The first thing you notice when you go through the gate at the San Angelo Rodeo is the smell of food.  The inescapable smell of smoked cooking and the hint of spices immediately bombard your senses.  I always thought the term "mouth watering" was something you only heard in cliché ad copy for two star restaurants.  At the San Angelo rodeo, your mouth will literally water.

Photo by Joseph Browning Townsquare Media
Photo by Joseph Browning Townsquare Media
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Because every Texan is on an endless quest to be the perfect grill master, this seemed the perfect weekend to have a chat with the contestants in the Championship Cook-o

We asked some basic questions like:

Photo by Joseph Browning, Townsquare Media
Photo by Joseph Browning, Townsquare Media
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QUESTION 1:  WHAT IS THE BIGGEST MISTAKE MANY TEXANS MAKE ON THE GRILL?

Smokey Joes Tony, JJ, Joe from Ballinger, Texas:
Over-cooking or getting drunk before you start cooking on the grill.  This seems to be a popular answer. I guess friends don't let friends grill drunk.

 Beast Barbeque Greg Sercos:  "Not cooking with the right wood. We're all here in West Texas we  love that mesquite. But some people try to cook with hickory or apple. I don't like that wood.  I'm a mesquite and pecan kind of guy. Oak is kinda good.  So that wood will put that different flavor on your chicken, your brisquet, your ribs and some Texans just don't like that sweetness.

Hecter Osavero With Don't Matter Barbeque: Over Cook it or don't cook enough. Doesn't matter what spices you put on it, as long as you cook it right over the pit,  it will come out good. As for our wood, we use Post Oak and Pecan. Everyone and awhile we'll through a chunk of mesquite in there.

Amber Gilbert with Just Cookin' Barbeque:  Use too much barbeque sauce.

Robbie Hilton with Skillet Lickers:  Drinking the night before.

Tobias of Richard and Tobias Barbeque: Over-cooking it.

Vic Diaz with Smoke Brothers Barbeque: My personal opinion is the biggest mistake is going too heavy on the sauce.  If you believe in your rubs and your glazes and all that,  just keep it light and don't over do it with the sauces.

Jay with the Armagrillos: Not taking enough time.

Mark Fowler with Riverbank Barbeque: Biggest mistake many make is trying to compete against us. Seriously though, the biggest mistake many Texas grillers make is not enough pepper and too salty.

Photo by Joseph Browning, Townsquare Media
Photo by Joseph Browning, Townsquare Media
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QUESTION 2: WHAT IS THE PERFECT BEER TO GO WITH A TEXAS BARBEQUE

Amber Gilbert with Just Cookin' Barbeque: All beer goes with Texas Barbeque.

Hecter Asavero With Don't Matter Barbeque:  Lonestar Light.

Beast Barbeque Greg Sercos:  I'm a Lonestar Beer Kinda guy.

Robbie Hilton with Skillet Lickers: I don't drink beer. Maybe unsweeted ice tea.

Vic Diaz with Smoke Brothers Barbeque: I have to go with Miller Lite because they are my sponsor. But, it really goes good with Texas Barbeque.

Jay with the Armagrillos: Modelo.

Mark Fowler with Riverbank Barbeque: Keystone Light (He doesn't care if it's named after Pennsylvania which is clearly NOT Texas.)

Smokey Joes Tony, JJ, Joe from Ballinger, Texas: Cold.  Any beer seriously as long as it's cold.

Photo by Joseph Browning, Townsquare Media
Photo by Joseph Browning, Townsquare Media
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QUESTION 3: WHAT ARE SPICES/FLAVORS THAT ARE ESSENTIAL TO A TEXAS BARBEQUE

Robbie Hilton with Skillet Lickers: For briquet you need savory, a little bit of spice a lot of salt. Ribs savory again but, sweetness. The main thing is to keep the temperature on your pit consistent. Whatever temperature you want to cook at, keep it consistent.

 Beast Barbeque Greg Sercos: You know me, personally,  I like salt and pepper. I'm sponsored by Dos Pendajos Spices out of San Antonio and I like the Chucacabra Rub. That might be a topic for future story. As for meats, when it comes to competition, I like prime brisquet. We go further at deeper at bigger competitions and select Wagu Beef.  As for ribs we do with Smithfield and chicken, HEB natural chicken.

Smokey Joes Tony, JJ, Joe from Ballinger, Texas: Bring the heat.

Photo by Dos Pendajos
Photo by Dos Pendajos
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Perhaps the guys from Team Smokey Joe's say it best.  There is no wrong or right to Texas Barbeque.  It's like art.  No two people define perfection in the same way. Whatever you like, do it.  Just do it and enjoy the experience of sharing great food, fun times and family.  Especially, after the Covid-19 ordeal that's what it all comes down to.

father teaching son how to grill hot dogs and bonding
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In fact, love is a consistent theme that arises often when you talk barbeque with real Texas experts. The competitors with the most championship belts say that key to good barbeque is love, not just for the people you cook for and with, but for the art of creating the perfect cook-out.

Grilling time!
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