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Lifestyle: Summer Smokin’

Tips from an expert on how to become a backyard barbecue pitmaster

By Jake Kratzenberg

Lazy summer days are upon us and there is no better smell than the aroma of smoking meats wafting through the backyard.

There are a million different ways to smoke meats and hundreds of different smokers to use. Each type gives the meat a different flavor, but which way is the best? The Lane Report reached out to Lexington restaurant owner David Carroll of Red State BBQ to get his response to that question

Jake Kratzenberg: What is Red State BBQ’s style?
David Carroll: We are Texas-style. The Texas thing is all about low and slow. We have brisket that is going to go 14-16 hours; same thing with pork. We also have several different sauces that we make available to our customers.

JK: Do you ship your products?
DC: Our retail paraphernalia, the sauces, the dry rubs – anything that is nonperishable like that, we can ship. We have an e-commerce site and our e-commerce site has had a pretty good year so far; the numbers have been solid.

JK: What is the best advice you can give people just starting smoking in their backyard?
DC: Patience. If you are doing a pork butt or brisket or something like that, you kind of just set it and forget it. You want to check your temperature from time to time, make sure you are keeping your wood in there and keeping your temperature where you need to be. If you are doing low and slow, you are going to go with a low temperature for an extended period.

JK: When you say low temperature, are you talking about 250 degrees? 200?
DC: You probably want to go lower than that. If you go 160 for 12-14 hours and it is taking longer than expected, then maybe the last two hours go ahead and push that up to 250 or 260.

JK: What kind of wood would you recommend?
DC: Hickory. You see that a lot in the Carolinas. That is what we use and the customers like it. It produces a mild flavor, not too overwhelming.

JK: If you were starting a backyard barbecue-type smoking, what kind of meat should you start with?
DC: It is just whatever you like. I got into doing chicken in the smoker, so that was kind of my thing for a while. For ribs, you want to go probably about three to four hours. We do St. Louis style. It is a very meaty rib, so you have to put your rub on there. I would recommend brown sugar; that sugar is going to pull out the sweetness of the pork.

JK: Is there a preferred pairing of sauces with certain types of meat?
DC: Memphis Sweet with pork is probably one of my favorites. Kentucky Small Batch is good with pork. The South Carolina mustard, I like with our ribs. The Alabama Showhorse is good with brisket, especially our double-smoked brisket.

JK: What is the most outrageous thing you have smoked?
DC: I have smoked a watermelon; you smoke the watermelon. You take balsamic vinegar and reduce that and put that with the smoked watermelon. It’s phenomenal.