Roger Mooking gets schooled by two pit masters changing the barbecue game in Charleston, S.C. Carolina-style barbecue is all about pork and Rodney Scott is the whole hog boss. Roger checks out Rodney's impressive new pit room where whole hogs get cooked low and slow. Rodney then hits the hogs with his secret "
Roger Mooking heads to the Liberty Kitchen in Houston, Texas, where Chef Lance Fegen has built a monster wood-fired Argentinian grill. Roger and Lance prepare a traditional Balinese pig roast by spit-roasting it over bold mesquite coals and coconut shells. They complete their tropical feast with Mexican pork asado tacos made on an edible rig. Next Roger heads to Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, N.C., where Executive Chef Nate Sloan hooks Roger up with a fire-roasted farm feast. They prepare porchetta, stuffing the center cut of a pig with spicy Italian sausage and lush kale pesto, roll it up into cylinder, and spin it on a rotisserie over a bed of hot coals. They also roast spring onions and place them over heirloom grits cooked in a coal-fueled cauldron.
Barbecue is in the blood at two family-run institutions where the dedication for perfecting smoked meats spans decades. Burns Original BBQ in Houston, Texas, is the definition of a family business. Grandpa Roy Burns started cooking barbecue in 1973 on the side to help support his NINE children. Four decades later, over a dozen family members continue to keep the flames burning and the meat smoking. Roger is welcomed into the family and the pit room with open arms. He learns the ropes of East Texas style 'cue - tender chopped brisket, pork ribs that fall off the bone, and football-sized loaded bbq baked potatoes. Next, Roger heads to Poche's Market and Restaurant, which has been a one-stop shop for smoked meats in Breaux Bridge L.A. since 1962. Owner Floyd Poche gives Roger a sampling of their legendary 'cue. Pork ribs, pork steaks, sausages and whole chickens get rubbed down with spicy cajun seasoning before getting loaded into their 40 year old wood-fired smoker.
Roger meets a pit master with a PhD who cooks Carolina-style whole hog barbecue in Louisiana. Dr. Howard Conyers is an engineer for NASA by day, but a pit master at night, on weekends, and every moment in between. His family has been cooking whole hogs for generations and he is preserving a time-honored tradition, taking the pig out of the rig and right into the ground. Roger and Howard break out the heavy machinery and flex their muscles to dig out a pit, and build a raging fire in a towering burn barrel.
Roger Mooking's quest for lip-smacking smoked meat leads him back to the Lone Star State. In Houston, Texas, Grant Pinkerton is an award-winning pit master who recently opened up his first restaurant. His specialty is Central Texas barbecue, but he likes to think outside the firebox and cooks up one-of-kind cuts.. Roger and Grant season two whole goats with a spice blend that includes guajillo chile, cumin and red pepper. The tender meat gets hand-pulled and piled on tortillas and topped with all the fixings, and served with a side of Mexican street corn. Then Roger meets up with Chef Andrew Wiseheart of Austin, Texas. When Andrew isn't in his kitchen at Contigo Restaurant, he is playing with fire in the great outdoors with a one-of-a-kind rig. Roger and Andrew rub whole chickens with fruity green peppercorns and hang them to slowly spin over coals. To complete the meal, they stuff whole squash with a medley of hearty vegetables and farro to cook hot and fast by the flames.
Roger Mooking follows the smoke signals to two Texas restaurants. At Bin Tapas Bar in San Antonio, Texas, Roger and Chef Jason Dady cook a giant pan of paella flavored with Thai ingredients and cooked over a wood burning fire. In keeping with the Asian theme, Roger and Jason grill up chicken and eggplant marinated in lemongrass, ginger, Thai chilis and fresh herbs. Then Roger heads to Banger's Sausage House and Beer Garden in Austin, Texas which has about 30 sausages on the menu and over 100 beers on tap. Locals crowd the beer garden when the restaurant does their monster feast - Smoke Out Saturday. Chef Ted Prater shows Roger how he roasts a Texas-sized goat in a Cajun microwave and makes vegetable skewers and antelope merguez sausages to complete the Mediterranean menu.
