FLEMING ISLAND – All Josh Skipper needs is a match, a bag of charcoal, a chunk of wood and a hunk of meat to create a mouth-watering masterpiece.Skipper played a major role in Blues Hog’s …
FLEMING ISLAND – All Josh Skipper needs is a match, a bag of charcoal, a chunk of wood and a hunk of meat to create a mouth-watering masterpiece.
Skipper played a major role in Blues Hog’s Grand Champion victory at the renowned Memphis in May competition, a cookoff that’s considered the world championship of barbecue.
Hours of preparation and a 550-gallon drum cooker smoked the competition – literally – and earned the team a total of $36,000 in prize money.
Just don’t expect Skipper to taste his success.
“I really don’t eat barbecue,” he said. “I’ll taste it, but I don’t eat it.”
Skipper learned to cook from “a bunch of old-school guys,” but every pitmaster takes a unique path to smokey success.
Blues Hog uses its proprietary spice blends, injections and lump charcoal. But more than anything else, the team use a giant barrel cooker that accelerated the low-and-slow process. While others spent nearly a day cooking a hog, Blues Hog only needed 9½ hours.
The team cooked three hogs belly-side down. The result was crispy, mahogany skin and succulent meat that dripped with flavor. Since the shoulders and hams take longer to cook, Blues Hog placed bags of ice or beef briskets on the middle of the back to keep the loin from overcooking and drying out.
“It’s a crazy amount of moisture you get out of it,” Skipper said.
Bill Arnold created Blues Hog but the team was sold to Scheer in 2015. Scheer owns Marble Ridge Farms in New Haven, Missouri where he raises wagyu cattle and Mangalitsa-Berkshire-Duroc pigs. Many of them wind up on the grill.
Skipper said he’s probably cooked 30 whole hogs. He’s also done half steers, ribs, chicken and Boston butts. In fact, he has a 1,000-gallon grill that he’s used to cooking a steer and whole hog at the same time.
The team’s victory at Memphis in May was featured in season one, episode six of Michael Symon’s “BBQ USA” on the Food Network.
Skipper didn’t know what to expect when Scheer brought his new barrel cooker to a cooking competition in Miami. Now he’s so impressed, that he has a smaller version of the Gateway Drum Smokers on his back porch.
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