Fire up the grill
Tracy L. Brady
Nothing says summer like barbecue.
My grandfather, father, uncle and brother were all butchers at one time or another. They would gather each Fourth of July and fire up the pit in our backyard and fill it with tons of pork shoulders, Boston butts, chicken and ribs.
This event took an entire day and night to complete, but the end result was well worth their time and effort. I still run into childhood friends who remember how my daddy's ribs would fall right off the bone and melt the moment they hit your mouth.
Now that's a legacy.
My brother, Mike, Jr., has continued this time honored Brady tradition by building his own backyard pit and cooking several times each year. In addition to the pit, he has a couple of grills, a smoker and a turkey fryer. He experiments with new sauces and dry rubs, but remains faithful to the sauce his family taught him to make.
Now he has some friends to swap trade secrets with.
The Bama Butt Burners Competition Cooking Team of New Market has featured its barbecue wares in local competitions for four years. Mike, Jr. recently became the sixth addition to the team.
"The most rewarding part is watching everyone enjoy the meat," team manager Danny Harbin said. "But placing higher than a winning team is nice, too."
Even though barbecuing is as southern as sweet iced tea, the need to compete at it has spread like wildfire across the country. At the recent Whistle Stop Cook-Off in Huntsville, teams from as far away as Illinois and Texas entered the competition. Prizes were awarded for sauce, chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket.
Danny's team cooked about 15 pounds of chicken, four Boston butts, two briskets, and 6 slabs of ribs for the competition. Although none of their entries placed in the top 10, and heavy rainfall made a mushy mess of their cooking site, the team still had a good time feeding and visiting with folks.
"Even if we don't win, we improve with every competition," Danny said.
I took my fianc and best friend to the first night of the competition. We sampled the ribs, brisket, pork, chicken wings, and shrimp. The three of us wobbled away feeling as if we had just eaten a Fourth of July feast at the old Brady house.
"That stuffed chicken was excellent," John said as we made our way to the car.
"My belly is sticking out," Priscilla said.
I smiled and agreed with them as we walked away from the wafting aroma of burning hickory, feeling sorry as we went for all those pale little vegetarians out there.
Nope, nothing says summer like barbecue.
And I hope the Bama Butt Burners enjoy both for a long time to come.