Barbecue Summer Camp, co-hosted by Foodways Texas and the Meat Science Section of the Department of Animal Science at Texas A&M University, was held on Friday, June 2nd through Sunday, June 4th, 2017. The camp is coordinated by meat science educators, Davey Griffin, Ray Riley, and Jeff Savell. Activities were held at the Rosenthal Meat Center and O.D. Butler Animal Science Teaching, Research, and Extension Complex. This was the eighth Barbecue Summer Camp with the first one held in 2011.
Note: Kelly Yandall (@kellyyandell) a member of the Foodways Texas Board of Directors has graciously provided the bulk of the photos for this year’s Barbecue Summer Camp review. Unless otherwise noted, please credit Kelly for the tremendous photos and for coming and being a part of our team!
Pre-camp dinner at Kreuz Market, Bryan
On Thursday night, before the camp began, participants and instructors gathered at Kreuz Market in Bryan, Texas for some great barbecue and a glance at the newest barbecue establishment in the Bryan/College Station market. Pitmaster and General Manager James Landes gave the participants information on how barbecue is prepared at Kruez and offered tours of the pit room for anyone wanting to take a closer look.
On Friday morning, Marvin Bendele of Foodways Texas and Davey Griffin, meat science Extension specialist at Texas A&M Agrilife welcomed 53 participants to the camp. Before the participants spent some time introducing themselves to the the instructors and to the rest of the camp, Griffin and Ray Riley, Rosenthal Meat Science and Technology Center Manager introduced the grad and undergraduate students who would be serving vital roles in the camp.
— Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)
Pit design and maintenance
The first panel was on pit design and maintenance. A great group of pitmasters and pit manufacturers were led by Davey Griffin, professor and extension meat specialist at Texas A&M University. The panel consisted of Kerry Bexley, Snow’s Barbecue, Bryan Bracewell, Southside Market and Barbeque, John Brotherton, Brotherton Barbecue, Russell Roegels, Roegels Barbecue, and Ryan Zboril, Pitt’s and Spitt’s. The panelists talked about the pits they use or have used, proper design for creating good, clean smoke, and how to get the best performance out of them. In addition, the panelists discussed proper break-in, maintenance, and cleaning to get maximimum performance. A message that rang loud and clear from each panelist was “know your pit”! Everybody emphasized that knowing your pit whether it be big or small was the key element in producing quality barbecue.
— Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)
Texas Barbecue history and culture primer/tour of Martin’s Place
A long-standing tradition at Barbecue Summer Camp is to go to historic Martin’s Place in Bryan. Pitmaster and owner, Steve Kapchinskie along with his wife and daughter do a great job of showing off the wonderful brick pits and feed everyone a great lunch of brisket, ribs, and sausage to get the camp started off well.
Robb Walsh, noted food historian and writer, answered questions from the participants about the history of barbecue and included a reading from his book, Barbecue Crossroads, which features a segment about Martin’s Place in it. This tradition is so great because reading this segment in the actual setting of Martin’s brings everything to life.
Meat Safety and Thermometers
After returning to the Rosenthal Meat Center after lunch, Davey Griffin gave an overview about food safety and proper food handling. One item of special emphasis this camp was to discuss the issue of small particles of wire brushes breaking off and getting ingested. There have been a number of cases of emergency surgery due to the presence of these metal fragments in food, and Davey recommended using great care when cleaning grills and grates so as to not introduce these physical hazards into cooked products.
Davey also showed how best to calibrate thermometers. His recommendation is to be sure to use the best and most accurate thermometers possible so that proper cooking and cooling temperatures can be met.
Barbecue wood and smoke panel
The Barbecue Wood and Smoke Panel was moderated by Dr. Nick Nickelson. Dr. Nick not only moderated, but gave insight into the science of smoke and the the importance of using properly dried wood. Panelists included John Brotherton, Russell Roegels, Bryan Bracewell, and Homer Robertson. Each panelist gave their thoughts about their favorite woods to use in smoking meats with most of them using post oak because of its availability in the part of the state they are cooking in. The
Homer not only is a world champion chuck wagon competitor who does a lot of cooking using coals from burned-down logs, but he is with the Fort Worth Fire Department and knows quite a bit about fire and smoke. Homer’s suggestion about the role of oxygen in making a clean-burning rather than a smoldering fire supports the concepts often mentioned on this panel about the importance of having properly seasoned wood burning in a pit with a good supply of oxygen to allow for complete combustion to impart the wonderful things we want from smoke on the items that are being cooked.
