Operation BBQ: 200 Smokin' Recipes from Competition Grand Champions

Operation BBQ: 200 Smokin' Recipes from Competition Grand Champions

by Cindi Mitchell, Stan Hays, Tim O'Keefe


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The Most Comprehensive Collection of Award-Winning BBQ Recipes in Print

Operation BBQ is a compilation of recipes from championship-winning barbecue teams who volunteer for disaster relief efforts across the United States. These unsung heroes develop BBQ dishes that wow crowds and judges everywhere, and then help feed displaced residents and emergency personnel—putting the “comfort” in “comfort food.”

Here, more than 70 teams of grand and world champion pitmasters bring their prized recipes and powerful stories to life in this exceptional cookbook. You don’t have to be a master chef to make these recipes; they have been scaled for the home cook wielding tongs at a backyard barbecue. Learn from the best in the business how to make Bone-Sucking Baby Back Ribs, Jalapeño and Applewood Bacon Burgers, Jack Daniel’s Whiskey–Infused Steak Tips, Chicken Satay Skewers with Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce and Raging River Maple-Butter Crusted Salmon, as well as casseroles, stews, side dishes and desserts that can be cooked on the grill.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781624143595
Publisher: Page Street Publishing
Publication date: 04/09/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 783,150
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Stan Hays is the co-founder and CEO of Operation BBQ Relief®. As a barbecue competitor, he has participated in more than 35 sanctioned barbecue contests with two grand champion awards, four reserve champions and several top-ten finishes. He was also runner-up on Chopped Grill Masters on the Food Network. Operation BBQ Relief® has now served more than 1.78 million meals in 25 states.

Tim O’Keefe is a certified barbecue judge who has judged over 40 contests sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, and has been part of the Can U Smell My Pits competition team since 2015. Tim has contributed articles for National Barbecue News, and he co-wrote three cookbooks with pitmaster Bill Gillespie.

Read an Excerpt



BECAUSE OF ITS VERSATILITY, pork is enjoyed not only for family meals but also for special occasions. It is budget friendly and can be grilled, slow cooked, brined, stuffed or smoked with your preference of wood flavors. In this chapter, you will find many delicious ways not only to cook competition-style meats, but to make an elegant meal for company. On the next page is a listing of the most popular cuts of pork.

PORK LOIN: The large, tender loin is from the pig's back, and it is best roasted. Lean pork loin can dry out if cooked beyond 140°F (60°C), so use an instant-read thermometer to make sure you cook it correctly. You can buy the loin bone-in or boneless.

PORK CHOPS: Pork chops come thin or thick cut; bone-in or boneless; and from the sirloin or from the shoulder, rib or center of the loin. To avoid overcooking, cook lean chops to an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C). For extra insurance against dried-out chops, brine them before cooking.

PORK BUTT: To coax the most from pork butt, slowly smoke, roast or braise it to tenderness. This cut, also called Boston butt, comes bone-in or boneless, weighs 6 to 8 pounds (2.7 to 3.6 kg) and is often shredded after cooking.

PICNIC SHOULDER: Just below the pork butt, where the pig's front leg meets its torso, is the picnic shoulder, also called the pork shoulder. Like the pork butt, the shoulder is fatty and needs long cooking. The picnic shoulder has a considerable cap of fat and skin — perfect for making crackling. Don't confuse picnic shoulders with picnic hams: the latter are smoked.

SPARERIBS: Cut from near the fatty belly of the pig, spareribs include the rib bones, the meat between them and the brisket bone near the pig's chest. They can weigh more than 4 pounds (1.8 kg) per rack. St. Louis cut ribs fit better on a backyard grill because the bones and meat from the brisket section have been removed. They cook more quickly and evenly, too.

BABY BACK RIBS: These ribs come from the back of the pig, along the vertebrae. They're smaller than spareribs, usually less than 2 pounds (910 g) per rack. These ribs have more meat and less connective tissue than spareribs do, which is good, but there is a drawback — baby backs are relatively lean, so they can easily dry out if overcooked.

COUNTRY-STYLE RIBS: These ribs are made from halved or butterflied rib chops from the blade shoulder end of the tenderloin. They contain both dark meat from the shoulder and light meat from the loin. Brining them keeps the white meat moist and pounding them to an even thickness helps the dark meat cook through faster.

PORK TENDERLOIN: Pork tenderloin, the muscle that runs down either side of the backbone, is lean, mild and tender. It's the tenderest part of the pig. Sear tenderloins and then finish them on the cooler part of the grill using indirect heat. Before you start cooking, trim off the shiny membrane (silver skin).

