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updated: 8/20/2013 7:39 AM

Cook of the Week: Dad goes whole hog into smoking, barbecue

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  • David Werner started smoking on a Weber grill and quickly moved onto larger cookers, like this rig he uses for pig roasts.

       David Werner started smoking on a Weber grill and quickly moved onto larger cookers, like this rig he uses for pig roasts.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

  • Among David Werner's barbecue tools in a brand with his initials on it. He uses it to mark the pigs he roasts.

       Among David Werner's barbecue tools in a brand with his initials on it. He uses it to mark the pigs he roasts.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

 
By Sally Eyre
Daily Herald Correspondent

David Werner is a smoker -- a meat smoker that is.

It all started with an experiment in his backyard using his old Weber grill.

"I travel a lot for work and have been exposed to a lot of barbecue. I came home one day and said, 'I'm going to try this.'"

That first attempt on his Weber grill was a pork shoulder; it was a hit. Soon David went out and bought a cheap smoker.

"I learned a lot with that thing. It was a series of fun experiments."

But, like a sailor always yearning for a bigger boat, David wanted a bigger smoker, so he built one out of a garbage can. The homemade version worked very well, but then, he got an email from his brother who was on a business trip in Alabama. The email said simply, "you need this;" attached was the description of a large smoker-trailer. David and a friend took off for Alabama and within 30 hours they were back home stoking up the new rig for Memorial Day.

One of the reasons David loves to make smoked barbecue is the social aspect.

"When you're cooking that much meat for eight or nine hours, it's not just for your family, it becomes an event."

David often barbecues meat for friends and family. He has smoked barbecue for several weddings and has done pig roasts as fundraisers.

"We auctioned off a pig roast for my daughter's school; at the roast she came with me and was up to her elbows in pig!" he laughs.

Another reason he loves smoking meat is the taste.

"There are two things. First you are cooking with a low temperature for a long period of time. You need that time for the meat to be tenderized. Added to that is the flavor that comes with all the smoke you're making. It's a mixture of the two. Smoke is a real flavor agent. It takes time and patience, but the result is good. Even the mistakes are good!"

David often uses a dry rub, one of which he shares with us today and of course serves his barbecue with a variety of side dishes, some of them from the recipe box of his mother, a former Cook of the Week. But what exactly goes into the smoker?

"I'll throw anything in that smoker! I started with pork, I do a lot of brisket and I love doing salmon."

Of course it was a natural progression for David and his friends to eventually decide to compete in the barbecue circuit as a team.

"It started off innocently enough. It's a fun hobby, but it depends on who you ask -- some might call it an obsession!" David laughs. "We don't have too many competitions under our belt, but it's a lot of fun. The camping, cooking and eating." The team recently became certified Kansas City Barbeque judges.

"We have badges and everything, but now people expect more out of us when we cook. I've found that talking barbecue is like a universal language. Wherever I am it is a good icebreaker. I haven't found anyone yet who doesn't like it."

David hopes he is right. He and his family recently moved into a new neighborhood and he is a little worried about how his new neighbors might react to the giant smoker in his backyard. The solution seems simple to his wife however.

"She told me, 'take them food!'"

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