BBQ Pitmaster Erica Blaire Roby Shares Her Award-Winning Recipes and Signature Sauce

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Pitmaster Erica Blair Roby. Image: courtesy of subject.

Roby is bringing visibility to other Black, female pitmasters, who are often overlooked in the world of barbecue.

As one of the leading pitmasters in the country and the season 2 winner of Food Network’s “BBQ Brawl”, Erica Blaire Roby is bringing visibility to other Black, female pitmasters, who are often overlooked in the world of barbecue.

Originally from Dayton, Ohio, the nationally recognized pitmaster has her own award-winning digital series, “The Pit Stop with Blue Smoke Blaire”. The show documents her nationwide travels, in her RV, interviewing notable food personalities and highlighting the passion, struggles, and dreams of pitmasters around America. This series also details Roby’s lifechanging career pivot. Previous to honing her craft on the grill, Roby was an attorney and level-2 Certified Sommelier. She hopes to be an example of pursuing your passions, despite the fear of committing to the unknown, even if it requires a strategic course-correction. 

In May 2022, Roby competed in the world-famous Memphis in May World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest, where she tied for 1st place in brisket and 4th in the rib division. In addition to her impressive wins, she launched Blue Smoke Blaire’s BBQ sauce and rubs, a product line of her coveted original sauces and spices including a Sweet Heat Rub, a Home Rub, Sweet Bourbon Sauce, and SPG Rub. 

Today, Roby shares three of her mouth-watering recipes with EBONY so you can recreate her sizzlin’, award-winning dishes at home.

Blue Smoke Blaire’s Brisket

Image: courtesy of Lindsay Toops

Roby says, “I love a good brisket. Nothing beats simplicity and patience. Long hours tending wood fires and drinking my favorite wine next to my smoker is absolute heaven and so is this brisket!”

Ingredients

1 Prime Packer Brisket (12-18lbs)

1/2 Cup Kosher salt

1/2 Cup coarse black pepper

1/2 Cup Blue Smoke Blaire’s Down Home Rub Mustard

1/2 Cup Pickle juice Hickory wood (for smoking)

Preparation

  1. Trim brisket fat to an even 1/4 inch. Combine salt, pepper, and garlic into a uniform mixture.
  2. Mix mustard and pickle juice in a small bowl until uniform.
  3. Slather both sides of brisket in the mustard/pickle juice mixture.
  4. Raise your hand 16 inches above the brisket and take turns shaking bbq rub, salt, and pepper gently in a “W’ pattern until the entire brisket is covered. Repeat on bottom side.
  5. Cover and place brisket back in refrigerator for a minimum 1 hour.
  6. Use this time to start your grill or smoker. Get it to 275F and add hickory wood (either chips or small chunks) to your coals.
  7. When the grill reaches the desired temperature. Place brisket (fat side up) onto the grates.
  8. Smoke the brisket until 175F internal temperature. Take off the smoker and wrap in butcher paper.
  9. Place back on your grill or smoker until the internal temperature reaches 207F. Remove, but keep the brisket wrapped in butcher paper. Flip over the brisket and place in a cooler to rest for 1 hour.
  10. Discard butcher paper, slice against the grain of the brisket. Enjoy!

Blue Smoke Blaire’s Competition Ribs

Image: courtesy of Lindsay Toops

“These are my actual competition ribs. I’ve worked on this recipe for 4 years and used it when it really counted!” exclaims Roby.

Notes

I like to remove the membrane from the back of my ribs. It allows smoke and seasoning to penetrate both sides of the ribs.

Ingredients

3 racks of St. Louis Style Spare Ribs

Rib Sauce:

2 Cups Blue Smoke Blaire’s Sweet Bourbon Bbq Sauce Rib Rub:

2 Cups Blue Smoke Blaire’s Down Home Bbq Rub

Rib Wrap:

1/3 Cup Brown Sugar

Honey

6 Tbs of SALTED butter

1/2 Cup Peach Nectar

Preparation

  1. Apply bbq rub to each side of the ribs. Let sit on counter for 30 mins.
  2. Place ribs on smokers at 275F. After the first hour on smoker, lightly spray ribs with water.
  3. Once the bark has set on ribs (around 2hrs-3hrs), Wrap ribs in double heavy-duty foil with the Rib Wrap recipe divided onto both sides of ribs. Place wrapped ribs back on pit. At the 4 hour mark, start checking ribs for tenderness. Ribs are usually done around an internal temp of 207-215F.
  4. Remove ribs and vent the foil on one end to let some steam out. Let ribs rest for 30 minutes in foil. Drain liquid from foil pouch. Apply warmed bbq sauce on both sides. Place ribs back on smoker for 8 minutes.
  5. Remove, cut, sauce again and ENJOY!

Jumpin’ Jambalaya

Image: courtesy of Lindsay Toops

“Jambalaya is very forgiving so be experimental! Add new things and see where it takes you!” Roby shares.

Ingredients

2 Cups Chicken stock

1 Lb shrimp, peeled

1 onion, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped 1 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs Blue Smoke Blaire’s Down Home Rub Kosher salt

Black pepper

1 tsp sage, dried

1 tsp. oregano, dried

1 Andouille sausage, sliced 3 Cloves garlic, minced

1 Can tomato paste

1 Cup white rice

Cilantro, garnish

Preparation

  1. Pour oil into a large skillet on medium heat. Add onions, bell peppers, garlic, pinch of salt and saute.
  2. Add andouille sausage, sage, oregano, bbq rub, and saute on low. If anything starts burning, add a dash of chicken stock to deglaze the pan.
  3. Add tomato paste, chicken stock and rice to pan and bring to a boil.
  4. Cover pan and reduce heat to low. Allow to simmer until rice is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. About 30 minutes.
  5. Add shrimp and cook until opaque. Remove from heat. Garnish with cilantro. Enjoy!

Quick Brisket Pit Beans

Image: courtesy of Lindsay Toops

Roby explains, “These beans are not your average bbq side! The brisket adds layers of flavor to make your next bbq a hit!”

Notes

You can omit the bacon pieces if you prefer more beef flavor.
Serve some crumbled cornbread over the top for a hint of buttery goodness!

Ingredients

1 Lb cooked bacon, chopped

1/4 Cup bacon drippings

1 Cup shredded brisket

1 48oz can of pinto beans

1/4 Cup Blue Smoke Blaire’s Sweet Bourbon BBQ Sauce 1 Clove garlic, minced

2 Tbs Blue Smoke Blaire’s Down Home BBQ Rub 1 Tsp mustard powder

1/4 Tsp cayenne pepper, optional

Preparation

  1. In a cast iron skillet, heat bacon drippings over medium heat. Add garlic, bbq rub, and brisket. Saute until garlic shimmers.
  2. In a large saucepan, add beans and mustard powder. Turn heat to medium, add bbq sauce. Add bacon. Stir until bubbles begin to form. Add skillet mixture to saucepan. Return to medium heat. Stir.
  3. Add cayenne. reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Enjoy!
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