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Red Box Smoker: The perfect starter smoker

By Sweet Swine O' Mine Distributing

I started competition BBQ in 1996.  After cooking for five years, I began to realize a common denominator in all of the winning teams.  Most of them were cooking on a Backwoods Smoker.  It made sense.  They could keep a consistent temperature with minimal fuel and attention. When my team finally won enough money to get one, we starting winning. We went on to win four World Championships in Pork and two overall World Champion titles. During that time, I was pretty fresh out of college, so I didn't have a lot of extra money to play with.  I began to look for ways to support my BBQ habit.  I started working with Backwoods Smokers and went on to become their largest stocking dealer.  I now work in the BBQ business full time selling six different lines of competition and residential smokers.  I also sell a large variety of proven BBQ sauces, seasonings, and accessories.  

I get lots of cooking questions every day.  One of the most popular questions is, "What kind of smoker should I get to cook great BBQ like you do at my home?"  Until now, the answer was something much larger and more expensive than what the average person needs or wants to spend.  There seemed to be a void in the market.  Most of the residential offerings were uninsulated, very bulky, and very cheaply built, making them very hard to control and short lived. Then you have those competition models that have all of the great features, but they are usually way too big and expensive.  Why wasn't there an option out there for folks just beginning to explore real BBQ?  Had I started out with great equipment, I would have had much more fun and success earlier on.  

Backwoods Smokers started out in 1987 with the Patio model smoker. It was an instant hit with the homeowner, so they began to build larger units for competition and restaurants.  Over the years, the larger units gained national acclaim in the competition world.  The little patio became obsolete.  In 2007 Backwoods quit making the Patio and focused their energy and resources on making the larger units for competition and restaurant use.  

I loved the little Patio unit. It was the perfect starter smoker, but Backwoods couldn't mass produce. I decided to strike a deal to buy the design from Backwoods and find someone to mass produce it at a lower cost. It didn't take but one year for me to decide that I was going to have to go overseas for help.
For the past seven years, I've worked with four different factories in China.  In the beginning of 2014, I found the one. They had less employee turnover after the Chinese new year, and they already made private label grills for another well-known company in the U.S.  The VP of engineering came here to meet me, and we went to work on the design enhancements.  He had tons of ideas of how we could make a few changes that would make it easier to manufacture without affecting the way it cooked. After only one prototype, we went to work on the packaging.  This cooker is made for residential use, so I had to make it easy to ship. My vision of a box that you can just stick a shipping label on and send out the door came to life in just six short months. "This little cooker is packed like a stereo receiver," said one of my first dealers.  Lots of double walled cardboard, house reinforced cardboard angles on the corners, and tons of styrofoam.  After 450 units sold to date, we have had zero damage claims.  

The Red Box Smoker is a double walled, insulated, reverse flow, water smoker.  It's not a new design.  It's a proven Backwoods design with a couple of enhancements.  We added high temp foam gaskets around the doors, chrome latches, and very resilient package.  The outside layer is insulation that helps to stabilize temperature in the cold and wind.  The fire box on the bottom is completely separated from the cooking chamber by a removable stainless steel water pan.  Heat is transferred to the cooking chamber through the hollow walls of the cooking chamber.  Heat flows into the cooking chamber through a gap at the top of the wall.  The exhaust is gathered at the bottom near the water pan and flows out of the back side of the cooker at the top through an internal chimney.  The water pan and the insulted outer wall help to give you the most stable temperatures of any residential charcoal smoker on the market.  

Our test cooks yielded 5-6 hours of cook time at 225-250 degrees.  Boston butts and briskets take about 8 hours. Spatchcock whole chickens take one hours 15 minutes on the top rack without the water pan.  Each of the three racks will hold two slabs of 11 bone spare or loin back ribs.  Ribs will cook in 4-5 hours based on how many slabs you cook at a time.  

Our cooker is currently available through a network of specialty BBQ retail outlets or on my website,  We just signed a test market with our first nationwide retailer Camping World.  

