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 heads to Texas and Louisiana to feast on classic Cajun cooking. In small town Mamou, La., there's a big time smokehouse filled with five hundred pounds of Southern smoked favorites. Roger helps owner T-Boy fill the room with sausages, tasso, ribs and jerky. A selection of smoked meats is then stirred into a pot of T-Boy's famous red beans and served over white rice. In College Station, Texas, a professor originally from Louisiana has transformed a shed into a smoker in order to make Cochon de Lait, a Cajun pig roast.
Chef Roger Mooking visits chefs using unusual tools over live fires. In Georgia, Roger meets Erik Niel, a chef that loves to break out of his butcher shop to cook outdoors. And Erik is pulling something out of his hat: over a dozen rabbits cooked rotisserie-style with bamboo poles. In Plano, Texas, Roger visits friend Chef Tim Byres at his restaurant Smoke to take a stab at cooking flank steak and whole chickens on swords.
It's pure carnivore extravagance as Roger Mooking visits pitmasters cooking meat in massive quantities. First, there's no time for low and slow as Roger heads to San Antonio to fire up an altar of meat in over 600-degree heat. He skewers a deep green chorizo verde and Mexican-style cabrito -- an entire milk-fed goat. Next, a Central California robotics engineer shows Roger his latest invention -- a 40-foot trailer with room for 600 pounds of meaty magnificence -- and Roger is introduced to California mac and cheese loaded with smoky tri-tip steak. Then he's off to the Santa Maria California Elks Club to load dozens of heavy-duty rods with 60 pounds of sizzling top sirloin in their legendary barbecue room. Finally, Roger checks out a Louisiana smokehouse with 60 years of history and possibly the Bayou's best sausage. He helps smoke entire shacks loaded with beef sausage, Andouille, whole chickens, turkey necks and Tasso ham to make a truly authentic Louisiana po' boy.
Roger Mooking is fanning the flames of a fiery surf-and-turf extravaganza in the Sunshine State. He starts at Mrs. Peters Smokehouse, a smoked fish institution that has been thriving in Jensen Beach, Fla., since 1958. Roger and owner Tommy Lopresto fire up a giant 100-year-old oven to smoke hundreds of pounds of fish, some of which will be used in a special seafood chowder. In Loxahatchee, Fla., Roger meets husband-and-wife operators of Swank Specialty Produce, Darrin and Jodi Swank. The Swanks grow vegetables, greens, fruits and flowers and raise livestock, too. Several times a year, they host events at their farm and invite chefs and local restaurateurs to cook in their wood-fired outdoor kitchen. Roger works with local chef Dak Kerprich of Jewell Bistro to slow-roast three dozen chickens on two massive asado crosses. They also fire up a grill to cook flatbread and char a colorful blend of sweet peppers.
Roger Mooking goes hog-wild at two legendary barbecue restaurants located in America's Barbecue Belt. At A&R Bar-B-Que in Memphis, Roger helps owner Andrew Pillard load racks of St. Louis-style ribs into custom wood-fired pits. Andrew also shows Roger how to make Barbecue Spaghetti, a dish created in Memphis in the 1950s. In Lexington, N.C., Roger visits Bar-B-Q Center, a local institution famous for its chopped pork sandwiches and massive ice cream sundaes. Roger and co-owner Cecil Conrad fire up big brick pits with oak and hickory wood and then load salted pork shoulders to cook low and slow for ten hours before they're chopped and piled onto soft buns. And no trip to Bar-B-Q Center is complete without their famous banana split that weighs a whopping four pounds!
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 heads to Northern California for two spectacular wood-fired Mediterranean seafood feasts. In Napa Valley, the Steltzner family is famous for their wines and their towering outdoor oven called the Infiernillo. Roger helps encase whole fish, potatoes and onions in salt before they're baked in the enormous oven. In Tomales Bay, caterer Tom Meckfessel prepares a delicious surf-and-turf Spanish-inspired paella over a wood fire right on the water. Roger harvests local clams for the paella with John Finger, owner of Hog Island Oyster Farm.
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 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.
Join the party as Roger Mooking visits three of the greatest fire-roasted ragers that cook mountains of meat and keep the barbecue faithful lining up for more. First, it's all hands on deck in Owensboro, Ky., for a church picnic with nearly four tons of meat and a crowd of 4,000 carnivores. Then, he heads to a Wisconsin winery where they've built a contraption to roast an entire 1,200-pound steer for their annual celebration of beer, wine and beef. Finally, Roger makes waves in New England at a 70-year-old fish festival, sculpting a scorching 12-foot ring of fire for over 300 pounds of shad on upright boards.
Roger Mooking visits an old-school barbecue institution serving chopped pork in South Carolina and a popular restaurant serving Hill County barbecue classics in Texas. First, he heads to Price's BBQ in Gilbert, S.C., which opened back in 1964 and is still run by the Price family. Roger helps fill a massive 20-foot brick and concrete pit with hams, pork shoulders and pork butts to smoke low and slow over hickory and oak coals. Before the pork comes out of the pit, it gets seasoned with Price's time-honored tangy mustard-based barbecue sauce, and Roger learns how to make the family's famed barbecue hash over buttery white rice. In Coppell, Texas, Roger visits Hard Eight BBQ for classic Hill Country barbecue that includes cooking beef, chicken and pork directly over hot coals in rectangular pits. Roger helps owner Chad Decker fill up two pits with pork ribs, half chickens, briskets and jalapeno sausages.
The smoke signals of fiery feasts lure Roger Mooking to the Southwest, where his first stop is West Alley BBQ and Smokehouse in Chandler, Ariz. The hot spot specializes in Tennessee-style barbecue, and Roger helps founder Bardo Brantley and Pit Boss Robert "Jim Dandy" Spann load brick pits with over 300 pounds of pork. The pork butts are piled high in their signature sandwich, The Big Jim Dandy, and their fan-favorite ribs are tossed in a barbecue sauce with a heavy hit of cayenne. For his second stop, Roger gets lucky in Las Vegas, where he meets Chef Justin Kingsley Hall of The Kitchen at Atomic. His portable rig known as "The Swing Set" is anything but child's play. To build this winning jackpot of meat, Roger and Justin suspend Mediterranean spice-rubbed legs of lambs, nestle butternut squash into a bed of coals and grill carrots in a swinging basket.