Tips for Great BBQ

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 14, 2006

Tom Crenshaw is an award-winning cook as well as a poultry farmer here in Butler County.

Crenshaw is helping organize and promote the very first Blues & Que Barbecue Cook-off at this year's Sweet Gum Bottom Blues Fest, slated for Oct. 28 in downtown Greenville.

He recently shared some helpful hints for cookin' up some great &#8220que” with us and filled The Greenville Advocate in on what participants can expect at the upcoming cook-off.

Number one tip: don't get in a hurry. Great barbecue takes time.

&#8220Don't think this is something you can do in a hour or two. I also suggest using oak and pecan wood to flavor the meat; hickory can be too strong,” Crenshaw said.

Number two: keep it simple. &#8220Try not to add too many flavors, or they will be competing with each other. Also you can end up masking the flavor so you can't even taste the actual meat.”

Number three: meat first, then the sauce. &#8220In competitions like this one with the IBCA (International Barbecue Cookers Association), the judges will not allow you to put the sauce on the meat after cooking. You can cook with the sauce, but once the cooking is done, you cannot pour sauce or anything else over the meat. You are being judged on the meat, not the sauce.”

Crenshaw advises anyone planning to enter the cook-off to &#8220read the rules.”

&#8220The deadline (Oct. 16) is quickly approaching, so if you haven't already, pick up a form at Greenville Main Street downtown, go to, e-mail me at or call me at 382-3563.”

All head cooks are required to attend a 6:30 p.m. meeting Oct. 27 at the Ritz Theatre.

&#8220The official start of the cook-off is AFTER the head cooks' meeting - no prep work or cooking is allowed before that time. Also, no marinating of the meat for two days or anything like that,” Crenshaw explained.

&#8220You can set up your pit (cooking area) in advance, but that's it.” Only wood or charcoal cookers are allowed; no gas grills are permitted.

The head judge, an IBCA official from Georgia, will make meat inspections at the pits to make sure no one is getting an unfair head start, Crenshaw said.

He stresses this competition does not require a great outlay of funds.

&#8220My wife Mary Lou is using a barrel smoker anyone can get from Wal-Mart for under $50. She is also using a simple charcoal grill for her chicken. We purposely kept the entry fee down – $25 - to encourage a lot of local people to enter,” Crenshaw said.

&#8220Most contest entry fees are over $100, and we felt that would discourage some people. Also, don't be intimidated by the professionals. They do it all the time - but they don't win all the time. If someone local wins, think of the bragging rights you will have.”

As an organizer and promoter, Crenshaw won't be participating in the event, but has served as taste-tester for his wife's and daughter's practice sessions.

&#8220Practice, practice, practice. That's the important thing. There are three categories, beef brisket, pork spare ribs and chicken, requiring different cooking methods and times. You have to practice to be able to hit your turn in time,” Crenshaw said.

Chicken will be at noon, pork spare ribs at 1 p.m. and brisket at 2 p.m. Winners will be announced at 4 p.m., &#8220and if you are late, your entry won't be accepted.”

This is just the beginning of a great tradition in the Camellia City, Crenshaw hopes.

&#8220Next year we want to offer more prize money, more categories, maybe even a sauce contest. We are open to suggestions. We might even separate the pros from the backyard cookers,” he said.

&#8220The key thing is to come out, participate, enjoy the music and have a great time together.”