Introducing the Roughrider

In the 2014 film Chef, star Jon Favreau builds a food truck business based on selling awesome Cuban sandwiches. In the film, he and his team are driving the new food truck across country, and stop in Austin. Naturally they go to Franklin’s BBQ, and sample the brisket.

They then make a Cuban sandwich using brisket in place of the pork, and name the sandwich The Austin Midnight. This name comes from the medianoche sandwich, so named because it’s traditionally made at midnight; it also uses a milder egg bread instead of the hearty Cuban bread.

Recently, we were making cubanos for dinner, and I decided to use barbecue pulled pork in place of the Cuban pork. The pulled pork was tossed in a little light sauce and heated, along with the ham, prior to adding. The rest of the sandwich was the normal cubano with pickle, mustard, and Swiss cheese, grilled.

The result was an awesome, all American version that I have decided to name The Roughrider, in honor of Teddy Roosevelt and his troop, who showed their stuff to the Cubans in the Spanish American war.

Feel free to pass the word.

Categories: Pork, Sandwiches | Leave a comment

Pork Ribs

Over the past couple of years I’ve gotten used to the Smoke Wagon, and over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing my experience making different types of barbecue.

First up is pork ribs!

Cuts of Ribs

First, let’s talk about terminology. You will hear about three kinds of ribs: baby back ribs, spareribs, and St. Louis style. Let’s take a look at them:

The baby backs come, as the name implies, from near the backbone. They generally have more meat than the other cuts, and are, correspondingly most expensive per pound. They’re smaller, too. Compare them: spareribs on top and baby backs on bottom.

As it turns out, spareribs and St. Louis cut come from the same cut, with the difference being that St. Louis cut has the flap and sternum removed. 

Which one I buy depends on cost – some stores near me will price them the same, and if that’s the case I go for the St. Louis cut, because that’s my favorite cut. Even if I buy the whole spareribs, I trim off the flap end and the sternum any way. Yes, when I do that I cook those parts any way, but I’m not so needing of them that I won’t let someone else trim them for free.


So now we’ve picked our cut. Next, if I bought spares I trim off the flap and the sternum, but this isn’t a must.

The next choice is rub. Here, it’s totally up to you and your taste. Here’s what I do.

At a minimum I use salt and pepper. There are those who insist on kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper, and given the choice that’s what I use. But to be honest, I also went a few months using table salt and regular cracked pepper, because they were left over from a party and didn’t cost me anything. I can’t honestly say if they changed the taste any.

Of course, you can stop here, and I guarantee no one will be turning down your finished ribs. But I usually go farther. My favorites are brown sugar, garlic powder, and a small amount of cayenne pepper. Sometimes I also add some chili powder. All I can say is try it yourself and find your favorites.

The Cook

Prepare your smoker the normal way and heat to 250ish. Make sure the grills are clean. I also add a pan of water under the ribs to keep the atmosphere moist. 

If you use an offset smoker, place the ribs crosswise if possible so the whole piece sees the same temperature. If the piece is longer than the grill is wide, then lay it at an angle, with the thicker end closer to the heat.Here, I have a slab of spares, and you can see the sternum and flap, because nothing goes to waste at my house. I’ll use the sternum as an appetizer since it will be done sooner. The flap – all meat – goes to the cook as a reward.

Wood choice can vary. I use white oak for sure, and I add hickory a lot of times. I’ve also used a small amount of mesquite, but I have found that a lot of mesquite is too much for pork. 

Turning the Ribs

Just kidding. Leave them where they are. The smoke will get to both sides just fine.

Wet or Dry?

This depends on your preference, and I’ve made them both ways. If you choose to leave your ribs dry, then you don’t have to do anything until the Wrap.

If you like them wet, do like I do and spritz the ribs every so often with some diluted apple juice to keep them moist.

The Wrap

After about 2 hours of cook, I then move the ribs to a large piece of heavy duty foil. If you want them dry, wrap them and put them back on. 

