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Old 07-09-2007, 11:09 PM   #1
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Dreamland BBQ

I just caught Paula Dean's boys on FN. They were at Dreamland BBQ in Atlanta. Those folks use a very unorthodox approch to rib cooking compared to what I am used to seeing.

They grill them over an open pit. The fire looked to be 3-4 feet below the grate. They use a Smithfield spare rib that is supposedly only sold to them.

I watched the pitmaster wack thru the knuckle bones with a cleaver but left the rib entact. They applied only table salt for spice, then placed the ribs bone down for the first half, then flipped to bone up and used a simple mop that contained white vineager.

Total cook time 45 minutes.

If anyone saw something that I missed, please do tell. I was trying to watch while the kids were yelling.
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Old 07-10-2007, 10:13 AM   #2
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I guess the proof is in the taste. Have you ever been to a brazilian BBQ place? They cook over open coals and only use salt to rub on the outside. It's darn tasty, but I never thought about doing pork ribs that way.

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Old 07-10-2007, 11:38 AM   #3
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Open pit type bbq cooking is most popular in Texas. Maybe some of them folks will tells up bout it. I call it low temp grillin
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Old 07-10-2007, 02:06 PM   #4
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I'm a big fan of open pit 'q. It's something we do a lot of and do well in California (if I say so myself) although we usually target beef sirloin. Traditionally, the top but since WWII the tri-tip as well. That's not to say you won't get ribs, links and chicken too. Or anything that cooks fast enough for an open fire. Out here we like red or live oak for the coals.

Some moron wrote an article for Sunset Magazine in the sixties and attributed this style of cooking (and the discovery of tri-tip) to Santa Maria. It's complete BS, but unfortunately for historical accuracy the term "Santa Maria" stuck. (During the early fifties my family lived in the nearby valleys of Lompoc and Santa Ynez). If you look around the internet for "Santa Maria" style grills you'll see exactly the rig you want for open pit 'q. Deep belly, and an overhead swingset so you can raise the food grate and get plenty of distance between meat and heat. Although, back in the day, a lof of the grills used rods instead of racks -- pretty much like a modern churrascaria grill.

WHATEVER. The secret is getting just the right combination of convection and radiant heat.

Most of us don't have access to the big Santa Maria grills -- and to tell the truth, they're a PITA to run. It takes a lot of fuel and a lot of prep time to get a big enough fire to last long enough to do the job right. So, instead a lot of us use kettle types and alternate direct and indirect heat. I find that my Bar B Chef Texas -- although not as big as you'd like a true open pit to be does a great job for this traditional kind of cooking. And if you're interested in California 'q, and want to keep the grill cost below $1,000, I really recommend it. (I like the looks and the swingset of the Peoria grill, and if I ever manage to wear the BBC out, I think I'll get one.)

Open pit cooking used to be traditional for all kinds of pork in the south -- including shoulder, butt, picnic, ham, whole-hog what have you. It's expensive -- not only in fuel cost, but in the human labor it takes to keep a fire going for the hours and hours required by low and slow. It was one thing when there was plenty of dirt-cheap black labor throughout the South, but the generational economic expansion and migrations following WWII and going on through the early seventies changed that.

So did all the barrels and pipe casings coming out of the oil fields before and after the war. Guys started making grills out of those because it was a lot cheaper and easier than building a brick pit. At some point, someone got the idea of welding on a separate firebox and a few bucks worth of steel was not only cheaper and easier -- but just as good.

I'm not sure how they run those open pits in Texas JB was talkin' up, so I've got nothing at all to say about it. But the old tradition of building a fire on one side of a barrel or pipe cooker and putting the meat on the other is something different. It's not open pit, just Neanderthal indirect.

I do know that barrel cookers -- unless they're some big mofo barrels aren't suitable for real open pit cooking. Too hard to keep the right temp going for long periods. You want a medium convection heat, say around 350 at the grill, mixed with plenty of radiant heat. If you got your coals less than a 10" or so from the grate, and enough radiant heat, you're generally pushing 500 at least. On the other hand, to get 350 at the grill of a 55 gallon size barrel, your coals are going to be pretty well ashed over.

Back to the traditional ways -- think about the distance you'd want to have so you could just keep throwing a couple of logs in now and then to keep the fire burning -- while your cooking your butts and whatnot -- and you can appreciate why we call our cookers "pits."
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:32 PM   #5
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I have eaten at Dreamland on several occasions in Birmingham, Ala. and Mobile, Ala. The original place is in Tuscaloosa, Ala. and have been in business for many years. Until I really learned how to slow smoke ribs I use to love eating there. Until the restaurant started opening stores all over the only thing on the menu was ribs and whitebread (no beans, slaw, etc...and don't ask was there slogan). The bbq sauce is similar to a North Carolina Vinegar sauce. The ribs are cooked in about 45 minutes.

Many BBQ joints in Alabama actually cook the butts on an open pit...but they do it slow. I do like Alabama BBQ...even though I'm in North Carolina now.

http://www.dreamlandbbq.com/default.aspx?id=5
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Old 07-10-2007, 07:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdroller
the wood was burned down to coals in a large, and I mean large, fire--usually large enough to leave a bed of coals one to two feet deep which would last for hours. THEN using shovels the pit master placed the coals under the meat where and as needed in the open pit. No back breaking work required to keep a low and slow "fire" going.
Here are some pictures of a church pig pickin in North Carolina. This church does this twice a year...they smoke hams. It is very good BBQ.

http://usera.imagecave.com/cleglue/Bethel/
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Old 07-10-2007, 09:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wdroller
Is that a Carolina moon in #1821?
The picture was from 2006. I believe that is a Carolina moon. I never noticed it until you pointed it out. My focus was on the fire! I hope you have a good trip. I use to snow ski at Sugar Mountain in Banner Elk. I has been YEARS since I did that.
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Old 07-11-2007, 09:29 AM   #8
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Open pit link

http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Overview.aspx?RefID=202
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