Real Dads, Real Barbecue

Whether you call him Grill Daddy or Pops the Pit Master, there’s something about dads and barbecue that is as all-American as apple pie.  They talk a big game and walk it, these no-nonsense men with grease on their hands, sweat on their brows and meat on their minds from sunup to sundown. Real pit masters pride themselves on perfectly tender ribs, kickin’ chicken and a secret sauce that just can’t be beat.

“I came up with my seasoning by experimenting and trying to get a signature taste; it’s what we call the Q-Team Taste,” says Walter Harris of San Luis Obispo, Calif., of his signature seasoning that’s a hit at monthly church barbecues. Once grilling 1,000 pounds of tri-tip in a weekend, Harris, who has three sons, prides himself on barbecuing in bulk. “I have a five-gallon container in the garage, so I will mix a batch of seasoning, five gallons at a time. It’s serious business.”

Detroit resident Bill Carter honed his ’cue chops growing up in Alabama, and he’s been known to marinate pork ribs, chicken and even turkey drumsticks for up to 48 hours. “That’s the No. 1 thing,” says Carter of the marinade that is required to bring out the flavors of the meat. But instead of a traditional dry rub, which many use, Carter swears by a blend of cayenne pepper, paprika, salt, pepper and Italian seasonings, plus a steady basting technique. The “major” mistake he says novices make is saucing meat too early on the grill. “Be sure you put the sauce on the meat at the right time, because the meat tends to burn if it’s put on too early.”

But in Snellville, Ga., it’s all about the fire being just right. “You’ve got to have charcoal. Let that gas grill go,” says husband and father of two Volzie Griffin Jr., who made his own monster grill that can cook up to 10 slabs of ribs, multiple chickens, and even deep-fry a turkey. “Charcoal is the way to go. No real grill masters use gas,” he says. An old family secret is pecan wood to perfect that smoky-moist flavor. His time-honored tool? A spray bottle. “I won’t reveal what’s in it, but let’s just say you put it on the meat as it gets going. It’s a little sumthin’, sumthin’,” laughs Griffin. “It’s got a little beer in it. That’s all I’ll say.”

Each baron of the grill has his own methods of turning out stellar barbecue that is tender on the inside and slicked with a tangy sauce on the outside. So without divulging all their secrets, these dads share their down-home recipes for serving up the perfect plate of finger-licking barbecue.

Walter Harris, 63
Known for: Santa Maria-style tri-tip beef, ribs and BBQ chicken
Secret weapon:
An open-air barbecue pit with a crank to lower and raise the meat
His best advice:
“Cook it low and slow.”

1|Tri-Tip Beef with Cumin ‘n’ Lime Marinade
Serves 6–8
INGREDIENTS:
1 tri-tip roast (between 2½ to 4 pounds)
1¼ cups beef broth
⅔ cup lime juice
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup ground cumin
3 tablespoons ground coriander
5 cloves garlic, minced
Directions:
Remove all fat and connective tissue from one side of the tri-tip. Prepare marinade by combining all remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisking. Place tri-tip in baking dish; pour marinade over beef and cover. Refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Remove tri-tip from marinade. Barbecue over medium-hot coals (or oak wood), meat (without fat) side down to sear; turn occasionally, cooking about 35 minutes for rare or longer for desired doneness. Remove all remaining fat and connective tissue from the other side. Let meat rest 5 to 10 minutes. To serve, cut tri-tip across the grain into thin slices.


2|Elder Harris’
Q-Team Chicken
Serves 4

ingredients:
1 cup salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
½ cup paprika
¼ cup black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
1 whole chicken, cut into 6 pieces
Pinch cayenne pepper
Sauce:
1 pint ketchup
1 pint cider vinegar
⅔ cup molasses
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons black pepper
2 tablespoons salt

Directions:
Combine spices thoroughly and rub onto each piece of chicken; place in dish and refrigerate 6 to 24 hours. Remove chicken from dish and barbecue over medium-hot coals or red oak wood, turning occasionally. Cook for 1½ to 2 hours or until done. While barbecuing, combine all sauce ingredients and cook 20 to 30 minutes over low heat, stirring often.  When chicken is just about done, cover with sauce.  Serve with additional sauce, if desired.
Bill Carter, 63
Known for: Saucy Alabama-style pork ribs and sweet rolls
Secret weapon:
Salting ribs on the grill
His best advice:
“Don’t place your meat too close to the fire because you want it to do more smoking than you want it to do cooking.”