Barbecue may not be the road to world peace but it’s a start.-Anthony Bourdain

A belated Happy Black Friday and welcome back to Uncle Tom’s Corner. Hopefully some of the lingering effects of your tryptophan coma and the bruises incurred during your power shopping experience have begun to fade.

With the gift-giving season upon us (why else would anyone brave the maddening crowds of Black Friday?) I thought I’d pass along a few suggestions for the barbecue/smoker in your life. Certainly Uncle Tom’s All-Purpose Seasoning is ALWAYS a gift in good taste (literally and figuratively) but I was thinking of something more substantial.

To paraphrase Jeff Foxworthy “If you’ve bought more than six cookbooks because each one has a different variation of a mac ’n cheese recipe you might be a foodie hoarder. If you have more than one loose-leaf notebook of clipped recipes on how to prepare Buffalo wings you might be a foodie hoarder. If you have a cookbook illustrating 165 ways to prepare a pork butt you might be a foodie hoarder.” Or how about an entire book on how to prepare beer-can chicken. Coincidentally that one is titled Beer-Can Chicken written by Steven Raichlen…just in case you’re interested.  And that brings to mind the question “What do you suppose was the inspiration for inserting a half-filled can of beer in a chicken’s butt and putting it on the grill? Doesn’t matter…it makes for a great tasting chicken…regardless of what inspired it. For what it’s worth that particular book contains a number of other recipes as well including side dishes and desserts but it still begs the question.

 I’m pretty sure my wife would rather see me come home with a pocket full of receipts from a “gentlemen’s club” than another cookbook. Among other things there is a greater potential for harm with a new cookbook than any trouble I might get into in a “gentlemen’s club”. To make matters worse I clipped a cartoon of Rhymes With Orange by Hilary B. Price that is pretty accurate by most accounts:

The Magazine Recipe Flowchart

See Recipe In Magazine

   Rip Out                                        Take Pic W/Phone

Tuck In Cookbook Jacket    Stick On Fridge     Put With Bills     Post On Pinterest   File On Computer

Make What You Always Make


On to the gift recommendations:


Meathead by Meathead Goldwyn-takes a scientific approach to the art of barbecue

The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen-he toured the world learning different techniques and gathering      barbecue recipes from different cultures

Barbecue Addiction by Bobby Flay-more techniques and recipes

Smoking Meat-The Essential Guide to Real Barbecue by Jeff Phillips

There are more…too many more…more than I want to admit…to go along with those recipes clipped from newspapers, magazines, from the internet. Speaking of the internet, a lot of the manufacturers of barbecue pits and grills have recipe sections. And, of course, Google. There’s always Pinterest…among others.

Spices & Rubs

Or how about spice selections? Not sure how many times I’ve cruised the aisles of King Soopers and watched people trying to determine the difference between the various barbecue rubs and sauces. For the more adventurous they can always try blending their own (coincidentally, that’s how the soon-to-be-world famous Uncle Tom’s All-Purpose Seasoning came to be). Oregano and Mexican oregano. Paprika and smoky paprika and hot paprika.

Or salt. There’s table salt, Himalayan pink salt, sea salt, kosher salt, a dozen or so different smoked salts. Black salt.

I’m on Savory Spice’s email list and they keep coming up with new and interesting flavors and combinations. Last weekend I picked up a shaker of Chook Chicken Salt. Why did the Chook cross the road? Or did the chicken look back at Sodom? Maybe I’m reading too much into this.

A lot of the Ace Hardwares have whole sections dedicated to barbecue including rubs, sauces, pits, various wood pellets and accessories.

Or take a trip out to Lulu’s just south of Brighton on Highway 85.

There’s Wally’s Meats on 112th and Sheridan or Edwards Meats on W. 44th. Either one can hook you up with all the spices you can carry AND an impressive array of meats to put the spices on.

If you can’t find it there go over to Ruff’s Barbecue (a store-not a restaurant) on 20th and Youngfield in Applewood. Steve Ruffatti probably knows as much about barbecue as anyone I’ve ever run across.

Dan and Tony down at Proud Souls Barbecue on 24th and Federal have a really nice selection as well AND they were among the year’s winners at the Rocky Mountain Barbecue Association awards luncheon.

Any one of those stores is like a Disneyland for smokers and grillers and the people who run them are all knowledgeable and more than willing to help you pick out just what you’re looking for based on what your gift recipient is cooking or cooking with.


I was talking with a friend in Nebraska who recently acquired a Traeger pellet smoker. He was marveling at the “set-it-and-forget-it” ease of cooking with it while lamenting the fact that he actually prefers more of the smoke flavor. Remember, where there’s smoke there’s flavor…unless the smoke is coming from the garage you just set on fire while smoking turkeys. My suggestion was to get a smoke tube…which is really nothing more than a smoke box in the form of a tube. I think the tube might be a bit better at putting out smoke and an additional benefit is that the tubes work well with pellets.

Or how about grill mats? Not sure what they’re made of but they don’t catch fire even when placed on hot grill grates. So easy to clean. And delicate meats like chicken breasts, fish and shrimp tend not to dry out as much with the grill mats are being used.

Put it all together and what do you have? Some yummy and useful components of a pretty awesome gift basket with a couple of stocking stuffers to go with it. And rather than an actual basket, how about a small galvanized steel tub that can double as a wine chiller when the time comes for some serious backyard barbecuin’?

On that note I’m gonna pull out of “the corner” for this go-round. The wind’s blowing too hard for my aching bones. See you next time at Uncle Tom’s Corner.