Arrogant Swine

Beer Hall Carolina Whole Hog BBQ

Filtering by Category: Competition BBQ

Soy Sauce in Alabama Barbecue?

Cooking through Chris Lilly's Big Bob Gibson BBQ book, you will notice the man seems to have a thing for soy sauce. It makes its appearance in marinades, as seasonings for his steak, and in his signature red barbecue sauce. In very few contexts does it use soy sauce as an "Asian" flavoring. He explains that Alabama's been incorporating soy sauce into their beef dishes for the past half century.

This is particularly interesting as soy sauce is not a subtle flavor yet it has been blended as an ingredient in such a way by Lilly that it doesn't overpower his dishes with an Asian accent. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but the art is incorporating foreign ingredients and making it a uniquely American seasoning.

Salt Lick Barbecue in Texas also incorporates soy sauce as part of their signature mustard sauce. This is largely due to a Japanese matriarch of the joint and it's 100% Texan. Cuban cuisine as well as Peruvian cooks have long added soy sauce as part of their flavor profiles.

Soy sauce was developed in around 2 BC in China and became actively traded all around the world by the late 1700's. We see various types of soy sauce being used all over Asia. Japan alone has over 10 major varieties of the stuff. For the most part you can break soy sauce down into 2 major categories - DARK and LIGHT.

DARK = Sweeter, thicker, and likely to stain your meats a dark color. Better for glazes. Best not to use in injections because it stains the meat. Even for marinades, be careful how much you use.

LIGHT = Saltier, thinner, and possess more of a soy "flavoring" better or marinades, injections, and seasoning.

The big reason you can blend soy sauce into BBQ is because it's a fermented product like Worcestershire. The process develops Glutamic acids which enhances meaty flavors. My personal favorite are the mushroom flavored soy sauce for that double punch of umamai.

I believe this is an exciting trend where more and more people in the US will begin to use soy sauce in manners that are different than how they would be used in Asia. When one thinks of Alabama BBQ you lean more towards the seasonings that are part of the general South eastern american landscape like brown sugar, ketchup etc. But now we can confidently say that soy sauce has a firm place in the barbecue profiles and it has nothing to do with Kung Pao Chicken.

News from around the BBQ Blogsphere

Man Up Texas BBQ pays a visit to Curly's in Round Rock, TX. That pan fried cornbread sounds pretty good!

Pigs On The Run BBQ divulges their secrets to Championship Brisket. The wet aging process he gives you is pure gold.

Big Wayne's BBQ review Nellie's Sweet & Sassy BBQ Sauce - made by some dude who placed pictures of his attractive daughter on every bottle. Marketing doesn't get better than this.

The BBQ Blog visits Zingerman's Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan. As his many great pictures show, old school smoking here with no gas. Definitely worth a trip!

Southeastern North Carolina Food visits Duke's Old South BBQ and notes Now the "BBQ pork it is just simply the best around. Southeast North Carolina has not seen BBQ pork this good since the original owners of Skinner and Daniels were in business. Really this taste  like the old time BBQ that was cooked in a building out back over oak coals all night"

Marie Let's Eat visits the Pink Pig in Cherry Log, Georgia and found the world's most amazing garlic sauce.

Full Custom Gospel visits El Paso, TX and hits up Cattleman's Steakhouse, Smokey's Pit Stop, and the Rib Hut and only enjoyed the beans from stop #1.

Gods of Whole Hog BBQ - Myron Mixon Just for fun I'm posting some of my favorite videos you'll find publicly on Youtube and Vimeo profiling the Gods of Whole Hog BBQ. For obvious reason it'll be a short series. The list of people who are experts at cooking whole hog is very small. This is not because it's the hardest BBQ style to cook, it's because the barrier of entry is particularly high. Brisket, for example, is extraordinarily difficult to learn how to do correct. But it's also pretty small so you could just screw up a brisket on a weekly basis until you finally get it right. Cooking a tiny 50 lbs pig on a weekly basis to get right isn't really within reach of most people.

So today I'm profiling the competition titan Myron Mixon. Myron got his start in competition by winning whole hog and has since been a domineering force in all different types of barbecue contests. It seems that whole hog continues to be his best category. He is best known for his no nonsense iconoclast style seemingly breaking all "rules" of BBQ like 'no lighter fluid' and 'no green wood'.