Suggested retail price on our Red Box Smoker is $449.00 and our minimum advertised price for our dealers is $397.00.  I am still taking dealer applications via email at  or by phone at (901) 831-1451.

New rubs and sauce hit the market

By The NBN Cooking Crew

Eroc's U-Betcha Beef Rub
Eric Lofthus is no stranger to thinking outside of the box when it comes to barbecue. Some of his sauce creations are simply one-of-a-kind delicacies that he has blended together. Eric has now created several different market-ready rubs, but this is definitely our favorite out of the few he gave us to sample while in Jacksonville, FL, back at the end of March. We put this beef rub through the paces on both a rib-eye steak and hamburgers with 80/20 fat content.

The ingredients list caught us by surprise right off the bat because of the brown sugar. Most beef fans feel sugar is a must "not have" in their ingredients list, but all I can say is don't knock it before you try it. This stuff is really good straight from the bottle and has the salt kick that beef fans crave, but is very finely ground to make sure it can absorb into meat. Both our steak and hamburgers really soaked up the spice blend and tasted fantastic.

We experienced no problems with clumps from the sugar or the fine grinding that you tend to have when these two combinations are mixed. This really is a good and different beef rub that we feel sure will go excellent with anything beef, including brisket, tri-tip, or any beef roast. Overall, we gave this new creation 4.75 rib bones out of a possible 5. You can find more about this product from their web page at

Zen Steak Rub from BBQ Buddha
If you are a fan of pepper on your beef, then this rub is right up your alley! The Zen Steak Rub is a good combination of kosher salt, black pepper, garlic, and several other spices that are sure to wake up any cut of beef. Our tests were conducted on a T-bone steak and several hamburger patties.

Just looking at the bottle, we noticed the lid has a selectable dial to help make sure you apply the exact amount of seasoning without wasting or dumping the rub. A really clean looking label also lets you peek at the rub itself, as it doesn't cover the bottle completely…which we also really like and appreciate. The rub also comes in a slightly bigger amount of 5.5 ounce size.

The rub added a great pepper flavor to everything we tried it on. It also did not overpower our palate to the point that it covered up the beef flavor of the products that we had prepared. It has a normal grind consistency like most other BBQ rubs and also has a fair amount of other herbs in the mix.

Overall, we gave this new product4 .5 rib bones out of a possible five. For more information about the new Zen Steak Rub, check out their website at

Kansas City BBQ Sauce from BBQ Buddha
Ray Sheehan has introduced his new BBQ Buddha Kansas City BBQ Sauce that his own competition team uses. While it is a tomato -based and slightly sweet sauce, it is not your typical super sweet and super thick Kansas City style sauce. This sauce is actually a bit on the thin side, and that is a trait we love to see in most sauces because really thick sauces tend to overpower and even cover up the true flavor of any protein. The quality of the sauce is also very evident as you can see the spice flakes throughout the sauce. Other ingredients also include onion powder, black pepper, garlic, and a hint of liquid smoke. This sauce contains no allergens, no high fructose corn syrup, MSG, or artificial coloring and is gluten free.

Our tests with this sauce included pork spare ribs, pulled pork, and grilled chicken parts that included both dark and white meat. We actually added a few things to this sauce and made a super flavorful glaze for a few of our ribs and chicken pieces. We really enjoyed the fact that this sauce is not overly sweet and is really easy to use on the grill or pit without fear of burning. We did take our temperature down a bit in our first test to ensure we didn't burn things up, but we also tested it with the same temperature we normally cooked at just to see if it would burn. Surprisingly, we didn't burn any of our proteins during our tests with the sauce.

Overall, we gave this sauce 4.75 rib bones out of a possible five. We found this sauce to be very versatile,  different from the norm, and we literally loved it on everything we tested with it. Regardless if we cooked with it or served it on the side, it was super good. You can find more about this new BBQ Buddha product from their website at


Grilled Wild Pacific Salmon with Ginger Lemongrass Sauce

Fire Up The Grill
By Steve Collins
The Home Chef



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