Smokin' with Myron Mixon: Recipes Made Simple, from the Winningest Man in Barbecue

Smokin' with Myron Mixon: Recipes Made Simple, from the Winningest Man in Barbecue


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The winningest man in barbecause shares the secrets of his success. Rule number one? Keep it simple.
In the world of competitive barbecue, nobody’s won more prize money, more trophies, or more adulation than Myron Mixon. And he comes by it honestly: From the time he was old enough to stoke a pit, Mixon learned the art of barbecue at his father’s side. He grew up to expand his parent’s sauce business, Jack’s Old South, and in the process became the leader of the winningest team in competitive barbecue. It’s Mixon’s combination of killer instinct and killer recipes that has led him to three world championships and more than 180 grand championships and made him the breakout star of TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters.

Now, for the first time, Mixon’s stepping out from behind his rig to teach you how he does it. Rule number one: People always try to overthink barbecue and make it complicated. Don’t do it! Mixon will show you how you can apply his “keep it simple” mantra in your own backyard. He’ll take you to the front lines of barbecue and teach you how to turn out ’cue like a seasoned pro. You’ll learn to cook like Mixon does when he’s on the road competing and when he’s at home, with great tips on
• the basics, from choosing the right wood to getting the best smoker or grill
• the formulas for the marinades, rubs, injections, and sauces you’ll need
• the perfect ways to cook up hog, ribs, brisket, and chicken, including Mixon’s famous Cupcake Chicken
Mixon shares more than 75 of his award-winning recipes—including one for the most sinful burger you’ll ever eat—and advice that will end any anxiety over cooking times and temps and change your backyard barbecues forever. He also fills you in on how he rose to the top of the competitive barbecue universe and his secrets for succulent success. Complete with mouth-watering photos, Smokin’ with Myron Mixon will fire you up for a tasty time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345528537
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/10/2011
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 69,098
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

MYRON MIXON was quite literarily born to barbecue. Raised in Vienna, Georgia,
his father Jack owned a BBQ restaurant which Myron helped run. His parents started selling Jack's Old South BBQ Sauce, and after his father died in 1996,
Myron thought that by entering competitions he could sell some sauce. He was hooked. He has appeared on the Today show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,
and the Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
KELLY ALEXANDER is a former editor at Food & Wine and Saveur magazine, and her work has appeared in the
New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, Gourmet, and Newsweek,
amongst others. She also teaches food writing at Duke, and is a graduate of
Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.

Read an Excerpt

chapter 1

Barbecue Basics

Men like to barbecue. Men will cook if danger is involved.

-Rita Rudner

A funny thing happens when I get to competitions: I find myself surrounded by lots of "friends" who show up at opportune times, like when I'm prepping my meat. These are people who want to watch me cook, see what I do, and figure out what techniques they can steal for their own food. I'm not ugly to them. In fact, I'm fine with their prying eyes because I know that no matter what they see me doing, they're probably not going to be able to replicate the magic themselves. That's not because I think I'm so divine-although of course I do think that-but it's because there's just no substitute for the amount of practice I've had. I've spent a lifetime growing up around barbecue, and I'm closing in on twenty years of competing on the professional barbecue circuit. So watch all you like, I say: you won't be able to do what I do unless you put in the time.

Now, that said, I do appreciate the fact that people admire my food and want to learn some of my tricks. It's flattering. And I like to help teams, especially the young ones just getting started who really want to learn, and so I figured out something I could do besides watch them all turn into eavesdropping fools. For a few years now I've been running a barbecue cooking school in my backyard barbecue pavilion, where I've set up an outdoor classroom. My students come for a weekend and learn how to do what I do in competition; they watch as I demonstrate how to cook all the major categories of barbecue meats, and they get the opportunity to work in teams and make their own. I attract a wide variety of students, from people who just want to learn how to make their barbecues better, to those who are interested in learning to cook on the circuit, to barbecue restaurant owners hoping to shoot some extra energy into their menu offerings.

