Championship pitmasters and experienced home cooks know that world-class BBQ starts with world-class butter — and world-class butter starts with real, natural ingredients. The secret to succulent barbecued ribs, brisket, chicken, and pulled pork, Challenge Butter is the official butter of BBQ. With just a stick of Challenge Butter, a good cut of high-quality meat, and a roll of heavy duty aluminum foil, you can make fall-off-the-bone BBQ magic. Use our recipes, tips and tricks from world champion pitmasters to turn up the heat on your next BBQ meal.
BBQ Tips & Tricks from a World Champion BBQer
You don’t need to be a pro to make prize winning barbeque... just a little know how. Loren and Cheryl Hill are world champion pit masters who have competed on the professional BBQ circuit for last eleven years. “The Smoking Hills” earned 3 World Championships in 2015: The American Royal Invitational, World Food Championships BBQ, and World Food Championships Overall. We asked Loren Hill to share his tried and true secrets that result in out-of-this-world, fall-off-the-bone tender and flavorful BBQ ribs, brisket, pork and chicken.
Tip #1: Create your own smoke.
Don’t worry if you don’t own a smoker. You can add your own smoke by using wood chips in an aluminum pouch on a gas grill, or directly on the coals on a standard grill. The choice of wood makes a difference as hard woods will be a little harsher than fruit woods. The most popular woods used by professional pit masters are pecan, apple and cherry. I prefer a combination of hickory and apple in all our competitions.
Tip #2: Don’t over-smoke.
When it comes to smoking meat, less is more. Not enough smoke is better than too much. Over-smoking is the number one mistake made by BBQ pit masters. It results in very dark meat with a bitter aftertaste. If using a charcoal grill, be aware that charcoal naturally adds smoke so decrease the amount of wood than if using a smoker or gas grill.
Tip #3: Skip the leg work.
Professional BBQ teams have spent years perfecting their rubs and sauces. You could make your own but if you want to save some time, have confidence that specialty sauces and rubs will do the trick. Many flavors are available at local or online specialty BBQ stores. The rub and sauce on the meat determines if the finished product will be sweet or spicy. We strive for a good balance of the two. Sweet will hit the palate first, then some heat will come on the backside. We achieve this by using a sweet sauce and a mild/spicy rub.
Tip #4: Wrap and butter it up.
Wrapping the meat in foil will limit the amount of smoke on the surface of the meat thus yielding a better color and flavor on the final product. It also adds moisture and speeds up cooking time. Wrapping should be done about half way through the cooking process or when internal meat temp is 150-160 degrees. Use two layers of heavy duty foil to wrap the meat. We recommend the following process for wrapping ribs, pork shoulder and brisket.
- Ribs - Put the two layers of foil on a flat surface. Lay down a bed of brown sugar ¼ cup. Put 4 to 5 lines of honey on the brown sugar. Slice ½ stick of Challenge Butter and layer on top of the brown sugar. Lay the ribs meat side down on the bed of sugar, honey and butter. Sprinkle a light coat of brown sugar on the bone side of ribs and 3 lines of honey. Wrap foil tight and return to smoker or grill.
- Pork Shoulder or Butt - Place the meat on the double layer of foil. Cover all the exposed meat surfaces with honey. Sprinkle the honey covered meat with brown sugar until it is completely covered. Sit ½ stick of Challenge Butter on top of meat. Wrap tight in the foil and return to smoker.
- Brisket - Place meat on a double layer of foil. Place one stick of Challenge Butter on top of meat. Wrap the meat in the foil leaving one end open. Pour 1 1/2 cups of beef broth in the open end and then complete wrapping. Return to smoker.
Tip #4: Touch, not thermometer, tells you when meat is done.
Many people use cooking time or internal meat temperature to determine when the meat is done. Cooking times and temperature will vary with different cuts of meat. The only true way to tell when BBQ meats are done is by feel. Use a meat probe, instant read thermometer or a round toothpick and probe the meat. When the object penetrates the meat like it would a stick of butter, with little or no resistance, the meat is done.
Tip #5: Let it rest.
One of the biggest challenges is getting the meat cooked and ready to serve at the proper time. Most meats can and should rest for several hours after being cooked. Most meats are better if it allowed to rest in the foil for 45 minutes to an hour before serving. The rest time allows the meat to absorb the juices in the wrap and adds moisture to the finished product. Meat will continue to cook after it is removed from the smoker or grill so it is necessary to vent the meat. Open the foil slightly and let the steam and heat escape. Let it vent until the internal meat temperature is around 175 degrees. Once rested and cooled to 175 degrees, pour off juices, leave it in foil, wrap in a blanket and place in an empty cooler. Meat will hold for 3-4 hours.
Tip #6: Add your favorite sauce and enjoy!
Loren's BBQ Recipes