FRESH HAM: Fresh ham is simply the pig's upper hind leg. Whole fresh hams can weigh up to 25 pounds (11.3 kg), so they're usually broken down into the sirloin (or "butt") end closer to the torso and the tapered shank end. Tip: Brine fresh ham before cooking it to keep it moist.

CURED HAM: Cured hams are wet-cured in brine, while country hams are dry-cured in salt and then aged. If the label says anything more than "ham" or "ham with natural juices," don't buy it. Also avoid boneless hams, which can be spongy.

PORK BELLY: The fatty, succulent pork belly has become a hugely popular restaurant cut. Chefs braise and sear sections of the belly to create a dish that's crisp on the outside and unctuous within. Bacon is pork belly that's been salted, (usually) sugared and smoked. Pancetta, sometimes called Italian bacon, is similar but not smoked.

PORK SHANK: A cheap, low-cost item that's often found in soups, pork shank is the lower leg region, below the knee. Shanks tend to be rather tough and require a lengthy cooking time to help the meat break down and become tender. While shanks are usually cooked using moist heat, such as braising, they're also wonderful when prepared on the smoker.



Mike and Kris Boisvert won an astounding seventeen grand championships in just a short five years before moving on from competition barbecue. Mike was one of the first to jump in to volunteer with Operation BBQ Relief during Superstorm Sandy, and he still loves to cook for a crowd. This recipe is for Mike's Christmas jambonneau. It is for sixteen fresh (uncured) pork shanks, covered with a savory rub, slow-smoked until it pulls apart easily and drizzled with a sweet glaze.


2½ gal (9.5 L) water
3 cups (724 g) salt
4 cups (880 g) brown sugar
1 tbsp (17 g) Prague powder (pink salt)
1 large Spanish onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 scallions, chopped
2 tbsp (17 g) whole peppercorns
4 bay leaves

16 fresh pork shanks

2 cups (440 g) brown sugar
2 tbsp (12 g) black pepper
2 tbsp (20 g) garlic powder
2 tsp (5 g) ginger powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg

2 (8-oz [225-g]) jars Boar's Head Brown Sugar & Spice Ham Glaze or your favorite ham glaze
¼ cup (60 ml) water

To make the brine, combine the water, salt, brown sugar and Prague powder in a large pot over high heat. Bring it to just under a boil to dissolve the salts and sugar. Add the onion, garlic, scallions, peppercorns and bay leaves. Pour everything into a large food-grade bucket and cool overnight in the fridge.

To make the meat, add the pork to the cool brine and put it in the fridge for 7 days. Halfway through the brining process, move the shanks around at least once.

On day 6, fill another food-grade bucket with 2 gallons (7.6 L) of water and put it into the fridge.

After 7 days of brining, take the shanks out of the brine and get rid of the brine. Rinse the bucket out and add the shanks back into it. Add the 2 gallons (7.6 L) of cold water to the shanks and place the bucket back in the fridge for at least 12 hours.

To make the rub, combine all the rub ingredients in a small bowl.

Remove the pork shanks from the fridge; trim some of the excess fat and skin from them. Apply the rub, and leave the rubbed shanks out of the fridge for 2 hours. In those 2 hours, light the smoker.

Stabilize the smoker to around 250°F (121°C) and put the shanks in the smoker. Add a small piece of applewood, and then a few more during the first 2 hours of the cooking process. Total cook time should be right around 6 hours, or until the centers of the shanks are around 180°F (82°C) and a probe slides in easily.

To make the glaze, mix the glaze ingredients in a small pot and cook over medium heat until melted and well combined.

Raise the temperature of the smoker to 400°F (204°C) and brush the glaze on the shanks. Cook for another hour or so.

Take the meat off the bones by slicing as close as possible to the bone with a knife, or use a fork to shred the meat off the bone and serve it as different-sized chunks of meat: big, small and a little pulled. Drizzle a little more of the glaze over the chunks and serve.


