Two Men, Two Pits and a Blog

Posts tagged “Interview

YouTube Pitmaster Interview: Troy Smith

YouTube University

One of the great resources of our modern era is the internet. And perhaps my favorite resource on the internet, is the YouTube. You can learn anything there. Anything! YouTube University, as my elder brother sometimes calls it. And it is. What a privilege to have so much knowledge at our finger tips. Wanna know how to milk a cow? YouTube it! Wanna know how to weld underwater? Well, YouTube it! Many years ago, when we first got into the BBQ arts, cutting our teeth as it were, we naturally perused the YouTube algorithms in search of BBQ videos. What an addicting past time that is, let me tell you.  Anyways, along the way we discovered a plethora of fellow BBQ enthusiasts who really knew their stuff. I mean these guys were good! They are not necessarily on the pro circuit or anything, tho some are, but one thing is for absolute sure – they have a passion for BBQ.

If you were to ask us here at PotP who some of our BBQ influences are, well many of them you can find on YouTube. And most of them have their own YouTube channel that they update regularly. Troy Smith, of T-Roy Cooks, is one of them. We’ve been watching his channel for a long time now, and well, there’s just something about him we cotton to. He’s like your favorite old pair of pants, (sorry Troy) , in that he’s just a pleasure to be around and watch him do his thing. A genuine, down-to-earth, kindly and sincere, Texan, who simply loves to make BBQ. So we contacted him to see if he might be up for an interview, and in true T-Roy Cooks fashion, he was all over it.

What follows is our conversation with Troy, as we let the man discourse a little his passion for BBQ. We really enjoyed it, and hope you do too.

Picking the Brain of T-ROY COOKS

 

t-roy-and-his-yoder

PotP: Who are your BBQ influences?  Why did you start a YouTube Channel?

T-Roy Cooks: There are a few competition BBQ’ers that have influenced my cooking. I really enjoy the layers of flavor that Johnny Trigg puts on his pork ribs and I have followed his techniques in many of my own BBQ cooks, so Johnny has inspired me the most. I also like to watch Myron Mixon and Big Moe Cason cook. Each of those guys have their own style of cooking and use different seasonings, but in the end, all of their BBQ looks terrific.

As for why I started a YouTube cooking channel, my son was moving out of the house and did not know anything about cooking. My wife and I wanted him to be able to cook the meals that he grew up eating at home after he moved out of the house, so I started making videos showing how to cook the meals that he loved at home. I guess my passion for cooking really shined through in my videos, because after just a few months of starting my channel, I began to get dedicated followers who really enjoyed my style of cooking. The feedback I received was very flattering and helpful because I was actually really shy when I began putting up videos. That feedback inspired me to continue building my channel into what it is today, so I am grateful to all of my subscribers for helping me feel comfortable in front of the camera. It is also very gratifying when they leave feedback letting me know that they have tried and loved my recipes.

PotP: What is your favorite smoke wood?

T-Roy Cooks: I have found that Pecan and Post Oak go well with every kind of meat, so that is what I mainly use in my Yoder Wichita offset smoker or my WSM. I like to change it up from time to time so that I get different smoke profiles. Right now I am using Pecan. When I run out of that wood, I will switch to Post Oak. I purchase a 1/4 cord at a time from a tree cutting service and find that it will usually last me about 5-6 months of weekend cooks. If I am cooking something hot & fast, such as flank steak, skirt steak, or tri-tip, I like to use Hickory or Mesquite, but my go-to wood has to be Pecan or Post Oak for most cases.

I grew up using mainly Hickory, but after trying other woods, I have found that both Hickory and Mesquite have really strong smoke flavor, so I use them sparingly or mix them with Pecan or Oak. I usually don’t use any fruit woods unless I am cooking poultry or fish. For those meats, I like to use Apple or Cherry. I do love the flavor of Peach wood, but it is difficult to get here in Texas and, if I can get it, it is very expensive.

PotP: Give one tip for aspiring pit masters

T-Roy Cooks: Each pit is different, so learn your pit. It takes a lot of time and patience to learn your pit, but once you have it figured out, you will produce some of the best BBQ you have ever tasted. Don’t give up and don’t over-smoke your meat! Make sure you have good air flow through your pit. You want to see that thin blue smoke instead of billowing white smoke out of your stack. Again, just be patient and learn your pit.

PotP: How often do you cook outside?