To me, wrapping gets me all the goodness of wet ribs, without all the hassle of mopping every so often. Just coat them with sauce before sealing the wrap. Here again the choice of sauce is up to you, but my experience is that thinner is better than thicker. I’ve gone to using a mixture of thick store sauce and a thinner sauce, diluted down to the right consistency with a little bourbon. Then they go back on the grill for another couple of hours.


After 4 hours of total cook time, I find most ribs are perfectly done to my liking. To test, the best way is to twist one of the bones slightly – ofthe bone slips and moves, this means they’re done.

Remove the ribs still wrapped. I let them rest a few minutes because I’ve always been told to. Then, cut between the bones with a sharp knife, and serve. 


Categories: Pork, Ribs | Leave a comment

Cuban Sandwich

Cuban Sandwich

Thanks to the movie Chef, I renewed my hankering for Cuban Sandwiches. For those unaccustomed, these are grilled sandwiches made on crunchy Cuban style loaves, and are layered thus, from bottom to top:

  • Yellow mustard
  • Dill pickles
  • Cuban roast pork
  • Smoked ham
  • Swiss cheese or similar (provolone, for instance)
  • Yellow mustard

For years I had settled for regular roast pork, but I decided to do some research on Cuban pork. Here is what I have come up with over the past few months.


Starting with a trimmed pork shoulder, and marinate overnight thus:

  • Orange juice
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Cilantro
  • Basil

Then, I put all of this into a crock pot and add just enough water to cover*, and cook on high for 4 to 5 hours.

Let the pork rest 10 minutes, then shred for the sandwiches.

I then get the George Foreman grill going, and start out searing the ham and toasting the bread. I then layer the sandwich as listed above, and butter the top and bottom, then grill until done. With a George Foreman, you can turn 60 degrees halfway through the cook for a nice hatched effect.

Serve with crispy chips and a cold beer.


*Use this water to rinse out the baggie

Categories: Pork, Sandwiches | Leave a comment

The Swineapple

The Swineapple.   It seems that social media is covered with pictures of boneless pork ribs stuffed inside a pineapple and smoked over indirect heat.   Barbeque aficionados grasped the concept; it seems relatively simple.  Purchase boneless pork ribs and a large pineapple. The actual process to meld the pineapple and pork is far more involved than one might think.

On Memorial Day 2015, my wife and I took on the Swineapple challenge and came out with a satisfying meal.  As background, I am an engineer and she is a designer. We took copious notes on the process from beginning to end.  Photographs and techniques were posted during the day on Twitter.  With a bit of luck, @fillyerhands noticed our efforts and asked for our thoughts. In this article, we’ll cover the preparation of the pineapple, ribs, grill, cedar planks and  charcoal.


We used standard cedar planks available from Lowe’s Home Improvement. The planks were soaked for several hours in a mixture of apple juice and water.  Soaking the cedar planks serves two purposes; the planks should not catch fire during the smoking process and the apple juice soaked cedar planks add flavor and juiciness to the Swineapple.
1 Soaking Cedar Planks

Living in South Carolina, we are bound by state law to barbecue, grill, or smoke every meal, weather permitting, twelve months of the year.  While grilling, we save larger chunks of lump wood charcoal for the times when we need a longer stained heat which briquette charcoal cannot provide.  Cowboy Charcoal and Royal Oak lump wood charcoal are better for salmon, steaks, chicken, and burgers. The house lump wood charcoal from Publix or Fresh Market provides larger pieces of coal for turkey, ribs or a Swineapple.  For this test subject, we used Western Real Wood lump charcoal and Royal Oak lump wood for the firebox.  During the last hour, we added chunks of Jack Daniels Whiskey Barrels for flavor.


We have a Chargriller with an offset firebox for smoking.  The primary ash pan of the grill was emptied of any old debris.  The grill grates were scrubbed with a stainless steel brush.  The secondary firebox was emptied of old ashes and the pan was lined with aluminum foil.  The top vent and side vent were both opened to allow maximum air flow over and around the meat while it is cooking.

