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Well, you asked for it. Here, Smoky answers the most commonly asked questions. He is direct, honest and offers an insight into the time proven techniques to preparing great barbecue that is unavailable elsewhere. If you are unable to locate the exact answer you are seeking, feel free to contact him directly and ask!
He returns all questions . . . . . . .

Topic: You don't know barbeQue! . . . . From: Jack,
Subject: Re: I just downloaded and read the bovine excrement diatribe from "Smoky Hale".

I just downloaded and read the bovine excrement diatribe from "Smoky Hale".

For anyone to imply that anything erroneously called barbeque, prepared in the fashion of North Carolina (South Carolina) or Kansas, as BARBEQUE is, well, arrogantly asinine!

The majority of those methods either require attentive vinegar basting or overnight soaking with vinegar (I think that they do not know how to cook tender meat without it) or the copious application of sauce and chopping of the meat (cannot be chewed otherwise) to cover the lack of inherent flavor or tenderness from the cooking method used by the local idiots; I can do what they do with a toaster oven and a bottle of generic barbeque sauce (it would probably taste like yours, smoky)!

Heah smoky, can't cook brisket to tenderness without basting? ----- I can! You and your vinegar splashing brethren are incompetent. And, your spouting of Greek history to support your shallow claims only insults a noble culture. But, I really enjoyed your big words!

Please, drink lots of vinegar, eat some onions and stick a potato up your ass. You could then call the results (by your twisted vision) German potato salad!

PS -- In TEXAS, where people know that BARBEQUE means BEEF, not pig, brisket can be acquired for $1.50/lb. and can be prepared as a tender delicacy by people who know how. You do not know how to do it, do you? You probably only know how to bake beef or pork tenderloin in your kitchen oven! Heat is heat, right?

Hi Jack,

Classic symptoms of mesquite madness. First the taste buds, then the brain cells, then delusions of grandeur. In the final stages, the mind completely closes and the mouth goes into perpetual motion. Acetiphobia, fear of vinegar, is another common symptom.

Sounds like you have a lot more experience with the toaster oven than I. I was barbecuing whole beeves over a hole in ground when the two main languages spoken where you live were Comanche and Apache. I can make a hickory axe handle tender, but it would still be just beaver fodder.

You gas-range cowboys, who learned outdoor cooking from Women's magazines, never did learn why God put two ends on a cow. The front end is for roping and the back end is for eating. You sound like the kind of guy who seals up his brisket in two layers of aluminum foil and throws it in the heavy smoke of flaming wood and calls himself "smoking" because that's the new buzzy word.

If you had the erudition to be gained from reading "The Great American Barbeque Instruction Book," you would perhaps have an inkling of the efficacy of the judicious use of mild acids as flavor enhancers. Compare a cold fresh beer with the flat taste of one that has lost its carbon dioxide. You would also find a recipe for German Potato Salad.

On the other hand, we competent practictioners of the art of barbecue understand that marinades are rarely ever needed and rarely ever improve the flavor of domestic meats. And that the flavor of good meat can be as easily overpowered by excessive seasonings as well as excessive smoke. We eschew excesses of treatment of good meat including high temperatures of brisket roasters.

I appreciate that you enjoy my writing, even though you cannot yet comprehend it. Yet, where there is effort, there is hope. The withdrawal may be hard, but if you cut back on the smoke, cooking and verbal, you may actually learn what good barbecue should taste like and eventually learn how to cook it.

Are your sure you don't have a middle initial such as "A"?

Yours for authentic barbecue,

. . . . . THE RESPONSE


So quick to respond. No, my last name is not hole. But you sir, are a ---- gentleman. You dealt with my acerbic attack in an entertaining and grandfatherly manner, but then, you like to cook with vinegar!

Contrary to your assumption, I do not live in the land of the Comanche or Apache, I live among the Cherokee in Georgia! There can be no barbeque dessert as barren as Georgia (don't even bring up Sprayberry's).

I use mesquite only when I am rare grilling steaks. That would not be true if I could come upon some good mesquite knot wood, impossible in Georgia, for use as coals. Also, I have never, nor will I ever, barbeque or grill with gas.

