Here's The #1 Secret To Making Great Barbecue For National BBQ Day

Happy National BBQ Day to all who observe. Personally I always thought National BBQ Day should be the 4th of July, but I'll go ahead and celebrate in the middle of May as well. 

There are plenty of reasons for everybody to love BBQ. For starters, it's simply delicious. It's juicy, it's salty, it's smoky, it's succulent, it's everything you could want in a bite. Secondly, barbecue is one of the only cuisines that can fully be considered American. This isn't something we took from the French or the Italians and just made our own. The traditional barbecue that we know today is even more American than apple pie. If you hate bbq, you hate America. Plain and simple. And lastly, there's just something magical that comes with taking some of these massive, tough cuts of meat and cooking them using nothing but time, wood, and fire until they turn into something that is so damn tender that it melts in your mouth the moment you take a bite. 

Now we can't just sit here and act like all barbecue is great barbecue. I'm sure we've all had some terribly shitty bbq in our time. It's tough, it's too tender to the point where it's basically mush, it's dry, it's too saucy to the point where you need to change clothes 3 times while eating, it lacks flavor, it's so smoky that it tastes like you just took a bite out of an ashtray. There's good barbecue, there's bad barbecue, and then there's great barbecue. And everybody always seems to think that there's a "secret" to the great barbecue. That someone's brisket is better than somebody else's because of the way that they wrap it. Or that somebody's ribs are better than everybody else's because of a secret rub that they use. Or it's the type of smoker they use, or it's the type of wood, or it's the injection, etc. etc. 

I'm here today to let you in on that secret. I'm going to give away the #1 secret to making incredible BBQ. Are you ready? I hope you have a pen and paper to write this all down. While we wait for everyone to get settled in, I'll let you take a gander at this delicious platter from LeRoy & Lewis down in Austin. 

Okay here we go. 

The secret to making great barbecue is….making a whole bunch of shitty barbecue first. We're talking loads and loads and loads of shitty barbecue. 


Here's a look at the first brisket I ever smoked. At the time, I knew it wasn't great. But I was just elated to make something that was at least edible. Looking back on it now, I question on whether or not it was actually edible. It was incredibly dry, the bark hardly developed, and I'm sure my friends and family were lying straight to my face when they said it was good. But either way, I was pumped to get #1 out of the way. 

Here's a look at what I imagine would have been my 100th brisket I ever cooked. Certainly not perfect, but there's not much I would change about it. 

And pretty much every brisket between that first horrifically dog shit one to the 100th was the best brisket I had ever cooked up to that point. That's the secret. It's not a rub, it's not the way you wrap, it's not using beef tallow, it's not the type of wood. The secret is you just make a bunch of really shitty barbecue for a while until you finally figure it out. You learn what went wrong before, make the tweaks and adjustments along the way, feed your friends and family some progressively less shitty barbecue along the way until you finally get it down. 

So maybe you're someone reading this know who wants to start cooking some more barbecue this summer, but you're just nervous because you don't know how to cook the perfect rack or ribs or pump out a perfect brisket. I just gave you everything you need to know. It all starts with just doing it, realizing the first few times are going to be shit, and then progressively get less shitty along the way until it's actually good. 

And if you're ever spending a long night on the smoker looking for a few tips, get after me in the DM's. Always down to chop it up about some meat.