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By Tim O’Dell, Chili Dawg’s Foods of Fire

There is nothing like the start of football season to get people excited about the fall. Sure it is the end of summer, fall is on the way and we all know what comes after that. But for now, let’s settle in and watch some good football and, cook some great barbeque for our tailgate party.

Chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs and brats are great for your tailgates and easy barbeque staples but there is more. Some really good ones are pork butts, briskets, pork loin and ribs which are becoming tailgate favorites. You can throw in prime rib and yes, fish like salmon, halibut and tilapia in there too.

Many tailgate cooks are working hard to impress family and friends with their expertise in preparing and smoking these delectable meat and fish dishes.

These cooks will spend hours selecting meats and preparing them with special seasonings which are called “rubs” in the BBQ world. They carefully select the method of the cook, either smoking or grilling.

If smoking, the selection of wood is critical in determining flavor and presentation. There are many woods from which to choose and they add a myriad of flavors.

Fruit woods like apple, cherry, peach and pecan are some favorites. Hickory, Oak and Mesquite are some hardwoods that add robust flavors. Deciding which wood works best for your style of smoking is an art, trick of the trade if you will.

One example; using cherry wood with ribs is a combination I just love. The cherry smoke gives the ribs a special flavor. The outer layer of smoked ribs, or bark, is pleasing to the eye. The inner smoke ring contains much of the flavor provided by the fruit smoke of cherry wood. And, when properly seasoned, smoked, wrapped and finished, the satisfaction of smoking the perfect rib will have you busting your buttons with pride.

How much smoke, what temperatures to cook at, how long to smoke and what woods do I use or where do I get these woods? These are questions that everyone has had from time to time. How do you get the answers? Answers can come from a lot of expensive trial and error. Or most generally, by talking to expert BBQ cooks or other knowledgeable folks in the art of smoking and barbequing.

Others with the expertise you need are personnel in specialty stores that have the supplies you need when your holiday party gets close. They have the rubs, supplies and woods that big box stores or local grocery stores do not. They have a network of barbequers willing to share secrets and they have practical experience to share as well.

How good can tailgate barbeque get? The answer is that it can get very, very good. If you are willing to rely upon those with expertise for advice and those who have the right supplies, you will have everything you need to prepare for a very enjoyable experience.

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