Ten (Or So) Places to Turn for Tips

Barbecue incites passion, and fortunately the passionate aren’t shy about sharing opinions and advice. Most are happy to help bring a novice into the fold.

In this chapter, I direct you to a few of the hundreds of places you can turn to find out more about barbecue cooking. Most of these resources also serve as starting points, connecting you to further opportunities to nurture your barbecue habit.

Kansas City Barbeque Society

The sanctioning body for hundreds of competitions across the country each year, Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) bills itself as “the world’s largest organization of barbecue and grilling enthusiasts.”

KCBS was set up in 1986 to celebrate and support barbecue cooking in all its forms (especially cooking as sport — one of its major endeavors is training judges and overseeing competitions). The organization offers cooking classes throughout the year in a slew of locations, and produces a monthly newsletter, The Bullsheet, which is full of news and information about equipment, techniques, and contest updates.

Find out more about Kansas City Barbeque Society at www.kcbs.us.

National Barbecue Association

Sprouted in North Carolina in 1991 and settled in Texas since 2001, the National Barbecue Association (NBBQA) set out to bring together all sides of the barbecue industry and story. It conducts industry research, culls recipes and tips from pros, sanctions competitions, certifies judges, and brings everyone together each year at a rollicking conference.

A member directory helps connect all stripes of industry insiders and home cooks, and a quarterly magazine for all NBBQA members offers tips about running and promoting a barbecue business, as well as tips and recipes for the hobbyist.

On the NBBQA Web site (www.nbbqa.org), you can find a slew of resources for advice and recipes.

The North Carolina Barbecue Society

Hailing from one of the country’s hotbeds of barbecue, The North Carolina Barbecue Society (NCBS) is a recent but hotheaded addition to the country’s barbecue associations. With a chapped hide from others’ having beaten it to the punch, this organization wants to refocus barbecue to North Carolina, promoting the state’s history, culture, cuisine, and agriculture along the way.

What the group lacks in history it more than makes up for in fire . . . and dedication: The society’s Web site (www.ncbbqsociety.com) is an easy-to-navigate home for recipes, news, event information, classes (within the state), and a goodly amount of links to other sites. The NCBS sends out a bimonthly newsletter, Pig Tales, and has organized a “barbecue trail” that guides visitors through some of the state’s best offerings.

The Virtual Weber Bullet

Put together by fans of the popular smoker rather than by the company that makes it, this site (www.virtualweberbullet.com) is an amazingly thorough collection of information about everything barbecue. On it, you find detailed sections about operating the smoker after which the site is named (the Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, commonly known as the bullet smoker), other sections about selecting and cooking various meats, and still others filled with articles providing barbecue and other cooking wisdom.

Recipes abound on the site and give you formulas for everything from brisket to brined salmon, baked apples to focaccia. Forums contain ongoing discussions of thousands of topics. Log in to get answers to almost every possible question, and opinions on matters you hadn’t thought to question yet.

So comprehensive is the site that a monthly e-newsletter keeps subscribers up-to-date about the most recent 30 days’ worth of additions.

The Smoke Ring

The Smoke Ring brings together all the barbecue- and grillingrelated Web sites whose Webmasters invested the three minutesnecessary to sign up. You get a lot of great information from the ring, but you sift through some chaff to get there.

The ring’s home page (www.thesmokering.com) enables you to browse its 1,000-plus member sites one by one or to search for key words on those sites. Wanna buy a used propane-powered offset horizontal smoker? Whip up a Creole-influenced rub for your chicken? Type your desire into the search box and find opinions and options.

A contest calendar, cookbook reviews, news, articles, lively forums, and a recipe section accessed right from the ring’s home page make the site worth visiting. If you have the time, a random site link button leads to some interesting (and unexpected) information.

The Barbeque Forum

In 1995, the Barbeque Forum (www.thebbqforum.com), broke new ground as the first online forum about barbecue. Only 60 messages were posted that year. Now hundreds are posted in a single day.

As the name suggests, the forum and the opportunity it provides to pick the brains of experienced barbecue cooks is the main reason for visiting The Barbeque Forum, but you find many more: links to podcasts, classifieds where you can unload or purchase equipment, and a blog co-written sporadically by a number of contributors.

Barbecue’n on the Internet

Easy to navigate and full of advice for the beginner, Barbecue’n on the Internet (www.barbecuen.com) contains article after article, many of them on an “According to Smoky” page that features seemingly unlimited wisdom from C. Clark “Smoky” Hale, a barbecue authority of long standing and the author of The Great American Barbecue & Grilling Manual (Abacus Publishing).

Sections on equipment, charcoal, and spices — and a complete beginners’ guide — set the site apart. Information on the site goes deep. You even find a section devoted to articles about spices, wherein expert Ann Wilder covers the nuances among sugars and the uses for Szechuan peppers, among other things.

An enormous recipe collection will keep you cooking for the foreseeable future; the site’s barbecue store connects you to everything you need to cook in the first place.

Further Regional Barbecue Associations

If you’re looking for a closer-to-home congregation of barbecue enthusiasts, chances are good you have a barbecue association in your neighborhood, if not your backyard. Barbecue cooking has infiltrated even areas known more for clam chowder than smoked brisket, and as its popularity grows, so does the number of organizations dedicated to spreading the gospel.

Here are a few of the well-established organizations, from one end of the United States to the other:

 

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