MM Smokers H2O Roadshow Review
By Vernee Green-Myers
The Southern Girls BBQ Roadshow
Myron Mixon's name is pretty much synonymous with barbecue. While shopping for a smoker, most people would ask, “What does Myron Mixon use?” He has used a couple of different smoker fabricators over the years but has simplified the guesswork for consumers. Now, you can simply call up the good folks at Myron Mixon Smokers and order the same cooker as Myron's competition rig. Myron Mixon Smokers builds smokers based on Myron's tried and trued method of smoking using a water pan to maintain moisture in the meat. You can get it customized, have it painted your favorite color, change out hardware, etc.
The H2O is fully insulated with the firebox located directly underneath the water pan and extending the full length of the smoker. The firebox has a vented door on one side and vents on the other so you can control airflow from either side. The water level is controlled by a water regulator, so you can fill the water pan and forget it.
My son is looking for his first smoker, so we decided to give the H2O model a try. I chose the MMS-36 model because it had to be small enough to fit in my garage while not in use, alongside a couple of cars and motorcycles. However, it couldn't be too small. With the MMS-36, even though I was using their smallest model, I was not worried about it being too small because it was designed to hold 12 racks of ribs or 14 Boston butts or 28 half-chickens. MM Smokers come standard with 2 racks, but you can have them customized to add more racks if you need more space.
I was a little worried that it might take me a while to get used to the smoker, so I did have T.J. Wehunt, a member of the Jack's Old South cook team, give me a thorough demonstration on how to setup, season, and use the smoker after turn-ins at Roman Roast on the River. It was so easy; it didn't require me to take notes or photos. I know you should have a "dry run" before cooking on a new smoker, but I tend to be too adventurous for that. I literally felt comfortable enough after the demo that I went out and bought enough meat and vegetables to feed a small army.
I thought I might have been a little overconfident when my neighbor, who suffers from a spinal cord injury, asked if I could smoke her some chicken and ribs. Of course, I said yes and prayed I didn't ruin her dinner! I showed her how to prep ribs, while I trimmed chicken quarters and put those and 10 pound of skinless breasts in a brine.
Then my setup consisted of hosing out the water pan to make sure no dust or debris was left over from manufacturing or shipping. Surprisingly, no debris was left behind. I wiped everything down and then sprayed the racks with cooking spray.
My first "trial run" consisted of hooking up the water hose, turning on the water while going to my storage building to get a bag of charcoal. The water filled quickly and cut off automatically. It was so quiet – and with no leaky connection that I've experienced with other water smokers – I thought I forgot to cut on the water. I used about six pounds of natural wood charcoal and an electric charcoal starter because I was too lazy to use a chimney to start the charcoal. After the charcoal ashed over, I added a couple sticks of peach wood to see how long it'd take to get up to 250 degrees. I struggled to get the smoker up to temp before realizing it was not getting enough airflow being against an interior wall inside the garage. After I rolled it out into the driveway, it quickly went up to 300 degrees. When it came back down to 250, I added one more stick of peach wood and closed the vents halfway on one side.
I filled the top rack with skinless chicken breasts and the bottom rack with regular chicken quarters. I expected to need to rotate halfway through cooking but surprisingly did not find any noticeable "hotspots." All the chicken appeared to be consistent. When the breasts reached temp, I left quarters on to finish cooking. When digital thermometer reached temp at the thigh, I pulled them off smoker. When I lifted the first piece of chicken off smoker, the leg bent a little at the joint, and I knew it was going to be awesome. I packed up the chicken for my neighbor with the exception of one piece for Kellie, my co-writer, to try. (And I did all this while getting ready for Kellie's farewell party. It was that easy.) I closed the vents and chimneys on the smoker and left for Kellie's party.
Later that night, one of our friends that had attended the Roman Roast on the River and sampled Jack's Old South's pulled pork and ribs asked Kellie if Myron Mixon cooked the chicken as they were scavenging the last few morsels like vultures. I smiled and said, "No, but it was cooked on a Myron Mixon Smoker." And that was my very first time smoking anything on a MM Smoker!
Round two was for a family party. After prepping ribs and injecting pork and brisket, we loaded three large Boston Butts and three racks of baby back ribs on the top shelf and four racks of beef ribs and one brisket (packer) on bottom shelf. This was with room leftover. Two to three hours later, I pulled the ribs and wrapped them. Four to five hours later, I pulled the butts and wrapped them. The brisket stayed on until temp was 160 degrees, and then I pulled it off and wrapped it with foil and put it back on until it reached 200. While the brisket was resting in a cooler, it was time to eat some pork.
