Nearly everybody claims to BBQ, but what BBQ enthusiasts will tell you is that BBQ is low-n-slow. When you cook burgers and hot dogs on the grill you’re grilling, not BBQing. While admittedly this may seem a bit elitist, I assure you, there is a big difference in the two.

First of all, everybody can grill. Even people who have never done it before can figure it out. BBQ however isn’t for the faint at heart. Yes, anybody can learn it, but it takes patience. It’s a craft, a labor of love, something you need to cultivate over time. Pellet smokers, as I have, make the process a lot easier, but it still takes patience and time. If I’m settling in for a smoke, I will start very early in the morning or the night before. This means I’m not getting a lot of sleep. There is a lot of prep work that goes along with it as well, depending on what I’m smoking.

If I’m smoking porkbutt its pretty easy — unwrap it, squirt it with mustard, rub it down with salt and pepper, put it on the smoker at 200 or 225 and come back a dozen or so hours later. If I’m smoking brisket or beef ribs? That is an entirely different process. That is something that requires a lot of finesse and care. One wrong move and your beautiful beef brisket can quickly become beef tacos.

This last week I did the largest cook I’ve ever done — 8 Pork Butts, 1 Brisket. It was a weekly bistro we do at church and they asked if I’d cook for it. The cook was complemented with 28lbs of baked beans (with brisket in them) and 12lbs of Coleslaw (Aaron Franklin’s Recipe).

The cook was a success, but it took over 19 hours start to finish. Would I do it again? Absolutely, but next time I’d leave out the brisket. The brisket flat got a lot drier than I’d like because of the uneven cooking. Cooking all that on a pellet smoker is pushing it to the max. My Pitboss 1100 Pro (exclusively available at Lowes) was beyond capacity — but I pulled it off.

It was also my first cook trying out my new temp probe — the Thermoworks Signals. It ran paired with my trusty ol’ Weber iGrill 2. I must say, the Thermoworks Signals is a better product, however, the battery life didn’t sustain the cook. I had to plug it in part way through. The user interface for the iPhone app is also terrible, however, it works. Having WIFI while doing a 20 hr overnight cook is worth it.

The key though — temp probes or not — is to go low n’ slow. Put it in there, get the fire going, and try to resist the temptation to look too often — As they say, if you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin’