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 meets Chef Thomas McNaughton of San Francisco restaurant flour + water at a farm in Healdsburg, Calif., for a live-fire feast of epic proportions. They affix a whole pig to a metal cross to cook over hot coals for several hours, basted often with a mixture of butter, herbs, warm spices and citrus. The pig roast drippings fall into a potato-filled cast iron pan set over the hot coals, and whole onions and squash are nestled directly in the embers. To complete this feast, Roger and Thomas suspend chickens over a fire to roast. But these aren't just any chickens -- they're black-skinned chickens with a slightly gamier flavor. It's a fiery feast Roger won't soon forget.
Smoke signals lead Roger Mooking to two popular food trucks in Texas serving up delicious ethnic eats. In Grapevine, Texas, Roger meets pitmaster Trey Sanchez of Vaqueros Texas Bar-B-Q, who's known for combining authentic Texas-style barbecue with Mexican dishes. Roger and Trey season and smoke briskets for Birria Tacos and prep Cowboy Potatoes for a pop-up with hungry locals at Hop and Sting Brewing Co. The chopped brisket is served in griddled corn tortillas with melted cheese, onions and cilantro, plus beef consomme for dipping. The smoked potatoes are diced and sauteed with onions, bell peppers and salsa in a metal disco set over hot coals, and both dishes are served with Trey's signature fiery, smoky salsas. In Austin, Texas, Justin and Lakana Trubiana park their food truck DEE DEE at Radio Coffee and Beer and serve authentic northeastern Thai dishes inspired by Lakana's family recipes. Roger and Justin light coals and preheat a massive, custom-built rotisserie that can cook up to 36 whole chickens that have been brined and rubbed with a flavorful paste of Thai aromatics and seasonings to create Gai Yang. As the succulent chickens spin and cook for two hours, Roger and Lakana grill Moo Ping, thinly sliced pork marinated in a top-secret family recipe and cooked on wooden skewers. Both dishes are served with Thai sticky rice and sauces that are both sweet and spicy.
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.
Roger Mooking heads to Napa Valley, Calif., for two unique pig roasts. In St. Helena, chef John Fink is famous for his portable Cuban Pig roasts. Over a custom built oven, a whole pig is butterflied and seasoned with mojo and slow-roasted over wood coals. In Calistoga, Roger meets Todd Spanier to feast on a whole pig that's stuffed with truffles and trumpet mushrooms, then roasted over a rotisserie that his grandfather constructed in the 1970s.
Roger Mooking meets two chefs celebrating South American grilling styles in northern California. At Farmstead Restaurant in St. Helena, Chef Stephen Barber built a "live fire" cook area, for Argentinian Asado, where Roger and Stephen slow cook spring lamb. In Healdsburg, Roger and Mateo Granados, chef of Mateo's Cocina Latina, build an outdoor oven out of bricks and cinder blocks. Marinated whole ducks, pork loins and leg of lamb are placed onto large Brazilian skewers and cooked on top of the oven.
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.
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 Mooking heads to the Aloha State, where Chef Lee Anne Wong fires up a custom-made stainless steel unit with local kiawe wood and prepares a tropical feast of beer-can chicken, slow-roasted fruits and vegetables and fresh mahi-mahi fillets wrapped in banana leaves. In Bellaire, Texas, Roger steps into the smoke at Blood Bros. BBQ, where brothers Robin and Terry Wong and their childhood friend Quy Hoang cook up classic Texas 'cue mixed with global flavors. Roger and Quy season and smoke brisket flaps and then cube, sauce and slow-cook the meat for addictive Brisket Burnt Ends. They stuff the delectable nuggets inside soft bao buns with strips of cucumber, scallions and pickled jicama. Smoked St. Louis-style pork ribs are slathered with a sweet-and-spicy Thai peanut butter glaze and finished with a sprinkling of hot chilies.
Hawaii island Oahu is known as the "gathering place," and Roger Mooking is invited to two community gatherings abundant with local foods. On the east side of the island, local chef Mark "Gooch" Noguchi teaches Roger how to prepare a traditional Hawaiian imu. At the farmer's market located at Kapiolani Community College, Roger meets Scott Shibuya who smokes meats with guava and kiawe woods, in a smoker he built out of an Air Force cargo container, an airplane food cart and a computer fan.
Roger Mooking loves a great barbecue sandwich. He heads to The Barbecue Exchange for two sinfully delicious sandwiches -- one is called Heaven and the other Hell and both are packed with pulled pork and bacon. Then it's off to Papa KayJoe's BBQ in Centerville, Tenn., where pork, pickles, slaw and hot sauce are sandwiched between crispy corn cakes.
Roger Mooking says goodbye to the standard grill and celebrates the most elaborate, over-the-top smokers and roasters. First, he heads just outside Death Valley to cook on a true fire-breathing barbecue pit -- an 8-foot, 800-pound metal dragon with three separate chambers. Then he lands in Kansas City, Mo., for a test flight in Swine Flew, an airplane converted by two mechanics into a fully functioning barbecue grill. They put airline food to shame with pork butts and spare ribs cooked right inside the aircraft cabin. Next, Roger visits a Frankenstein smoker in Oahu, Hawaii, that's constructed from an Air Force cargo container, computer fans and pieces of a commercial jumbo jet. Finally, he checks out a converted tool shed used for a Cajun-style whole hog roast.