Style - Myron cooks hot and fast in an enclosed pit. His is specifically competition based, thought he does cook with wood embers in his "Memories Class" where he teaches cooking methods passed down from his father. His pits have a water tray underneath the pig which keeps the humidity in the pit very high. The hog is cooked for several hours uncovered until it has absorbed all the smoke it could and form a nice bark, then it's flipped and wrapped in foil to finish cooking on its back. Judges will sample parts of the shoulder, loins and hams.

Fuel - Myron uses a mix of charcoal and green peach wood. To burn green wood you need a very hot fire, for Myron it's charcoal. If the coal bed is not hot enough to burn the wood cleanly, the wood with start to smolder and produce some black bitter smoke.

Sauce - Because he's largely cooking for competition, the judges are normally offered 3 sauces a vinegar, a mustard, and a regular red sauce. You can actually buy his sauces here.


News from around the BBQ Blogsphere

Photo Source : Serious Eats Man Up Texas visits Woodpile BBQ in Austin. Brisket looks amazing btw.

Marie Let's Eat reviews Stick Pig Bar-B-Que in Murfeesboro, Tennessee. She begs you to not make the dear mistake that she did. The smoked wings are a local favorite and those in the know wouldn't miss it for the world.

Darryl Mast goes behind the scenes with the Picking Pokers BBQ team to get some of their championship secrets!

Grilling with Rich tries cooking Beef ribs for the first time. He definitely did a better job than I usually do with beef ribs. I find the hard thing to do is find really meaty slabs to begin with. The rib steaks that float above them are a premium and skilled butchers aren't going to leave any money on the table, hence you usually get just a bunch of sinew.

No Excuses BBQ tackles a massive amount of BBQ leftovers and makes chili for a frigid night.

Cowgirl's Country Life makes some venison beer bratwursts. You read that correctly, she MADE them not BOUGHT them. You may now go cry in a corner at your inferiority.

THE MEATWAVE grills up some Spicy Korean Pork to pre-game his Thanksgiving. We are humbled.

Serious Eats gives us plans on how to cook a raccoon. 

Obsessive Compulsive Barbecue tries his hand at making the "The Original Allman's Bar-B-Q Style Cheeseburger - Circa 1975". I'm a sucker for BBQ history. Hell I'm a sucker for food history in general especially if it can still be enjoyed today. Check it out.

BBQ ROADTRIP!!! : Q Barbeque – Glen Allen, Virginia

See all the Food Porn HERE

Forbes just did an article on competition BBQ. One of my favorite lines -

And unlike most cuisines, many of the best barbecue masters don’t even have restaurants – there is no huge hobbyist group of ultra-passionate sushi cooks who devote all their time and resources to traveling around preparing sushi for competition judges.

The other premise of the article was that BBQ done in a commercial are inferior to those done in a competition setting. I would disagree with that. The one thing that competition bbq does is impose a sort of Kansas City uniformity to barbecue. The competitors by and large don't like eating their own BBQ. Johnny Trigg, a heavy winner in the ribs category states openly he doesn't like his competition ribs. He prefers his Texas style with just salt and pepper and heavy post-oak smoke. Aaron Franklin is a legend in BBQ circles but doesn't compete and yet is nationally acclaimed as the best brisket cook in the country. His brisket - soft and tender with only a salt and pepper rub would easily lose in a KCBS BBQ contest.

Tuffy Stone has won many many contests and some very big ones. His trophies dot the entire restaurant. The wife was long sick of BBQ by the time we arrived in Virginia. She picked the hotel for the sweeping views and colonial aesthetics. Much to her dismay, I discovered that Tuffy Stone's Q Barbecue was just around the corner.

It's very pretty inside with lots of bright warm orange tones. The greatest part was that all the lights were shaped like pig's snouts. This is modern BBQ, basically crafted from the BBQ competition circuit. We dug in for some ribs and brisket. Mr Stone is well known on the circuit as a top brisket cook. The one thing the Forbes article might have right is that people might not put as much care into their BBQ in their restaurants, and as I discovered, this was true for their pits. There were two massive gas powered smokers in plain view from the dining room. Competition BBQ will not allow you to use gas powered smokers. You only have the option of cooking with charcoal and wood.

