Baste the ribs and brisket, and fire up the grills and smokers: it’s time to embrace the start of summer by kicking off National BBQ Month.
Cherokee County is home to several barbecue restaurants and an even larger number of enthusiasts. Barbecue is one of the country’s favorite and oldest traditional foods, and most fans have their own style of barbecuing.
“There’s no right or wrong way to barbecue. If you enjoy it and the people you serve enjoy it, then it’s a hit,” said Nick Davis, owner of Double Barrel BBQ. “It’s about enjoying the experience.”
Davis, a volunteer firefighter, has always loved cooking and he started barbecuing recreationally and competitively in 2018, right after cooking for a Lowrey Fire Department banquet.
“We had a meeting at the fire department and they asked if anyone wanted to cook for a banquet. They decided they wanted a barbecue,” he said. “I didn’t really know what I was doing, but everyone seemed to like it and it was fun. About six months later, a friend suggested I enter a local BBQ contest, so my stepdad and I gave it a shot. We had no idea what we were doing, but it was so much fun and we actually got third place. This trophy is the one I look at the most because he threw it.
He wanted to continue barbecuing in a competitive atmosphere, so Davis ended up acquiring the smokehouse that firefighters had once used.
“It needed a little TLC, but we made it work,” he said. “The guy who built it put two chimneys on it. Most only have one, and the name of the company just struck me ‘Double Barrel BBQ’.
Davis said his company’s name honors Jerry Cole, who built the smoker, and the black and red decal colors are a tribute to firefighters.
As of January 31, Double Barrel BBQ is open commercially, accessible to the public from the food truck and catering.
“The people you meet doing this are just awesome,” Davis said. “I have friends all over the country, it’s a great asset to have. When I started, I had no idea of the reach it could have and the opportunities it allows to work with different people and organizations.
There are many opinions about what type of meat to grill, what wood or charcoal to use, and how long to cook it. There are many ways to enjoy barbecuing, including smoking, braising, baking, roasting, or grilling. Several types of meat are also available for the barbecue, such as hamburger, hot dogs, brisket, pork, ribs and chicken.
While some prefer to barbecue in a more traditional way, using lower temperatures and longer cooking times, others – like Davis – use a different method of cooking hot and fast, with drum smokers.
“I cook at 300 degrees over hard charcoal, straight over the fire,” he said. “I feel like it gives one of the best flavors in the meat.”
According to Cornell University Cooperative Extension, raw chicken and other meats can harbor harmful bacteria. At temperatures between 41 and 140 degrees, these microorganisms can multiply and cause disease. It is therefore important to take a few simple precautions during preparation and to cook the meat well to kill bacteria.
When it comes to whether cooking or prep makes barbecue better, Davis thinks it’s a combination of the two. But if the meat is undercooked, it won’t taste good.
“So first and foremost you have to cook well, and that means something different for everyone,” he said. “If you burn something, it doesn’t matter what mixture or sauce you have on it; it’s burnt. Pickles and marinades are important, but they are secondary to proper cooking methods, in my opinion. »
Double Barrel BBQ mainly cooks pulled pork, bologna and brisket. Ribs are available per slab if ordered in advance. They also offer specials, such as loaded mac and cheese, jalapeño corn, and brisket tacos.
“Our very first prize for first place was chest,” Davis said. “Beef brisket is my favorite barbecue. When done right, beef brisket – more than anything – needs to have the right cooking methods. The brisket is lean, it’s hard, it takes a lot of coercion, it needs moisture and flavor. If you can get both, then everything else will fall in line. I want to try to come up with the best product possible, and if that meant cutting back on my menu so that I have the equipment to come up with the best product, that’s what I was going to do, and that’s what I continue to TO DO.
No matter what makes the perfect barbecue, Davis recommends cooks take their time and enjoy the experience because it’s an American favorite that always manages to bring people together.
“Enjoy the experience of cooking it, because that’s why a lot of people barbecue,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with tradition; I have a lot of respect for traditional barbecue methods, but there’s no set of rules that say you have to do it that way. It allows for some creative licensing, and that’s what I like to do. I love trying to create these new things. Hearing people say they don’t normally like something, but they liked what I created – that’s the most satisfying thing for me. That’s why I love what I do.
Sandy Savage, a new Tahlequah resident as well as a barbecue novice, agrees, with one caveat.
“I think it’s the sauce that matters, and I’ve been experimenting a bit,” she said. “I found myself an apartment [of strawberries] from Stilwell, and I’m going to mash them up and add some ingredients and see what happens.”
For more barbecue tips and a collection of recipes, go to http://extension.msstate.edu/content/barbecuing-mississippi-broilers.