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Not to rub it in, but America has the best barbecue of all time … How Europe works to keep up.

Although generally considered an American tradition, barbecue is beginning to take Europe by storm — particularly the concept of slow cooking. Trendy restaurants applying slow-cooking methods are inspiring Brits to upgrade their barbecuing to include smoking. And restaurants offering smoked items are likely to have a line out the door even before they officially open.

Although there is now a demand for staples such as brisket and ribs, Londoners are struggling to find butchers who are able to properly cut meat for barbecuing purposes. Perhaps a testament to some of our prevalent problems in America, U.K. butchers are known to trim the cuts of meat requiring fat to be present for optimal flavor; for example, the thick fat atop a brisket actually is rather important because it partially renders during smoking and keeps the meat moist. This does offer an interesting bonus, however, as normally less desirable pieces of meat among Brits can now be smoked and enjoyed. Otherwise, they may have been thrown out.

In addition to an increasing presence on restaurant menus, the growing trend towards smoked meat can be attributed to “macho” television programming such as “Man vs. Food,” which place an emphasis on meat, and provides exposure to American barbecue styles. Additionally, some interest may be spurred by Europeans who visit the States and try the foods themselves.

Of course, Europeans have put their own twist on barbecue, adding fennel or lavender — spices rarely used in American barbecue — to the rubs, thereby making it their own.

Beyond the UK, Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands and Belgium have all begun to delve into the world of slow-cooked barbecue, purchasing the respective appliances needed, and even loading up their online shopping carts for BBQ Guru products to assist with their new cooking ventures.

A true validation of the increasing interest in barbecue is England’s Grillstock, a two-day grilling and music event. In 2013, there will actually be two separate festivals — Bristol in May and Manchester in June. The festival’s Facebook page is active year-round, amping up recent news as it is announced. From posting about new exhibitors to announcing a “sauce off” complete with online voting, Grillstock maintains the interest of its existing fans and, undoubtedly, generates new followers, too.

A one- or two-day ticket to the festival includes entry, access to music entertainment and food samples from some of the rounds of competition and the BBQ Academy master classes. Some foods to look forward to at Grillstock are the 18-hour pit-smoked brisket, as well as the natural, handmade hot dogs served with either pit-smoked pulled pork, smoked chili or barbecued beans –then topped with favorite Grillstock sauces and jalapeños.

This year, BBQ Guru will have a strong presence at Grillstock; Bob, Kenny, Jim and one other member of the BBQ Guru team will be competing in BBQ competitions, showcasing the BBQ Guru tools for demos, as well as teaching a BBQ Academy class. BBQ Guru has already garnered quite a following in Europe, with fans consistently reaching out regarding the availability of BBQ Guru products across the Atlantic.

Interestingly enough, the Grillstock Facebook page has acknowledged some of the challenges that Europeans craving authentic barbecue face, posting the question, “Help a BBQ brother out here folks – Anyone know a good butcher in South Wales that knows how to butcher a decent cut of Brisket?”

It would appear, my friends, that the barbecue bug has bitten the Brits.

0 Girl vs. Grill

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With Valentine’s Day approaching, all of us here at BBQ Guru began wondering: How much time and money does one spend on Valentine’s Day compared to the amount of time and money spent with their grill or cooker? After doing some research, we came to the conclusion that Americans really love their grills and, well, like their girls.

So, we put together these humorous comparisons for everyone to see – are you in the Valentine’s Day spirit yet?

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0 The Winning BBQ Tools

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bbq toolsSo what does it take to become the Kansas Barbecue Society’s Team of the Year?  According to Dan Hixon, leader of the 2012 winner, 3 Eyz BBQ, it’s precision above all else.  The 3 Eyz team, comprised of Tracy Hixon, Chris Hall, Dan McGrath, Eric Frase and Dan Hixon, say being a winner also takes a lot of hard work.  Just last year, Dan and his team posted these stats:

33-the number of competitions attended in 2012
11-the number of Grand Championships won in 2012
6-the number of Reserve Grand Championships won in 2012

That’s just part of the story.  Earning 2886 points over the course of the year and surpassing more than 4,000 other competitors, also requires consistency. 