The real test would be when my sons, who have been around competition BBQ circuit since 2007 and had championship Q from several world champions, tried the finished product. Three boys went through three racks of ribs in record time. Before the weekend was up, all the BBQ was gone. I guess you can say I learned how to operate the MM Smoker H2O pretty quickly. I was almost disappointed that it didn't take hours of practice hanging out on the patio, drinking beer, and getting a suntan! Nevertheless, in less than two days, I had successfully smoked chicken, pulled pork, pork ribs, beef ribs, and brisket.
Cleanup was a breeze because both racks are easy to remove. The grates inside the firebox are removable, which helps tremendously in removing ashes with only one door to the firebox.
The only negatives I found with the smoker has absolutely nothing to do with quality or functionality of the smoker. It has to do with me being short and lazy. There are only two concerns I have with smoker and both are just things I wish could be added or changed. First, I wish the drain pipe was not directly over the wheel in the back so I could sit a bucket under it and walk off while water is draining. My second wish is I'd like to have a handle mounted on the side of the door to pull down instead of having to reach up and over top to grab handle mounted on front of door when door is open. This is not a real problem, but it would be helpful for us short people.
Overall, I really like the smoker and would recommend the MMS-36, MMS-48, or MMS-60 to any beginning or novice BBQ smoker. I'd also recommend the H2O line to competitors as well.
Photos by Southern Girls BBQ Roadshow
DennyMike’s Sauces & Seasonings Roadshow Review
By Vernee Green-Myers
The Southern Girls BBQ Roadshow
While in Texas at the NBBQA, I was introduced to DennyMike Sherman. I refer to him as the “Lobstah” guy because he is the only guy ballsy enough to ship in Live Maine Lobster to a BBQ convention! But what better person to show us amateurs that smokin’ isn’t just for pork, beef, or chicken than a guy who knows seafood? That day, he gave me a can of DennyMike’s Sauce & Seasonings called “Chick Magnet” Seasoning Blend. I thought to myself, “Catchy name, but is it any good?” Well, you can imagine my surprise when I found myself trying to get in touch with DennyMike to see how I could get more of the stuff. The first time I used it, it was a dreary, cold day so I shrugged my shoulders and thought I’d bake some chicken. After a few minutes, I found myself in front of the oven with the light on, peeking inside. It smelled so good that I was contemplating how high I could turn up the oven to cook the chicken faster without drying it out or what was the absolute minimum temp I could pull it out of the oven and eat it without getting sick. As you can tell, I’m not always a patient person. Finally, when the chicken was done, it was near impossible to let it rest for a few minutes. Needless to say, the chicken never made it on the plate as I devoured it right off the broiler pan sitting on the rangetop.
A week later, the doorbell rang and I had a delivery for the Southern Girls BBQ Roadshow. DennyMike must be the most detailed-oriented person in the business because I swear he received the shipping notification before I could finish opening the box, because I got a message from him that he had doubled my order because he couldn’t bear the thought of Kellie and I fighting it out over who gets what. I thought he must know us well but then realized that he just knows how good his products are!
Kellie and I are somewhat competitive, so we immediately started a cook-off with DennyMike’s Sauces and Seasonings. We have different tastes in food, and luckily, we enjoy different flavor profiles as well. Kellie immediately became fond of the “Pixie Dust,” a universal seasoning blend, while I was too obsessed with the “Chick Magnet.” Then one day, I decided I needed some Omega 3’s and grabbed some salmon. I broiled salmon steak drizzled with olive oil and DennyMike’s “Fintastic” Seafood Seasoning Blend. Ten minutes later, I knew why DennyMike brought Lobster to Texas. Wow! For the next several weeks, I cooked salmon steaks two to three times a week. I tried it broiled, baked, grilled, and even smoked. I obviously need a few lessons on smoking fish because I overcooked it. Even then, the flavor was amazing, so I flaked the salmon and put it on top of a Spring Mix Salad and poured some vinaigrette over it. Amazing!