8 Grill


Now we’re getting to the core of the project (no pun intended).  The pineapple selected should be the largest one available in your market.  Take a sharp knife and remove the outer layer. Remove the stem. Leave the top and bottom covered by the scaly exterior.  Placing the pineapple on its side, slice the pineapple parallel with the core.  I cut our first one with a 90/10 ratio.  The second one was 85/15 ratio. Don’t throw away the lid. You’ll need it shortly.

Using a serrated knife, gently cut the core from inside,removing the top and bottom. The pineapple flesh between the edges will be relatively simple to remove. The flesh along the core, as well as the between the core and the bottom of the pineapple, is a bit more difficult to remove.  Remember that to maximize the available space for the pork ribs; cut as aggressively as possible while retaining the structural integrity of the pineapple.
3 Hollow Pineapple

I purchased seven pounds of boneless country cut St. Louis style pork ribs from Publix. I could only fit five pounds into two pineapples.  I used my standard Pulled Pork rub; the mix was too salty for this technique. Rather than post a mixture I will not use again, I’ve adjusted the ratio for what we will use in the future.  The ribs can be coated in the following mixture:

1 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp black ground pepper
4 tsp paprika
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbs brown sugar

The eight spices were blended together and then liberally applied to the ribs.

2 Boneless Pork Ribs

4 spice mix

5 Ribs with spice rub

I was able to fit between 32-40 oz of ribs into each pineapple.  The side of the pineapple was placed over the boneless ribs and secured with kitchen twine.  I recommend soaking the twine in water before smoking so that it does not catch fire during the process.
6 Ribs in Pineapple7 Ribs with lid
We covered the outside of each pineapple with thick sliced honey bourbon bacon.
9 Pineapple on Grill10 Bacon on Pineapple
The planks were placed perpendicular to the grill grates next to the firebox vent. The Swineapple was placed parallel to the fire, to allow for the most even exposure to the heat possible.

We closed the lid at 3pm and checked the firebox every 45 minutes, adding chunks as needed. The temperature remained between 225-250 degrees.

Two hours in the process, we used wooden spatulas with a large surface space to rotate the Swineapple,  The pineapple was soft and fragile; metal tongs were a mistake.

A meat thermometer was used four hours into the process; once the meat reached 160 degrees, we removed them from the heat.

Following standard grilling procedure, the meat was placed on a wooden cutting board and covered with aluminum foil, allowing the pork to rest.

11 After12 Finished Product
Final notes:

This was our first attempt at Swineapple and we will do it again.  That said, the procedure takes almost as long as smoking a turkey or racks of ribs.

We found that the citrus enzymes marinated the pork nicely.

Coring the pineapple and then removing the outer layer of pineapple might allow for more flavor infusion instead of a horizontal cut and scooped out the pineapple.  Another thought is to cut the pineapple down the middle and place the boneless pork ribs in either half, then tying the halves together before placing them on the grill.  Lastly, we would add the bacon much later in the smoking cycle.

I used too many Jack Daniels chunks in the firebox at once; the fire spread rapidly to the cedar planks, hence the blackened planks in the photographs.

We did not add barbecue sauce to the Swineapple. We used traditional offset heat, smoke, and a rib rub for flavor.

Good luck!

Categories: BBQ Pr0n, Deck, Pork, Prep, Ribs, Smoker, Wood | Leave a comment

Introducing a New Contributor – Johnny Bravo

Some time ago, during my musings on the Twitters, I became acquainted with a fellow Yellow Jacket who goes by the handle of Johnny Bravo, or @gt24880a. Besides our common love for the Ramblin Wreck and hatred for the dwags, we soon found a common bond in the nurturing and consumption of smoked meats.

In fact, I will confess here, that it was his photo of his CharGriller Pro that led me to choose my own.

Johnny's Smoker

I am happy to say that I have met Johnny (honestly, in these days of Twitter, something I cannot say about many of those I follow), and sampled his home smoked bacon, and it is all I had hope it would be. Wonderful.