The brisket was cooked to pull and wasn't all that flavorsome. The ribs were nicely seasoned and I enjoyed them quite a bit. I'm not a fan of his sauce. It's definitely different than what many others offer, which I applaud him for. It was dark, very molasses based with a hint of Worcestershire. I did appreciate the onion rings they had. Love a good onion ring.

Our two desserts were a nice end to a meal. Pie is the king of bbq desserts. Yes you can have cobbler, but pie is a good proper dessert. I got the massive chocolate pudding one and the wife  had the keylime. The chocolate was divine and the key lime a tad too sweet. Tuffy Stone's Q barbecue is a great neighborhood joint, clean, inviting and a great change from other fast food. I wouldn't put it up there with destination places but who knows? some day he might move back to all wood cooking.

News from around the BBQ Blogsphere

DivaQ cooks up some Roasted Chicken with garlic thyme and red wine reduction - ON THE GRILL! Damn that sounds good....

I posted all of Aaron Franklin's BBQ Turkey for thanksgiving videos into one easy to view page. You are all welcome.

The MEATWAVE gives tips on what to do if you're only cooking turkey for only TWO people. I only cook for my wife and 5 year old kid and STILL make enough food for a dozen. You might be more reasonable than me, click the link.

Memphis Que gives his review of two top names in the downtown Memphis BBQ scene - Central BBQ & Double J Smokehouse.

Obsessive Compulsive BBQ sits us down for history lesson and presents a BBQ pit a MILE LONG....

BBQ Guy lost 9 lbs eating BBQ? How? Follow his blog and start out with his Dutch Oven Baked Beans.

BIG WAYNER reviews CODE 3 spice rubs. Those logos look awesome. The best part of this rub is "at least 10% of all sales go towards organizations that support police, fire, medical and military personnel."

BBQ ZEN gives us a heads up on an upcoming brisket MASTERCLASS by the Meat Department at Texas A&M. Sure beats the pants off English 101.

Pigs on the Run brings something new to smoke. Tired of just smoking chicken, ribs etc. Pecan pie needs to be the next thing to grace your pit.

Cowgirl's Country Life smokes up some quail with bacon and hickory. I'll take 4 birds.


See all my photos from the Big Pig Jig HERE Team Bubba Grills got 1st place in Ribs, 5th Place in Shoulder, and 10th in Whole Hog. Not too shabby. I was hoping we'd do better in hog as that beast was beautifully cooked.

We were also awarded the Jimmy Maxey Ultimate Cook Team award. This goes to the highest scores in the preliminary round. 

Full Results :

Whole Hog

  1. Jack's Old South
  2. Dixie Que
  3. Smarr Cooking Crew
  4. Rescue Smokers
  5. Slapjo Mama
  6. Biteback
  7. Jurassic Pork
  8. Lillie's Q
  9. Vienna Volunteer Fire Department
  10. Bubba Grills 


  1. Dixie Que
  2. Jack's Old South
  3. Hog Rock Cafe
  4. Georgia Stars
  5. Bubba Grills
  6. Vienna Volunteer Fire Department
  7. Doc and Dicies
  8. Mac's Smoke Shop
  9. Jack's New South BBQ
  10. Hog Heaven


  1. Bubba Grills 
  2. Rescue Smokers
  3. Slapjo Mama
  4. Smoke Shack
  5. Darton College
  6. Dixie Que
  7. Florida Boys
  8. Hog Heaven
  9. Jack's Old South BBQ
  10. Southern Smoke BBQ Team

News from around the BBQ Blogsphere

Obsessive Compulsive Barbecue shares an excerpt from the world of Louisiana BBQ in the 19th Century.

Grilling with Rich interviews Joe York about his documentary on Helen's Bar-B-Que titled "I AM THE PITMASTER". A fantastic look at the life of a woman running the pit.

BBQ Jew shares a video on the Lexington BBQ festival where every year the population of this 20,000 person town swells to 200,000 in a celebration of music, community and BBQ!!

Memphis Que reviews a popular new addition to the West Memphis rib scene. Sounds like he had a better time here than Willie Mae's.