My alarm sounds at 5:15 a.m. Not that I need it; I have been wide awake for the past hour. In the darkness, I find my way to the door. A brisk wind welcomes me as I step outside. It's cold, a drastic change from the weather that we've had over the past few days. Everything is damp and dreary. I struggle in the murkiness to finish my final packing before we hit the road. About half an hour later I'm behind the wheel pulling out of Wiseman Park, driving through Lynchburg Square and heading down Route 55. In the early dusk's glow I can see the Lynchburg Welcomes You! sign in my rearview mirror. As we move forward the sign gets smaller and smaller ... and then it's gone. I get a little sad because I know that that's the last time I will ever see that sign again. It would be the last time in The Hollow, the last time up on The Hill, and it will be the last time competing at The Jack. And as I drive forward I become content and even at peace with our decision. I smile to myself thinking about the amazing times I've had in Lynchburg over the past four years — times and memories that I'll have forever. And as the daylight struggles to break through the clouds, we press on, moving forward with limited stops, as fast as we can. Because driving directly into the path of a hurricane was not only a great idea, but it made perfect sense.

To do well at a BBQ competition, you need two things: you need to cook really good BBQ and you need just a little luck. Over the past few years, we — the Lakeside Smokers — have definitely received our fair share of luck. But fortunately at this year's Jack, we were saving our luck for much bigger things. As we drove up Route 81 through Virginia, a storm front from the west was closing in and a hurricane to the east was racing us up the coast. Stopping only to gas up, we drove twenty hours straight home, with barely enough time to watch the two storms collide into what we now know as Superstorm Sandy. From the comforts of my home I watched as Sandy pulverized the East Coast. The New Jersey Shore was one of the hardest hit. Where I live in New England had minimal damage: we lost power for a few hours but were very, very lucky. We made it home safe and had a slight inconvenience. Others were not so lucky.

A day after the storm, the sun was out and we were cleaning up the RV. I thought to myself just how lucky we were ... but I had no idea. I went to work the next day only to find out that I didn't get the job that I had planned to go to that week. Seriously, how lucky am I? I now had plenty of time to relax and recharge. I had visions of chilling lakeside and maybe brewing up some beer later that week. Then I turned on the news, and everything changed. The reports out of New Jersey and coastal New York were terrible. Facebook was blowing up with pictures of the devastation. Friends were sharing pictures of their homes: homes that were flooded, hit with trees or completely gone. Heartbreaking indeed.

A few days went by, a few phone calls were made, and I was on my way to Jersey. Operation BBQ Relief was mobilizing, and the BBQ community came together to help. Friends, family and neighbors helped the efforts by donating money and supplies. When Eric and Cindi Mitchell picked me up, their truck was packed with more supplies. We could barely fit it all in. We hit the road, not really knowing what to expect but just wanting to help. The seven-hour trip to Forked River, New Jersey, turned into ten because we had to search for gas ... I don't think any of us knew just how bad it was.

I spent two days on the New Jersey Shore, doing whatever I could do to help. Given the magnitude of the devastation, it seemed insignificant ... and not enough. I thought: some of these people just lost their homes, and I'm giving them a pulled pork sandwich? But, hopefully, it helps. On some level, on a human level, I hope it helps. On the way home, my thoughts were still with the people I had just left. The people I met, the faces of those who lost so much, I won't soon forget. I also thought about just how lucky I really am. I felt fortunate that I even had the chance to offer any assistance, in any way. So many things had to fall into place to allow me this opportunity. I used to think that I was lucky because I've done well at BBQ competitions. But somewhere between Tennessee and New Jersey, I realized just how small that sounds, that I should consider myself lucky for so much more.

MIKE BOISVERT, Lakeside Smokers BBQ Team



Every backyard cook needs to know the proper way to prepare a great rack of ribs. Learn this workflow from a championship cook, and you'll turn out winning ribs each and every time.


4 racks of spare ribs
2 tbsp (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups (400 g) favorite rub (Big Ugly team prefers BBQ Bob's Hav'n a BBQ, Alpha Rub)
Apple or cherry smoke wood
1 cup (230 g) low-salt butter
2 cups (473 ml) honey
2 cups (400 g) brown sugar
2 cups (480 ml) barbecue sauce (BBQ Bob's Hav'n a BBQ sauce is a good choice here)

Set the grill/cooker/smoker up for the indirect method and let the temperature stabilize at 250°F (121°C).

Trim the ribs St. Louis style. Try to keep ten bones on the rack. Using a sharp knife, remove any loose fat from the surface of the ribs, along with anything that does not look pleasing.

Flip the rack over and remove the piece of meat and the long, thin membrane from the back of the ribs. Using a knife, pry the membrane up from one bone. Then, using a paper towel, grip the section of membrane you pried up between your thumb and finger, and pull the entire membrane away from the ribs. The paper towel helps provide a better grip and makes it easier to remove the membrane. Removing the membrane allows flavors from the rub to get into the underside of the rack.