I have a lot of fun teaching, and to be honest with you, I wish my students would have a little more fun. I notice a whole lot of worriation among my pupils. They stress over cooking times and temperatures. If I say "Sprinkle some rub on the brisket," they want to know exactly how much to sprinkle on; if I say "Let the chicken rest a few minutes," they want to know exactly how many minutes. I think you have to be very mindful of times and temperatures when you're cooking, and you have to set a timeline and be vigilant about sticking to it. Lord knows I'm sometimes a slave to my timelines, which I spend a lot of time devising, during competitions. But I also believe that it's just as important to use your other senses when you're cooking, too. For instance, I often go by appearance when I'm cooking: does my meat have the color on it that I want it to? Is it that just-right shade of burnished yet shiny? I want my food to look great, and getting the color I want on it lets me know when it's ready. My philosophy: It's done when it's done, and when it's done, get it off the grill.

Again, that kind of judgment comes with a lot of practice. You'll get there, but you have to start somewhere. So I figure that this is a good place to tackle your most worrisome questions about barbecue. Without further ado, here are the top questions that people ask me about how to cook barbecue-with my answers.

What is barbecue supposed to taste like?

If we're talking about championship barbecue here, the first thing you have to remember is that all barbecue contests are meat contests. And so no matter what, the essential flavor of the meat should come through. This rule is equally true for what you cook up in your own backyard. Beyond that, good barbecue should obviously be moist and tender, but it should also have layers of flavor that are balanced and that cooperate with each other in your mouth. So the first layer of this is the natural flavor of the meat you're cooking. On top of that are the flavors it picks up from the marinade and rub you apply and the sauce you finish the meat with. Finally, and just as important, is the flavor of the smoke that enters the meat. Because at the end of the day, smoke is what makes barbecue.

What is the difference between grilling and barbecuing?

The fact that there's confusion over the exact differences between grilling and barbecuing shows me that people really like to cook outside, but they sure need a little more knowledge-because anything you cook on a grill is not necessarily "barbecue." Grilling is cooking food fast and at high heat: 350 to 400F and up. Think of it this way: It's the perfect way to sear a steak, because grilling is great for meat that is already relatively tender. Barbecuing is an altogether different process: It's cooking over a low (or indirect) fire with a heat that's 350F or lower, and it involves smoking. When you barbecue, you want to not only cook the meat but also infuse and tenderize it with the smoke and the flavors coming from the wood. A little tip to remember: You can barbecue anything that you can grill, but you can't grill everything that you can barbecue. You can barbecue and grill chicken breasts, for instance, but you wouldn't want to grill a big tough cut of meat like a beef brisket.

What's the best barbecue cooker?

Let me demystify this for you: To make delicious barbecue, there is no requirement that you must have high-end equipment like I use in competitions. Barbecue came about because there was a need for people to be able to feed themselves simply and cheaply. With the right recipes and an understanding of time, temperature, and flavor, you can achieve tasty food on any type of smoker, whether store-bought or homemade. The best barbecue cooker for you is the one that you feel most comfortable using. When choosing a cooker, there are a few things to consider: price range, what size meats you'll want to cook and what quantities you'll want to use, and, most important, your level of expertise. It is easier to learn on simple equipment and then move on to more advanced types of cookers than it is to jump headfirst into top-tier smokers and try to figure it out from there.

Now, most American households own a grill or smoker. The majority of these are grills fueled by propane gas-they're by far the most popular choice. On their own, gas grills don't give off that smoky flavor we who love barbecue crave, but they can be adapted so that they do. Regular kettle grills, like the much-loved Webers, also have capability for smoking. As far as smokers go, there's an incredible range, from the charcoal "bullet" smokers to rigs like the ones that I have custom-built. There are also Asian-inspired ceramic cookers, like the Big Green Egg, which have an army of enthusiasts. To my way of thinking, your cooker is your cooker; I can help you adapt any of them to properly smoke food. The most important thing, far more important than what style of cooker you use, is the mastery of proper barbecue cooking techniques.

Can I smoke food on a gas grill?

You bet your ass you can. Most of the models of gas grills have either two or three burners that can be controlled individually. Here's what to do: Take your favorite wood chips and soak them in water overnight. Drain them, wrap them in foil, and then poke several holes in the top of the packet. Set the packet of chips aside. On a two-burner gas grill, light only one side; on a three-burner unit, light the two outside burners and leave the middle one cold. Place your packet of wood chips on the lit section (or sections). The flame will smolder the wet chips, producing smoke for your meat. To smoke on a gas grill, place your meat on the unlit section. That's it. (Don't worry about the side vents and making them closed airtight; do the best you can to shut them, but none of my smokers are airtight, either. All my methods are simple, so let's not worry so much and make them complicated, all right?)

Can I smoke on a kettle grill?

