American Royal Championship Rib Recipe

Three Little Pig’s Competition BBQ Team

This is the recipe that Three Little Pig’s used in Competition BBQ to win the World Series of BBQ- The American Royal Grand Championship 4 times and  American Royal Reserve  Grand Championship 4 times and over 45  other BBQ Grand Championships over their 10 years on the Competition BBQ Circuit.



DIRECTIONS: · Heat Smoker 250 degrees using Good-One Natural Lump Charcoal, add 2 chunks of either apple or cherry flavor wood once the charcoal is ready to go. ·

Select (4) Slabs of Pork Baby Back Ribs, Strip membrane off back of each rib to guarantee tenderness. Liberally coat yellow mustard over both sides of the baby back rib, this will act as a tenderizer and a bonding agent for the rub. ·

Meanwhile, select you favorite BBQ rub and coat both sides of the ribs. I prefer Three Little Pigs Touch of Cherry or Championship rub for ribs. ·

Place ribs in a vertical rib rack for 4-5 hours depending on your smoker, ½ ways through the cook rotate the 180 degrees in the rack this will guarantee an even cook. ·

Once the meat has pulled back from the bones, use a toothpick to check tenderness. ·

Remove from Rack and place flat on the smoker and apply a glaze of butter, honey and Three Little Pigs Competition BBQ Sauce to both sides of the rib. ·

Place the ribs back on the smoker flat, allow 15 minutes to heat the glaze and sauce and then cut and serve hot.


Chris Marks (CBBQE) Chief BBQ Expert Three Little Pig’s Rubs & Sauces /Good-One Smoker/Grills

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What are Cheek Meats and how do I smoke them ??

Cheek meat, the small cut of meat in the hollow of an animal’s cheek (if that wasn’t already obvious enough) is uniquely lean and tender. While most cuts can often be one or the other — lean but dry or tender but fatty — those little cuts of cheek are both.

Cheek FAQ’s 

What is a beef cheek?


Beef Cheeks are the cheek muscle of cows and they are a very lean cut of meat. It’s a budget cut that needs to be cooked long and slow to make it tender. It absorbs the flavors of braising liquid well and when you cut into it, it is stringy, almost like pulled pork or brisket.



Where does the beef cheek come from?

 Funnily enough, the name ‘beef cheek‘ refers to the facial cheek muscle of a cow. It’s a very tough and lean cut of meat and is most often used for braising or slow cooking to produce a tender result. You may need to order them ahead from your butcher.

What is pig’s cheek?

Pork jowl (alternately called jowl bacon or, especially in the Southern United States, hog jowl) is cured and smoked cheeks of pork. Hog jowl is a staple of soul food, but is also used outside the United States; the Italian variant is called guanciale.

What are the cheeks of a fish?

 On medium to larger fish, such as trout, walleye or halibut, cheek flesh is a tasty and budget conscious part of the fish that can be consumed. The cheek flesh (or medallion) can be found sitting under the cavity where you’d presume the cheeks to be.


Simple method & technique Beef Cheek recipe.  

  • Start with a well-trimmed cheek muscle.
  • Rub generously with a Three Little Pig’s All Purpose & Memphis rub.
  • Place beef cheeks in a smoker at 250f, and cook for approximately 5 hours until you reach an internal temperature of 205-210f.
  • At this temperature, they can be either pulled or sliced.


Sliced for sandwich’s, or pulled for tacos, burritos or cheek sliders.

 Chris Marks (CBBQE) Chief BBQ Expert Three Little Pigs Rubs & Sauces and The Good-One Smoker/Grill 


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Pork Belly “Burn’t Ends”










Pork Belly FAQ’s 

Where can I find pork belly?
Lots of grocery stores and every butcher I’ve ever asked carries pork belly. Chains such as Costco, Sams Club are a good bet. Keep in mind when ordering you don’t need any fancy pork belly like kurobuta or berkshire. In my experience pork belly usually ranges from $3.00 – $7.00 per pound. When you see kurobuta or berkshire you’ll generally see them costing 2-3x this much.

Does it matter if the pork belly I use has skin on it?
Nope. Skin on or off, both work great. If you have skin on just slice it off after you cook the belly and before you slice it.

What kind of Wood should I use?
Yes! We like cherry and/or apple wood, but you can use whatever you prefer. These woods tend to lend a lighter smoke flavor. For heavier smoke try hickory

Is pork belly just slab bacon before it is smoked/cured?


Three Little Pig’s “Pork Belly Burn’t Ends” Recipe 

Step 1: The Brine –

2-Quarts of water

1-Cups of Morton’s Tender Quick

1-Cup of brown sugar

1-Cup of Three Little Pig’s Touch of Cherry

1-Cup of Three Little Pig’s Competition BBQ Sauce

1-Cup of Molasses

Heat the water with Tender Quick, sugar and all the other spices. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar and Tender quick are dissolved. Remove from heat add ice. Stir until the ice has melted. Score the front and back (fat side) of the pork belly with a sharp knife ¼ inch deep. Place pork belly in either catering pan or sealed container and cover with brine, put in the refrigerator.  Each day either turn or massage to make sure the pork belly is covered by the brine. On the final day remove brine and add clean cold water and soak overnight in the refrigerator to remove some of the salt.

