8 TIPS FROM A BARBECUE PROFESSIONAL
Bob Sutton’s career as a chef began in 1973. After a long career cooking upscale contemporary cuisine, he changed his focus to barbecue in 2008, opening his first Bullies BBQ in Medina, Ohio. Sutton moved to Hilton Head Island in 2012 and opened his second Bullies BBQ in a building next to the now-closed Kangaroo Express gas station. With counter service and writing covering the walls, his smoky hole-in-the-wall joint has become a local favorite, rising near the top of restaurant rankings on both Yelp and Trip Advisor. The popular pitmaster shares a few secrets:
1. Do not get discouraged if it isn’t perfect your first few times. Keep trying. Barbecue is a trial-and-error cooking method with as many opinions about it as there are stars in the sky. Everyone has a thought on what it should be or taste like.
2. Keep it at low temperatures for long periods of time. I cook different meats at different temperatures.
3. Every tool (smoker or grill) works a little differently. Just because your neighbor’s $3,000 Traeger cooks pork in eight hours doesn’t mean your $60 Weber can do the same, but don’t think you can’t make just as good or better barbecue. We were using the latter long before the high-tech stuff.
4. Experiment and take notes so you know what did or did not work the last time.
5. Even temperature control is important for good results. This is probably the hardest thing to achieve. It requires a lot of tending and watching. Set timers for checking your ‘que.
6. Animals can be different. Some are tender, and others are just tough and mean. It may take 12 hours to do one pork butt and 16 for another. Check your meat for tenderness as you go. I am an old-school chef who judges with a fork, not a thermometer. As I stated earlier, everyone has an opinion. Do what is best for you.
7. Keep your ‘que moist as it cooks. This can be done with water pans in the smoker and basting with a thin sauce.
8. Keep trying different techniques until you find one that works.
Bob Sutton’s thin basting sauce
2 cups apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup water
1/2 stick butter
DIRECTIONS Warm in a sauce pan, whipping to emulsify the butter into the mix. Do not overheat. Just enough for the butter to melt. Baste meat during cooking process once an hour.