Then, a few weeks back, a phenomenon took the interwebz by storm – Swineapple. Like most things from the social media world, I tried to ignore it, thinking it would soon end up on Snopes.

That is, until Johnny Bravo took it, and I saw that it, indeed, was A Thing.

So, I have invited Johnny to post about it here, and he graciously agreed, and I think you will agree the results make me want to give Swineapple a try.

Further, I invite him to share as he wishes on these pages in the future.

Welcome, Johnny!

Categories: Admin, Pork | Leave a comment

New Territory

As I reported earlier I got a new offset smoker, and I am now learning how to cook on it.

Here, of course, is the old smoker, a vertical Brinkman charcoal unit that has served me well for about 8 years.


And here is the new one, a CharGriller Pro, complete with the offset smoke box, which they also sell as a stand-alone grill



In the course of researching how to run an offset smoker, I also decided to try my hand at chunk wood cooking, rather than the old method of putting wood shavings onto charcoal.

All this came about because I discovered some really neat videos on YouTube, by Aaron Franklin of Franklin Barbecue in Austin. Here is the video that convinced me to give wood cooking a try:



Note that Aaron uses oak at Franklin Barbecue, and I figured if it was good enough for him, why not? Since a lot of my home firewood is made up of old tree limbs that had fallen in the yard, I looked, and lo and behold, it turns out I have a ton of oak. In fact, while I cooked, I spent some time cutting up a bunch of the wood, and based on my use this time, I have about 3 cooks worth of wood ready to go. On top of that, the wood pile in the backyard has enough seasoned oak to last me easily all summer.

Of course, if I use the oak for barbecue, I will have to find something to burn in the fireplace next winter. Ah, First World problems.


In any case, at first I wanted to make a brisket, but it’s been two years since I made one, and a trip to the store stopped that idea cold. A whole brisket was almost $50, and while I don’t think that’s a waste of money by any means, I wasn’t willing to bet that much that I could make the new rig cook right the first try.

So, I fell back on a Boston butt, which still cost about 75 percent more than last year.

I went with the usual butt treatment:

1. Soak the butt overnight in a cooler of water, to which was been added a cup of salt, half a bottle of black strap molasses, and a bag of ice.

2. Two hours before cooking, remove the butt, pat it dry, and let sit for a half hour at room temperature.

3. Then, rub with Alton Brown’s 8:3:1+1 rub:

  • 8 parts dark brown sugar
  • 3 parts kosher salt
  • 1 part chili powder
  • 1 part whatever else you want – in this case the Plus 1 part was cayenne pepper, garlic powder, basil, and paprika.

4. Let that sit for at least an hour before cooking. As always, the longer, the better.



Bonus Life Hack: the lid from a bottle of Parmesan cheese is a standard size, and fits on top of most glass jars. When you open a new bottle of Parmesan cheese, take the new lid off and keep it to use. Then put the old lid on the new cheese. You can then make any Mason jar into a nifty shaker bottle, in this case for Rub.


I started the grill with a 6 or 7 pound load of charcoal, and let that get hot, and then added wood, and closed the smoke box lid to let the grill come to temperature, which it did in about a half hour. I added the butt, over a pan of water, about halfway in the grill body.

While I was at it, I also put a couple of pounds of raw kielbasa on. No sense in wasting smoke.


The rest of the cook was pretty much the same as with the Brinkman – hurry up and wait.

Of course, there were some differences. First, it was easier on the whole to stoke the smoke box than the Brinkman, since I didn’t have to kneel and fit charcoal through a 8 inch by 8 inch slot.

On the other hand, adding a lot of material to the smoke box proved daunting, because the smoke then can go right in my face and eyes. Not pleasant at all.

Until I remembered a relic of my chemical engineering days – a full face respirator in storage in the garage, complete with unused, clean filters. I even remembered all the safety checks (check the rubber seal, press on my face, cover the hole, suck – yep, tight). This made stoking very easy. Now, to find some replacement cartridges at Harbor Freight . . .


All in all, I cooked the sausage about 3 hours and the butt about 10. It came out perfect.

