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'BBQ Pitmasters': Do They Do BBQ in New York City?

Mechele R. Dillard's picture

This week, Destination America took the BBQ Pitmasters to the Big Apple.

This week, the BBQ Pitmasters were in New York City, yes, New York City, cooking their best BBQ for judges Tuffy Stone, Myron Mixon, and guest judge Melissa Cookston, a two-time Memphis in May winner, as well as winner of the Kingsford Invitational, and owner of the Memphis Barbecue Co. They were ready to have some great barbeque from the following:

  • Jamie Geer; Jambo Pits Cooking Team; Burleson, TX
  • Rich Tuttle; K Cass Bar-B-Que; Kansas City, MO
  • Stump McDowell; Stumps BBQ Team; Elko, GA

The teams checked their coolers and found chicken wings and pork belly—neither one being a slam-dunk for the teams, especially when they found out they had to do the chicken wings barbequed, i.e. no Buffalo wings.

Pitmaster Stump was going with a gravity feed smoker of his own design; Pitmaster Rich was cooking on an offset stick burner; and Pitmaster Jamie, an acclaimed pit-builder, got going on his own insulated firebox—one he claimed had won more BBQ prizes than any other cooker out there, dropping the name of BBQ champion Johnny Trigg as an example of someone who uses his design.

Pork Belly Basics

Pitmaster Stump gave up his secret to a great pork injection: clam juice. According to the pitmaster, it gives a little salty taste to the meat. Pitmaster Jamie said the best way to treat pork belly was to cook them like a slab of ribs, but he did not give away his flavor profile secrets. Pitmaster Rich admitted that he had never cooked pork belly before, and gave his pork belly a mustard slather, much as he would his ribs or pork shoulder, he indicated. “Sweet hot,” he said.

The judges all agreed that you must go fat side up, but two of the cooks disagreed, cooking fat side down; only Pitmaster Stump went fat side up, although he did cook his in a pan, not directly on the grill.

Wings, Wings, Wings

Being in NYC, Buffalo-style wings was the normal first assumption when chicken wings were found in the cooler, but the judges nixed that idea, making it clear that the wings had to be barbequed.

Pitmaster Jamie decided to cut his wings into parts, rub them and grill them. Pitmaster Stump also cut some of his wings into parts, but he did do some whole wings, as well, to show the judges some versatility; he injected them with a Creole butter and rubbed them before putting them into his smoker. “It’s nothing fancy,” he said. “I want them to taste chicken.” Pitmaster Rich cut his wings into parts, and said he was only going to turn in the flat part of the wings—no drummies! He injected the wings with a sweet honey butter injection, then marinated them with a hot vinegar marinade. Before putting them on the pit, they got a good shake of rub, as well. But, was going with no drummies a good idea?

Judging Boxes

“I would have liked to have had a drummie,” Judge Stone said. Both of the other judges said they got some underdone wings from Pitmaster Rich, as well. Pitmaster Jamie’s wings were too hot for the judges, and Pitmaster Stump’s wings were criticized for appearance, and Judge Mixon said there wasn’t enough smoke, but overall his wings were tender with a good bite, he said.

Pitmaster Jamie’s pork belly got good ratings overall, especially in appearance. “I was almost getting a dance with the flavor and the tenderness,” Judge Cookston said. Pitmaster Rich’s box was criticized for being overdone, and Pitmaster Stump got mixed reviews, with the cubes being a little chewy, but the slices being deemed “spot-on perfect” by Judge Mixon.

So, who is the BBQ Pitmaster of NYC?

Pitmaster Stump!

Pitmaster Jamie was second, and Pitmaster Rich came in third.

BBQ Pitmasters airs on Destination America on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. E/P.

Image: Destination America