Curing time usually 3-4 days in refrigerator

Step 2: The Cook

Fire up the Good-One Smoker to 250 degrees using All-Natural lump charcoal.  Rub the Pork belly down with a heavy coat of Three Little Pig’s Touch of Cherry Rub to create the crust.  Place the pork belly on the smoker and add your favorite smoking wood, I used wild cherry for this cook.  Smoke the pork belly to 200 degrees internal, usually about 6-7 hours at 250 degrees.

Once the Pork Belly had been removed from the smoker allow to cool for ½ hour. Cut against the grain in about 1 inch slices, then cut the slices into the desired cube size to fit your need.    Place the cubes in a hot skillet and add a little butter and Three Little Pig’s Competition BBQ Sauce and sauté until hot. Serve on a large piece of Texas Toast with a side of slaw and beans.

Chris Marks (CBBQE) Chief BBQ Expert Three Little Pig’s Rubs/Sauces & Good-One Smoker/Grills

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A B C’s of Smoking Fish-Hot & Cold Smoking Technique

BBQ Smoking is Not Only For Salmon!!!


 “Slow Smoked Catfish Fillets Recipe” 


Fish takes on a deliciously moist texture
when slow smoked in a smoker.  The meat of the fish easily peels away in tender, flaky chunks as it is infused with all the flavors of sweet smoky wood.  

In this blog, I will discuss the simple methods and techniques on getting a great smoke on whether a Salmon or a Catfish. 

Our goal was an internal temperature of about 130°F to 140°F.  “If you cook a piece of salmon (or trout or char) at too high a heat, what happens is the muscle fibers in the meat contract so violently that they extrude a protein, if you’ve ever seen fish ‘bleed’ a white, creamy substance that’s a protein called albumin, which immediately congeals on the surface of the fish, It’s ugly.  You prevent this by keeping your heat gentle.

The “hot smoke” process for smoking fish differs from the “cold smoke” process in a fundamental way. The “cold smoke” process requires that the fish never reach an internal cooking temperature (less than about 90 F), while the “hot smoke” process cooks the fish to the center (about 145 F or higher). Between those two temperature extremes are conditions that can create an environment favorable to the growth of food poisoning bacteria. Both products must be refrigerated.


Cold-smoking is a method of preserving fish where the ambient cooking temperature stays in the range of 68-86°F (20-30°C) for 6-12 hours. The flesh loses some of its moisture and becomes denser without being cooked. The exterior of the meat remains soft rather than hardening as it would when cooked at higher temperatures. The obvious issue with cold-smoking is with the fact that the meat remains in the temperature danger zone (40-140°F) for several hours. The antimicrobial properties of dry-curing and smoking are what make the fish safe to eat, but this method may be best left to seafood processing experts with strict sanitation and safety measures in place to monitor pH and water activity to ensure the result is pathogen-free. I recommend a hot-smoking method that is safer and yields a moist, flaky result that doesn’t disappoint.


Hot-smoking takes place with an ambient temperature in the range of 215- 225 F, well above the danger zone. The fish is smoked until the internal temperature of the meat reaches your desired degree of doneness. The higher cooking temperature will kill any existing microbes so you’re guaranteed that the salmon is safe to eat

Fish Temps from Raw to Overcooked:  

In his book On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee outlines what happens to the fish at different temperatures during cooking, and its characteristics at those temps.

  • 70°F:Soft, slick, smooth, and translucent. Fiber-weakening enzymes are active, and some water begins to escape.
  • 100°F:Soft, slick, smooth and translucent with a wet surface due to accelerated water leaking from protein cells.
  • 110°F:Protein begins to shrink, flesh becomes firmer, opaque, and juice is exuded.
  • 120°F:Flesh continues to shrink and becomes resilient, is less slick and more fibrous, opaque, and exudes juice when chewed or cut.
  • 130°F:Sheets of protein begin to separate and become flaky, fiber-weakening enzymes denature and become inactive.
  • 140°F:Protein continues to shrink, the texture becomes firm, fibrous and fragile, and little free juice is left. Collagen dissolves into gelatin.
  • 150°F:Protein is becoming progressively more firm, dry, flaky, and fragile.
  • 160°F:The flesh is stiff and dry. All protein fibers have denatured and coagulated.

FAQ’s Smoked Fish

What are the Best Smoking Woods to use for Fish?

When considering the right type of wood for your smoked fish you must understand there are essentially two types of woods: hard and soft. Commonly, as preferred by most BBQ’er   , they enjoy using hard wood, such as:  Apple, Cherry, Pecan, Peach, Maple or Alder. Remember that a little wood goes a long way. Too much smoke will make the fish taste bitter.

How long does it take to cook fish in a smoker?

Refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours. Preheat a smoker to 225 degrees. Place fish on the smoker. Smoke for 60 to 90 minutes, or until fish flakes nicely.

