fully aware of that, but I still feel that way, anyhow. I’d rather be transparent as myself.

In relation to my last post in regards to having a bone to pick with the Instagram barbecue community, I understand that everyone is trying to make a name for themselves in the game. Businesses want to expand, make more money and grow their brand as much as humanly possible.

Give me authenticity all day, every day. There’s so much crap that goes on in the outdoor cooking community on Instagram that turns me sour. I want to once again emphasize that I’m not spiteful. Aggrieved? Absolutely. Jaded? You bet. Envious? Damn straight. Overly entitled? Too much so. Confused? Oh, you know it — over 4500 words of confusion in the word vomit blurted into this post.

I love Reload Rub & Seasoning. Go buy some, because their rubs are amazing and among the best the world has to offer.
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Potential retorts to what I’ve written above:

Jeez, Troy, you shouldn’t just expect a brand to make you an ambassador just because you post about them a lot on social media; besides, your follower count doesn’t lend itself towards being a marketing powerhouse or anything.

Those are fair points. However, I have an argument against the first part of that, in regards to the ‘not expecting a brand to make you an ambassador because you post about them often on social media.’ I didn’t make my case to be a brand ambassador just because I post about products a lot. I love Kurt and his Caribeque brand, but I don’t expect him to ever reach out to me and ask to be a brand ambassador, because he is in Tampa, Florida; I’m in southwest Virginia. His seasoning/rub company is called, “Caribeque” and is entrenched in the ideas of promoting ‘authentic flavors from the Caribbean islands’ (from the About page on the Caribeque website). Yeah… Caribeque is number one in my heart as far as the best rubs in the world go, but I’m Grizzly Troy, a rugged a hairy son of a gun from the country in southwest Virginia; while I would emphatically say, “YES!” if Kurt came to me and asked if I were interested in becoming a brand ambassador for Caribeque (because I genuinely believe his rubs are top notch and the best I’ve ever used, hence why I talk about them so often in addition to using them almost every day of the week in my culinary journeys, not to mention my strong belief in Caribeque and its values), I would never think one way or another if he never did, because there is nothing even remotely ‘Caribbean’ about myself other than my love for food, Caribbean dishes included.

Reload, on the other hand, was founded on the ideals of the outdoors, rural retreats, living out in the country and being in the sunshine among friends family while engaging in delicious food via its seasonings/rubs in the act of cookin’ while enjoying the nature-packed activities of the world. Reload is based in Knoxville, Tennessee. East Tennessee. I’m in southwest Virginia. We are neighbors. I genuinely love their products and believe in their vision as a company. I believe I have made a solid case as to why they missed the mark by passing over me.

As for my follower count, I appreciate everyone who follows me. While I am interested in growing the Grizzly BBQ brand, I prefer building authentic, long-lasting relationships and connections with those who follow me and who I follow in return versus having a super high follower count that I would have a hollow bond with. All I’m saying is that it would have been a perfect match for Reload to bring me onto the squad, and I don’t think I’m wrong by saying such a thing given all the aforementioned reasons.

This post reeks of entitlement. You are better than that, Troy.

This is also a fair point, and I’m typically the last person to express entitlement in any way, because I know how you have to earn everything you chase after in life, but I’ve blatantly stated over and over and over again in this post that it would reek of entitlement, so if you have chosen to read this far, to go that deep into my inane rambling, not only do I appreciate it, but I can’t help but emit the words, “Well, you knew what you were getting into.”

I’ve gone back and forth in my head as to whether or not I should post this.

If you post this, be sure to know whether or not you are OK with burning bridges.

What? I told one of my close friends about this post the other day, about how I was thinking of posting it, and that’s what they told me. I’m not burning any bridges. The Reload Squad was chosen almost a year ago and I’ve still been using Reload’s rubs virtually nonstop since that time.

Joel and Stacy, I love you guys. I’m not interested in burning any bridges whatsoever. Your rubs are incredible and I’ll continue to support the both of you and your awesome company, regardless of my transparency in these harshly expressed thoughts. I just wish I were part of the Reload Squad. It would have (it would still) mean a lot to me to be a proud, official member of the Reload brand, but regardless, I will still tirelessly support Reload Rub & Seasoning because it is something I avidly use to flavor up my grub.

What about the person you called a city slicker?! You attacked their character!

The person who mentioned the ‘burning bridges’ thing said this. Hey, I don’t mean ‘city slicker’ to be an insult whatsoever, even if it reads like it has undertones to it. That person is an amazing human being who is kind enough to share homemade recipes from their own personal concoctions, and that is phenomenal. However, much like I stated above about how I, a rugged ol’ hairy dude living out in rural southwest Virginia, am tantamount to ‘Caribbean food’ in nature by the same way the carnivore diet has vegan elements to it, somebody who is living out in a metropolitan area, or in the suburbs, of New Jersey is as related to Reload as Michael Jordan was to baseball. Needless to say, Reload and I could be Jordan and the Bulls. Yeah, I said it. The #23 Michael Jordan, too; not the #45.

