Grilling with the House of Q

Brian Misko, co-owner of House of Q
Brian Misko, House of Q

Brian Misko, co-owner of House of Q, a competition BBQ team from Surrey, British Columbia, has spent more than a decade in competition smoking and grilling foods. His new best-selling cookbook Grilling with House of Q is imbued with the smoky essence of professional barbecue competition.

“The hardest part was telling that story,” says Brian. “The travel, the camaraderie, sharing the barbecue love. The recipes were the easy part.”

Along with tips and tales about backyard and competition cooking, find great recipes for rubs, brines and sauces in Grilling with House of Q. Here’s how to make award-winning ribs, and the world’s best bacon-wrapped cheese dog.

Recipe excerpts: Grilling with House of Q, Brian Misko, Figure.1 Publishing

Cheese-stuffed Bacon- wrapped Hot Dogs
Cheese-stuffed Bacon- wrapped Hot Dogs

Cheese-stuffed Bacon-wrapped Hot Dogs

What says summer more than hot dogs? From the ball game to the backyard, no celebration is complete without these smoky treats that appeal to kids and adults alike. Here’s my homemade version, dressed up a bit with cheese on the inside; it’s a tribute to Ted Reader, cookbook author, grilling guru and inspiration. Load up the cooked dogs with mustard, mayonnaise or barbecue sauce, and serve them topped with some Shaved Fennel and Onion Salad and a handful of napkins!

Serves 6 to 8

2 lbs ground pork, chicken or turkey
2 Tbsp House of Q House Rub or your favourite barbecue
6-8 storebought cheese sticks (or cut your own from a block of mozzarella, Jarlsberg, Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese), each ½-inch × ½-inch × 4 to 6 inches
1 lb bacon, cut in thin slices (optional)
¼ cup House of Q Rock’n Red BBQ Sauce or your favourite tangy barbecue sauce
2 baguettes, sliced lengthwise

In a large bowl, mix together the ground meat and rub (or seasoning) until well combined. Divide the meat into 6 or 8 equal balls.

Place 1 ball on a cutting board and cover it with a layer of plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, press the meat into a thin rectangle—the thinner the better. Remove the plastic wrap and set a cheese stick in the centre of the meat, and then roll up the ground meat around it, folding in the edges to seal in the cheese. If you choose, wrap a slice of bacon around each hot dog, arranging it in a spiral pattern from one end to the other. (Depending on the size of your hot dogs, you may need more than 1 slice of bacon to wrap each one.) Roll, fill and wrap the remaining dogs, and then arrange them on a plate, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Prepare your grill for indirect cooking on medium heat. Place a sheet of aluminum foil under the cool side to catch the bacon drippings. Arrange the
hot dogs on the cool side of the grill, close the lid and cook for 20 to 60 minutes, glazing them with the BBQ sauce when the internal temperature
of the meat reaches 145°F. When it has reached 165°F, transfer them to a plate.

Cut the baguettes to the same length as the dogs. Smear your favourite condiments on the bread, add a cooked cheese dog and dig in!

Championship Slow-smoked Ribs

If there is one category in which House of Q has excelled in competition over the years, it has been ribs. We have won many first-place awards using this exact cooking technique. Master it and you will have great ribs—quite possibly even ribs that will beat House of Q’s!

Be sure you have some wood chips on hand— apple, cherry or hickory work well—and a roll of heavy-duty aluminum foil. And for variety, replace the honey and brown sugar in the foil packets with such flavours as peach, pear or apple juices; whisky or rum; or maple syrup, corn syrup or even soda pop.

Serves 6 to 8

Barbecue sauce

1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup House of Q Slow Smoke Gold BBQ Sauce (there really is no alternative!)

Slow-smoked ribs

2 cupshoney2 cupslightly packed brown sugar

3 racks of pork ribs, sides or back
6-8 Tbsp House of Q Slow Smoke Gold BBQ Sauce or your
favourite prepared mustard
½-1 cup House of Q House Rub or Pork Rib Rub

Barbecue sacue: Place the brown sugar, cider vinegar and BBQ sauce in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often and then reduce the heat to low and allow it to thicken for about 10 minutes. Once the sugar has completely dissolved, remove the sauce from the heat and set aside. (You’ll be using this sauce for basting the ribs at the end of cooking.)

Slow-smoked ribs: Prepare the ribs by removing the membrane on the back. To do this, start by lifting an edge of the membrane at the end of a bone. Using
a paper towel, grasp the membrane and pull to remove it from the back of ribs. Discard the membrane. (Some butchers will do this for you; just ask when you purchase your ribs.)

Starting on the back side of the ribs and using your hands or a silicone brush, smear half the Slow Smoke Gold BBQ sauce (or mustard) all over the ribs,
and then coat them generously with the rub. Allow the ribs to sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes so the rub can start to draw moisture from the meat and stick to it. If you move the ribs too soon, all of the rub will fall off. Turn the ribs over and repeat the layering of BBQ sauce (or mustard) and rub on the top side, the “presentation” side for the judges.

Prepare your smoker by lighting a small charcoal fire. Place unsoaked wood chips such as apple, cherry or hickory on top of the charcoal. Set the ribs in your cooker, close the lid and smoke the ribs for 90 minutes to 2 hours. This first step gives the meat a lot of flavour and sets the rub on the meat. You are ready to move on to the second step when the surface of the ribs is dry and “crusty.”

In competition BBQ, we call this step “establishing the bark.”

Cut a large sheet of heavy-duty foil the width of one of the racks of ribs and big enough to wrap it completely. Drizzle the foil with 2/3 cup of the honey and 2/3 cup of the brown sugar. (You can be creative with what you put inside the foil pouches: the goal is simply to braise the ribs and add lots of flavour.) Place a rack of ribs, meat side down, on the foil. Loosely wrap the foil around the ribs and set aside. Repeat with the remaining ribs, honey and brown sugar. Place the wrapped ribs back on the smoker, and cook for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. This step makes the meat soft and tender. You will know that you are ready to move on to the third and final step when you lift each rack and feel for the tenderness of the meat. The racks should be pliable, and if you wanted to, you could easily fold them in half (but don’t!).

There are a couple of other methods to test for tenderness. First, gently open a foil packet and loosely grasp the tip of a bone at one end of the rack in your left hand and the tip of a bone at the other end of the rack in your right hand, and then pull gently outward. If the meat looks like it is gently pulling away from the centre bones, almost as if it were ready to tear away from the bones, it is tender. Second, with experience you can simply lift a rack of ribs with a pair of tongs and feel the texture. If the meat slightly breaks in the centre of the rack and feels rather “flip-floppy” as you lift it, it is tender. If it is rigid, cook the rack longer or the meat will be tough.

Remove the ribs from the heat and carefully open the foil pouches. Pour the hot syrup from the packets into the pot of barbecue sauce and stir to combine. Remove the ribs from the foil and return them to the smoker, back side up.

Place the barbecue sauce back on the stove, and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Allow the sauce to cook and thicken for a few minutes.
Using a silicone brush, generously brush the ribs with the barbecue sauce, close the lid and allow the meat to cook for a few minutes. Turn the meat over after the sauce has started to thicken and stick to the back of the ribs. Brush the front of the ribs and continue to cook for another 20 to 45 minutes. This step, called glazing, allows the sauce to set on the ribs and tighten up some of the meat so the racks don’t fall apart after softening in the braising liquid. Remove the racks from the grill and allow them to rest for 10 minutes.

To serve, cut between the bones. Arrange the ribs in your competition tray for the judges, or place them on a platter for your guests.