What is the Gray portion of the tissues seen on the Fillets once skin is removed ?  

The gray fatty tissue is fatty deposits rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in the natural pigments found in the rest of the fish.

Is farmed salmon safe to eat?

Yes, Farmed salmon is not only safe to eat, it is very good for you. This type of Salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, depression, premature births, and arthritis symptoms. In addition, salmon is low in saturated fat and high in protein. Farm-raised salmon is one of the most available and affordable sources of these healthy omega-3 fatty acids

Is it O.K. to freeze smoked fish?

  Fresh and vacuum-packaged cold smoked salmon can be frozen for up to 6 months. Re-freezing smoked fish a second time is not recommended, as it adversely affects the quality of the product including deteriorating color, moisture and texture.  Frozen smoked salmon should be thawed in a refrigerator at 40 F  or below.

 How long can smoked fish safely sit at room temperature?

When serving smoked fish, do not allow it to remain at room temperature (for example, as part of a buffet) for more than three hours.

Can you smoke previously frozen fish?

Frozen fish can be thawed completely and then smoked, too, but once again, make certain that it was in good condition before it was frozen. If you’re buying your fish in a supermarket, choose fresh fish over frozen fish. That way, if you later need to freeze the fish you’ll have no doubts about its initial quality.

What is the difference between Salmon and Trout?

Smoked Salmon is a somewhat dryer fish. Smoked Trout is moister because it has a higher natural oil content.


Slow Smoked Catfish Fillets Recipe 




All Purpose Fish Brine:

  • 1 Gallon of Water
  • 3/4 cup non-iodized table salt, or canning salt
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


  1. Stir All Purpose Fish Brine in large non-conductive bowl until sugars dissolve. Add catfish, to brine, pressing to submerge. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove catfish from brine; discard brine. Rinse Catfish under cold water. Place Catfish, on rack. Let stand until top is dry to touch (do not pat dry), about 1 hour.
  2. Lightly apply Extra Virgin Olive Oil to both sides of the Catfish.
  3. Apply Three Little Pig’s Championship Rub to the Catfish.
  4. Prepare Good-One Smoker with All Natural Lump Charcoal and set smoking temp to 225 degrees for the fish.
  5. Arrange Catfish, on rectangle. Place catfish on foil on grill. Add your choice of flavor wood (Cherry) to the smoker, cook until Catfish is firm to touch and glaze forms over Catfish, usually 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Remove Catfish from foil, leaving skin on foil. Lightly glaze with Three Little Pig’s Competition BBQ Sauce, transfer to platter or plate; serve warm or at room temperature. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.)


 Chris Marks (CBBQE) Three Little Pig’s Rubs/Sauces & Good-One Manufacturing 

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Help ! “I need to know what cut of Beef Ribs to Tell my Butcher”

A B C’s of Beef Rib Cuts for Beginners. 



Traveling the World over the last 8 years doing BBQ Schools in the USA & Australia, it amazes me how many different names that there are for Beef ribs and the confusion it causes students in selecting the right cut of beef rib to smoke or grill.

I have complied data from different websites  in this Blog to help eliminate some of the confusion on selecting the right cuts for the desired cook.

There are several types of beef ribs you’ll encounter at the meat market. In addition,there are different methods in which they’re cut and packaged. Of course, butchers tend to call some of these cuts by several names, adding more confusion to the novice shopper.

Unlike pork ribs, beef ribs have less fat than pork. While the fat in pork ribs act as a basting method, beef ribs will need more of your attention to keep them moist and tender. Keep one thing in mind when choosing beef ribs…the toughest cuts offer the best flavor. If you love the hearty flavor that beef offers, beef ribs are well worth the extra effort. Understanding the various types of beef ribs will help guarantee a perfect succulent beef rib.

Basically, there are two types of beef ribs, back ribs and short ribs. A steer has 13 ribs on each side. Starting at the front of the cow (see above illustration), the first 5 ribs are in the chuck cut. The next 7 ribs are part of the rib section and extend down into the short plate. The remaining rib is in the loin cut. As you might imagine, these cuts vary quite a bit from one end of the steer to the other. They vary not only in flavor, but in texture as well.


Back ribs are what you get when a rib roast (Prime Rib) is removed from its bones. That rib roast meat fetches top dollar, so it makes sense that most of the meat stays with the roast or steaks, and very little is left on the ribs, but they do have some great stuff between the bones. Back ribs make excellent barbecue.

 Short Plate ribs or Loaded beef ribs, which are cut from the lower portion of the rib cage and often have a nice layer of fat-laced meat sitting on top. The challenge is finding ones that would live up to the beef rib expectations. More often than not, the short ribs I came across were cut into small, individual bone portions, with wildly varying amounts of meat on them. I have found that you will not find the loaded beef ribs at the standard grocery or big box store but I can always rely on the local specialty butcher to get me the cut.

Chuck Short Ribs come from right under the chuck from the first to the fifth rib, and can also go by the name Flanken Ribs.