The lack of acceptable briskets here in Georgia has resulted in two discus tosses into the woods, I no longer buy what Kroger calls "Texas Barbeque Cut".

On occasion, I have been lucky enough to find some 11 to 15 pounders elsewhere that, after dry rubbing and 10 to 12 hours of unattended cooking, were just delightful.

I grew up in central Texas where Germans barbequed (and still do) on above ground pits. The dry rubbed beef (also mutton and goat) was placed approximately 3 feet directly above the coals and here is where I truly disagree with you about heat being heat. Barbeque cooked directly above the coals tastes very different from that cooked to the side of the coals, I do both.

This is also the origin of the popularity of brisket in Texas. The German butchers realized that an ordinarily tough piece of meat (usually ground with pork for sausage) could be quite tasty, tender and more profitable when slow cooked. They knew if you needed to baste or float your barbeque in sauce, you were doing something wrong.

But, you knew all that when you wrote your Texas joke for the Web page. And I suppose that is what really set me off (that and the fact that I have tried many vinegar barbeque recipes from Jamison and Jamison with great dissappointment).

So, is your book different?

Back at you for authentic barbeque,
Jack B.


Hi Jack,

You sounded like a hill country chap to me. I agree with you that meat cooked on an open pit directly over the coals tastes different. Actually, that is, in my estimation, the best possible way to barbecue. I have cooked many a pound pork, beef and goat that way. One of my great-uncles, who was a barbecuer of some note, would never use a covered grill. He wanted the meat directly over the coals on which he occasionally threw chopped up onion and their trimmings. However, heat is still heat. Meat over the coals gets more radiated heat from the greater mass of the coal bed and quite a bit of convected heat from the rising air. Unless the rack is rather substantial, most of the conduction occurs within the meat itself.

As you well know, the secret is not in the sauce. The secret is in good meat, cooked slowly over good coals. I do not buy any sauces or seasoning mixtures and rarely, ever eat restaurant barbecue. When I do, I am always sorry.

The brisket, as you know, is a good tasting piece of meat when it is not dried out, oversmoked or jaw straining tough. Finding a good brisket is a tough chore, as you have found. Some of the things I look for are moist, but not wet, surface; white fat, rather than gray or yellow; fine, rather than coarse grain - some look like rope; fine flecks and threads of marbling, rather than chunks. And, as you well know, brisket cooked slowly with the fat side up, bastes itself.

My favorite brisket, however, is corned beef which I cook several times a year. I make a mean Ruben sandwich that would match a New York deli. If there are any leftovers, I cook up a pot of corned beef hash that will make you cry when it's gone.

On vinegar, anytime you can taste vinegar, there's too much. But, if you were reared around Germans you surely ate some sauerbraten.

I always try to teach beginning barbecuers to seek a balanced flavor where no component stands out and the dominant flavor is meat. But, there is so much BS out there, that they have to learn for themselves that "more is not better." A large percentage of questions coming in have to do with bitter taste and too much smoke.

I also rarely use, or use very little of the finishing (barbecue) sauce. If guests want it, it's on the table, but my meat does't need it to be complete. I did a pork loin Sunday that had no basting and no finishing sauce and it evaporated when it hit the table. I served it sliced thinly, hoping to have enough left over for a sandwich or two Monday. No luck.

I do not like pulled pork, nor the cuts from which it comes. First time I ever tried it, I almost gagged. I don't cook shoulders when I can cook loin. And I want the meat to be identifiable and have some texture when I bite it.

I used to judge a lot of contests in Georgia. There were some pretty good cooks around. I remember the Vienna Fire Department as having some very fine ribs. A couple of the guys started a restaurant, I believe, in Douglas. But on the whole, you won't find much more than pork being barbecued and a lot of it not done very well.

My book is more on technique than recipes and I believe in cooking most anything if you can have fun doing it. Are you in the Hotlanta area?

Hope you find a brisket or, better yet, a big sirloin tip.

The Barbecue Store

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Get all of Smoky Hale's wisdom and become the best cook around. Learn to do it right!

Get all of Smoky Hale's wisdom and become the best cook around. Learn to do it right!

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