By Christie Vanover | Published February 28, 2020 | Last Updated February 16, 2023
I had the privilege of hanging out with World BBQ Champion Tuffy Stone at the National Barbeque Championship in New Orleans where he shared these 10 useful BBQ tips.
Tuffy bought his first pit in 2004, and he admitted that he ruined “a big ole load of meat” while he was learning to barbecue.
Overtime, he learned that he loved fire and the nuances that come with cooking over it. He combined his talents as a classically trained chef and his natural drive and dedication as a former marine and quickly turned things around. Fast forward to 2020, and Tuffy now touts six world barbecue championship titles.
So what does it take to go from making “bad BBQ” to becoming a world champion pitmaster? During my visit with Tuffy, AKA the Professor, he shared these ten useful BBQ tips.
1 – Let the meat be the star
The rub and smoke should be supporting players.
2 – Freshly grind your spices just before rubbing your meat
For spices like cumin seeds, lightly toast them first to release their essential oils.
3 – Shake up your rub just before using it
This will help mix up spices like pepper that tend to settle on the bottom. For uniform rub distribution, use a shaker.
4 – If you season ribs too far in advance, they will get hammy and draw out the moisture
He rubs his ribs one hour before they go on the pit.
5 – Look at the package date on your meat
That’s the same as the harvest date. Tuffy never cooks anything 14 days past the harvest date. For the American Royal and the Jack, he cooked butts that were at 14 days exactly.
6 – Tuffy got his first 180 when it was raining all day
He continuously found that his BBQ tended to be better when it rained, so he learned to recreate that atmosphere all the time. Now he uses a water pan in his offset smoker and spritzes his meat a lot with apple juice.
7 – Tuffy doesn’t buy into the saying, “If you’re lookin’, you’re not cookin’”
He’s a looker. “I use all my senses when I cook. Listen to sizzle of pan. Understand touch. Look at the color of the meat. Smell will tell you when you need to look. Use your senses; trust your senses.”
8 – If you overcook your meat, get air on it
Get it cool. If your brisket is undercooked, slice it thin. If it’s overcooked, slice it thicker.
9 – He said he gets one chance to make his meat jump off the plate
To make it pop, he finishes the meat with a little bit of ground up dusting rub. Then, he mists it with a sprayer, so the rub disappears.
10 – Put your best meat in the box
When you cook, if it doesn’t turn out quite the way you want, don’t let it derail you.
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