Marie Let's Eat! visits Thatcher's Barbeque & Grill. She notes after reviewing over 200 BBQ restaurants to date "that Thatcher’s has one of the most expansive, weird and fun menus that I have ever seen.".

Cowgirl's Country Life gives her recipe for cooking Beef Cheeks Chili Rellenos on her drum smoker. That lasagna style cooking is a pretty great idea.

Barbecue Bus gives us a great snapshot of iconic South Carolina BBQ joint Melvin's.

Man Up Texas BBQ isn't sold on your fancy New York City $260 BBQ brisket. Not especially when you can get one done by God's Pitmaster for a mere $128.

The BIG PIG JIG!!! - 5th Place Pork Shoulder 2012

See all the shots of our Competition Whole Hog HERE

If you were to be a Memphis Barbecue Network (MBN) Judge, you'd want to be a shoulder judge. It is the single largest act of decadence in the trifecta of competition pork offerings. In an MBN contest every judge will sample out of the same Hog, everyone will get a slab of their own ribs and that is not out of the norm of regular eating. Baby back ribs are smaller so it's easier to consume an entire slab. But each and every shoulder judge gets THEIR OWN SHOULDER!!!! That's insane! The average shoulder can feed up to 20 adults. This would be akin to us having a cake baking contest and every single sampling judge getting their own multi-tiered wedding cake.

The amazing part is that the shoulder itself has multiple tastes and textures for you to sample. Within the shoulder muscle itself there are 7 main muscles. Some are rich and dark, some are white and lean - so much so you'd think you were eating a ham. Everyone has their own favorite part of the shoulder. My personal favorite comes in the "pull test". In the pull test you twist and yank out the long straight bone of the lower part of the shoulder known as the "picnic". When you do the pull test, the bone must pull out clean. If you have to scrape the bone your meat is not done. When the bone is pulled out you'll see a little nugget of meat attached to hollow of the joint surrounded by collagen. THIS is the sign of perfectly cooked meat. The flavor is rich and that sticky melting collagen is still on the joint to be gnawed on - the most perfect bite on the shoulder. This goes with the old saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin - "Closer the bone, sweeter the meat". Now I wouldn't call the meat "sweeter" but in terms of lip smacking decadence, you won't find many peers. If you over cook your meat, all the collagen will be melted away and while the overall product will be good, you won't have that nugget.

Lonnie showed off what he called "BBQ Cocaine", namely this lasagna like strands of meat suspended between two layers of soften fat. This is found on the butt end of the shoulder (the upper blade). If the meat is over cooked, the fat will completely render and the meat will simply blend in to everything else. It's presence signifies a perfectly cooked shoulder. It reminds me a lot of slow cooked pork belly, that is, the spaghetti like texture.

And if you're a Shoulder judge, it's ALL yours. You get to sample every texture, a bite of the best portions of the meat, and you don't need to share. Is there a better judging gig?

Tips for Shoulders

  • Discover your favorite portion of the shoulder. Every top shoulder competitor has a favorite part and is able to pitch it like a stock broker. I love my joint nugget. Lonnie loves his BBQ cocaine. Chris Lilly, a GOD in shoulder cookery, likes to show off the bicep nugget (at least that's what a student of his told me) and I can understand why as it contains the dark texture of the butt coupled with solid texture of the picnic with enough exposed flesh to develop a deep bark.
  • Shoulders really do seem to benefit the most from low & slow cooking. Even Myron Mixon, who is the leading proponent of cooking "hot & fast" seem to prefer doing his shoulders nice and slow throughout the night vs how he powers through his brisket. The little treasure of muscle get lost in rapid cooking. Now in a commercial setting this is not an issue because everything gets mixed together. But again, here every judge get's their own wedding cake. This doesn't necessarily mean you want to be in the arctic zone of 225 degrees like many books tell you.
  • I live close to a large Latino-American population, which means there's an abundance of picnic shoulders available. Picnics, I've found, are harder to cook than butts and I've only very recently got my process down after much anguish. It is worth your while to really master picnic cookery because from there you can truly appreciate the whole shoulder and not simply the butts.

Here are some snap shots and of course click the link above for all the food porn.