— Kelly Yandell (@kellyyandell)
Rubs and marinades
Ryan Heger from Adams Flavors, Foods & Ingredients once again gave a great overview of the different types of seasonings available along with current trends in food. Ryan discussed the importance of shelf-life of particular products such as black pepper, and he spent a great deal of time talking about how to add heat to flavors without exceeding what people might enjoy eating.
Ryan provided a variety of seasonings for the participants to experiment with, and the students assisted them in seasoning briskets, pork Boston butts, pork baby back ribs, and beef chuck short ribs that would be cooked either overnight (briskets and pork butts) or the next day (pork St. Louis style ribs and beef chuck and plate short ribs).
Brandon Burrows with Kerry Ingredients discussed the brining techniques for the barbecue industry. Brandon’s presentation was excellent in helping everyone understand what brining would and would not do to aid in making better barbecue.
Hog preparation for whole hog barbecue
Mark Frenzel and Kyle Phillips prepared a brine for injection into a whole pig carcass that weighed about 70 pounds. Mark and Kyle made up a two-gallon brine that contained 1 cup of Kosher salt and 1 cup of sugar. The target pump was about 20% of the weight of the carcass.
Dinner and refreshments
Bryan Bracewell and the crew from Southside Market and Barbeque provided an outstanding meal of brisket, baby back ribs, and their famous hot guts beef and jalapeño and cheese sausage for the evening. The event was The meal was topped off with the choice of blackberry cobbler or peach cobbler along with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.
Special thanks go to the Spoetzl Brewery, Shiner, Texas for providing Shiner Bock beer for the Friday and Saturday evening meals.
Hog on the pit
The participants traveled to the TAMU Beef Center to watch the whole pig being placed inside the cinder-block pit for all-day cooking. Thanks to Make Frenzel, Taylor Rowland, and Ty Robertson for spending the day cooking the pig.
Brisket and pork Boston butt cooking
On Saturday morning, the briskets and pork butts were ready to be placed in peach paper for additional cooking to finish off. Russell Roegels discussed the overnight cooking of the briskets and butts before the products were wrapped.
Beef anatomy overview
Davey Griffin spent the morning going over the various cuts that come from beef along with a USDA beef grading overview. Ray ribbed a carcass in front of the participants, which always creates quite a photographic frenzy for those wanting to capture the moment on their cameras or phones.
Beef cutting room demonstrations
Various cuts of beef were displayed in the teaching cutting room of the Rosenthal Meat Center with graduate students standing by to discuss the different cuts and their uses in barbecue or other methods of preparation.
Lunch: heavy tasting – meat market style
A typical market-style lunch of smoked meats, cheese, onions, pickles and bread were served to the participants. Individual cooked briskets and pork butts seasoned by the participants the day before were sliced or pulled with the teams of people who seasoned them having the first chance at sampling the cuts. Each team talked about the type of seasonings they used and how they thought the products turned out.
Pork anatomy overview
Davey Griffin presented an overview of pork carcass anatomy and terminology.
Pork cutting room demonstrations
Various cuts of pork were displayed in the teaching cutting room of the Rosenthal Meat Center. Graduate students talked about the cuts, and McKensie Harris conducted a cutting demonstration for the participants.
Whole-hog barbecue dinner
Saturday evening ended with a whole-pig cooking event along with the beef and pork ribs that had been seasoned by the participants. Russell Roegels and his crew prepared the ribs on his pit, while our students manned the pig pit. Certainly, good time was had by all.
Sunday morning was devoted to poultry, and the activities were led by Brandon Burrows, Kerry Ingredients with preparation and cooking/smoking demonstrations conducted by the Meat Science graduate students and faculty. Fajitas, homemade sausage, drumsticks with mayo/spices were prepared by the participants. Brandon shared the recipe for Peruvian Rotisserie Seasoning and showed the participants how to make it. A new product for Barbecue Summer Camp was added – smoked turkey breast.
Brandon also presented an overview of current trends in flavor and answered questions from the participants regarding various seasonings and their usefulness for barbecue and other applications.
The eighth Barbecue Summer Camp came to an end with everyone leaving full of knowledge and barbecue! Although this camp came with some special challenges, the team rose to the occasion and made this a very special event. Thanks for all of the participants, speakers, pit masters, and students who were involved in another outstanding camp! Special thanks go to Kenna Turner, Madalynn Kainer, Megan Finley and Carly Hoffman for providing such great logistic support for the camp, and to Taylor Rowland, a student from the ANSC 117 Texas Barbecue class who volunteered his time to help help cook the pig again this year.