Holding Court

Kansas City Barbeque Society judge Skip Schlesinger loves the heat of competition but prefers to preside over matters in his own backyard in Ocean Pines

Photography by Grant L. Gursky

Skip Schlesinger is a retired Realtor/developer who has competed in and judged competitions for the Kansas City Barbeque Society (KCBS) all across the country. To say he’s obsessed with smoking, grilling or cooking anything in his backyard (his latest endeavor is making pizzas from scratch) would be an understatement.

His little corner of paradise is outfitted with three Weber smokers of various sizes, three Weber charcoal grills, a competition-style smoker-and-wood-box, an Old-Carolina-style cinder-block pit (great for clams and oysters, Skip said) and a pizza oven. Even with that impressive arsenal of cooking firepower at his fingertips, Skip said the real stars of his outdoor cooking environment are the various racks of flavored wood — all meticulously stacked and all sourced from his property in Ocean Pines and another local family member’s land.

“I’ve got racks of cherry, racks of oak and racks of maple, all separated by species. I’m old school, too: I smoke with the bark on. A lot of guys take it off, but I prefer to keep it on. The smoke is the most important part of the entire operation. Get your hands on the right wood, and you’re in the game.”

Skip Schlesinger

SKIP’S PULLED PORK SHOULDER

Preparation:
Rinse and pat dry. Rub a light coat of mustard on meat to help the dry rub adhere to the shoulder.

Dry Rub:
Rub bone-in shoulder with a dry rub, rotating between a sweet layer followed by a layer of heat. There are many flavors available to choose from.

Smoker Preparation:
When cooking pork, I prefer to use a pecan or oak wood.

Cooking Instructions:
Put meat on the smoker when the emanating smoke is clear. Smoke at a temperature of 225-250° for 5-6 hours, depending on the size of the shoulder. Spritz frequently with fruit juice, apple cider vinegar or a bourbon cocktail, depending on your preference.

Test for doneness. When fully cooked, the shoulder bone should be easily pulled out. Cool and shred. Serve with coleslaw and your choice of BBQ sauce.

SKIP’S BABY-BACK-CUT RIBS

Preparation:
Remove membrane from back of ribs.
Rinse and pat dry. Rub a light coat of
mustard on meat to help the dry rub adhere
to the shoulder.

Dry Rub:
Rub ribs with a dry rub, rotating between
a sweet layer followed by a layer of heat.
There are many flavors available to choose from.

Smoker Preparation:
Use a fruit wood, such as cherry or apple,
for cooking these ribs.

Cooking Instructions:
Put meat on the smoker when the emanating smoke is clear. Smoke at a temperature of 225-250° for 3 hours. Spritz frequently with fruit juice, apple cider vinegar or a bourbon cocktail, depending on your preference.

After 3 hours, the ribs should be pliable to the touch and the bark (texture) on the outside of the meat should be set. Remove from the smoker and wrap meat in aluminum foil. Drizzle honey on top of ribs and rewrap.

Place back on the smoker for 2 additional hours to render the remaining fat. Remove, open wrap and cool for 1 hour before serving.

SKIP’S SMOKED BBQ CHICKEN

Preparation:
Brine in salt water for a minimum of 2 hours — overnight if possible. Rinse and pat dry.
Add a dry seasoning of your choice both under and on top of the skin.

Smoker Preparation:
For chicken, I like to use a mild wood, such as oak, fruit or pecan.

Cooking Instructions:
Smoke the chicken at a temperature of 250-275° until the meat’s internal temperature
reaches 165°. 

Serving Instructions:
Remove to cool, then pull apart for serving. Add your favorite BBQ sauce for additional flavor.

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