Perfect? Can you use that word with barbecue? It implies there is imperfect. Hmmm.


Looking at photos I took of the cook (morning on top, afternoon on bottom), I noticed something. There are two ways to see how long real barbecue takes.

The obvious is the movement of the sun.

The other – the wood pile disappeared.

Passing of Time



Post vorem assessment:

  • I like the new grill. It has plenty of area to cook, and it’s easy to maintain temperature. I found that the mid range of air opening worked, and adding wood kept it right.
  • Having said that, there are places that leak smoke – a couple on the smoke pot, and I will order some high temperature gasket material and RTV and fix that.
  • Cooking with wood is a new feature that I will certainly learn more as I go.
  • When your property is filled with oak trees, downed tree limbs take on a new meaning.
Categories: Pork, Smoker, Wood | Leave a comment

Review – Scott Boys BBQ

Scott BoysFor the last couple of years, at least once a month, I’ve driven along Georgia Highway 20 in Canton, after getting off I-575 on my way to River Bend Gun Club for a USPSA match or GSSF match. In the morning on the way to the match, I’ve seen a food truck and a couple of big smokers, beside the Cherokee Market just past the intersection at Union Hill Road. In the afternoon, I’ve seen a full parking lot, and the smoke still billowing.

This past Saturday, I finally decided to stop, and I’m glad I did.

This is Scott Boys BBQ, a food truck started and run by Russell and Ann Scott. Russell named the business for him and his four brothers, one of whom, Paul, is a Georgia Barbecue Association judge. During the summer they operate as a food truck and go to competitions, and in the winter and spring they park at the Cherokee Market.

Scott boys truck

Scott Boys specializes in pulled pork, and they do it well.

Last Saturday, after the USPSA match at River Bend, I stopped by to see what I had been missing. There was a small group of fellows there, enjoying Brunswick Stew and sandwiches, and I asked them about the setup. They were pretty good salesmen for not being employees, and they told me how Scott Boys was voted the best barbecue in Cherokee County by Cherokee Life Magazine.

The menu was simple enough – pork sandwiches with choice of either pickles and peppers, or slaw; sausage sandwiches; and homemade slaw, potato salad, or Brunswick Stew for sides. I ordered a sandwich with pickles and banana peppers, with their own sauce, and I was not disappointed.

The pork was flavorful and moist, and tender. The sandwich came wrapped in foil, and that was fortunate, because the sandwich was big enough to need assistance handling it. The sauce was very good as well, not too sweet, with a spicy, medium hot finish. It grew on me, which I like in a sauce, rather than blasting heat from the beginning.

While I waited for my sandwich to be delivered and defended my Georgia Tech attire to one of the Dwag customers, Mrs. Scott offered me a spoon full of the Baked Potato Salad. Now, my mother and grandmother always made mayonnaise potato salad, with no yellow mustard, but it’s hard to find mayo potato salad any more. Except, that’s what Ann Scott makes, and it was delicious. I bought a pint to take home to my wife, and she loved it too.

I also got to sample the sausage, homemade and well spiced, and it was very good as well. Now I know what I will get the next time I stop, next month before the USPSA match.

If I don’t invent some reason to go back before then!


Scott Boys BBQ
4864 Cumming Highway, Canton, GA
404.217.2364 for orders

I give Scott Boys BBQ 3-1/2 Eye Patches out of 4!  Eye patch 3 half

Categories: Boomsticks, Pork, Review | Leave a comment

Boston Butt

I recently cooked what turned out to be an excellent Boston Butt, and I decided to turn it into a How-To. As always, I welcome your feedback – just leave me a message here, go to the Contact page, or send me an email to FillYerHands at Gmail.

Being an engineer by training, I like to break up any project into steps. Here are the steps for Boston Butt.

  1. Planning
  2. Preparation
  3. Brine
  4. Rub
  5. Smoke
  6. Cook
  7. Rest
  8. Pull
  9. Enjoy

So, here we go.

