Monthly Archives: September 2014

What is barbecue?

What does Cookshack mean when they say barbecue?

The meaning of the word barbecue is as varied as the different ways to spell it. Some standard spellings include “barbeque”, “BBQ”, “Bar-b-Que” and “bar-b-q”. The meaning of barbecue here at Cookshack is the traditional meaning common in the southern United States. To us, it is the art of cooking meat at a low temperature over an indirect fire which adds smoked flavor to food. In Australia, for example, if you asked someone what it was, they would say grilling foods at high temps over direct heat. If you consulted the USDA, they would tell you barbecue “shall be cooked by direct action of dry heating resulting from the burning of hard wood or the hot coals for a sufficient period to assume the usual characteristics, which include the formation of a brown crust on the surface and the rendering of surface fat”.

brisketLow and Slow

What do we mean by low temperature? Typically, cooking at 250°F or lower is low heat. This is what we call the “low and slow” style of cooking. Grilling is, usually, done at higher temperatures up to 800°F. This is sometimes called “hot and fast” style of cooking.

Barbecue started by using fatty cuts of meats that others did not want because they were tough like beef brisket, pork shoulders or butts, ribs and chicken. Now, we call many other types of meats bbq. In some parts of the United States if you put sauce on the item then it is ‘cue. Salmon preparation is not traditional, but if you smoke and apply sauce, it becomes barbecue salmon. Cookshack smokers are ideal for cooking authentic barbecue dishes and non-authentic smoked foods.  A benefit of low and slow smoking is that the smoker’s temperature is high enough to cook the meat in a safe time, but low enough that moisture does not evaporate, creating a delicious product.

Myths and Health Concerns

There are many myths about barbecue when it comes to health issues. Barbecue meats have the same shelf life as traditional cooked foods. It is not cured meat or going to last longer so beware of this when storing the uneaten portions. Another misconception is that barbecue is unhealthy because of possible carcinogens. In studies, grilled foods had the potential for carcinogens due to the high-temperature cooking from the grease dripping into the fire and burning. This causes the carcinogens to come back up and into the fire.

For more information on this topic, refer to the findings from this report from the government.


What smoker makes the best barbecue?

This question may cause an argument or fight because most people think their smoker is the best. So instead let us talk about what smoker is best in a commercial application like a restaurant, food truck, deli or another commercial kitchen. In order to stay in business, your customers need to know that each time they order an item prepared by you that it will taste the same. Not all smokers allow you to have this type of consistency. For example, our President/CEO, Stuart Powell, states he can cook good barbecue on about anything from a 55 gallon drum to a stick burner. In order to do this, he would need to able to monitor the process continually. However, he would not want to do this in a busy, high volume commercial setting.

YSM160 WithHoodou need a smoker that you can duplicate the results each time. Make sure the smoker you select will allow you to control the amount, flavor and quality of the wood that it uses. The larger the piece of wood the higher likelihood that you will have inconsistency with the cooking process. There will also be a flavor variance with a larger piece of wood. Cookshack smokers use two to four ounce wood chunks or food grade wood pellets for consistent control each cooking cycle.

You will need to be able to control the temperature and cook times and make adjustments easily based on the amount of load that the smoker is cooking. Cookshack smokers are low maintenance and do not require babysitting. The models feature cook and hold features with an electronic controller so you can set the time and temperatures at night, then drop into the hold cycle until the food is ready for service the next morning. This makes cooking the big cuts easy. Cookshack believes we make the best smokers on the market because our smokers consistently produce food with genuine smoke flavor. No worries about the taste of gas or the hassle of charcoal or logs on a durable, high-quality Cookshack unit that will last for many years.

How do you cook brisket consistently?

The hallmark of a good cook is the ability to duplicate recipes and flavors. The hallmark of a Cookshack smoker is consistency. Several factors to consider when you cook brisket are: the equipment, the size of the brisket, how the brisket is trimmed, the seasonings and rubs, the wood, and the time and temperature that will be used.

Having the proper equipment makes that task must simpler. A Cookshack smoker oven allows for consistent temperatures that ensures you will cook a brisket or any cut of meat the same each time. The more the temperature fluctuates up and down the less consistency you are going to have. A delicious, moist brisket requires you to cook at the same time and temperature each time.

The brisket itself is an important factor in producing a consistent product. Consider purchasing the best brisket that you can get and then try to repeat the size and brand each time. Always purchase the same grade and the same size brisket from your supplier. Make sure the brisket is fresh, and the fat is a nice white color, marbled through the brisket.

Trimming the brisket the same way each time maintains consistency. Are you keeping the flat and point together or separating it? Do you want a large or small amount of fat on your brisket while it cooks? We like to trim off a major part of the fat and separate the muscles.

For your seasonings and rubs you need to make sure you are using a fresh product, and you are applying the same amount to each brisket. Cookshack Brisket Rub adds a savory flavor that will compliment the smoke flavor the your brisket. You should measure the amount of rub you are going to use so that you do not over or under season the brisket from cook to cook.

What smoke flavor do you want? Use the same flavor of wood or pellets for each cooking cycle. Using our FEC smokers will give you a nice smoke ring and consistent smoke flavor. If you choose wood logs, be aware that you may not be able to control the amount of moisture in the log or the amount of creosote that it may produce. It varies from log to log. With Cookshack wood chunks or pellets you produce a consistent smoke flavor.

The most important thing is to find a recipe that you like and stick with it. There are many different flavor profiles, but that are expected in barbecue. We recommend that you smoke cook the brisket for twelve to fourteen hours in the smoker at 225°F or to an internal temperature of 195°F. A good rule of thumb is one hour for each pound of brisket plus one hour. The low temperatures will seal in the moisture making it tender and moist. Make sure and let the brisket rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Where can I learn to cook barbecue using the latest techniques and equipment?

One of the goals at Cookshack is to be a Barbecue resource center. We are committed to helping chefs, home cooks and competition pitmasters to produce the highest quality barbecue in the easiest manner, by providing quality products and educational services. We accomplish this by offering multiple options on how to smoke food and use our equipment.

On the Cookshack website, we have a Cooking Guide; that has hundreds of recipes and videos. Many of these recipes were submitted by customers over the past twenty years. The videos fall into various categories depending our your interest. Some of the videos address how our smokers, grills and charbroilers work, while others show you step by step how to cook great meat, vegetables and desserts using our equipment. Cookshack also sponsors an uncensored forum that is available 24/7. Topics are varied and offer something for everyone who is interested in barbecue. The forum has had over four million page views this year.

David_Bouska_cooking_demonstrationsDo you require a more personal experience? We offer hands-on classes throughout the year that are taught by world class cooks who have experience in the restaurant, catering and competition worlds. The classes are kept small so that each student will have a personal experience. Topics range from how to trim traditional barbecue meats like brisket, pork shoulder, ribs and chicken to the proper way to season, inject and smoke these products. For more information and details on how to cook barbecue, please check out our events page on this website.

New this year, we are offering cooking demonstrations in select markets. Stuart Powell, Cookshack President/CEO, will cook live using our commercial equipment. Recipes and samples are included with the presentation. The first cooking demonstration will be held on October 16th in Norman, OK. Additionally, many of our dealers and distributors offer cooking demonstrations at their locations. For our commercial customers, arrangements can be made for on-site demonstrations of our equipment. If you need more information about these demonstrations please contact our Sales Department at or call us at 1.800.423.0698.