Finally, I made it to try the variety Kellie had been raving about, “Pixie Dust.” Pixie Dust is a great all-around seasoning with sea salt, chili pepper, garlic, paprika, and mesquite powder to give it a smoky mesquite flavor. Now when I’m eating bland vegetables or any dish that needs livened up, I reach for the Pixie Dust. My favorite vegetable with the Pixie Dust is Roasted Spaghetti Squash. I cut the spaghetti squash in half, rub it with a little olive oil, and liberally coat the squash with Pixie Dust before roasting face down in the oven. Kellie also likes heat, so naturally the “Cow Bell Hell” became her go-to spice to heat things up.
I’m also embarrassed to say that the last blend I tried was the “Sublime Swine.” It’s a pork rub labeled as a heavenly pork and rib seasoning…guaranteed to bring your baby backs and loin roast to a whole ‘nutha level.” Well, this is the one product that the metal tin didn’t do justice. You can’t see the beautiful color of the chili pepper and paprika mixed with flakes of paprika or granules of turbinado sugar. While trying out a new smoker, I decided to try it alongside with two other blends – both by former Memphis in May Grand Champions. Let me just tell you, it was the perfect blend of spicy heat with just enough raw sugar to create a bark that didn’t burn or get too dark. I wish I had tried it sooner, and I hope they sell it in bulk packaging.
Last, but not least, the sauces! My favorite is the Mesquite Madness. Kellie’s obvious choice is the “Hot ‘N Nasty.” The overall favorite of the kids, family, and friends is “Sweet ‘N Spicy.” It’s must be the neighbors’ too because I got a call from one that said, “Oh, I took that bottle of Sweet ‘N Spicy, but I left my bottle of ‘Sticky Fingers.’” Geez, thanks!
The best thing about DennyMike’s Cue Stuff is the flavor! Second to that is the packaging and price. Denny Mike believes that “bigger is better.” The seasonings now come in a bigger 3 oz., easy to use flip-top shaker can. The sauces went up to a 14 oz. bottle at the same prices of $4. On top of that, all DennyMike’s products are processed in a facility that is wheat-free and nut-free and has no chemicals or artificial flavors. They are fat-free as well!
As I told my good friend Danny Meadows just this past week while he was living it up at Memphis in May, my kitchen will never be without “Chick Magnet” or “Fintastic” ever again. I love all the products so much that I took DennyMike’s contact info to a local gourmet shop and asked them to get in contact with him to start carrying it until Publix gets it in stock or we get a Trader Joe’s! If you don’t have a store in your area, you can always order it at www.DennyMikes.com, and with flat-rate shipping, it’s very affordable.
Oh, and by the way, they do carry larger sizes for bulk use! Yes, I’m a happy camper.
Photo by Southern Girls BBQ Roadshow
Texas Pepper Jelly introduces Craig’s BBQ Sauce
great flavor with a
palate-pleasing soft kick
Texas Pepper Jelly has always been known for making top of the line gourmet products that scream flavor. The newest addition to their line of products is without a doubt just as impressive.
The profile of Craig's BBQ Sauce has the balance of great flavor while adding a palate-pleasing soft kick to the back end. It is perfect for all poultry and pork products that we sampled with it, but for us, we found it most tempting with pork spare ribs.
It seems we are not the only approvers of Craig's BBQ Sauce, as Craig Sharry has been placing or winning in almost every contest he has entered this past year. Since the sauce has been on the market for sale, there are tons of testimonials piling up on his website about others who are using it with impressive results! You can find more about this awesome new product at www.texaspepperjelly.com.
Pig Boards prove to be handmade works of art
By National Barbecue News Cooking Crew
A few weeks ago, we received a few cutting boards from our friends at www.pigcuttingboards.com as they wanted us to review them and give our thoughts about their products. Upon arrival of the heavy package, we knew right away these were not your average cutting boards as the package of three boards was very heavy which proved to us they were solid. After opening them up, we were all impressed by their simple beauty.
We have always been a fan of creative projects that coincide with our barbecue habit, but these very useful tools are no doubt works of art, too! The three boards we got to try out were all different sizes, with the biggest (Poppa) board being 1-3/4" thick by 12" high. The middle sized board (Momma) was 1-3/8" thick by 8-1/2” high. The smallest board (baby) measured up at 1" thick by 5" high.
