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.
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 has plucked his way through plenty of barbecue chicken, but only the very best birds make this list of his top 5 favorites. One chef shows Roger how to hang up and hand-spin chickens with a device that looks like it belongs in a theme park, and another redefines rotisserie on an elaborate rig loaded with complex cogs, gears and even bicycle chains. A Carolina legend makes Roger's list by dipping barbecued birds in an out-of-this-world white sauce. And a master of Puerto Rican pollo rubs his island adobo mix on crispy chicken that has Roger squawking for more, but it's his Jamaican jerk chicken loaded with Caribbean heat that reaches true poultry perfection.
Roger's learning to rig up and roast whole animals with some truly wild techniques. First he'll learn an ancient Argentine method of roasting lamb upright over coals by hanging them on cast iron crosses in the open air. Then he catches a six-foot sturgeon and stuffs it to the gills with fresh veggies for an outdoor feast. Back on land, a South Carolina pitmaster shows Roger his new high-tech rigs, capable of cooking a room full of hogs, ultra low and slow with a thirteen hour cook time.
Chef Roger Mooking is on the lookout for some truly unique rigs. In Colorado, Roger meets Josh Pollack, owner of Rosenberg's Bagels & Delicatessen in Denver, who created an eight-foot steel contraption that can cook up to 1,000 pounds of food. Roger then goes to 44 Farms in Cameron, Texas, where Jason Schimmels shows off their impressive barbecue trailer, but also introduces Roger to their unique 10-foot "tripod grills" where huge rib eye roasts are cooked in rotating metal cages.
In Buffalo Gap, Texas, Roger Mooking meets Tom Perini at his restaurant, Perini Ranch Steakhouse. Roger is put to work lighting up burn barrels for the metal pits, then dessert is baked in a coal-covered cast iron Dutch oven. At Pitchfork Fondue Western Cookout in Pinedale, Wyo., owner Matt David invites Roger to his outdoor kitchen where steaks are skewered onto pitchforks and deep-fried in giant cauldrons.
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 heads to the South to visit two family-run barbecue joints that have been passing down recipes and rigs for generations. At Smokin' Joe's Bar-B-Que in Townsend, Tenn., pitmaster Zack Peabody honed his barbecue chops under the watchful eye of his grandfather, Joe Higgins. Zack and Joe built a smoker that can cook up to 1,000 pounds of meat, and Roger and Zack arrange briskets and pork butts on its shelves. At Shack in the Back BBQ in Fairdale, Ky., Mike and Barbara Sivells converted an old log cabin into a barbecue restaurant. Roger and Mike load pork shoulders and turkey ribs into the smoker to create two popular dishes: The Hump and Turkey Ribs.
Roger Mooking meets up with a few culinary titans in Tennessee who are swinging for the fences with outrageous rigs. At Wedge Oak Farm in Lebanon, Tenn., he joins Chef Trey Cioccia, owner of Nashville's Black Rabbit, to set up the Burn Tower. On this unique rig, meat, fish and vegetables are hung at varying heights around a metal cylinder filled with hot coals. In Nashville, Roger hangs with James Peisker and Chris Carter, the owners of Porter Road Butcher. Chris shows Roger an old swing set that he transformed into a cooking contraption, and they hang meaty rib roasts and fill a basket with chorizo and kielbasa.
Roger Mooking visits the Lone Star State, where they're taking open-fire cooking to new culinary heights with unique rigs. In Fort Worth, Texas, chef and restaurateur Lou Lambert invites Roger to his ranch to slow-roast whole hogs over oak coals in a massive, custom-built metal rig. Dessert is a sweet treat inspired by Lou's chuck wagon cooking days -- pear and blackberry cobbler crisps baked in Dutch ovens using hot coals from burn barrels. Then Roger heads south to Houston, Texas, to meet up with Eight Row Flint's chef Marcelo Garcia, who gets customers fired up for the Trompo Wagon parked out back. Roger helps him load ten vertical spits with marinated pork butts and chicken thighs to spin slowly next to a triple tier of fire, smoke and heat. While the wheels are turning and the fires are burning, Roger and Marcelo make corn tortillas for tacos.
Beef is king in Texas, and Roger Mooking visits two pitmasters who are elevating traditional smoked meats with exciting global flavors. In Pearland, Texas, he helps Ronnie Killen season and smoke brisket and beef ribs to serve at Killen's Barbecue. Customers can order the smoked meats by the pound, but Ronnie also combines them in a Tex-Mex dish, Short Rib Tamales with Brisket Chili. Then Roger heads to Houston, Texas, to hang with Khoi Barbecue co-owner Don Nguyen, who holds Central Texas-inspired, Asian-influenced barbecue pop-ups using a 500-gallon smoker in his backyard. Roger helps him prepare Brisket Pho and Beef Rib Nigiri for a pop-up happening at Baileson Brewing Co.
In a pit, under a kettle, or in between hunks of heavy metal, Roger's showing off three flame-licking good feasts that are packing high heat. In North Bend, Oregon, cooking with fire isn't a trend, it's a time-honored tradition. Chief Don Ivy of the Coquille Indian Tribe has been hosting impressive salmon bakes for 25 years inspired by the customs of his ancestors. He shows Roger how to roast 200 pounds of salmon on sticks, and they build one of the biggest fires in Man Fire Food history. Then, Roger makes his way to Old Post Office Restaurant in Door County, Wisconsin, where they cook local fish in a cauldron and lights it up with an explosive wildfire. And, in Napa Valley, father-daughter team built a towering outdoor oven in the middle of their family vineyard. Roger helps them bake whole fish in a California King-size salt bed between not one, but two raging fires.
Roger Mooking salutes the country's most impressive and creative female pitmasters, learning a few new roasting methods along the way. A San Francisco chef shows Roger her rig made from plumbing pipes, which she uses to roast her Salpicao chicken coated with smoky, coconut salsa. Next, a Tennessee queen of the 'cue shows him how she smokes a meat more likely to be found in a lunchbox than in a smokehouse. Then, two ingenious women teach Roger ways to smoke shellfish that he's never seen before -- one using wine barrels to build a smoker on site and the other flexing her muscles using nothing but flames.
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 going hog wild for the most insane pig roasts in the country. First, he's in Hawaii to roast a whole pig in a traditional underground oven called an imu. The community comes together to cook the pig with glowing hot lava rock and a layer of local vegetation to trap the heat. Next, he meets the sausage king of Texas at the Meyer's Elgin Sausage smokehouse and learns how they stuff and fire up 5,000 pounds of pork sausage in a single day with state-of-the-art technology. Roger heads to Leatha's in southern Mississippi to learn the secret behind their unusual upright smoker that allows pork fat from their ribs to drip right on top of succulent smoked pork shoulder, and finally he visits a true porky hall of fame at Stamey's in Greensboro, N.C. Their incredible cooking chamber houses 10 huge smoking pits that allow them to roast 200 pork shoulders at a time.
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 visits two Southern California barbecue joints that serve smoked meat specialties on weekends only. First, he meets a husband and wife team running a pop-up restaurant called Moo's Craft Barbecue in their own backyard. He helps load their 2,000-pound smoker with Texas brisket and pork butt for tasty tacos and samples their signature side dishes, Mexican street corn and coleslaw kicked up a notch with tequila. Then Roger finds Calabasas Custom Catering in the parking lot at Jim's Fallbrook Market. He helps caterer Paul Varenchik fire up a big Santa Maria grill to cook beef tri-tip, chickens and baby back ribs, and the waiting customers complete their barbecue plates with crusty garlic bread, macaroni salad and potato salad.
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.