It takes incredible talent and a whole lot of practice to achieve barbecue perfection, and Roger Mooking is honoring the legendary pitmasters who make some of the country's best barbecue. He gets cooking with the man who brought barbecue to Brooklyn at Hometown Bar-B-Que, cooking Jamaican jerk baby back ribs and sticky Korean ribs with a sweet and savory Asian influence. Then, Roger is off to Texas to the famous Kreuz Market to get schooled on traditions dating back to their opening in 1900. Then he heads to North Carolina's Skylight Inn, also known as Jones BBQ, to check out their traditional method of low and slow whole hog cooking with a whopping 16-hour cook time.
Roger Mooking's on the hunt for lip-smacking barbecue ribs. In Hattiesburg, Miss., Leatha's Bar-b-cue Inn seasons their pork and beef ribs with a mysterious marinade, cooks them in an unusual upright smoker, and finishes them with a top secret barbecue sauce. Roger learns how to make these Southern-style ribs from Brian Jackson, a third generation pit master. And at Hometown Bar-B-Que in New York, Brooklyn native Billy Durney gives his ribs an ethnic spin. The Jerk Baby Back Ribs are seasoned with the earthy, spicy flavors of Jamaica, while the Sticky Korean ribs are glossed with a sweet and savory Asian glaze, and then topped with cashews and scallions.
Roger Mooking is in Southern California for two unbelievable backyard blowouts. Roger meets Chef Ben Ford in Tarzana for a unique California-style clambake, using an old wine barrel as the cooking vessel for clams, mussels, Dungeness crabs, artichokes, corn, potatoes and onions. In Chula Vista, Roger meets Francisco "Paco" Perez for traditional Mexican barbacoa which is whole lamb cooked in the ground, low and slow. Together they preheat an underground brick pit with a wood fire, and then season the lamb with a bright red chili marinade before covering it with dried avocado and fresh maguey leaves and cooking it in the pit overnight.
Like a moth to a flame, nothing grabs Roger Mooking's attention like a raging wood-burning fire. Roger heads to Bigmista's Barbecue & Sammich Shop in Long Beach, Calif., where Neil and Phyllis Strawder spread their smoked meat love. Roger and Neil load up the smoker with beef briskets and pork butts, then back in the kitchen, Roger and Phyllis roll up their sleeves and build unique barbecue sandwiches. In Door County, Wis., Roger is bowled over by the area's legendary fish boil. At the Old Post Office Restaurant, boil master Jeremy Klaubauf cooks local white fish, potatoes and onions in a cauldron by engulfing it in flames.
California's wine country is the perfect place for an outdoor cookout and Roger Mooking has been invited to two parties there. Executive winemaker Neil Collins of the Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles designed a contraption that can cook a whole pig over a wood burning fire for an annual party held for members of their wine club. The town of Healdsburg is famous for their wineries, their olive oils and a historic landmark called the Dry Creek General Store. In the summer months, they load up the grill and prepare amazing feasts. Roger helps Chef Gia Passalacqua fill an eight-foot grill with Dungeness crabs that have been rubbed with a chili pepper sauce, and legs of lambs that have been rubbed with a Mediterranean spice paste.
Roger Mooking attends the 100-year anniversary of the St. Mary Magdalene Church Picnic in Owensboro, Ky., where several thousand pounds of meat will cook over 100 feet of fire and smoke. Roger helps volunteers load and light three massive barbecue pits with wood planks, pallets and straw, then it's all hands on deck to prep, cook, flip and mop sauce for mutton, pork butts and chickens. Thousands attend this annual fundraiser, which even has a drive-through for folks who prefer to take their 'cue to go!
Roger Mooking visits Faith's Farm in Bonfield, Ill., for an awesome feast cooked on three different fiery contraptions. Roger helps three chefs orchestrate a festive Latin and Mexican-inspired meal. A whole lamb slowly roasts on an asado cross, boar steaks are grilled on a repurposed windmill, and pig skins are fried until puffy and crisp in a wood burning oven and stove, and then finished with a smoky Mexican chocolate glaze. It's a three-alarm fire for a three-star, farm-to-table spread.
Roger Mooking heads to the heart of New Mexico where cooking with fire is taken to new culinary heights with mud and steel. Roger visits Comida de Campos in Embudo, a farm and cooking school where delicious feasts are cooked in cone-shaped clay ovens, where he helps cook pork shoulder. In Bosque, Roger fires up three steel discos and one large jara for two New Mexican pork dishes: carne adovada and carnitas.