T-Roy Cooks: Luckily, in Central Texas we are able to cook outdoors all year. During the hot summer months, I probably cook outside 2-3 times per week. I love the cooler Winter months and spend most days of the week cooking out back, so I’d say 5-7 days a week when it’s cooler outside.

PotP: Favorite cut of meat to BBQ? Why?

T-Roy Cooks: My favorite cut of meat has to be pork ribs. I love pork ribs and I have become a pro at cooking them. You can get so many layers of flavor on ribs that when you take a bite of them your mouth explodes with joy! Ribs are pretty thin, so all of those flavors are packed onto the surface and go very well with the thin meat of the rib. You don’t quite get the same flavorful bites when you try to do the same thing with pork butt or thicker cuts of meat. Also, I do love a good USDA Prime Texas Brisket seasoned simply with salt, pepper, and a little cayenne!

PotP: Do you have any outdoor cooking traditions?

T-Roy Cooks: Cooking traditions, huh? Well, I usually have some tunes going while I am cooking out back. I love Classic Rock from the 80’s mostly, but I also enjoy Classic Country music from the 70’s & 80’s. I also like to have a keg of local Austin beer in my Kegerator out back and enjoy a nice chilled beer while cooking. The smell of the smoke in the air and the smell of the meat cooking while I enjoy some tunes and sip on a cold beer is what I love to do. Life doesn’t get much better!

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PotP: What is your biggest BBQ blunder? What just didn’t work? When did Troy slap his head and go “whups!”

T-Roy Cooks: When I first started doing BBQ, I wanted to cook pork ribs on my offset. I read how everyone was using the 3-2-1 method, so I gave it a shot. I ruined my ribs by overcooking them. I found out quickly that the 3-2-1 method does not work for me. My ribs were severely overcooked. The bones fell out of the meat and the meat itself was mushy. I have come to realize that most people like their ribs to be “fall off the bone” tender, but I like mine to have some bite. So, I have never used the 3-2-1 method for cooking ribs again. If I do ever try wrapping my ribs again, I will probably do my own 3-1-1 method!

PotP:  Other than eating it, what is it about BBQ that excites you? Why do you keep pursuing it? What fuels your passion, T-Roy!

T-Roy Cooks: When I walk by my Yoder Wichita offset smoker, it smells like I am in one of those very old BBQ joints where they’ve been cooking BBQ on the same pits for over 100 years. You know the kind of BBQ joint I’m talking about where the smoke has discolored the walls of the place and the smoke smell permeates every crook and cranny in the joint? There is something to be said about that smell of a BBQ pit and the aromas filling the air from the meat smoking on the pit.

The smell of BBQ exhilarates me and makes me want to celebrate fine tasting BBQ with my friends, family, and neighbors. I am passionate about BBQ, but knowing that each cut of meat is different, I have to stay on my toes while cooking BBQ. No two briskets or pork butts will ever cook exactly the same. The meat can be temperamental and it is up to me, the Pitmaster, to do everything I can to produce the best BBQ I can from the meat on the pit. It is a challenge, but it is a challenge that I gladly accept. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!!!

PotP: When you don’t feel like cooking, where do you go for BBQ?

T-Roy Cooks: I know you’ll find this quite odd, but I really don’t go out to eat BBQ. In fact, I rarely go out to eat period! There are plenty of BBQ joints here around Central Texas (Austin), but there are only a couple that I would eat at again. One is Louie Mueller BBQ and the other is Stiles Switch BBQ. I hear that Franklin’s BBQ and La Barbecue (owned by Mueller’s grand-daughter) are really good, but I have yet to try those because I don’t like long lines and I don’t like going to downtown Austin.

PotP: What is your pit-side beverage of choice?

T-Roy Cooks: I love relaxing by my pit with a cold beer or a big glass of strong sweet iced tea. In fact, I have a Kegerator, as mentioned in a previous question, and I always have a keg from a local Austin brewery iced down on tap. I change up which breweries I have on tap, but most of them are really tasty!

PotP: What is your choice activity whilst smoking a 16 hour pork butt?

T-Roy Cooks: During the day, I enjoy floating around in my pool under the palm trees or relaxing in my hot tub while listening to some classic tunes from the 70’s & 80’s. If it’s late at night on a long cook, I will watch a good Sci-Fi TV show or movie, a Football game, or some NASCAR on my TV out back to pass the time. I usually have plenty of those shows recorded so I can watch them at my leisure.

PotP: Lastly, what is next for T-Roy Cooks?

