Unadilla? Now what the hell, and where the hell is Unadilla?
This from Wikipedia: Unadilla is located in northern Dooly County at  U.S. Route 41 passes through the center of town as Pine Street, leading north 16 miles (26 km) to Perry and south 13 miles (21 km) to Vienna, the Dooly County seat. Interstate 75 passes through the west side of Unadilla, with access from Exits 121 and 122. I-75 leads north 43 miles (69 km) to Macon and south 61 miles (98 km) to Tifton. Georgia State Route 230 passes through Unadilla as Second Street and Borum Street, leading southwest 11 miles (18 km) to Byromville and east 18 miles (29 km) to Hawkinsville..
Ok. So what the hell was going on in Unadilla. Well, Unadilla is also home to Myron Mixon, world-acclaimed BBQ Pitmaster and three-time World Champion. Plus the winner of many more accolades. He appears in the tv series BBQ Pitmasters, has written several books on his trade and has a couple of acclaimed restaurants, and despite his notoriety, Myron remains as genuine and likeable a person as you could ever meet.
And once a month he runs a cooking school out of his backyard in Unadilla, Georgia for all wanna-be Master BBQ’ers, a three day affair that not only gives the novice and the accomplished insights into becoming the neighborhood go-to BBQ cook but also serves as a training ground for those who want to go further in the field than the once-a-month weekend BBQ guru.
Son Josh who lives in Chile, and has for four years now, was working for a multi-national firm out of Paris specializing in international market research, and had worked stints in Europe, the Middle East, Central and South America, increasingly becoming more disillusioned with the company, the travel and the workplace environment. Josh has always been a foodie, as are the rest of the kids and myself and my siblings as well. And if you follow this blog you have had access to a variety of cuisines via recipes I have garnered over the years. So, long story a little shorter, Josh quit his job at the beginning of the year and decided to open an “authentic Gringo BBQ” joint in Santiago, actually in the suburb of Chicureo some 20 kilometers out of town, and offer true American BBQ fare, a not easy task as cuts of meat and key ingredients are a little more difficult to get there. But he is very good at putting his mind to the task when confronted and he has done a ton of research on everything BBQ including a three day stint at Myron Mixon’s cooking school in the hills of central Georgia to which he invited me and to which of course I accepted.
Yep! A Whole Hog! That was the first thing that greeted us as we attended our first class. Rumor had it that that was going to happen and I thanked the pit masters in heaven that we did not have to witness the demise of this hog in person as that might have been a quick beginning and end.
So began our first class – how to dress, inject and rub a whole hog, prepare him for the smoker and watch him smoke and slow cook his way to hog nirvana, a process that took about 20 hours and which for the majority of us in attendance would probably never have to execute ourselves. Of course we didn’t have to stand around that whole time, and over those next 20 hours and the day after that we were introduced to all the rubs and injections and cooking methods a BBQ Pitmaster should have at his fingertips, the different kinds of smokers and the cooking temps and times it takes to make world class fare. The different kinds of BBQ from the sweet and spicy of North Carolina to the heat and smoke of Texas BBQ and everything in-between. Not like going out to your backyard and throwing a steak and some shrimp on the barbie.
Twenty hours later, about brunch time, Homer the Hog was done and as Myron surveyed the work of art the rest of us were chomping (so to speak) at the bit to get our hands on some of it. The ribs went first and by the end what we had was a ton of pulled pork, the best you’ll ever have. And if not the best, the freshest.
We worked with spareribs and baby backs, learned how to pull the membranes off (very important), learned to make the injection marinade and the rubs Myron uses on his ribs. You will find those below along with how-to’s on ribs, brisket and pork butts.
I thought Homer the Hog was nirvana, but when those baby backs came out it was truly bliss as were the spareribs. We learned how to trim a Boston Butt, cut off the “money muscle”, inject it and cook it into pork heaven. I mean, by the end of the three days I was BBQ’ed out!
BBQ competitions are all about the smoke, the bark, the fire ring and the plating. The events can last as long as two days and everyone has a blast; participants, judges and spectators all get off on down-home cooking. Here’s a plated brisket with burnt ends.
One of the guys who has worked with Myron for years, both in Unadilla and on the road at competitions looks and talks like an old sage, a master at BBQ, a Jedi of the BBQ Universe. I was talking to him during one of the breaks and in the course of imparting pellets of wisdom he came out with the following…and I paraphrase here but the essence is there – TJ’s pearls of BBQ success. He’s the guy on the right.
“Ya know, it ain’t the machines themselves that can make a good brisket, and it ain’t only the guy cooking that slab of ribs who can take all the credit. Good BBQ, yeah, great BBQ, comes from the soul and harmony that man and machine make together, an understandin’ that only with a metaphysical balance between flesh and steel will one succeed.”
The sunsets were gorgeous.
So, we cooked briskets, spare ribs, baby backs, pork tenderloins, Boston butts, chicken, turkey and at meals had sides of potato salad, baked beans, cole slaw, peach cobbler…we did not go hungry.
As I said, this is not your usual Sunday afternoon BBQ adventure. These recipes are competition caliber, attention is paramount and the results if executed properly are unreal. You can use your backyard grill if you add flavored smoke but your best results will come from a true smoker, either pellet or wood driven and if you do have one you will be the envy of the neighborhood. Maybe you’ll get into competitions or maybe even give up your day job for a shot at fulfilling a dream. These recipes call for neighborhood-sized cuts of meat so cut down accordingly on not only the size of the meats but also the ingredients. Dry rubs can be stored indefinitely in airtight containers, sauces can also be stored but do have a somewhat shorter lifespan. At any rate, these are fun to try! Enjoy!