Why say anything? Why not just move on and stay quiet?

I’ve done so for the last nine months. I can’t stand when things are left unsaid.

Lamb Chops on the Barrel House Cooker (Recipe!)

Freshly smoked lamb chops right out of the Barrel House Cooker 14D.

I never tried lamb until last April. I’m from rural southwest Virginia, and it just isn’t very popular here! This is an agricultural haven in the United States, yet beef and pork reign supreme, and lamb? Good luck finding it unless you find a small business to buy from (shout out to Victoria and Brandon Gent from Appalachian Meats in Lebanon, VA for selling lamb!)

You just need three things
— Lamb chops
The Killer Cook Mediterranean Spice Blend seasoning
— A smoker (I used my Barrel House Cooker 14D)

Instructions
— Optional: I sprayed the lamb chops with duck fat spray as a binder before applying the Mediterranean Spice rub.
— You can use charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal; I’ve used both when smoking lamb. For this cook, I just used trusty ol’ Kingsford blue along with a small chunk of cherrywood.
— Fire up the charcoal in a chimney starter (if you don’t have one, I recommend that you purchase one).
— After 20-25 minutes, once the charcoal has turned white hot at the top, dump into the charcoal base of your smoker (if you are using a grill, just cook on indirect heat)
— Allow 15-20 minutes for your smoker to heat up.
— I just had the intake vents on the Barrel House Cooker barely cracked open, although you can leave ’em wide open if you’d like.
— Add the lamb chops to the smoker

This only takes me 25-30 minutes for medium rare lamb. That’s it. Nothing fancy. Just remove, let the meat rest about five minutes and dig in!

The Mediterranean Spice Blend seasoning by The Killer Cook is so good because it is a perfect pairing with lamb. It is a match made in heaven. Of course, I guess that is an obvious statement given the name of the seasoning, but still. You can tell me I’m narrow minded, but it is the only seasoning I trust in using when it comes to lamb because it works so perfectly well with it.

If you can’t get ahold of The Killer Cook’s Mediterranean Spice Blend seasoning for lamb, I highly recommend you try this combo:

— Kosher salt
— Black pepper
— Garlic powder
— Dried rosemary
— Dried oregano
— A dash of paprika

The Mediterranean Spice Blend I keep bragging about features mint, too, so if you can get your hands on some dried mint, add a little bit of it to your lamb seasoning mix.

Frauds in the Barbecue Community on Instagram

Last year, when I posting like a madman on Instagram, slanging and hanging meats in the Barrel House Cooker all spring and summer long in the middle of taking classes for the degree that I finished up back in December, I was approached by one of my closest friends in the barbecue community over on the ‘gram. Ron. Captain Ron! (@cptnron302) He asked me if I would like to join his private messaging group where each member of the said group would send their posts to the group chat and each member involved would click like and leave a comment. The reason behind this idea is that the likes and comments would boost the posts and allow them to be seen.

The Instagram algorithm is a little shaky, because people with a small following may have posts that won’t show up on someone’s feed due to a low number of likes and comments. Being involved in this group would yield a higher chance of one’s posts being seen, introducing more likes, comments and ensuing followers.

It worked. My posts started receiving traffic they never had before.

The problem? I have genuine love for Ron and a few others in the group for being authentic, down to earth people with a knack for outdoor cooking, but there are two members of that particular group who didn’t care to follow the unofficial ‘rules’ of the chat, because they wouldn’t like or comment on everyone in the group’s posts. I won’t name any names, but this was frustrating to me. I considered sending Ron a one-on-one message to discuss this discrepancy I felt, but I figured there’s no use. I was involved in the group not only to help myself but to help the others, especially Ron, because he’s a nice, generous guy who will not hesitate to like and comment on your posts, and he throws down some seriously good lookin’, delicious grub. There were others in this group that I held (hold) in the same regard as Ron for similar reasons. The two other members who are the antithesis of everything that little group stands for? They are the plague of the community, in my mind.

Why post in the barbecue community on Instagram? “I want to make a name for myself.” Some people just want to post photos of their gorgeous, mouthwatering food every couple of weeks, but by and large, most people who are posting want to create a social presence with their posts and make a name for themselves, attracting advertisers and companies who may hire them to become social influencers or brand ambassadors. I would be blatantly lying if I told you I did not have such intentions. I have culinary-related business goals. I want to turn Grizzly BBQ into a full-blown business, but I also want to genuinely network, reciprocate any love I receive and add value to people’s lives if I can help it.

Far too many people are out there who are feeders rather than givers. They’ll feed on the likes and comments they receive, but they pick and choose who they give their likes and comments to, and I resent that greatly. I can’t help but roll my eyes when I see the two aforementioned members from the above paragraph go and like/comment on one of the bigger accounts in the barbecue community. They’ll slobber all over the big names who have 10,000+ followers, yet they’ll scroll on past other accounts with a smaller amount of followers. I know this happens because the proof is in the pudding. You’ll see them out there posting comments on every big name account’s posts as they pass yours by. It is difficult to not feel a varying level resentment over that kind of crap.