Roger Mooking cruises through central California for two spectacular, meat-filled cookouts. This area is home to many vineyards, but Paso de Record Vineyard in San Miguel has piqued Roger's interest. The vineyard hosts wine release parties for its customers and serves barbecue prepared in a deep pit built in the picture-perfect property. In Santa Barbara, Roger visits a local caterer famous for creating an Argentine Asado.
Roger Mooking visits the West Coast for two unique wood-fired roasts. Roger heads to Sloughhouse to visit Passmore Ranch, a freshwater, sustainable fish farm, where Roger is challenged to catch a 6ft white sturgeon-by hand! The catch of the day is then stuffed with aromatics and roasted over a large bed of coals. Roger is on the hunt for Santa Maria-style barbecue and heads to the Santa Maria Elks Lodge. In the legendary BBQ Room, Roger helps build a fire in the massive pit and seasons and skewers big hunks of beef.
Roger Mooking visits the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School in Masardis, Maine, where owner and wilderness guide Tim Smith teaches him how to create a rustic outdoor kitchen. They build a pyramid cooker out of logs and string, and use it to roast whole chickens and fresh-caught Brook Trout. With the help of a reflector oven, they complete their feast with Sourdough Biscuits.
Everyone loves sitting in front of a fireplace, but Roger Mooking loves cooking in one: He visits two places in New England that host delicious fireplace feasts. During the winter months, family-run restaurant Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield, Mass., roasts racks of ribs in front of a scorching indoor fireplace. At Foster's Clambake in York, Maine, a classic New England clambake of lobsters, mussels, clams, corn and potatoes is steamed to perfection in a massive outdoor fireplace.
Roger Mooking meets two people in New England who love to play with fire. In Plymouth, Mass., the backyard of cookbook author and archeologist Paula Marcoux is filled with cooking contraptions inspired by her travels. Roger and Paula build a fire for the German Schwenker Grill and Paula also teaches Roger how to steam mussels with dry pine needles and a hot coal. Roger then visits Brookside Barn and Farm in Uxbridge, Mass., where owner David Adamson rents out do-it-yourself pig roasts kits for anyone interested in a delicious backyard feast.
The fires glow bright in the Carolinas. Roger Mooking visits Skylight Inn, a family-run restaurant in North Carolina that's been serving whole hog-style barbecue for 65 years. In South Carolina, five friends create an extravagant two-day, meat-filled feast called "Bovinova, Barn Yard Burn." Six hundred hungry barbecue lovers come for the surf and turf paella, roasted chickens, roasted lamb, pigs and the main attraction, a whole roasted cow!
Roger Mooking takes a trip to Charleston, S.C., to visit the Big Red Rig, a bright red, double-decker, thirty-foot trailer tricked out with two massive smokers cooking traditional pulled pork, ribs and chicken for barbecue competitions across the country. Then, Bone-in Artisan BBQ in Columbia, S.C., is a hugely popular food truck pushing the limits on taste and technique, as well as the definition of South Carolina-style barbecue.
Roger Mooking visits two chefs from Texas who love to play with smoke and fire in their restaurants and in their backyards. By day, Tom Spaulding serves classic Texas-style barbecue at his restaurant Live Oak. But for special occasions, Tom builds a grill out of cinder blocks and a metal sheet and grate for a South American parilla-style spread. At Chicken Scratch restaurant in Dallas, Tim Byres spins spice-rubbed chickens from his unique wood-burning rotisserie. But in the middle of his vegetable garden, Tim has dug a deep hole and lined it with bricks to make delicious Mexican Lamb Barbacoa inside and Pork Carnitas on top.
Where there's fire, there's smoke, and some of the most flavorful meat on the market comes straight from incredible smoking operations. Roger Mooking joins the team at Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams, a famous smokehouse shipping nationwide from Madisonville, Tenn., to help prepare huge hams for a three-day cold smoke before they're cured for up to two years. Then, he surfs on to Chicago's Calumet Fisheries, an 80-year-old seafood smokehouse, to load up salmon, trout, whitefish, sable and sturgeon. Finally, Roger heads to small town Mamou, La., to a big time smokehouse called T-Boyz. Roger and T-Boy go hog wild on over 500 pounds of Cajun smoked meats that are mixed in with an unbeatable combination of red beans and rice.
Roger Mooking is grilling steaks and chickens in California, and smoking a bounty of seafood in Illinois. High heat for meat and low smoke for seafood. Roger begins in Orangevale, Calif., to meet restaurateur and caterer Steve Dougherty who specializes in Santa Maria-style barbecue. Roger and Steve season tri-tip steaks and chickens with Cajun spices, and then line them up on the racks of a giant portable grill. In Chicago, Roger visits Calumet Fisheries, an 80-year-old seafood smokehouse where he helps fish smoker Javier Magallanes load up salmon, trout, whitefish, sable and sturgeon, and smoke them to perfection.
