Recently I made some ribs for a friend of mine who is diabetic. I was able to make him “healthier” barbecue than I normally make using fresh ingredients, red wine, and Splenda. He counts carbs and sugars to keep his diabetes in check and like some people, I don’t look at labels when I grab them from store shelves and put them in my cart. I was surprised to find out an average bottle of store bought barbecue sauce contains 15 carbs per serving, which is 2 Tablespoons. That is a lot.

I had not used Splenda before in rubs or sauces so I was a little skeptical of how it would hold up to a sweeter Kansas City style of smoking. In a nutshell, Splenda is an artificial sweetener that is supposed to be stable under heat conditions with zero calories and carbs and is supposed to be equally as sweet as real sugar, one cup for one cup . I make VERY sweet turn in foods for KCBS competitions (which I think is too sweet for most people) and at home I strive for balanced flavors. I was unsure if Splenda would be able to hold up it’s sweetness end of the bargain to chemically match the saltiness of my rubs and sauces. It was pretty close to the same taste but not quite, so I had to adjust my normal recipe which is listed below. Splenda is a great zero calorie sugar alternative, as I was able to get the rub down to 0.08 carbs per serving and the sauce down to 1.8 carbs per serving, which is outstanding!

The 2/2/1 smoking method:

I used the 2/2/1 method for the baby back ribs I smoked, which means I smoked them for 2 hours, then foiled them for 2 hours, and then unfoiled them and smoked for a final hour. The first two hours allows the ribs to form a bark and bask in the smoke. The second (foiled) two hours allows the ribs to steam and become very tender. The final hour firms up the bark and allows you to add a sauce or glaze if you are so inclined.

Note: If you are following this method of cooking for a KCBS comp, you will have to constantly feel for tenderness to determine when they are done to KCBS standards, which are NOT fall off the bone. Ribs should be tender and leave a bite mark in the meat when eaten; the rest of the meat should stay on the bone. You might reduce the heat to 250 degrees F instead of this recipes 300 degrees F or cut the cooking time and use a 2/1/1 method.

Diabetic barbecue rub (adjusted):

  • 1/4 Cup Paprika
  • 1/4 Cup Splenda Sweetener
  • 2 Tablespoons Kosher Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon White Pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Mustard Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning

Diabetic barbecue sauce:

  • 1 Cup Heinz Reduced Sugar Ketchup
  • 1 Cup Cabernet Red Wine
  • 1 Cup Splenda Sweetener
  • 1/4 Cup Water
  • 1/4 Cup Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1/4 Cup Green Bell Pepper, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons Yellow Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Diabetic Rub
  • 1 Tablespoon Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Liquid Smoke
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced

1. Preheat your smoker to 300 degrees F.

2. Start soaking your wood chunks in water. I use a handful of cherry for pork.

3. I trim my ribs, removing the membrane and any unwanted pieces of fat or hanging meat. Some people don’t trim their ribs at all and smoke em’ like they got em’.

4. Put your rub on your ribs. I used to heavily coat my ribs but I don’t anymore because  I want to taste more of the meat, not all rub and sauce.

5. Add your soaked wood chunks to your smoker.

6. Place your ribs on the smoker, meat side up, and smoke them for one hour.

7. I sprayed these with a 50/50 mix of water and Carb Free Maple Syrup, most KCBS cooks would use apple juice. Cook another hour.

8. Spray them again and then double wrap the ribs in aluminum foil.

9. Add them back to the smoker, meat side down, for an hour.

10. Unwrap the ribs, placing them meat side up on the smoker and heat your sauce, also in the smoker.

11. Add your sauce to the ribs after 30 minutes. Be sure to sauce all the parts of the ribs, including the bones.


12. Pull them off when you think they are ready, usually another 30 minutes but that depends on how tender you want your ribs.

13. Foil them and let them rest for at least 15 minutes before you cut them.













These ribs turned out pretty darn good, I was surprised at their great flavor. Overall, it was a great learning experience since I am not diabetic and had not used sugar alternatives in barbecue. I will continue to use this recipe at home, there’s no reason not to since it is a healthier choice and the taste is just as good as normal sugar based barbecue. The only caveat I have for this recipe is I did not use Splenda Brown Sugar, which contains 4 times the amount of carbs as regular Splenda, nor did I use honey, molasses, or real maple syrup. My main goal was to get the lowest carb and sugar count as possible and still have great barbecue. KCBS recipes on the other hand… they will get the full monty.

Happy smoking,



We are competing in the first annual All Parish BBQ Cook off, a Catholic All Star BBQ Competition (if you will). This contest will be taking the top teams from the other Parishes who also held a BBQ contest and will crown a first All Parish Grand Champion! We are the reigning Cure of Ars champs and will be representing our parish on our parish grounds, so we will have homefield advantage!

Come and enjoy our final 2010 Friday night shin dig at 7pm. We will provide the barbecue and ask everyone to bring a side, BYOB, and a chair. Last time we had about 50 people show up and we expect more since this is a BIG deal.

We hope to see everyone soon!