The BIG PIG JIG!!! - 10th Place Whole Hog 2012

See all the shots of our Competition Whole Hog HERE

The Big Pig Jig was originally a whole hog contest. This follows the tradition that differentiates Whole Hog from its other BBQ peers. Other BBQ cuts like beef brisket, pork ribs etc are utilitarian in nature. Slow smoking was a way of taking a cut that had very little utility and making them an  attractive menu item. The famous Rendezvous restaurant in Memphis started doing baby-back ribs solely because their meat supplier gave them cases for free, such an undesirable cut it was, and now ribs are their signature item. Whole Hog does not fall in this same genre. Whole Hog has always been a celebratory cook - the crowning centerpiece of a big party.

Whole Hog also occupies an interesting space in the competition world. On the one hand it's less competitive by volume - There were 109 teams competing in Ribs that weekend and only 40 teams in Whole Hog reflecting the higher barrier of entry Hog presents. Almost anyone can do the ribs portion of the contest. Ribs are not hard to source and you can cook them in anything from a $20,000 trailer or a tiny $300 Weber Smokey Mountain. Whole Hog requires a cooker that at the minimum will contain the entire carcass. The cookers tend to be specially designed for this category, Lonnie Smith, Myron Mixon, Melissa Cookston all use very specific cookers for their hogs. On other hand, the competition in Hog tend to be very steep as the competitors tend to be more professionally driven. There are many weaker competitor in ribs - those who are there more for the party than the competition but only the most serious competitors who have invested tens of thousands of dollars in massive cookers tend to do the hog category.

Lonnie, who I study competition whole hog under, won the 2011 Big Pig Jig in Whole Hog. While there's many BBQ "teams" that are largely husband and wife, you'll need significant amount of man power for hog. If you worked out regularly, you could I'd imagine pick up and place the pig on the cooker yourself, but to flip it mid-way without it falling apart on you is impossible. There was a team fairly close to us who lose their pig this way.

Much of the challenge is the same as cooking any whole animal and is two-fold - Flavor Asymmetry and Structural Integrity. Flavor Asymmetry - On any animal, any section that doesn't get much work is usually bland. In the pig the shoulders are packed with flavor where as the loins and the hams are bland white meat. The Structural Integrity is familiar to anyone who has ever had to cook a  turkey for Thanksgiving - how does one get the legs done at the same time as the breasts which cook much faster? The upper portion of the pig is denser and will cook slower than the bottom half. Then there lies a problem with protecting the loins.

Several tricks of dealing with a whole hog.

  1. You want a bigger pig. There's a reason why Myron Mixon loves doing 200lb pigs and it's not for the reasons he gives on TV. A larger pig will have a larger camel hump like fatback which offers a great deal of protection to the loins in addition to adding flavor.
  2. Take all the ruffle fat that you got from trimming off the pig and place it under its back. It adds an extra level of heat shielding.
  3. Remove the first three bones of ribs from the top. It will open up the shoulder more so that you can get more of the rub in,. Doing this also reduces the time needed for the shoulders thus allowing closer timing with the hams.
  4. Before serving make slits in the loins, hams, and shoulders and spoon in all the pooled juices in the pig's cavity. This is not only a competition trick but is also used in a commercial capacity - Rodney Scott of Scott's BBQ in South Carolina is well known for cooking his hogs this way.

Here's some more photos of our whole hog, be sure to click on the link up top to see all the shots of our pig.

The BIG PIG JIG!!! - 1st Place Champion Babyback Ribs

See all the shots of Championship Winning BBQ Ribs HERE

People pay over $800 to study competition barbecue with the best. By the best we refer to those who win the most amounts of “Grand Champion” title. Different people have different core competencies – Melissa Cookston and Myron Mixon dominate in Whole Hog, Chris Lilly famously owns the Shoulder Category and in last year’s “Super Bowl of Swine” Memphis in May competition – Lonnie Smith was the Rib cooking champion. And he did it again at this year’s Big Pig Jig. And I was there to take in all the tricks of the trade – the rub, the timing, the sauce. Not a bad deal huh?

I myself don’t particularly care about BBQ secrets, in fact I’ve found a bunch of people just free give me their secrets due to my indifference towards them. I did however travel all the way from New York City to the middle of NOWHERE in Georgia, so if you want these rib secrets, it’ll cost you a nice steak dinner. Hey still cheaper than what Myron Mixon will charge you.

