The secret to cooking great barbecue is one thing if nothing else - different according to who you ask.
Backyard cooks from all over the Southeast packed up their grills, charcoal, meat and secret sauce and set up shop at the first ever Evans Barbecue Showdown behind the Evans Kroger
The Boones brought one 125-pound hog with them from their Aiken home and were more than happy to talk about their style of grilling.
"The grill is the thing," said Tom Boone, as his son Michael mixed the chopped pork with mustard based sauce. "If its done right, you don't need to put anything on it, but the people like it."
To make sure it's done right, Tom said he uses a direct heat - opposed to steam - and allows the flames to "tickle the food." To keep the flames going, the Boones used coals that have a hickory flavor to it.
For those grilling barbecue at home, Tom said there's really only one way to cook a hog.
"You dig a hole in the ground, throw some fence wire on it and throw the hog on," he said. "That's the way it was done in the old days."
For Bill Boyce, seasoning is the key. Boyce, of Keysville, Ga., said lemon pepper, black pepper and vinegar are applied generously to anything put inside his grill. At the showdown, Boyce was putting season on chicken, ribs, loins and chicken wings.
"I'm definitely not afraid to season," he said.
Stewart Garrett of Augusta uses the set it and forget it method. First, he skins the hog and salts it down. Next he cooks each side for four hours at 225 degrees.
During those eight hours, the only thing he worries about is friends walking by the grill and lifting the lid to check on the food.
"I have a friend who has a pad lock in the grill," Garrett said. "Everyone wants to come and lift the grill, but that lets the heat out."
To cook the food, Garrett starts off with a 20-pound bag of charcoal with a mesquite flavoring to it. After that burns out, he said he cuts his gas on.
That's it, he said.
"The flavor is already there, all we're doing is cooking it."
Grilling barbecue involves more than a big hog and even bigger patience though. There are several side dishes to choose from.
The Boone boys kept to their traditional methods and offered up barbecue staples - hash, baked beans and corn.
Their hash was made of beef, pork, potatoes and ham and seasoned with sage, pepper, and salt.
"There's as many different ways to cook (hash) as there are people," Tom said.
Regardless of how you handle your meat or what you serve with it, these novices all said the biggest secret is to have fun doing it.
"This is just old fashioned BBQ," Tom said.
Barbecue to beat
1. Jeff Carter, Augusta
2. Appling Fire Department
3. Fort Gordon Fire and Emergency
Best Booth: Jeff Carter, Augusta
1. Scott Volmer, Augusta
2. John Boy and Billy Big Show Grill, Charlotte, N.C.
3. Bill Boyce, Keysville, Ga.
Best Booth: Stewart Garrett, Augusta
1. Exhausted Rooster Club, Appling
2. Bill Eason, Marshville, N.C.
3. James Britt, Birmingham, Ala.
Best Booth: James Britt, Birmingham, Ala.
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