Roger Mooking is in Puerto Rico where the weather is hot, the view is smoking and the food is a fuego! It's his first time visiting Puerto Rico and he's inviting friends along for the ride. Roger begins the eating adventure with fellow Canadian, Chef Chuck Hughes. They'll fill up on pork at La Estacion, a former gas station-turned-barbecue restaurant that's located in Fajardo. Owner and Chef Kevin Roth transformed a truck into a smoker and grill and that's the main star of his outdoor kitchen. Roger and Chuck help build and light a fire, and rub down a whole pig with spices to make lechon, a Puerto Rican specialty. Roger heads over to the other side of the island and meets local chef Tino Feliciano. Tino takes Roger to a popular roadside eatery Rancho Carbon Express. Chickens are stuffed with sofrito, rubbed with adobo and then cooked on rotisseries.
Roger Mooking is hanging out with two chefs putting a whole new spin on rotisserie cooking in the great outdoors. At SpringHouse restaurant in Alexander City, Ala., Chef Rob McDaniel has designed a fire-fueled contraption that he and Roger use to roast succulent legs of lamb. In Charleston, S.C., Craig Deihl is the chef and owner of Cypress, a restaurant famous for wood-fired food. Craig also likes playing with fire outside the kitchen, and he's created a backyard-friendly rotisserie that can roast whole strings of ducks and chickens.
Roger Mooking is in Florida fanning the flames for something savory and something sweet. Roger heads to Hamaknockers Bar-B-Que in Crawfordville, where a young pitmaster pulls pork with a power tool! Roger comes face-to-face with their signature sandwich, the Hamaburger. In Dade City, Roger meets Steve Melton, a farmer preserving the tradition of making cane syrup in a gigantic 100 year-old kettle over an open fire.
Roger Mooking meets two talented chefs who own two spectacular outdoor cooking rigs. In Miami, Chef Aaron Brooks celebrates Latin flavors with his unique coal-fueled contraption called the Cross Table. Roger and Aaron roast butterflied pork and simmer seafood paella. In Birmingham, Ala., Roger visits Chef Chris Hastings at his restaurant OvenBird. The restaurant is known for its wood-fired kitchen, but Chris's fascination for fire led him to create a one-of-a-kind portable oven. Roger and Chris cook up a meat lover's feast along with the season's best vegetables.
Roger Mooking is in pig paradise, cooking up two whole hogs in two different styles. In New Orleans, Roger visits MOPHO restaurant where Chef Michael Gulotta's Southeast Asian spit-roasted pig is a twist on a classic Southern tradition. In Mississippi, Chef Miles McMath hinges two steel troughs together to make a convenient and quick-cooking oven. Roger and Miles slow-cook a whole hog in this unique rig, and fry hand pies for dessert over an open flame.
Richard McCallister of Marksbury Farm Market invites Roger Mooking to his annual spring celebration in Lancaster, Ky. Richard and Roger season a flock of spring chickens and cook them in a contraption inspired by the grills in Uruguay. Roger contributes a dish to the party: corn on the cob seasoned with coconut oil and an exotic blend of spices. Richard's friend Jim Budros insists on preparing Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler for dessert and transports his 2000 pound wood-burning oven straight from Ohio.
Roger Mooking's favorite way to devour smoked pork shoulder is in a sandwich. In Grand Rapids, Roger visits the Pit Stop, a barbecue take-out famous for their unconventional yet scrumptious sandwich featuring pork chili, pulled pork, cilantro cream and barbecue sauce wrapped up in a flour tortilla and then cooked on a griddle until golden brown and crispy. For a classic Southern-style pork sandwich, Roger visits Top Hat Barbecue in Blount Springs, Ala. This barbecue institution has been serving their best-selling sandwich the same exact way for almost 50 years. The smoked pork is chopped, dressed with a little barbecue sauce and then piled in a bun.
The American barbecue belt in the South stretches from the Carolinas to Texas, and today Roger Mooking heads to the heart of it, Alabama. Roger meets award-winning pit master Chris Lilly at Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, a family-run restaurant serving Alabama-style 'cue for four generations, and Roger's there for the legendary smoked chicken that's dunked in a unique and utterly delicious white sauce. In the coastal town of Mobile, Roger meets Alabama native Bill Armbrecht, owner of The Brick Pit. Locals and visitors from across the country stop in for the chicken and ribs, but the thing everyone talks about is the pulled pork which cooks for almost 30 hours in a smoker called "The Big Red."