I don’t have a big account; I have less than a thousand followers, but I do have a passion for what I do (outdoor cooking), I enjoy sharing my photos with the world and wield an extreme appreciation and high level of gratitude for every like and comment that I receive.

I just find it annoying when these selfish individuals come out of the woodwork for their own personal gain. It would be beautiful if we (we as in the barbecue community as a whole) gave back to one another, working together to selflessly promote one another and harnessed that in the community. I have so much love and respect for some of the big name members of the barbecue community who like and comment on my posts, because they don’t have to. They have no reason to. There’s no gain for them to like and comment on my posts other than to create and sustain a real, genuine connection and relationship by the means of networking, but they do it anyway. It only takes a few seconds to like and comment on someone’s posts. Why can’t these obviously selfish members that I speak negatively of do it?

I felt this post was necessary to write because it is an overwhelming pet peeve of mine.

The barbecue community is incredible, as a whole. There are so many awesome people with a veritable love for delicious food who want to share it and support others. I have a great deal of love for each of those people. For such reasons, I want to give a big shoutout to some great members of the Instagram BBQ community who selflessly dish out love via likes and genuine comments:

Kurt — @caribeque
Chuck — @c_train707
John — @bigjohns_bbq
Ron — @cptnron302
Jimmy — @borderbangerbbq
Jeff (we might be related since we have the same last name! Haha) — @backwoods_kitchen
Matt — @bluetravelz
Adam — @thisjewcanque
Justin — @utetastic
Robert — @moons_bbq
Pam — @pam_persinger_walker
@zzzzote
Wes — @sunnysidebeachesbbq
Ralph — @revin_it_up_bbq

There are so many more…

Smoking 35 Pounds of Pork Butt on the 22.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain

An acquaintance asked me to smoke some pulled pork for her son’s high school graduation party. She said there would be twenty to thirty people attending. With that said, I rushed to a couple of trusty barbecue communities (forums) on the internet to look into just how much pork would be needed for that amount of people, and when it comes to pork I’ve come to find that it is a given average that there will need to be about one pound of finished product per 2.6 people (without knowing each person’s individual appetite).

So I headed over to my local Food Lion, bought roughly 35 pounds of pork butt and, at about 10 p.m. I got the smoke rolling in my 22.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain cooker.


I used a mix of hickory and apple wood. Personally, my favorite fruit wood to smoke with is cherry, especially for ribs and bologna. However, I feel like pork butts cry for hickory; there is just something about it when it comes to smoking pork butts where it fits the bill perfectly. As for the apple wood, it is the first type of wood I ever used to smoke anything with when I began my barbecue journey, and you can never go wrong with it.

One might say that pork was shoddily rubbed, particularly on the sides, and that one wouldn’t be wrong, but you really don’t need to go all out, especially if you are doing more than one pork butt at once. Let me know in the comment section if you think I’m wrong about that. I used the tried and true Caribeque Honey Heat Pork & Pultry rub by the man, the myth, the legend: Kurt Halls. Kurt released a brand new pork rub at the end of last year, as part of his Caribeque Signature Series, a dedicated pork rub that features more sweetness than anything. The Caribeque Signature Series Pork Rub is fantastic, but I still like Honey Heat on any and all kinds of pork as my go-to.

I woke up at around 8 a.m. the following day and the temperature of my WSM was sitting pretty at around 230 still, riding high on the Kingsford charcoal briquettes from the night before. Checking the temps of the pork butts, they were all in the 170-175 range and had a little ways to go, so I began cranking up the heat by opening all three of the intake vents as well as adding a little bit of fresh Cowboy lump charcoal to the charcoal ring.


I was curious about how much meat you could add to this big cooker. Back in November, I competed in my first ever barbecue competition in Castlewood, VA at Gent’s Farms, hosted by Brandon and Victoria Gent, the fine folks who run Appalachian Meats in Lebanon, VA. It was a blast and I had a fantastic time. There was another competitor there who was actually using a 22.5″ Weber Smokey Mountain (I used the Barrel House Cooker 18C on that day); he won the smokeoff for the ribs. Anywho, he told me that he had smoked 80 lbs. of pork butt in his WSM one time, and I can imagine that. As you can see, I had my WSM full on the top grate; it would have likely been more optimal for me to use both the top and bottom grates to my advantage, but I didn’t want inconsistent temperatures for my meat (even if that wouldn’t have been the case), so I opted to arrange them on the top grate. I can see how 80 lbs. could easily go down in the WSM, tight as a fit that it may be, however, with the pork butts arranged properly.

By the time the pork was ready to pull, I would estimate the overall shrinkage to be about 40 to 50 percent of the original weight of the pork.


Freshly smoked, freshly pulled.

I needed to have the pork finished by 3:30 p.m for their party that began at 4; it was picked up at 3 by two happy campers who walked away after giving it a sample first. “Awesome!”, they both said in unison.

If you are in the southwest Virginia area and interested in having fresh barbecue catered, contact me!