Were they good? Oh they were beat the pants off over 100 other competitors good!

I will offer some reflections on what I found in these World Championship winning ribs.

  • The ribs need a savory rub. Most people pack on the sugar for competition and you need to in order to win. But what made these ribs stand out was the fact that we blasted her with a solid base of sodium and put on the sweetness last. Otherwise you’re just eating candied pork, and that’s disgusting.
  • Ribs are all about timing. You need to have your plan of attack all mapped out. When the cooker gets heated, when the ribs go on, when you foil, when to glaze. Whole Hog is the most logistically challenging due to its size. Shoulder is the most forgiving.
  • Memphis Barbecue Network allows either baby backs or spares but judges seem to prefer baby backs. This is a royal pain in the posterior when procuring your raw product. You want a rack as EVEN as possible. If you look at most baby backs, they’re very tapered which leads to an ugly turn in box. You need to make good buddies with your butcher to secure very parallel ribs. I think as a whole, serious competitors are more guarded about their pork supplier than they are their recipes.
  • We cooked with hickory wood and I think that makes a difference. There are lots of competitors using milder woods. In competition everything is intensified so you need a brawny flavored smoke. Remember you’re going to jam pack this rib with flavor before the smoke and then glaze it with enough sugar to give a fruit fly cavities, that smoke needs to cut through it all.

Here are some more shots of our Memphis May 2011 and Big Pig Jig 2012 winning ribs. Be sure to click on the top link to see more food porn!

News from around the BBQ Blogsphere

Darryl Mast interviews the QUEEN of competition whole hog Melissa Cookston at this year's Jack Daniel's Championship.

No Excuses BBQ celebrates "Porktober" by cooking a whole stuffed pork loin on the grill. I have to honest, I'm not that big of a fan of pork loins but this one looks AMAZING. Just drooling looking at it.

Grilling With Rich gives us his tips on competition chicken. Any serious competitor will tell you that chicken is the bane of the BBQ circuit.

Big Wayne's BBQ walks us through this years Season 4 of BBQ Pitmasters.

BBQ Blog is thinking about getting a new RV. One thing never really noticed by the public is that BBQ people take pride in their rigs but they really love their RVs. Jacuzzis, TV, warm bed - what's not to love?

Obsessive Compulsive BBQ walks gives us some butcher paper best practices. Many of the best pitmasters in Texas use butcher paper to wrap their BBQ during the final phase of cooking. You NEED to read this.

The BIG PIG JIG!!! - 3 days of BBQ, Golf, and Hot Women!

I will be cooking with the Bubba Grills Competition Team at this year's Big Pig Jig down in Vienna, Georgia. This will be a great one on one session as I learn more about the requirements for the Memphis BBQ Network competitions. Amongst contests this is one of the big ones with the winner getting a direct invitation to the superbowl of swine - Memphis in May. It is the single largest barbecue competition in the Southeast and is the oldest in Georgia. The Travel Channel lists it as “World’s Best Barbecue Contests" and also "1001 Places to See Before You Die". I'm specifically looking forward to getting a whole hog masterclass from the CHAMPION Lonnie Smith.

There will be over 100 teams competing. Over $10,000 worth of prize money to be had. In addition there's a "Miss Big Pig Jig beauty pagent (because beautiful women go well with BBQ and seriously, who wouldn't want to be Miss Big Pig Jig?), a charity golf tournement, a livestock show, and of course the "Kiss the Big Pig" event where some guy has to kiss a 300lb pig. With a parade and arts and craft show, how is this not the coolest competition out there? Of course all through this, there's live music!

To give you an idea of the magnitude of this competition. The event is held every year in Vienna (pronounced Vy - Anna) which has a whooping <4,000 population. This balloons up to over 15,000 attendees. The wife has elected to not join me in watching a grown man kissing a 300lb pig (her loss) but I guess there might be others who are not as into the offerings that the Big Pig Jig has available. While my spouse will be spending the time at the world's largest aquarium in Atlanta, there abounds other exciting sites in Vienna like - drum roll - The GEORGIA STATE COTTON MUSEUM!!!!!! Sarcasm doesn't translate in text very well so I'd advise you read me in a sarcastic tone.

There will be much Road Trip and Food Porn photos to come.