Pork Barrel: How To Barbecue For A Crowd

Sep 23, 2018

"Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it's a start."  - Anthony Bourdain

From Korea to Kansas City, Brazil to Cleveland, people love to smoke meat over wood or charcoal. Food Guy Jon Jackson attended a family gathering where forty people enjoyed the host's clever technique for barbecuing pork ribs en masse.

First, Jon and his host coated the ribs the night before with a dry rub of with kosher salt, coursely-ground black pepper, brown sugar and spices. The ribs sat in several coolers overnight, marinating.

The next day, they hung the slabs of ribs from sharp hooks on steel rods that spanned the top of two 55-gallon drums. At the bottom of each drum burned a charcoal fire; at the top, the drum's lid sat loosely over top the steel rods. An eighteen-pound bag of charcoal briquettes had spent the previous hour burning down to ash-colored coals before the meat was placed in the drums.

After an hour and a half in the barrel, the ribs were ready for a finishing touch: a quick coating of barbeque sauce. After two minutese of final cooking on a nearby gas grill, voila: delicious ribs were served.

Credit Bella Anno. PD.

If you're setting up your own barrel barbecue for the first time, use 1/2" steel rods that are long enough to extend across the top of the drum, and S-shaped hooks that fit easily over the rods. Sharpen the bottom tip of each hook.  Scrub out the drum and set up a preliminary fire the day before you're going to cook, using an 18-pound bag of charcoal briquettes in each. The drum doesn't need holes; adequate air comes in from the loose-fitting top.  Use a chimney-shaped starter and burn the coals till they're ash-colored.

(Broadcast: "The Food Guys," 9/23/18. Listen weekly on the radio at 11:50 a.m. Sundays, or via podcast.)