Roger Mooking heads to Hoodoo Brown Barbeque in Ridgefield, CT, where owner Cody Sperry serves up monster-sized meaty masterpieces. Cody serves up "outlaw barbeque," a mashup of styles and traditions with smoke pork butts, pork ribs, pork belly and beef brisket. All that pork comes together in the Hogzilla, a towering sandwich with BBQ ranch dressing, fried green tomato and coleslaw. To wash it down, Roger and Hoodoo Brown Barbecue manager, Chris Sexton make a cocktail called, "The Bloody Trinity," which is topped with smoked meat! Finally, Roger makes his way to Nashville, where Vivek Surti, founder of the VEA Supper Club, cooks up a massive hanging whole rib roast crusted with spices and serves it with grilled broccoli salad and roasted sweet potatoes.
In his search for impressive fiery feasts, Roger Mooking finds two meaty marvels. In Palatine, IL, heavy metal couple Greg and Kristina Gaardbo run Rockin Rodizio, a catering company that specializes in Brazilian-style Barbecue that cooks hot and fast. They have three massive rotisseries that are loaded with snappy sausages, succulent pastrami pork ribs, tomahawk steaks, and even cinnamon rolls topped with whiskey icing. Next Roger heads to Brooklyn, where Pit Master Tyson Ho brings traditional North Carolina-style whole hog barbecue to the Big Apple. Tyson and Roger roast up a whole hog and serve it with two scrumptious waffles, one made with sweet potatoes and made entirely out of mac and cheese!
Roger Mooking heads to the country music capital Nashville, where chefs are playing meaty tunes. At Urban Grub, Chef Edgar Pendley fans the flames in a massive 18-foot-tall hearth and hangs a wall of house-made andouille sausages and pork ribs rubbed with sorghum and spices. Those sausages head into a kettle brimming with a flavorful boil with crawfish, fire-roasted potatoes, and corn. Whole hog barbecue is the main attraction at Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint. Pit Master Pat Martin shares a passion project with Roger, a six-foot-tall rig that can smoke a flock of spice-rubbed chickens suspended in air. To complete this chorus of fiery flavors, there's a side of meaty baked beans and slow-roasted cabbage wedges.
Roger Mooking meets up with two mastermind chefs who show off their radical rigs on opposite ends of the country. In Great Barrington, Mass. Roger puts the pedal to the metal on Jeremy Stanton's "Rotisserie Bike," a genius stationary bike that can turn up to 12 spits at once with nothing more than the force of two hamstrings. After prepping a whole hog, an 80 pound beef leg, and a basket of onions, Roger and Jeremy burn some calories while they take turns to keep the meat turning over three open fires. Then, Roger races off to San Francisco where he and Chef Sophina Uong of Mestiza Taqueria cook up a Filipino-Mexican feast on her lean mean chicken machine. Over 30 chickens are loaded onto bamboo sticks and leaned over an open fire.
Roger Mooking gets blown away by not one but two of the biggest metal-clad rigs he's ever seen. In Algoma, Wis., he meets brothers Brad and Aric Schmiling who use a giant cinder block pit and massive metal grates to roast a whole steer. Then Roger heads to Atascadero, Calif. where he meets Jason Elvis Heard, a brilliant engineering consultant who built a record-breaking rig called Mega Pit. Roger and Jason load, it up with 600 pounds of dry-rubbed chicken, beef and pork ribs, and the region's signature meat. If that wasn't enough, Jason shares his take on mac-n-cheese, made with tender chunks of tri-tip and all the BBQ flavors we know and love.
Roger Mooking is going from the west coast to the east coast to check out crazy custom contraptions. First, he gets to play with a one-of-a-kind "meat swing set" in West Sacramento, Calif. Custom-built for Chef Beau Fairbairn, it can cook a whole animal or two, and still have room left over. Roger and Beau slow-cook a whole hog and an entire garden's worth of vegetables over a 12-foot-long wood fire. Then, Roger heads to school in farm country, New Jersey, where cooking-school founder, Ian Knauer, teaches open-fire cooking. Today's lessons: whole lamb roasted over a wood fire on a 5-foot hand-powered rotisserie, accompanied by salsa verde made with herbs from the farm and vegetables roasted in a wood-fired oven.
Chef Roger Mooking highlights the inventive ways Americans cook with fire. From small campfires to custom-made grills and smokers, he visits the home cooks, pitmasters and chefs who are fascinated by fire and food.