Other names which Beef Short Ribs go by include: braising ribs, crosscut ribs, English short ribs, Korean short ribs.

Short Beef Ribs: 

This is most common cut that you will see at a big box store or grocery store, not ideal for smoking great for braising.




Plate Short Ribs,  Un-Trimmed

This cut consists of the rib and plate sections, and will contain at least 2, but no more than 5 ribs. They are rather fatty but meaty and are also known as pony-bock ribs (British), costine de pancia (Italian), costillas cortas (Spanish), côtes de plat (French).

Plate Short Ribs, Trimmed 


Similar to the untrimmed Plate Short Ribs, this version removes the latissimus dorsi muscle, and its exterior fat cover.



Short Ribs, Lean 


This is just like the other varieties of Plate Short Ribs, but the layer of fat has been trimmed extensively.


Short Ribs, Boneless


This is the Plate Short ribs sans bones and intercostal meat.


Back Ribs 

Back Short Ribs are the most expensive form of short ribs and are cut from the rib primal after the rib has been removed. They are more tender but have less meat. This cut is sometimes called “Dinosaur Ribs,” costata (Italian), costillas del lomo (Spanish), côtes de basse (French).

More information on beef cuts check Chefs-resources Website 

                      Texas-Style Beef Short Rib Recipe

        (Brisket on a Stick)

  • Begin by removing the fat and the very tough silver skin from the top of the meat.
  • Remove the membrane from the exposed side of the bones.
  • After stripping the membrane from the back of the beef ribs, layer Three Little Pig’s Memphis & All Purpose rub  on Top of the beef ribs and using a Jaccard tenderizer, drive the rub down into the beef rib, flip rib over and tenderize between each bone.
  • Tenderize the top of the beef ribs after layering the Three Little Pig’s Memphis & All Purpose rub with the Jaccard tenderizer, The narrow blades sever long tough strands of the beef rib and drive the rub deeper into the beef ribs.
  • Setup your Good-One Smoker/Grill to 250-275 degrees.
  • Put the beef ribs on, bone side down, and add your choice of wood, I prefer wild cherry and pecan for beef ribs.
  • You will not need to add more wood and you will not need to turn the meat over. Cook bone down all the way. The exact length of the cook depends on variables such as the composition of the meat and fuels being used.

Estimated Cooking times:

1″ thick meat should hit 203°F in about 4 hours.

1.5″ thick meat should hit 203°F in about 6 hours.

2″ thick meat should hit 203°F in about 8 hours.


Chris Marks (CBBQE) Cheif BBQ Expert Three Little Pig’s BBQ Rubs/Sauces & Good-One Manufacturing.

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Primal Beef Roasts Q & A

Beef Prime Rib, KC-Strip Roast and Beef Tenderloin

Q: What are the most popular roast for smoking & grilling

A: Prime Rib Roast: This is perfect for slow smoking and then using the reverse sear method to finish. It has just the right amount of marbling to give it tenderness and flavor.

A: Beef Tenderloin: A very lean boneless single mussel roast with almost no internal fat, it is a very firm and tender cut that also works well on the smoker and finished on the grill.

A: Kansas City Strip Loin Roast: The newer primal beef cut is a lean boneless strip loin, it makes a firm tender roast that can be cut into steaks after being smoked and grilled.

 Q: How Many pounds should I buy for a beef roast dinner?

A: I suggest 8oz of meat per person averaged between adults and children.

Q: How can I make sure my Beef roasts turns out well”

A: Most important do not overcook it! Smoke/Grill the roasts to the recommended internal temperature and use a good meat thermometer for accuracy. Let the roasts rest for 5 to 10 minutes outside the smoker, then server it. Don’t hold it for too long: it will dry out.

Beef Temperature Guideline 

BBQ Smoking times including finishing on the grill (reverse sear) for the last 5 minute to crisp the outside bark.  BBQ Smoking temperatures are maintained between 250 -275 degrees using Good-One Lump Charcoal and either peach or cherry wood to enhance flavor.

  Cut                     Weight         Total Time     Remove from Smoker/Grill 

Prime Rib

                         4-6 Lbs. (2 Ribs)  

Medium Rare                                  3-Hours                            125 Degrees

Medium                                           3- ½ Hours                      135 Degrees

                      6-8 Lbs. (4 Ribs)   

Medium Rare                                 3- ½ Hours                      125 Degrees

Medium                                           4- Hours                           135 Degrees

                     8-10 Lbs. (6+ Ribs)  

Medium Rare                                 3- ½ Hours                     125 Degrees

Medium                                           4- Hours                          135 Degrees


                   7-8 Lbs. (Whole) 

Medium Rare                                 1- ½ Hours                    125 Degrees

Medium                                          1- ¾ Hours                     135 Degrees

                    4-5 Lbs. (Center) 

Medium Rare                                  1- ½ Hours                   125 Degrees

Medium                                            1- ¾ Hours                   135 Degrees

KC Strip Roast    

                       8 + Lbs. (Whole) 

Medium Rare                                   4 Hours                       125 Degrees

Medium                                            4 ½ Hours                  135 Degrees

                     4-5 Lbs. (Center) 

Medium Rare                                   3 Hours                      125 Degrees

Medium                                             3 ½ Hours                135 Degrees


Smoked Full Beef Tenderloin Recipe:  (Reverse Sear Method)




  • 1 whole beef tenderloin, trimmed of all visible fat and silver skin stripped
  • Kosher salt
  • Three Little Pigs All Purpose Rub & Memphis rub
  • 1/2 cup tri-color peppercorns, crushed with a rolling pin
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed


Preheat  The Good-One Smoker to 250  degrees F.