We held a small dinner for my brother-in-law’s first Father’s Day and I made him his favorite dish, chicken. We were talking after Sunday Mass and I told him of my plan to roast a chicken, to which he proclaimed half a chicken was enough to feed him and we might need two chickens for dinner. He owns a landscaping business and works up a HUGE appetite. Ask and you shall receive.

I bought two Smart Chickens from my local grocery store and injected them, instead of soaking them in a brine for 24 hours, since I was short on time Sunday. I also tried to limit the amount of smoke on the chickens since my wife, mother-in-law and sister-in- law are not big on smoke flavor. I used Best Choice hardwood briquettes as my only fuel source, since it is probably re-branded Royal Oak, and was very pleased with the results no matter what the brand. I got a tiny bit of smoke flavor and the briquettes worked nicely.

Here is the recipe for the  injection I used:

I used an equal amount of injection for each yardbird, focusing on the breasts, drums, and thighs. I injected about 30 minutes before putting them on the smoker, just enough time to preheat my charcoal and then the drum smoker. I also sprayed the outside of each bird with a butter flavored spray and used the Left Over rub for seasoning.

I cooked the birds in my drum smoker at 300° for 2 1/2 hours. I took the internal temps of the chicken breasts up to 175° and the drums were 180°. I also used the wiggle test on the drums and juice ran clear from the hole made by the temperature probe.

I’ve smoked a few turkeys and some chicken pieces before ( breasts, drums, and thighs) but I’ve never made whole chickens. I am a yardbird man myself and this was the best chicken I’ve ever had, hands down best!

My in-laws made a request I make this more often and I see no reason not to since it was so easy to make, tasty, and accomplished in such a short amount of time.

I hope you had a happy Father’s Day,


Grand Champions!


18th & Swine walked away from the Cure` of Ars Holy Smokes competition as Grand Champions! Holy Smokes is my favorite comp of the year because it is held by my parish and I compete against my friends, neighbors, and fellow parishioners. This year carried extra weight since the top three teams go on to compete in an intra-parish competition in September. Like all of the teams competing Saturday, we really wanted to be one of those teams. We’d come close to the top the last two years but not close enough.

All signs pointed towards a horrible showing at Cure`. We usually meet early in the week before a comp to discuss what we need to bring and how we’ll manage the trip, but we did not meet. Thursday night we usually corral everything we need for the competition, including the meat and the smokers, but that did not happen. We showed up to compete on Friday missing some of our necessities and our wonderful family members stepped up to help us obtain what we needed.

Friday night was fantastic. We enjoyed setting up the booth, talking to our neighbors and fellow competitors, and having our family and friends turn out to party. We usually bring in around 45 people and this year was no exception. We had so many guests we spilled out into the walkway. It was a great time.

I started my brisket in the wee hours of the morning and tried to catch a few winks. The drum I use is great at holding temps and I had unfortunately set the airflow too high before I went to sleep. I awoke a few hours later to a smoker at 340 degrees, which is not the temperature I normally maintain, and I’m not sure how long it had been at that temp. I almost choked my fire out trying to bring down the temp and created some harsh smoke. This was not the way I had envisioned my brisket prep for the comp.

One of our biggest fans, Roland, showed up at 8am to make sure we had breakfast and juice to keep chugging along. He also brought his lovable St. Bernard, Zor, along for moral support. Roland comes to almost every practice and competition, which means he’s seen our highs and our lows. He wished us luck and went to mow his lawn before the heat of the day began, which turned out to be a pretty hot day. The temp for Saturday was 91 with high humidity, not including all the smokers, people, and pavement in close proximity of one another.

Later that morning I had two new internal meat thermometers die. My teammates stepped up, helped me cobble together one internal meat thermometer from leftovers, and we pressed on. It was smooth sailing from that point forward. Friends and family popped in throughout the day with water and popsicles, smokers behaved, meats hit their plateaus and gave up the ghost, ribs pulled away from the bone nicely, and sauces came together.

We have really stepped up our presentations and procedures in the last couple of months and it showed Saturday. We waited for the results by talking to our neighbors and friends, sampling each other’s entries, and hoping for the best.

We’ve done well at Holy Smokes the last two years and while we were confident, we knew it was up to the judges to determine our fate. We started out with a bang as Jess got a fifth place call in Sausage and 2nd place in Pork. However Charlie and I did not get a call in our categories of Ribs and Brisket, so we were wondering if this was a repeat of the last contest were we both received poor scores and hurt our overall team scores. Holy Smokes calls out the top ten overall teams and we did not hear 18th & Swine as the team names kept dwindling to the last few calls. I really wanted to represent Cure in September and I sat there listening to the 3rd and 2nd place names get called. My wife looked at me and asked if I thought we won as the second place team received their trophy and I said no, thinking this truly was a repeat of the last comp in Platte City. I thought we turned in pretty good entries but you just never know. It turned out we did just fine.