Dan started his BBQ career in 2005, after being inspired by shows on the Food Network.  Born and raised in Chicago, he did not grow up in a BBQ culture despite the fact that we know the Windy City can cook.  Upon moving south to Owings Mills, MD, Dan found himself in the land of pulled pork.  Ribs were his passion and he supplemented his work as an environmental consultant by day with BBQ competitions in neighboring Maryland towns on the weekends.  It was around this time that he discovered the BBQ Guru and began using our controls to transition into more diverse and sophisticated BBQ.  In 2010, Dan and his team had their biggest break when they were featured on TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters, cooking a “turducken.

Since the beginning and throughout the competition process, the BBQ Guru products have proven to be one of the most crucial elements to Dan and his team’s success. He says his control helps him maintain a temperature always within five degrees of target. This is especially helpful in competition where everything needs to be presented within a 10-minute window. Dan and his team are able to trust that the tools are working for hours at a time, and they are able to rest during the grueling competition process.

Dan’s love for BBQ Guru extends to his home, and he frequently cooks for family and friends in addition to competition. “I never go a week without using BBQ Guru,” he says, referring to the broad selection of tools.  Dan believes in BBQ Guru products being useful for everyone, not just competitive BBQers adding, “I think everybody needs one of them, there’s [a model] for everyone.”  Dan’s personal favorite is the DigiQ DX2.

Pinterest logo

At BBQ Guru, we’re all about saving you time and helping you cook the best BBQ possible. That’s why we have created a Pinterest contest that will help save you time shopping this holiday AND help give your partner the gift of Guru!

A Guru’s Perfect Partner

Starting October 22nd, we invite you to share with us what your partner cooks perfectly and also pick out an item that you’d like him or her to have this holiday season from BBQGuru.com. Pin both of these items for a chance by November 23rd for a chance to win a $100 gift card to BBQGuru.com and free shipping on any single item during the month of December!

Just follow these easy steps:

-       Follow BBQ Guru on Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/bbqguru)

-       Create a board titled “A Guru’s Perfect Partner”

-       Pin a photo of your favorite food that your significant other cooks to perfection

-       Pin a product of The BBQ Guru website that you would like to give your partner this holiday season

This is the perfect chance to get your guy or girl the gadget they want in time for the New Year! Drop a not-so-subtle hint to about your wish list by passing along this contest to your partner or enter yourself!

At the end of the month, we will pick out the most mouthwatering photo to determine the winner, which will be announced on Cyber Monday – November 26th.

Bob and Kenny

We’ve done the preparation. We’ve used our best techniques and tools. We’ve even crossed our fingers just in case a little bit of luck might be on our side. But I can’t help but hold my breath every time awards are called at a BBQ competition.

Hearing your name called as Grand Champions is the sweetest feeling for a BBQ team. Knowing that all of the hard work (and maybe some of that luck) combined for the win over some of the best teams in BBQ, is an adrenaline rush of pride and accomplishment. We’ve been fortunate enough to hear BBQ Guru called as Grand Champions over the years, and each one has been special. Little did I know, a 1st place brisket and a 1st place ribs call at a State Championship in New Holland, PA back in August would turn out to be not only enough to take Grand Champions, but would also open up another opportunity for something much bigger!

As a result of winning a PA State Championship, our name was placed in a hat with 4 other state champions to be drawn for a spot at the 2012 Jack Daniel’s Invitational in Lynchburg, TN. This was the last state event that qualified the winner for a spot in the drawing, and as luck stayed on our side, BBQ Guru was chosen to go to the world championships!

The last time we were at The Jack was 2010, and we ended up as Reserve Grand Champions. While it is one of our proudest accomplishments, the pressure is on to keep our BBQ at its best. Sometimes the right things happen at the right time, and they did again for us at the Sam’s Club National BBQ Tour event in Laurel, MD. 3rd place chicken, 1st place ribs, 4th place pork, and 1st place brisket was enough to get another Grand Champions call which sent us off to Chesapeake, VA this past weekend to vie for a spot in the nationals in Bentonville, AR. We ended up as the Reserve Grand Champions, so Arkansas, here we come! Perfect practice for leading up to the world championships!