Place the tenderloin on a smoker and add 2 chunks of cherry wood. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and Three Little Pigs All Purpose Rub, which will deepen the savory flavors.

Press the crushed peppercorns all over the surface of the meat. Insert a meat thermometer and place in the smoker until the beef registers to 125-130 degrees F for medium-rare/rare. Beef will probably cook in 1 to 1 ½ hours depending on its temp before it goes in the smoker.

While the meat is smoking, melt the butter with the garlic in a small skillet, and allow the butter to slightly brown. Remove the garlic and discard.

Remove the meat when it’s done  and dust with Three Little Pig’s Memphis rub and place on hot grill until outside is seared to liking, then pour the garlic butter over gently (it should sizzle when it hits the meat). Cover the meat loosely with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Chris Marks -CBBQE (Chief BBQ Expert) Three Little Pig’s Rubs & Sauces/Good-One Manufacturing


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What is a Brine? and How does it Work ?

What Is Brine?

Brine is a salt solution made by mixing salt and water, usually about 5 to 8 percent salt by weight. Some recipes include sugar and other ingredients to add flavor to the meat being brined, but a basic brine is a salt-water solution.

How Does Brine Work ? 


Here are three major functions accomplished by brining —and reasons to try it.

Meat absorbs some of the liquid: When a piece of meat is soaked in a brine solution, that solution is slowly drawn into the meat, and even though some of it is inevitably lost during cooking, it still makes a big difference. Since the meat starts out with more liquid within, it ends up juicier and moister when cooked.

 Muscle fibers are dissolved: Highly concentrated salt solutions will cause proteins to precipitate (essentially forcing them to aggregate with each other and clump together). On the other hand, a low-concentration salt solution has the opposite effect and can increase protein solubility and allow more proteins to dissolve. So, brine helps dissolve some of the muscle fibers, which helps to reduce the toughness of meat.

Muscle fibers and meat proteins denature: A salt solution can denature proteins, essentially unfolding and unraveling them. As they unfold, water works its way in between these proteins so there is more water in between the meat proteins as the meat cooks. This results in a more tender cooked meat.

Why Brine?

Brining was originally used for food preservation in the pre-refrigeration era. However, there are two solid reasons why you should brine your meat in this century: flavor and texture. Brining infuses the meat with savory, flavors, all while tenderizing it to butter-soft texture.

Wet Brine:

The basic ratio for any wet brine is 1 cup of salt to 1 gallon of water. If you’re feeling fancy, throw in some smashed garlic cloves, peppercorns, or citrus — also smashed. Another general rule of thumb is to leave your meat in its brine for roughly one hour per pound — never brine your meat more than the prescribed amount, the proteins break down too far, turning it into unappetizing mush.

Dry Brining:

Dry brining is technically a misnomer. The term “brining” implies a liquid, and dry brining could more accurately be categorized as a rub, seasoning or a “cure,” for your meat. However, the result is quite similar. By coating your meat in a salty mixture, it both re-distributes moisture and pulls the seasoning deep into the meat. Dry brining is also a clean, simple seasoning option if you don’t want to fill your fridge with large containers of submerged meats, for some reason



Marinade Vs Brine

Brines are a great way to add moisture to meats and marinades are a great way to add flavor.

Marinades don’t add a lot of moisture to meat, but they can add lots of flavor, and make meat more tender Marinades are sauces with an acidic base (like vinegar, citrus, or wine). The acid in a marinade breaks up the structure of the proteins in the meat. Water (from the marinade) gets caught between the proteins, and makes the meat seem more tender.

Marinades only work on about the outside ¼ inch of the meat. Not a lot of liquid will get into the meat, but a lot of flavor will be absorbed on to the meat. Marinades are good for smaller, more tender pieces of meat like chicken breasts, steaks, and pork chops. Soaking meats too long in marinades can backfire on you, the meat can start to dry out and get very tough.

Chris Marks CBBQE  (Chief BBQ Expert) Three Little Pig’s BBQ Rubs/Sauces & Good-One Smoker/Grills.

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Pitmaster Profiles: Chris Marks



Pitmaster Profiles: Chris Marks of Three Little Pig’s Rubs/Sauces 

CBBQE -Chief BBQ Expert for Good-One Manufacturing 

  FireCrafts  Pitmaster Profiles Series , a Q&A series with some of the biggest names in BBQ.