1. Planning

For this project you will need:

  • Boston Butt – 5 to 7 pounds, not too lean.
  • Molasses
  • Water
  • Ice
  • Rub
  • Charcoal – at least 10 pounds for a Boston Butt.
  • Wood for smoking

The choice of wood to use is up to you. Meat like pork and beef can stand a strong smoke wood like mesquite or hickory, while more subtle meats like chicken do better with apple and other less pungent woods.

Barbecue Pr0n

I find I use about a gallon of smoking wood chips or chunks for a Boston Butt. Have those handy. I have about 20 gallons of hickory that is left from the 30 gallons I got some time ago by a friend who was a carpenter. You are free to hate me.

(The coffee cans in the picture are full of spent 9mm and .223 brass, saved for the day when I finally buy my reloading equipment. Now you really hate me.)

  • Sauce – your choice

In addition, you will need

  • A cooler
  • A smoker
  • Plates and trays

Shop for the meat, clean the smoker, make sure you have enough charcoal and cold beer.

2. Preparation

Some time before S Day, prepare the rub. I like Alton Brown’s “8 to 3 to 1 plus 1” rub:

8 tablespoons brown sugar, tightly packed
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon “something else”

For the “something else” I use
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon onion powder

I then put this in a mason jar, with a lid from an old parmesan cheese container, which will allow me to sprinkle the rub liberally. Shake well.

Get the charcoal and smoking wood handy, and get the smoker ready.

3. Brine

At least 8 to 14 hours before you plan to cook, remove the butt from the packaging and trim any really obvious extraneous fat. (I have to admit, I don’t trim butts very much.)


Then, in an appropriate sized cooler, mix up the brine:

  • 1/2 gallon fresh water
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup salt

Submerge the butt in the brine, and add enough ice to cover the butt. I then set the cooler on the back porch, and let it brine for 12 hours.


The next morning, usually before the sun comes up, remove the butt from the brine and pat it down with paper towels.

4. Rub

Apply the rub. Applying the rub with gloves helps more of the rub stick to the meat and not your hands. Apply to both sides of the meat and let it rest at least an hour.

Father's Day Win

Meanwhile, light the grill. Start out with enough charcoal to fill the pan, but don’t add smoking wood yet.

5. Smoke

When the coals are ready and the smoker is 210 degrees to 230 degrees, place the meat in the center of the top level of the smoker, fat up. Assuming your smoker allows, also place a pan of water under the meat, to catch drippings and keep them off the coals.

Add wood for smoking at this point.


At this point all you can do is keep the charcoal fed so that the temperature stays in the 210 to 230 range, and keep the smoking wood fed. I typically smoke the meat for about 4 hours, then stop adding smoke wood. I’ve found that the end result doesn’t change much beyond 4 hours, since the meat is pretty much saturated on the surface at that point.

6. Cook

Father's Day Win

For a long time I used a thermometer to test for doneness, but now I pretty much let it cook 10 hours, then test it. I don’t generally open the top of the smoker until then. When you can pull the meat off easily with a fork, the butt is done.

7. Rest

Remove the butt from the smoker, cover loosely with foil, and let it rest for at least an hour.

Boston Butt

8. Enjoy

Then, pull the meat apart with two forks, for a shredded feel, or using your fingers, for a chunkier texture.

Boston Butt

Pay dirt

Serve with your favorite sauce. Mine is a topic for another post.


Categories: Pork, Smoker | 3 Comments

First Barbecue of the Season Coming

No pistol match Saturday, and plenty to do in the yard, so I picked up a Boston butt. First real barbecue of the season!

And probably my first How To video. We shall see.

Categories: Pork, Smoker | Leave a comment

Barbecue Pr0n

Oh, man. Kreuz Market. Courtesy of Man Up Texas BBQ.

I am going to start a new weekly Friday feature, Barbecue Pr0n of the Week.

This week’s visual feast involves a trip to the hallowed Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas.

Enjoy this post from Man Up Taste of Texas BBQ blog. And this one.

Categories: BBQ Pr0n, Beef, Brisket, Pork, Sausage | 1 Comment

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