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As the BBQ season keeps rolling along, we’d like to wish the best of luck to all of the teams out there competing! Know your techniques. Know your recipes. And know how to implement the right tools and technology. We’ll be keeping our fingers crossed along the way, and can’t wait to head back to Lynchburg with the other state champs next month!

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Cool news from the BBQ universe: Last month Jord Althuizen from Smokey Goodness, a BBQ Guru sponsored cook-off team from the Netherlands, broke the Guinness World Record for individual BBQ marathon. According to Guinness, a “BBQ marathon” consists of food being continuously cooked and consumed. Using Big Green Eggs and a BBQ Guru CyberQ WiFi, Jord cooked up some pulled pork, Marquez sausages, chicken thighs, bratwursts and baked potatoes for over 42 hours – breaking existing record of 32 hours. BBQ Guru is proud to have been a part of such an awesome feat that occurred so far away. In addition, Jord raised over $3,000 and donated 42 pigs to Thai families in need through the foundation Give A Pig

Jord sent us over some of the information about his experience, which we have included below. Congratulations, Jord – we’re glad the Guru could help!

A CHALLENGE ON IT’S OWN

The record-breaking attempt was quite a challenge on its own. We had to postpone the start for several hours due to a storm that came through just as we were setting up. While some friends were hanging on to our tent we bolted it down to the square with industrial bands. Due to the delay we had to drastically change our plans: the record we were going to break no longer was the 48 hour BBQ marathon by a team but the then current 32 hour individual BBQ marathon. Not afraid of a challenge, I set the mark at pushing the record for quite some hours and aimed at 44 hours non-stop bbq’ing. In gusting winds and poring rain I started the attempt at 09:10 pm.

QUIET NIGHTS

The hardest parts were the hours between 03:00 and 06:00 am at night. There was nobody on site besides the security guards and a few of my friends there to support me. As the rules of Guinness stated that all food prepped had to be eaten they sure had there tummies stuffed with all the pulled pork, Marquez sausages, chicken thighs, bratwursts and baked potatoes that came of the Big Green eggs in those hours.

THE RESULT

On the final day of the record attempt the Dutch BBQ championships were held. Whilst different teams from the Netherlands and Belgium were battling for the honorable title and prize money I was fighting a battle of my own. Being awake for more then 60 hours the tiredness (and crankiness) set in big time. But as the finishing time came closer I seemed to gain some energy. After breaking the record and tallying up the results I got to announce the amount of money and with that the total amount of pigs we were donating to the Thai Charity foundation Giveapig.com. In total we raised little over €2.500 (about $3.000) and donated 42 pigs to Thai families in need. If the weather would have been better more funds would have been raised, just another reason to break the record once more ;-)

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BBQ GURU

The BBQ Guru has become a household name on the competition BBQ circuit. In 2011, the winning teams at the two biggest BBQ cook-off competitions in the country  – Jack Daniel’s and American Royal – both used BBQ Guru technology (and of course their great recipes and techniques). While we would never take credit for their success, we are proud that the best of the best are avid BBQ Guru users. At the same time, we also want to dispel any notions that our temperature control devices are only for experts.

The BBQ Guru helps let the novice BBQer make the leap from hot dogs and hamburgers to ribs and brisket. How do we help?

-       The PartyQ: While all of our temperature controls are easy-to-use, the PartyQ was designed specifically with the amateur BBQer in mind. It’s our easiest to use control that makes it a simple for you to enjoy your party while still offering perfectly cooked meat

-       The Onyx Oven: Last year, we released the first cooker to come with a built in temperature control device. While it may look intimidating, it’s the best cooker out there for cooks looking to make the next step

-       Recipes: We offer dozen of competition tried-and-true recipes on our website that are both easy to follow and delicious

-       BBQ Dictionary: Our website feature a BBQ dictionary so that when you are entering the wonderful world of BBQ you can know the proper terminology. We also offer a FAQ session

With Memorial Day just around the corner, make this summer the year that you wow your friends with your culinary skills at your tailgate or party. You don’t have to be a pro – you’ve got the Guru on your side.