 Maybe it’s the no-nonsense demeanor—the stout frame and no frills mustache that portray a certain seriousness. Or maybe it’s his willingness to tell it like he sees it. Either way, you’d be forgiven for pegging Chris Marks as a staunch traditionalist; the type of purist that believes BBQ begins and ends with the proteins turned in at competitions. Such assumptions, however, would be a mistake.

In reality, the 8-time American Royal Grand Champion is one of the most personable guys in BBQ, easy to talk to and quick to share tips and techniques. In fact, next to cooking with family—he learned from his father and now cooks alongside his son—teaching might be what brings Chris Marks the most satisfaction. Hosting BBQ classes around the world (he did a tour of Australia earlier this year), he gladly passes on his extensive knowledge to backyard beginners, aspiring pros, and anyone who shares his love of BBQ. Here is a link for the BBQ Class’s scheduled for the  first 1/2 of 2017.

Oh, make no mistake about it, Chris Marks has strong opinions, particularly when it comes to the growing use of technology in BBQ. However, those opinions are more of an indictment against the smokers that need help than the gadgets themselves. Because, ultimately, quality is what defines Chris Marks’ view of BBQ: A quality cooker and ingredients will produce quality food and quality time with friends and family. Those core beliefs are reflected in the products he stands behind—his widely acclaimed Three Little Pigs Sauces and Rubs and The Good One Smokers, some of the best built and most versatile smokers around (the Open Range was named one of our 3 Best Smoker Grills.

In our Q&A with Chris Marks, we took the opportunity to ask about his experience around the pit, as well as the past, present, and future of BBQ.

What is your first BBQ memory?

My first memories of BBQ were when I was 5-7 years old and my father and next door neighbor built a brick grill. We would have BBQs every weekend in the summer and then during the fall and winter for the Chiefs games. We were tailgating back in the 60’s in KC.

How did you get into BBQ and when did you start?

My father Larry Marks (Boss Hogg) retired from Hallmark Cards and needed a hobby to keep busy and we created the Three Little Pig’s BBQ team to compete in the newly formed Kansas City BBQ Society in the late 80’s.

Who did you look up to when you were first starting out?

Our BBQ mentor was Paul Kirk (Baron of BBQ). My father took classes from Paul on how to get started in the world of competition BBQ.

What was your first smoker?

Our first smoker was a cheap side-offset barrel smoker. The firebox broke off during our first BBQ contest in Raytown, MO.

What do you most enjoy about BBQ?

I enjoy meeting people from all over the world who have the same passion as I have for BBQ, [as well as] the continuing friendships after classes and events. I love hearing the success stories after a student goes to a class and his family and friends say what a great product he or she is producing now.

Favorite thing to cook? Eat?

My favorite protein to cook is beef ribs and I love to eat a well-smoked and flavored baby back slab of ribs.

What’s the best BBQ you’ve ever had?

Best commercial BBQ I have ever had is from Q39 in Kansas City. They can produce the same quality every time. When Friends come in, that’s where I take them.

Who was the person you were most excited to meet in your BBQ travels?

Steve Raichlen. He is the person I look up to as the BBQ pitmaster/entrepreneur who really [brought attention to BBQ and grilling] with his public TV show and his book The BBQ Bible. He has done great job branding and marketing across the world and continues to have a presence 10 years after kicking off his BBQ show. Steve is not the traditional BBQ pitmaster, he has a very educated approach and presents easy-to-use methods and techniques.

What are a couple of the “Best” BBQ Books and Websites for the beginners?

I like books that are more to the “Science end of BBQ” Because you understand the science behind smoke you eliminate most the beginner mistakes that Brother-Laws have been preaching for 10 years.

Science Of BBQ Books:  

The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling, Meathead Goldwyn

Cooks Science:  Cook’s Illustrated 

 Great Overall BBQ Books:

America’s Best BBQ: Ardie A. Davis and Chef Paul Kirk

The Art of Beef Cutting: A Meat Professional’s Guide to Butchering and Merchandising:  Kari Underly

Flavorize: Great Marinades, Injections, Brines, Rubs, and Glazes: Ray Lampe

Diva Q’s Barbecue: Danielle Bennett

BBQ Reference Websites:

Amazing Ribs BBQ SiteAmazing Ribs

BBQ is bigger than ever, with more newcomers taking it up each week. Do you have any tips for beginners just starting out?

Don’t get caught up in the TV hype and be careful with “YouTube University.” Understand the science behind BBQ smoking and make it You with your own personal style.

Do you have any horror stories that will make a newbie feel better about their first big mistake?

One of our best horror stories is that at our first contest we used green hickory, because that’s what we were told by a BBQ professional (my uncle). The meats were all black and tasted like a railroad tie.

You’re an 8-time American Royal Grand Champion. How has competition BBQ changed over the years?

It has changed to the point where teams are looking for every advantage they can to separate from the pack, but all the teams seem to be doing the same thing and using the same products that everyone else is using. But I guarantee the teams that win week after week are not using the same products. We are also seeing more high-end sponsor’s that are supporting teams across the US, becoming very NASCAR-like. Time will tell what this will do for the backyard guy who is trying to compete. Hopefully, competition BBQ will not end up with 25 corporate sponsored teams competing weekly across the US.

