Pat Bell's archive

A warm summer night, friends, fireworks and barbecue: What is there not to love about the Fourth of July? It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling to the beach, the lake or staying at home; almost everyone does a little outdoor cooking for the holiday. It is definitely a time to celebrate and gather with friends old and new. Lately I have been smoking every weekend as I plan to enter the competition circuit on a limited basis this year, and I am trying to get my seasoning and timing down.

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All of this was leading up to the main event — a bacon wrapped, Cajun spiced por

Recently, I was asked to write about the things I barbecue at the house on a weekly basis. Wanting to honor a reader request, and with my wife leaving town for the weekend, I took advantage of the opportunity to have a “Camp Dad” barbecue. “Camp Dad” is any occasion where I get to share some time with my boys, other dads and their kids and do manly activities. My only issue with the request is I don’t usually plan out what I am going to cook in advance. I hit the store looking for inspiration, and I came up with a menu.

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I awoke early one Saturday morning, ate a banana and had a glass of orange juice, and headed out the door in search of top notch competition barbecue. This quest had me going to Huntsville for the Shotgun Fred’s BBQ Showdown. It is the closest Kansas City BBQ Society event of the year, and I was happy it was only a two-hour drive from home. I arrived at 10 a.m. for the judges’ meeting and just in time to judge the first side dish – beans.

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Twitter.com photo

Competition barbecue and “regular” barbecue. Although some folks cook at competitions the same way they cook in their backyards and/or restaurants, the competitors at the highest levels certainly do things differently.

Competition barbecue is often referred to as “one bite barbecue” because the judges typically take one bite and competitors are challenged to insert the most flavor and dynamic taste in that one portion. Judges typically taste dozens of samples during a competition, and the winner must stand out in a very crowded field.

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The Texas Monthly BBQ Festival is to meat aficionados what Jazz Fest is to music lovers. It was a cool Sunday morning in Austin and smoke was in the air — as was the anticipation of eating some of the best barbecue on the planet. Those lucky enough to get VIP passes were let in an hour early to sample from their choice of the 24 joints that were serving up small portions of their award winning que.

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