You bet your ass you can. Soak your wood chips or chunks in water overnight. Drain them. Set them aside. On a regular kettle grill, you need to bank your charcoal to one side, leaving a cold area for the meat to be placed. Put the wood chips directly on your coals. Place the lid on the kettle and control the heat with the dampers (vents). Now you're really barbecuing.

What kind of wood should I use?

I like fruit woods because they're mild in flavor, high in sap, and have fewer impurities in them. When you cook with hickory and oak, which have more impurities in them, the impurities get on the grill, and if they get on the grill, then where else are they? That's right: in your food. This doesn't happen with milder and purer fruit woods. And note that when I say "mild," I'm meaning it as a compliment: there are a lot of flavor components on my meat, from rubs to marinades to glazes, and I look to the wood to add the most important base coat of smoke and subtle flavor but not to dominate the entire piece of meat. Make sense? Good. Now, if you have any access to dry fruit woods, take advantage of it. Because I live in Georgia, I have great access to peach wood, and that's what I've used since I started competitive barbecue cooking. But if you can get your hands on apple wood, pear wood, apricot wood, grapevine wood, or cherry wood, I say have at it- any and all of these are my top choices for the best barbecue.

What are the essential items to have in your barbecue pantry?

Since I started competing in 1996, all my ingredients have been items that can be picked up at the local supermarket. I am not into fancy ingredients; I'm into things that are tried-and-true, items that I know will taste good. That said, you can buy whichever brand, from the fanciest gourmet version to the house brand at any supermarket, and if you follow my recipes and combine them the way I tell you to, your barbecue will turn out delicious. So these are the things I always have on hand:


Light brown sugar

Dark brown sugar

Maple syrup

Light corn syrup

Apple juice

Distilled white vinegar



Hot sauce (I've experimented a lot and prefer the Cajun Louisiana brand, chiefly because it's thin enough to fit through the injection syringe)

Apple jelly

Blackberry preserves

Peach preserves

Accent flavor enhancer (also known as "msg," or monosodium glutamate; if you're philosophically opposed to this, try out some of those "Cajun spice blends" in the spice department of your supermarket)

Imitation butter flavoring

Chicken broth

Beef broth concentrate (I like Minor's brand, which is available via mail order from; if you can't find it, you can substitute some very strong beef stock)

Jack's Old South Vinegar Sauce (this comes from me-it's my own brand of barbecue sauce and is available at; if you must, substitute a favorite brand)

Jack's Old South Hickory Sauce (this is my own brand, too, so sue me)

Why do you put a pan of water in your smoker?

I get so many questions about this, and honestly I wish I didn't. What I preach about barbecue is that it's simple and easy, and so I tell folks to stop trying to make it complicated. Besides, the issue of my water pan really seems to confuse people. They just don't get why I use it. But if you insist, here's the deal: A water pan is not a requirement to cook barbecue. However, it does have a significant benefit. What it does is create a water bath system inside the smoker that helps maintain the meat's moisture content, which is found naturally in the fat, or marbling, of the meat. So the water pan doesn't so much infuse the meat with moisture as it helps maintain what's already in there. It tenderizes the meat while you're barbecuing it, and that's a good thing. If you'd like to try the method, simply fill a heavy-bottomed medium-sized pan (no bigger than a simple 13 3 9-inch lasagna pan) about halfway with water and place it in the bottom of your smoker and see how it works for you.

Why do you let meat rest after you cook it?

When I take my meat off the smoker-no matter what kind of meat-I make sure I let it rest, gently covered with some aluminum foil, either in the pan I've cooked it in or on a cutting board for at least 20 minutes and sometimes more (in each recipe I give specific rest times, don't worry). Let me tell you: if you do not let the meat rest, it is not going to be worth a damn. It has to rest after you cook it so that the flavor can come back into it. You've got to let it rest sitting right down in its own juices. It allows the flavors to concentrate, it allows the texture to solidify, and it regulates the temperature throughout the piece of meat. Never skip this step, no matter how much of a hurry you may be in to get your food on the table.

How should I start my fire?

I am a stick-burning competitor. Nothing flavors the meat like whole sticks of wood, which is what barbecue is about-the flavor of natural smoke combined with the right seasonings and sauce. That said, I do start my fire with charcoal just to get a blaze going to burn the wood. And I start the charcoal with lighter fluid under protest and scrutiny from fellow competitors. They imply that the meat will taste like the fluid. Well, that's true if you don't read the damn directions on the bottle of fluid and after applying it, let the coals burn white. In other words, all you have to do is burn the fluid off before you put your meat on. Then you've started your fire as easily as possible while still getting the benefit of cooking over real wood.