Backyard vs competition: Do you enjoy one more than the other? How does your approach differ?

I prefer working with the backyard guy who is working on simple methods and techniques and wanting to up his game and understand the science.

There are a lot of products hitting the market that make cooking BBQ easier (pellet grills, automatic temperature controllers, WiFi capabilities, etc). How do you feel about technology making its way into BBQ?

I come from a technical background, with over 25 years of experience in IT security. I feel that if you have to add temperature controllers to smokers then the smoker manufacturer needs to re-evaluate the design. As a customer, spending $4,000 on a smoker and then having to spend another $500 for electronics to make it work seems insane to me. I work to keep it simple. If you need to have all kinds of electronics to monitor the smoker, there seems to be a confidence issue with the smoker. Pellet cookers are sold on the ease-of-use, but can never get the “Real Pit” flavor that a charcoal/wood pit can produce. Also, temperature controllers, WiFi capability and pellet cookers all require electricity, which will always add another layer of complexity and possible failure at the worst times.

You cook on Good One Smokers and have a professional relationship with the company. They make unique smokers and are a brand many people may not be too familiar with. What drew you to them?

The Good-One brand has evolved on a true design of thermodynamics—on how air and heat flow and how to control it and maximize charcoal burn for long cooks. We work on making the smokers easy to use, clean and maintain. Good One Smokers are USA made, with USA steel, built from a ground-up design that’s based on engineering, not what I can find at a junkyard (Steel Pipeline, propane tank).

Your Three Little Pigs sauces and rubs get rave reviews. What made you want to put out your own line?

The sauces and rubs were a spin-off of what we had used for years on the competition circuit. They were created in honor of my father and mother after they passed away.

Some people have a very strict definition of BBQ that aligns with the half dozen items you’d find at a traditional BBQ joint. Others see it as an evolving style. What’s your definition of BBQ?

BBQ is ever-evolving across the world. As we become a smaller world with the internet, we can see the different style and methods from Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Japan. My definition of BBQ is to make it personal and cook to your family and friends.

What is the future of BBQ?

I think the future of BBQ is going to have more of an international flair, with the ability to merge the different styles, flavors, and techniques to form a new style of BBQ.


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Enhanced Commodity Pork VS All Natural Pork for BBQ Grilling

     Enhanced Commodity Pork VS All Natural Pork

                         “What is the difference?”

                  BBQ Grilling and BBQ Smoking 

Enhanced pork definition is the process of adding non-meat ingredients to fresh pork to improve the eating quality of the final product where eating quality is defined as the juiciness, tenderness and flavor of pork

Modern Commodity pork is so lean and therefor somewhat bland and prone to dryness if overcooked, many produces now inject their pork products with a sodium solution. So-called enhanced pork is now the only option in many BBQ Restaurants, big box and supermarkets, especially when buying lean cuts like tenderloin, baby back ribs and pork loin.  You will always know if injections are added by reading the ingredient label on the package.

Flavor agents are added to pork to provide alternate flavor choices for consumers. Flavor agents also can be used to mask undesirable flavors from other ingredients such as potassium lactate or sodium lactate. Flavor agents can range from the addition of fresh ingredients, dehydrated ingredients, ground spices, spice extractives or oleoresins.

Enhanced pork is injected with a solution of water, salt, and one or more of the following: sodium phosphate, sodium lactate, potassium lactate, sodium diacetate, and varying flavor agents, generally adding 7% to 15% extra weight. While enhanced pork does cook up juicer (It is pumped full of water) when BBQ Grilling or BBQ Smoking, the texture is almost spongy and the flavor is often very salty. I prefer the genuine natural pork flavor like Compart Duroc and prefer to brine the leaner cuts to keep them juicy.

Note:  Enhanced pork loses 6 times the moister when frozen and thawed compared to a Natural Pork like a Compart Duroc pork.

                                          “All Natural Pork”

                                 Spotlight:  Compart Family Farms™

Compart Duroc Pork “The Black Angus of Pork”

Compart Family Farms™ promises an “All Natural,” mouthwatering, rich flavored pork, with superior tenderness and natural juiciness. Bright reddish pink in color, Compart Duroc contains a higher percentage of intramuscular fat (marbling) and a higher pH . These unique attributes translate into a more tender, juicy and flavorful dining experience. This selection of pork enables you to enjoy fresh pork in its natural flavor and juice, without injecting or pumping.






Redder is Better
Although pork is known as “the other white meat,” in its raw form dark pink to dark reddish pink is the most desirable color to look for when buying pork. This has caused some confusion for the consumer, because all pork turns white after being cooked. Darker, reddish raw pork will typically be juicier, more tender, and have a higher pH than lighter colored raw pork. These characteristics are essential for superior eating quality.






Compart Family Farms™ has conducted  extensive research and development to create a proprietary Compart Duroc feeding program. This feeding program optimizes both the pig’s performance and its meat quality. This, coupled with raising the pigs in comfortable, environmentally stable facilities, reduces stresses that adversely affect muscle quality.