0 The CyberQ Wi-Fi

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We are thrilled to announce the release of the newest member to our line of temperature control devices – The CyberQ Wi-Fi. Since Shotgun Fred first invented the Mechanical Pitminder in 2003, our engineers have prided themselves in putting out better and more technologically advance products year after year. The CyberQ Wi-Fi is the next logical step in the Guru evolution. As the name suggest, the CyberQ Wi-Fi regulates the temperature of charcoal grills and smokers with incredible accuracy AND the added ability to be controlled directly from any Wi-Fi enabled device or through any internet browser via a home router. Now you can control the temperature of your cooker from your smart phone! Want to lower it from 350 to 225 after an hour and need to go on a beer run? No problem!

We understand that for many of you this has been a highly anticipated release, so we won’t waste any more time in telling you the features of the new control. In addition to coming with a built-in Wi-Fi web server, the new CyberQ offer email alert capabilities. The full-time adaptive control algorithm learns the cooker to control with better stability and accuracy. The CyberQ Wi-Fi controls in the temperature range of 32°F to 475°F and displays cooking temperature on a digital read-out in degrees Fahrenheit or Celsius. The open lid detection system senses when the pit’s lid is open to minimize the temperature disturbance and recover quickly.  The CyberQ Wi-Fi fits most standard charcoal grill/smoker types and is currently on sale on the company’s website for $295.00 plus fan and grill adaptor.

Other features of The CyberQ Wi-Fi include:

-       Calibrated, programmed, and ready to use immediately

-       Monitors up to three food temperatures

-       Exclusive low and slow ramp down feature ramps the pit down on rising food temperatures, so the food never overcooks

-       Cook and Hold feature (with countdown timer)

-       Scrolling display shows all of the temperatures, time, and status

-       Rugged, armored high-temperature pit and food probes

-       Real time blower status indication and output % to measure fuel use

-       16 Character by two line backlit LCD display

-       Runs on 100-240VAC (for worldwide use) or 12VDC for automotive supply use

-       Audible alarm sounds with adjustable deviation

This summer, whether you are cooking in a competition or firing up some ribs for your annual Fourth of July bash, impress your friends and family by controlling your grill with the click of a mouse or the touch of a smart phone. As always, you’ll be able to relax and know that the Guru is getting the job done.

Bob Fishing

Fishing ranks high on my list of favorite hobbies for many reasons. Whether you’re up at the crack of dawn with your feet in the sand surf fishing alone or on a boat deep-sea fishing enjoying a cold beer with your friends, fishing provides both hours or relaxation and thrilling moments.  And of course as a BBQ guy, smoking the fish afterwards has become as enjoyable as the actual fishing itself.

Unfortunately, so many people lose out on the second part of the cooking experience because they either don’t know how to cook what they catch or they stick to the same 1 or 2 recipes that everyone knows.

The BBQ Guru can help. Our temperature control devices can help you spend more time perfecting your new recipes and broadening your seafood horizon. Below are two original recipes that will help you cook the next time you bring home a fresh salmon or trout from a fishing trip.

Smoked Trout

Brine:

Combine ½ cup kosher salt, ¼ cup of light brown sugar, 1 tsp BBQ rub and 1 qt. of water in a 4-quart container and stir until the salt has dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the trout filets, making sure they are submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.

Pat dry and let sit in the fridge uncovered for a few hours temperature of 150°F to 160°F

Smoke:

Place a handful of apple smoke wood chips into smoker about 10 minutes before placing fish in.

Place the trout into the smoker on a rack and let smoke for 2-3 hours until it has cooked through, has darkened in color, and has the desired level of smoke flavor.

Grilled Salmon w/ capers and lemon

Ingredients:

1 large salmon filet cut into 4 equal pieces
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 pinches Kosher Salt
1 tsp Garlic Pepper
1 tsp. light brown sugar
½ tsp smoked paprika
¼ tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp lemon zest
1 lemon sliced thin
3 tbsp of capers 
½ cup of white wine (pinot grigio)

Procedure:

Get grill up to 400°F

Rub both sides of salmon pieces with olive oil and season with dry ingredients.

Grill on both sides until brown sugar caramelizes and you get a nice color on the fish. (About 2 minutes a side).

Place fish in a disposable half pan with white wine and capers.

Place lemon zest and thinly sliced lemons on the top of the fish and cook in the pan until the internal temperature reaches 125°F

Remove fish onto a plate and pour juices and capers onto the fish and serve.