How do I get my food to look like yours?

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"So much has been made of Barbecue as a ‘cuisine’ that many people have forgotten the simple steps and the classic skills it takes to make good, old-fashioned, melt-in-your mouth 'Cue. Luckily Myron Mixon is here to remind us."
—Adam Richman, host of Travel Channel’s Man v. Food and author of America the Edible.

“Pitmaster Myron Mixon is an American treasure and holds the keys to the Barbecue Kingdom.  There is not another person who has won more championships, with more knowledge or with such passion about Barbecue than this southern gentleman.”
                —Art Smith, James Beard Award Winning Chef

"This is an amazing book! It is a must own if you make ribs once a year or you barbecue when the snow has to be shoveled off your smoker at 10 below. It’s a history of barbecue, has some of the best photos of barbecue I have ever seen, a biography of Myron, and most importantly to us amateurs and lovers of the art of barbecue, an amazing cookbook. Myron has won more awards than I have platinum records so it will be no surprise when he is inducted in to the "Barbecue Hall of Fame."
—Joe Perry, Aerosmith

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Smokin' With Myron Mixon 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is entertaining to read but after trying the rib and burger recipe they turned out to be way too salty. I am a certified BBQ judge and it makes one wonder why they would be published as a representation of championship BBQ. I suppose that there are some who would like a lot of salt but for me, it was too much. VERY disappointed.
SCfarmgirl More than 1 year ago
My son built a huge smoker (from a 500 gallon tank) and he has made the BEST food following the recipies in this book. A friend had loaned him the book and after he returned it he tried other recipies. we decided to buy this book and it is our "go to" reference for all things smoker related.
bbqpapa More than 1 year ago
A detailed look at bar-b-que from a master. Detailed recipes, histories of bar-b-que, Myron and His Family and competitions. I consider it to be a must have manual for My grilling and smoking recipes. Well written and a pleasure to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm the best SOB, cursin' colonel Sanders you've ever met from the great GD state of Georgia. Every article starts with some pompous paragraph about how his daddy was or how much he won at some competition. I have respect for the man, but if you're into supporting people with decent sportsmanship, this cookbook is NOT for you! Maybe the other best sellers should brag about how their book isn't marked half off like the winningest man is bbq. They're doing something better than you and now claiming to be a God.
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IlRosso More than 1 year ago
In this book, Mixon describes the techniques he uses for competition BBQ. Far from being "simple", many of them (such as his cupcake chicken) are rather complicated. Getting every piece to look the same may help in competition but it's too fussy for regular use. My other comment would be that the recipes and rubs are too salty and too sugary. If you can taste the meat through that much salt and sugar, your palate is better than mine. I don't like sweet or salty food. So, with anybody's BBQ rubs, sauces and recipes, I reduce the salt and sugar to my taste.Sugar is fine for desserts but not on meat or veggies. In this case, I would say that the recipes would be too salty and sugary for most people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would give the book an "average." The recipes and technique are good, but contrary to how the author values himself, there are better. The explaination of the authors processes are good and easy to understand. the recipes are averaged at best. As for the author himself.....well great things come and they go. The author brags about himself of how rough and tough he is and how pretty he cuses. Given the fact that he has won some awards in his craft, it is intresting how vain he is about himself. I was rather flabergasted over the cost of $750 for two day's of his cooking school. Being a professional instructor myself, I don't know of any craft that one could teach in two day's . I would like to visit with some paet students to see if this $750 tuition actually taught them something that they perhaps might have already knew, or did this class take a chunk of their money and time to which they were given something just short of a meager indoctrination and a lot of bull. He reminded the reader several times in this book how great he is. For a minute there, I thought i was reading about some prize fighter or grreat dictator. As for my needs,I bought this publication, JUST AS I BUY OTHER OTHER PUBLICATIONS, for some new ideas on technique and recipes,NOT FOR THE AUTHOR. When one is a professional something or other, the world tends to amuse itself in finding fault in that person,not his craft, and they usually succeed in the later. I would further tell the author that as with great athletes,coaches, movie and singing stars, you are here today,gone tomorrow. It's a rough way to have to go through life, fame and money, or no fame and money!!!!!!!