Roger Mooking makes two pit stops in the South for a little sizzle and a lot of smoke. He starts at Comfort Farms in Milledgeville, Ga., a nonprofit organization where retired veteran Jon Jackson helps fellow vets adjust to civilian life by teaching them how to farm, raise animals and cook. Jon often hosts cookouts to thank and feed his community, and Roger joins him to cook a whole mutton seasoned with garlicky rosemary paste and slow-roast cauliflower, broccoli, beets and onions. Roger then heads to Bob Sykes Bar-B-Q in Bessemer, Ala., for classic, open brick-pit barbecue. He learns the tricks of the trade from seasoned pitmaster Van Sykes, who has been stoking coals since he was 8 years old. They season 250 pounds of picnic pork with salt and load it into a 15-foot pit heated with hickory wood. The pork is then sliced, topped with just enough vinegar-based barbecue sauce and sandwiched inside a toasted bun with sliced pickles.
Roger Mooking takes a trip to West Point, Texas, to meet Tink Pinkard. Tink is an outdoor guide, hunter, fisherman, caterer and all-around nice guy. Together they build a barbecue pit out of cinder blocks and prepare Italian porchetta. While the pig slowly roasts over coals, Tink teaches Roger how to fly-fish and takes him to a neighbor's longhorn ranch. It's a wild and delicious adventure that Roger won't soon forget.
Texas is famous for American barbecue, but today Roger Mooking is making his way through the Lone Star state for live-fire Latin American cooking and to savor the flavors of smoked European-style sausages. Class is in session at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio and Roger gets a lesson in preparing Mexican-style short ribs cooked in the ground. Elgin is a town famous for their German-style sausages and Roger visits Meyer's and helps prepare thousands of twice smoked sausages.
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 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 tames the flames in outdoor kitchens fueled by wood-burning fires. In Solvang, Calif., the Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is home to 10,000 acres of land with horses, cattle and a bevy of fiery cooking contraptions. Roger helps fire up a meal of juicy beef ribs and grilled chickens for their weekly ranch cookout. In San Diego, Roger visits the outdoor kitchen of caterer Clyde Van Arsdall of 3 Squares Gourmet to slow-roast herb and citrus-stuffed turkeys on the spit while vegetables roast in the oven. Then it all comes together for a hearty soup that's cooked in an antique cauldron rigged above scorching hot coals.
Roger Mooking is firing up three different rigs to cook a whole hog, racks of ribs and bushels of oysters for the ultimate South Carolina-style surf and turf. He meets up with pitmaster Aaron Siegel and Chef Taylor Garrigan, the culinary masterminds behind Home Team BBQ restaurant in Charleston, S.C. Roger and Taylor light up a burn barrel to make mountains of coals for the pig cooker, which will roast a whole 150-pound hog. During the cook, the hog is mopped with spicy vinegar. Roger helps Aaron smoke 30 racks of pork ribs in an offset smoker and steam clusters of locally harvested oysters in a custom rig. It's a magnificent low-country feast featuring a typical pig pickin' and a classic oyster roast.
Roger Mooking visits two legendary barbecue joints in Central Texas where just the right amount of smoke and heat transforms the meat into delicious eats. At Kreuz Market in Lockhart, Texas, they have eight pits for cooking, acres of wood for burning and hundreds of pounds of delicious barbecue for stick-to-your-ribs eating. At Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas, third generation pit master Wayne Mueller gives Roger an experience of a lifetime.
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 two chefs in Texas who created the craziest cooking contraptions and prove that everything's bigger in Texas. Chef Johnny Hernandez designed a massive grill for his restaurant El Machito in San Antonio and it takes fire and food to the extreme. Roger and Johnny skewer every meat imaginable -- chickens, pork and beef sausages, racks of ribs and whole goats. Roger then heads to Vintage Heart Farm in Stockdale to meet Chef John Russ who designed a 7-foot tree made out of stainless steel that can roast food over a wood fire. Roger and John fill the tree with quails and sausages for an outdoor feast.
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 is on the hunt for the most radical barbecue rigs, and he starts at The Pit Room in Houston, Texas, where special events call for a custom-built trailer that can cook up to 600 pounds of meat. Roger helps load up six whole goats for tacos. In Napa Valley, Calif., he checks out Oak Avenue Catering's custom-made asado grill that can cook a huge side of beef. For a side dish, fermented cabbages are hung on the grill to cook low and slow with the meat. As they wait for this feast to cook, Roger learns how to transfer a tree stump into a flaming stove for boiling potatoes that are then crisped on a hot plancha to complete this feast in the heart of wine country.
Roger Mooking visits two Texas pitmasters who give breakfast a wake-up call by adding barbecue. Reid Guess' custom-built rigs and smoked meats are on full display at Guess Family Barbecue in Waco, Texas. Reid and Roger fire up a 1,000-gallon offset smoker and fill it with seasoned pork butts and tri-tip steaks. They pull the pork, add it to fluffy pancakes and top with whiskey butter and maple syrup. The steak is seared on hot coals, dressed with chimichurri sauce and served with fried eggs. Then Roger heads to Derek Allan's Texas Barbecue in Fort Worth, Texas, for the signature Brisket Kolaches. Helming the unique upright smokers is Derek Crudgington, an IT systems engineer and self-taught pitmaster. Derek and Roger smoke wagyu beef brisket and stuff the melt-in-your-mouth meat inside soft, pillowy dough with cheese and hashbrowns. They also smoke housemade wagyu beef sausages made from a blend of chuck and brisket and serve the legendary links in breakfast tacos with scrambled eggs, cheese and salsa.
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.