I was very surprised when Father Greg called our name. We’ve been a team on the upswing but haven’t heard our names called often over the 3 ½ years we’ve been competing so I was shocked. It is an understatement to say it feels great to win a grand championship. It’s a vindication of the hard work and effort for our entire team. It’s been a long learning curve for us, taking our lumps along the way and learning from our mistakes, but we are finally hitting our stride.

The icing on the cake was watching my neighbors win the Spirit of Barbecue award, which goes to a team who demonstrates passion and dedication to barbecue.  Congrats to Two Men and a Fridge!

Happy smoking,


Hello 18th & Swine fans!

We are getting the word out early and it’s the size of a novella. Shocker!

We will be participating in our second competition this year and yes, it will be in “town”. You won’t need a GPS to get to 95th and Mission. The Cure` of Ars Holy Smokes contest is Friday June 4th and Saturday June 5th.

Friday night is our big shin dig with our fans, at 7pm. We will provide the barbecue and ask everyone to bring a side, BYOB, and a chair. Last year we had about 45 people show up and we expect more since none of our other contests are in “town” this year. This might be your best chance to come out.

Saturday is when the real partying begins! Please consider coming Saturday night to eat great barbecue, see the contest results, and hear a great band by purchasing dinner tickets. Dinner tickets have been lowered to $10 each. Holy Smokes is encouraging a family atmosphere during the day Saturday and an adult atmosphere Saturday evening. Please no children after 6:00pm or we will barbecue them!

Here is the link to Cure’s site for more info.

Finally, Holy Smokes presents a trophy for best booth. Unlike past events, we are going to try and win that trophy and we need a LOT of help. If you have seen our booth in past events you know we don’t decorate. Sparse is the nice way to describe our site, others use dystopian. Please contact one of the team members if you want to participate in booth decoration. WE NEED YOUR HELP! Seriously, I’m not joking. We don’t even have a theme yet!

We hope to see everyone soon!


I’ve been trying to find a way to get sleep at competitions and still produce great BBQ. The last competition wiped me out physically and made me question my techniques. I was getting almost no sleep at comps because I was reloading fuel every 45 minutes and worrying about the temp while I lay down.

I have decided to progress to power cooking  (high heat barbecue) and using drum smokers after speaking with a few BBQ friends, looking around at other competitors camp sites, and watching Myron Mixon power cook  on TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters. My Dad and I put together a couple of drums using the drum smoker thread in the BBQ Brethren forum and I’ve been practicing on mine the last half of the Winter.

It didn’t take long to figure out using drum smokers suited my personal style better than off-set smokers. Here are the benefits I have found using a drum smoker:

1. It holds heat better than most off-set smokers. I am able maintain a 325 degree heat in the drum smoker for 10 hours using an 11lb bag of Kingsford Competition Briquettes, without adding any additional fuel and little airflow management. I was only able to get my off-set smoker to hold heat for 5 hours using the Minion Method before I had to add fuel every 45 minutes afterward.

2. Food tastes better coming off the drum smoker. I have no drip pan between my food and the coals. Marinades, spices, and melted fat drip right on to the coals creating a flavorful smoke I was not getting with lump charcoal and wood chunks.

3. The drums are easier to use. I can control the airflow using three air inlets to manage my heat to any temp I chose, anywhere between 190 to 350 is no problem. I can get the temp hotter if I use lump charcoal.

4. Logistically the drum is easier to move. I can put it in the back of my GMC Jimmy and go anywhere. They aren’t cumbersome or heavy. I don’t have to pull a trailer or borrow my Dad’s truck to get around with my smoker.

5. Overall fuel cost is reduced significantly. I can power cook everything for a competition on one bag of natural charcoal. Our two offset smokers use 40lbs of lump charcoal and a FEC 100 uses a bag of pellets at competitions.

6. There is little effort involved to clean a drum smoker. All the fat and spices fall onto the drip pan. There is a little ash left over from using the Kingsford Competition Briquettes, but not much. I can clean my grates after smoking, empty my ash pan, and hose it down with almost no effort.

7. I can manage the entire smoking process without electricity. Most competitions supply electricity and some competitors rely on it to maintain their smokers and or devices, like temp control or rotisserie units. The drum is electricity free.

I sat and watched the temperature gauge the entire time when I first used the drum smoker to smoke a high heat brisket. Jess asked why was I sitting there with a blank stare on my face, “was I was OK?”. I explained I was waiting for the other shoe to drop, i.e. the smoker to lose temperature. It didn’t happen. The temp just stayed where I wanted it and didn’t move very often during the entire practice. I will admit the airflow needs to be adjusted slightly every couple hours, but that is a very small price to pay for large chunks of sleep.

Over 9 hours I can power cook every meat for a competition on one barrel; cooking pork butts and brisket in 4 1/2 hours, ribs in 4 hours, and adding chicken during the home stretch.

Now, drum smokers aren’t pretty and they sure aren’t works of art like a Jambo pit. I have to cover mine in the backyard to not scare the neighbors. But if you want an efficient smoker, I recommend getting a drum smoker.

Happy smoking,


It’s been a while since anything has been posted. I’ll have something up… soon. In the meantime, here is a step by step guide to make a bacon burger.