 Dry Aged Pork?

Compart Family Farms™ has also introduces a “Dry Aged” Pork, brings a new level of tenderness and robust flavor to pork. Unlike ordinary pork, our pork is more heavily marbled, creating a juicier dining experience, yet it’s still 96% lean.

Pork traditionally has not been dry aged. Dry aging, along with favorable muscle pH and the marbling qualities of the Compart Duroc product, elevates pork to a whole new level!

Compart Family Farms™  Duroc Dry Aged Pork is an exciting new approach to enhance your pork dining experience.



Three Little Pig’s BBQ Recipe 

World Champion Smoked  “All Natural” Pork Tenderloin



  1. Mix powdered garlic, black pepper, ground ginger, ground mustard and salt ingredients together. Trim the pork tenderloins. Generously cover with spice rub. Wrap in bacon strips. Pack in the brown sugar in either a zip-lock plastic bag or a half-pan catering tin overnight.
  2. Place the tenderloins on the smoker at 250 degrees while adding two small chunks of wild cherry–flavor wood. Remove from smoker when 155 degrees is reached internally and let sit for 10 minutes, then glaze with Three Little Pig Competition BBQ Sauce and then dust with the Touch of Cherry Rub.


Chris Marks – Chief BBQ Expert -Good-One Manufacturing.

More information on BBQ  or Three Little Pigs Rubs/Sauces e-mail Chris Marks at 







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Tutorial on Pork Ribs Cuts

Tutorial on Pork Ribs Cuts


Baby Back Ribs:   The most popular of all pork ribs, Baby Backs are the most lean and tender.  These types of ribs are located at the top part of the rib bone that is connected to the spine (backbone), just below the loin muscle.  The name “Baby” is derived from the fact they are shorter than spare ribs, and “Back”, because they are nearest the backbone.

Butchers make Baby Back Ribs by cutting them where the longest bone is, around 6″ from the spine.  The meat on top of the bones is tender and delicious.  Depending on how they are butchered, Baby Back Rib racks weigh about 1.75-2.5 lbs and will normally have between 10-13 bones per rack.  Baby Backs can be grilled, barbecued, roasted and smoked. They are typical to the northern region of the U.S. and Canada.

Spare Ribs: Rib starts from the end of Baby Back Ribs and extends to the end of the rib bone.  Spare Ribs are bigger with more meat between the bones than the top of the bones
and are a little tougher and fatter, but much richer in flavor.  Spare Ribs average 10-13 bones per rack weighing between 2.5 – 3.5 lbs. They can also be grilled, barbecued, roasted and smoked.

St. Louis Ribs in the St. Louis area who wanted a better rib cut than they were receiving from big meat packers at the time.  St. Louis Ribs, or St. Louis Style Ribs are Spare Ribs with the rib tips cut off where a lot of cartilage and gristle exists with very little meat.  “Pork Ribs, St. Louis Style” officially became an official USDA cut standard NAMP/IMPS #416A in the 1980’s. Spare Ribs and St. Louis Style Spare Ribs are found on grills and smokers in the southern states of the U.S.



Rib Tips   Rib Tips are found at the end tips of the rib bone. They are the by-products of St. Louis Ribs where butchers cut the tips off the end of the ribs into strips with a saw. Even with little meat and a lot of cartilage and gristle, Tips are rich in flavor due to the presence of bone and higher fat content.  People generally either love them or hate them.



Country-Style Ribs   You may be surprised to know that Country-style Ribs are not cut from the rib cage but from the front end of where the Baby Back Ribs are near the shoulder blade.  They are the meatiest variety of ribs and are perfect for those who prefer to use a knife and fork rather than eating with their hands.

Rib Chops & Roasts:  Bones are also used in other types of butcher cuts.  Rib Chops are produced where the loin meat is kept attached to the bone and portion cut into a chop.  The end of the rib bone can also be exposed to create a “French Cut” Rib Chop.  A Crown Roast is created when instead of cutting the loin into chops, it’s formed into a circle and tied to look like a crown.  Crown style roasts are seasonal holiday favorites.




Three Little Pig’s  BBQ Championship Ribs

 Simple No-wrap Memphis dry rib recipe






DIRECTIONS · Heat Smoker 250 degrees using Good-One Natural Lump Charcoal, add 2 chunks of either apple or cherry flavor wood once the charcoal is ready to go. ·Select (4) Slabs of Pork Ribs, Strip membrane off back of each rib to guarantee tenderness. Liberally coat yellow mustard over both sides of the baby back rib, this will act as a tenderizer and a bonding agent for the rub. · Meanwhile, coat both sides of the ribs with the Three Little Pig’s rubs. · Place ribs in a vertical rib rack for 4-5 hours depending on your smoker, ½ ways through the cook rotate the 180 degrees in the rack this will guarantee an even cook. · Once the meat has pulled back from the bones, use a toothpick to check tenderness. · Remove from Rack and place flat on the smoker and apply a light coat of Three Little Pig’s Touch of Cherry rub to finish.



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