Apply a light coating of olive oil to both sides of the ribs. Starting with the underside, apply a light-to-medium coat of the rub. Flipping the ribs over, apply a medium coat to the topside and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Once the cooker is heated up, add your favorite smoking wood, such as apple or cherry. When the ribs have rested for about 15 minutes, place them on the smoker, generally where the temperature is most constant. You need to know your cooker to know where the temperature is consistent.

Let the cooker do its thing for 3 hours. IF YOU'RE LOOKIN', YOU AIN'T COOKIN'! Walk away! Check to make sure the temperature is dialed in, but don't open the cooking chamber unless you absolutely have to.

Three hours into the cook, you will have to open the door and rotate the ribs. Front to back, side to side, whatever works. This is also a good time to apply a light sprinkle of rub. Visually, you should be able to gauge the level of doneness by looking at the racks. The bones along the edge should be starting to show, and they should have some solid color to them.

About 2 hours after rotating, it's time to wrap the ribs. Tear four sheets of aluminum foil large enough to wrap the ribs. Cut up ¼ cup (56 g) of butter into pieces for each rack. Place a few pieces of butter on the foil followed by a healthy squirt of honey, a handful of brown sugar and a healthy shake of rub. Place the rack of ribs on the foil and reverse the process: shake some rub, add some brown sugar, squirt some honey and then add some more butter to the top of the ribs.

This is also a good time to check the doneness of the ribs. Grab a toothpick and stick it into the meat between two bones. Stick the middle and each end. The toothpick should easily go in and come out with a little resistance, indicating that the rack only needs an hour or so of additional cooking.

Wrap the ribs tightly in the aluminum foil. Place the racks back on the cooker and continue to cook for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

After an hour, remove the foiled ribs from the smoker. Unwrap the ribs and remove them from the foil. Remember, the liquid inside the foil will be HOT! Brush your favorite sauce onto the ribs and return them to the cooker long enough to set the sauce, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the sauced ribs from the cooker, slice into individual rib sections and plate with some extra sauce on the side.


I got involved in OBR because I believe in the OBR mission — having active involvement and helping others in times of need. The values held by OBR are the same values that we all should have: honesty, compassion, friendship, hard work and respect. Right now, there is a real need for positive role models who help without thought of themselves, who act without hesitation, who are there in a time of need. OBR provides this every day, on every deployment.




Eleven-year-old Anna Hays of County Line Smokers started cooking when she was only six years old. She already has two grand championships under her belt, from 2012 and 2017.

The saltiness of the rub, combined with the tart of the apples and the sweetness of the juice gives you a succulent pork loin chop with beautiful cross marks and a great presentation.


1 (10-oz [280-g]) thick-cut, center-cut pork chop Apple juice
1 Granny Smith apple Pork Mafia's Memphis Mud Rub or favorite rub, to taste

Place the pork chop in a resealable plastic bag and cover with apple juice. Close the bag tightly, and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Core and cut a Granny Smith apple into slices.

Start your charcoal for the grill. Anna likes hardwood lump and uses Cowboy's Southern Style lump charcoal.

Remove the pork chop from the plastic bag and dust liberally with the Memphis Mud rub. Let it set until the rub starts getting wet on the meat. Put a clean grate on your grill and spray with nonstick cooking spray. When your grill gets good and hot, usually about 5 minutes, put your pork chop on the grate.

After 2 minutes, turn the chop to get nice cross grill marks. Cook for another 1½ minutes, and then flip over. After 1½ minutes, check the temperature of the chop. It should be getting close to 130°F (55°C) internal. Turn for the cross marks and pull it off at 140°F (60°C). Put it on a plate and cover with foil for around 5 minutes. No sauce necessary.

While the chop is resting, put your Granny Smith apple slices on the grill with a little Memphis Mud rub. Grill them until they are tender, 4 to 6 minutes per side, and serve them with your perfectly grilled apple-marinated pork chop.


Excerpted from "Operation Bbq"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Stan Hays with Tim O'Keefe.
Excerpted by permission of Page Street Publishing Co..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Introduction 6

Chapter 1 Pork 8

Chapter 2 Beef and Lamb 54

Chapter 3 Poultry 84

Chapter 4 Burgers and Sandwiches 116

Chapter 5 From Sea to Sea 154

Chapter 6 Casseroles and Stews 180

Chapter 7 Appetizers and Sides 202

Chapter 8 Desserts 284

Chapter 9 Rubs, Sauces and Brines 316

Basic Tools and Techniques 330

Resources 333

About The BBQ Teams 334

About The Authors 348

Index 349

Customer Reviews