Recipes from America's Best BBQ

Recipes from America's Roadhouses & Rib Joints


While bacon is the pork flavor of the day, BBQ is the only true gospel which many of us backyard-smokers follow. The practice of barbecuing is almost a religious experience; successful barbeque is, after all, as much about the discipline to fight off the temptation to crack open the smoker and take a peek as it is in having faith in one’s preparation. It’s not easy, though it sure sounds easy, right? Build a fire, add some wood chips, throw in some meat, then forget it while you watch the game and drink some beers? (I’ll recommend wines for pairing with barbeque, but the proper beverage for actually barbecuing is beer, of course.) Well, it’s not easy and that’s why people plan barbeque pilgrimages.  Why else did I go down to San Antonio, after all? That's a joke ... or is it?

Anyway. While the recipes in America’s Best BBQ -- and there are 100 absolutely mouthwatering ones to choose from -- are a great guide to the 'que, what really caught my attention in this book was the list of sources. Each recipe comes from a great American Barbeque joint, of which I seem to have visited exactly three. But the best part is that each source is listed with address, phone number, and anecdote, all ready for the best laid plans of fine men and women everywhere. Do you hear a road trip for North Carolina or Tennessee in the works? Damn right you do!

Meet the Authors

Ardie A. Davis founded the Diddy-Wa-Diddy National Barbecue Sauce Contest on his backyard patio in 1984; three years later the contest became the American Royal International Barbecue Sauce, Rub & Baste Contest. In 2008, he was a featured judge at the 20th Annual Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg. Paul Kirk, inductee into the Kansas City Barbecue Society Hall of Flame, has won over 475 cooking and barbecue awards, including the prestigious American Royal Open.

Buy America's Best BBQ: 100 Recipes from America's Best Smokehouses, Pits, Shacks, Rib Joints, Roadhouses, and Restaurants

Wine Pairings

Ok, so it’s time for a wine recommendation, and while these dishes are somewhat wine-friendly, they really do taste better with beer! Ha! Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me just make one simple recommendation for barbeque: Petite Sirah.

I love Petite with spicy, smoky ‘cue. It’s got the rich fruit of Zinfandel with a peppery edge, and frequently lighter body, perfect for cutting through grease and spice. A nice alternate would be the powerful, rich, and frequently smoky wines of the Ribera del Duero.

Click here to download the full recipe as a PDF. Serves 4 to 8

2 tablespoons white cane sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1½ teaspoons chili powder
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 (2½-pound) slabs spareribs

In a small bowl, combine the sugars, paprika, seasoned salt, chili powder, cumin, onion, white pepper, and black pepper and blend well. You can do this ahead of time, cover, and store in a cool, dark place until ready to use.

To prepare the ribs, remove the membrane from the back of the slab and trim any excess fat. Season the slabs all over with all of the rub. Cover and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Cook the ribs using the indirect method at 275°F. Jeff says that cooking the ribs at the higher temperature does two things: it renders the fat better, and you get more flavorful ribs. Cook the ribs for 5 to 6 hours, turning them every 2 hours.

The ribs are done when you can easily tear or pull two ribs apart.

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  • Snooth User: Carly Wray
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    196958 864

    Now all I want to do is go to the Annual Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational Barbecue in Lynchburg, TN.

    May 07, 2010 at 12:14 PM

  • Snooth User: BBQ Phil
    330232 13

    Ah! It's like you wrote today's article for me! Thank you! I agree with your beer and wine comments - great suggestion on the Petite Sirah.

    Just a couple notes regarding the folks behind the two recipes you have here from the book. Slaughterhouse Five is the name of one of Oklahoma Joe's competitive BBQ teams (in case anyone was wondering how the name relates to OK Joe's!) They literally started out with a small section of a gas station in Kansas City, Kansas and are still there to this day! They have also opened up a second location in the KC suburb of Olathe, Kansas. Fantastic BBQ.

    John Willingham, the man behind the "W'ham" Seasoning is a guy who has won countless awards at major BBQ contests, dating all the way back to his first Grand Championship at the Memphis in May competition (one of the BIG ones!) in 1983. So, like Ardie and Paul, the authors of the book here, he definitely knows his stuff. He has a terrific book with over 150 recipes in it called "John Willingham's World Champion Bar-B-Q". I highly recommend it for anyone interested in some great BBQ recipes, from beginner to expert.

    May 07, 2010 at 1:30 PM

  • Thanks for the great news ~ once again about KC...the American Royal BBQ is something I will travel to also. (Please do not yell at me)...I do not eat the mammals, but will eat a chicken, think this recipe would work with that...if so, would you change the wine selection?

    May 08, 2010 at 2:38 PM

  • Snooth User: BBQ Phil
    330232 13

    lifeissogood - The W'ham seasoning probably works a little better for chicken. Use thighs more more flavor, but white meat (breast) will work if less flavor and a little drier meat aren't a problem for you. If you would be interested in a BBQ Chicken recipe (I have been fortunate enough to have won several awards myself on the competition circuit) just shoot me a private message in the Friends section.

    I would expect the wine selection might change a bit due to the lower grease cutting requirements and a little less boldness of chicken meat, but I would leave that to Gregory or someone with more experience. If I wasn't drinking beer (which I normally would be), I might open something younger and with some fruit, like a Beaujolais or even a white Zinfandel, although a misguided macho penchant keeps me away from the pink stuff...

    May 08, 2010 at 3:38 PM

  • Snooth User: rjurban
    133934 2

    Oh, how I miss good BBQ here in Germany...ironic, some of the best beer in the world and no clue when it comes to the grill (other than bratwurst, of course)!

    May 08, 2010 at 5:21 PM

  • Snooth User: brs02
    136275 12

    I cook and break out the smoker often, but what's vinegar powder?

    May 11, 2010 at 3:06 PM

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