T-Roy Cooks: I have had a lot of my followers request that I make BBQ rubs, so I am working on some recipes for my own rubs that I can sell. I am also wanting to do some live cooking shows so that my followers can watch me in live time while I cook. They can ask questions of me and I can instantly respond back to them. The hard part with that idea is finding the right time where I can get the most people watching live.

Bonus Question: I’ve seen you in your videos do cannonball dives into your pool for the amusement of your viewers. Big leaping kerplooshes, sending tsunami-like waves across the land. Pets run for their lives. You have some mad skills there. So, if you were an Olympic diver, and a gold medal was on the line, would the cannonball then be your go to dive?

T-Roy Cooks: If I did a cannonball from a great height, I’d probably drain the pool and other divers wouldn’t be able to compete, so yes! Of course, I’d have to go first! I also do a really elegant back flip off of the diving board, but my pool is only 6 feet deep, so that isn’t something you’ll see me doing in my videos.

Thanks Troy. You’re awesome!

Check out T-Roy Cooks on YouTube some day. Good stuff!

 


YouTube PitMaster Interview: Rus Jones

The wood smoke curls in a good way today. We’ve got a little treat for you all, patron to the pit. And needless to say, we’re kind of excited for this. I guess if you’re not into BBQ or cooking out-of-doors, you won’t care an easterner’s hoot. But then if you’re not into those things, why are you even reading this. So you probably do care. At least a little. Anyways, we’ve been asked on occasion who some of our BBQ influences are. Who inspires us to do what we do because they do what they do. Well, there is a long list of pit jockeys we could tally here, lots of them, but for now we’ll stick with one good old boy from the coast of Mississippi. A chap we have much admiration and respect for. One Rus Jones of Smoky Ribs

For the Love of the Game

Over yonder in the enchanted land of YouTube, you will find many endeavors. And one of the great resources over there, where BBQ is concerned, are guys like Rus. Individuals with an outstanding passion for outdoor cooking. Pit Keepers who routinely aspire to great things in the BBQ arts, and further more, and maybe even better than that, they operate a YouTube channel to share their journey for free with anyone who may be interested. And that’s just plain cool. These guys are all in it for the love of the game. True patrons of the pit. Good old boys, of the salt-of-the-earth variety. Highly decent folk who just love to put meat to flame and tell people about it. The community of YouTube pit masters out there ranks pretty amazing, and they really do know their stuff. We’ve learned much from those guys.  Rus Jones is one of them.

We have been watching his Smoky Ribs videos for a long time now, and every time, the shows are at once inspiring, entertaining, and pretty much make you slobber out your jowls like the neighbor’s estranged bull dog. But that’s life where BBQ is concerned. You must deal with a certain amount of drool about your chin. Anyways, and to the point here, Rus Jones is one of the pit masters who have inspired us over the years, and we thought it would be fun to contact him and see if we could get to know him a little better. Perhaps hear some of his thoughts on BBQ. Well, turns out he had plenty, and was happy to give us his time. So what are we waiting for. Lets get after it, shall we…

The following is a little interview with Rus Jones. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Also, check out his website, http://www.smokyribs.com/

Or his YouTube channel here: Smoky Ribs BBQ & Southern Cuisine


Picking the brain of Rus Jones of Smoky Ribs

smoky-ribs

PotP: Who are your BBQ influences? Why did you start a YouTube Channel? 

Smoky Ribs: Being raised here in the deep south, I was no stranger to real BBQ growing up. From roadside BBQ shacks ran by old black men, to more formal BBQ establishments in our area, I quickly developed a taste for good BBQ cooked over wood smoke and served with great sauces. The old black men really knew how to put out the best tasting BBQ you will ever eat, and they to this day have been my biggest influence on trying to perfect those delicious BBQ delights as they did. They are all gone now, but those memories will last the rest of my life and will live on in my attempts to preserve the art of BBQ. I was looking around YouTube one day in the summer of 2012 and stumbled across a cooking video, and that led me to finding many more and I was primarily searching for BBQ related channels, even though I have a huge passion for cooking in general. After watching a number of these videos, I instantly knew that I had found something that really anyone could do, and with the passion I have and always have had for cooking, I thought this was an excellent way to share my knowledge and ideas, so I went to reading just how to create a channel and the rest is history. I started this channel just for the love of cooking on July 8th 2012 . I was six months into the channel before I knew you could actually make money with YouTube. Even though I do have all of my videos monetized to help with cost, money was not the driving factor to starting my channel, and never will be, even though it is nice to get a monthly pay check that I can reinvest into my channel.