The Original Pig Cutting Board family started in 1981. While living on Toland Farm in Wynnewood, PA, Tom Gallagher started making these hard maple pig cutting boards for friends and family. The first pigs came from a large sugar maple tree he cut down on the McFarland estate in Wynnewood just before the property was developed. Now over 30 years later, they are a husband-wife team making these same pigs. Tom hand selects every piece of lumber that goes into making these pigs from the finest hardwood available. Each pig is hand cut, hand sanded and hand filed, and then a coat of mineral oil is applied by hand. All of their pigs are made with love and care – one by one.
We had a hard time breaking these boards in as we used them simply because they are so well crafted and look so good. At one point, we found ourselves being gentle with the knife so we wouldn’t scratch them, but we quickly realized while cutting up ribs just how hard the wood actually is as no scratches were found at all after our test slab was cut. We also liked the idea of having several different sizes as we are always cutting different items, and the choice of sizes really saves on counter space when working with smaller items. There is no doubt that we will be using these beautiful boards for many years to come.
You can find more info about these amazing works of useful art at www.pigcuttingboards.com.
Backwoods Smoker Pellet Chef
Traveling Down Rocky’s Barbecue Road
By Rocky Danner
World Barbecue Organizer
I met up with Mile McGowan while cooking at the Hammond, LA contest and he gave me the Backwoods Pellet Chef to test, and was I ever surprised at the quality and workmanship of the grill.
In the past, I have experienced and saw firsthand the early pellet cookers, everything from computer failures to going wide open and burning up the product. Mike walked me through the startup and cooking on the Pellet Chef.
The cooking temperatures top out on my grill at 500 degrees and keep a constant temp within a three to five degree range.
We started out cooking breakfast. Mike has a steel flat iron which utilizes a front-mounted grease trap. We cooked sausage, eggs (over lite) and pancakes. The flat iron was seasoned and nothing stuck to it.
I spatchcocked a chicken wrapped in bacon and placed it on the grill grates, cooking at 325 for fifty minutes. The bacon was crispy and the bird was well-cooked with juicy breast meat.
I later grilled chicken breasts that were stuffed with bacon and goat cheese, pork tenderloins wrapped in bacon, all were pinned with tooth picks. By turning the product 90 degrees before turning over, you get a beautiful cross hatch pattern on the product. The bacon was thick cut and grilled on the grates with no flair ups.
Later Mike brought out a pizza stone and we cooked a pizza; later, I cooked a frozen pizza without the stone. It was good and not burned, but I prefer to use the stone.
I asked Mike about the lack of smoke flavor as the Pellet Chef smokes upon startup, but soon clears out with little or no smoke. Mike gave me a smoke box he designed and I soon had the pecan and wild cherry flavor I enjoy.
To my surprise Mike brought out a deep fat frying pan, complete with a chrome frying basket and cranked the fryer up to 375. We were soon enjoying deep fried shrimp and hushpuppies that brought the crowd around. We soon went through 5 pounds of shrimp and all went away full.
For low and slow cooking BBQ items such as butts and briskets, Mike has designed a set of heat baffle plates which, along with the grill grates, drain off the excess fat allowing it to drop down on the baffles and return as smoke. The best of all, there are no hot spots; and if the product has excessive fat, Mike has a drip plate installed on the bottom with a small grease bucket.
The Pellet Chef was used constantly for 9 hours either by Mike, Danny Montgomery, or me. This demonstrates its reliability and durability.
Mike utilizes a grill grate system which I consider to the best out there. It is made from aircraft aluminum, which is two times stronger than steel and amplifies any heat source, converting it to infrared heat. This evens out the heat, eliminating hot spots; and the raised rail designs creates bold grill designs in the product while the alleys collect the fat, which converts them into steam back into the product eliminating flair ups. He also has a special designed spatula with fingers that go under the product to lift and turn allowing for even cooking delicate fish without tearing.
Mike is continually upgrading and redesigning the Pellet Chef with new items and accessories. I think the flat iron, deep fat fryer, and pizza stone are optional accessories.
Contact Mike or his secretary, Kathy at backwoods-smoker.com or 318-220-0380 for the all you need for the Pellet Chef., including the accessories. This is a must have, ready-to-go, out-of-the box pellet smoker for your deck, or fishing or hunting camp. It is a welcome addition to any bbq cooking rig.
A special thanks to Candy Weaver of BBQR’S Delight for the oak and pecan pellets. You can contact Candy at www. bbqrsdelight.com., or 877-275-9591. She has a full line of 100% natural wood flavored pellets.
Photo by Rocky Danner
Backwoods Smoker’s Pellet Chef