PotP: What is your favorite smoke wood?

Smoky Ribs: That really depends on what I’m smoking, but my top two for pork and beef is hickory and pecan, I also enjoy the pleasant taste that oak offers as well, and on fish I always use alder wood. On poultry I have used a variety of woods, but one of my favorites is pimento wood. I have probably used about all the different smoke woods you can get at one time or another just to see how it taste compared to other woods, such as orange, peach, apple, cherry, beech, etc.

PotP: Give one tip for aspiring pit masters

Smoky Ribs: I could probably write a book on tips, but showing how to videos as I do covers most of it. I don’t currently use and offset smoker, but I have in the past, and I plan on getting another one soon, primarily to offer videos on how to use them effectively. One bit of advice if a aspiring pit master is using a offset smoker is to first realize that the fuel consumption is much higher than any other cooker, and the tip I’m about to give, makes fuel consumption even worse, but helps tremendously in the overall flavor of the final result. A offset smoker requires a lot of attention while smoking meat because the wood does burn up rather fast, and every time you put a log into the firebox, the log will take time to catch up and burn properly, but during that time, it is putting off a lot of unwanted bellowing smoke which is going right into the meat chamber which can lead to off putting flavors. My tip is simply this: Have a separate fire pit near your smoker, and have a supply of hot ready to go coals and embers from burning logs, that when placed into the smoker fire chamber, it will just bring your heat back up to your desired range without adding anymore unwanted smoke. As I said, this will not help your fuel efficiency but will produce better tasting BBQ.

PotP: How often do you cook outside?

Smoky Ribs: At least twice a week, and sometimes more depending on my available time.

PotP: Favorite cut of meat to BBQ? Why?

Smoky Ribs: This is a hard one for me since I love so many different cuts from pork and beef, but as far as my favorite for BBQ in taste and texture, it would have to be beef chuck roast smoked and cooked down to tender shreds to make great BBQ beef sandwiches with. Chuck has a lot of beef flavor and works really well for traditional southern BBQ.

PotP: Do you have any outdoor cooking traditions?

Smoky Ribs: I wouldn’t really call it a tradition, but I do love sitting outside near the smoker especially in the colder months, just smelling the smoke in the air and getting a whiff of the meat cooking inside from time to time while sipping on a cold beer. That is the best “me” time there is!

PotP: What is your biggest BBQ blunder? What just didn’t work? When did Rus slap his head and go “whups!”

Smoky Ribs: As anyone knows who watches my Smoky Ribs videos, then they also know that I do other cooks and recipes other than BBQ. I once did a pizza video, and I made 3 pizzas for this particular video and while removing one of the pizzas from the pit, it slid off of the pizza peel, and turned upside down into the grass! That was a “whups” moment for sure. I was able to pull the video off without using that pizza, but I sure did hate seeing it go to waste!

PotP: Other than eating it, what is it about BBQ that excites you? Why do you keep pursuing it? What fuels your passion, Rus!

Smoky Ribs: I think it’s the other way around. My passion for BBQ & cooking is what fuels and drives me to keep doing it. It’s the pure love I have for it, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of watching other people eat what I prepare, and of course I also love sharing via video with all the viewers, and I get a lot of feedback from folks who have tried my recipes and feel compelled to tell me how much they enjoyed it. Those are always great to read!

smoky-ribs-fishin

PotP: When you don’t feel like cooking, where do you go for BBQ?

Smoky Ribs: We never go out for BBQ anymore, because no one around here can do BBQ like I had growing up, and I would rather do it myself, but from time to time we will go out to eat, and it’s normally seafood which we have plenty of here on the Mississippi coast.

PotP: What is your pit-side beverage of choice?

Smoky Ribs: If I start a long low & slow cook in the early hours of the morning, then I start with coffee, but as the day progresses I will then start consuming cold beer as I’m outside with my smoker.

PotP: What is your choice activity whilst smoking a 16 hour pork butt?

Smoky Ribs: In between just sitting and relaxing while sipping on a cold beer, I will prepare any sides that I’m planning for the meal, but I normally don’t do that until the meat is getting close to finishing up, so basically I just relax, chill, and enjoy the day. I never start editing a video until everything is finished, and I normally start that the following day.

PotP: What’s next for Smoky Ribs?

Smoky Ribs: My plans are to start incorporating more outdoors into my videos including, fishing, camping, etc. but these videos will still revolve around a recipe & cooking.