LYNN NEARY, host:
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Lynn Neary in Washington.
A lot of you out there may be barbecuing today, and we know that some of you are passionately devoted to your Weber grills while others may be showing off their new outdoor gas grills for the first time. But there's a whole group of barbecue devotees who would consider those grills kid stuff.
They prefer to create barbecues out of found objects - old oil drums and welding equipment, even cardboard. And they like to build big barbecues, two stories high in at least one case. Dan Huntley and Lisa Lednicer have compiled stories about these contraptions, the inventors and their recipes in their new book "Extreme Barbecue."
Dan and Lisa join me now in studio 3A. Thanks so much for being here on this Memorial Day.
Ms. LISA LEDNICER (Co-Author, "Extreme Barbecue"): Thanks for having us.
Mr. DAN HUNTLEY (Co-Author, "Extreme Barbecue"): Glad to be here, Lynn.
NEARY: You can join the conversation. Our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255. That's 800-989-TALK. And the email address is email@example.com. And you can comment on our blog that's at npr.org/blogofthenation.
Dan, I want to begin with you. You call this kind of barbecuing contraption cooking. What do you mean by that, exactly?
Mr. HUNTLEY: Well, Lynn, it's these rigs that have been around for maybe 10 or 15 years. My father-in-law would cook pigs on these big oil drums in the Carolinas. And I just took it for granted that everybody has rigs like these. I mean, he - my father-in-law is a welder, and he is able to just kind of create this, what Lisa and I call this junkyard serendipity.
And these are rigs - one of a kind that typically you use outdoors to cook large quantities of meat. And they're not something - what do we have 39 rigs in all?
Ms. LEDNICER: Yeah.
Mr. HUNTLEY: And none of these are things you can really go out and buy.
Ms. LEDNICER: These are not the kind of rigs that you can find at, say, Lowe's or Home Depot. These are truly unique, one of a kind, that really represents the spirit of their inventors.
NEARY: Yeah. Well, give us an example.
Ms. LEDNICER: Oh gosh. Well, Jimmy Hagood's two-story rig, it's called The Big Red. And it's a whole combination of stuff that has a spiral staircase and a 500-watt stereo system and flags from South Carolina and the United States. It's really tricked out, but the food that he produces on it is absolutely great.
There are trash barrels that have been obviously emptied and cleaned out of trash and gas cast iron grills, oil drums. We also have old tractor discs from New Mexico that were broken in the process of harvesting chili, and now they're used to fry fajitas.
Mr. HUNTLEY: And these huge woks, and they're just amazing. And they're fun to cook on, too.
NEARY: And so, it's just all about quantity. I mean, are all of these rigs used to build large amounts - to cook large amounts of meat?
Mr. HUNTLEY: Well, Lynn, it - one of the things we talk about in the book is that it's a something - barbecue is not something you in isolation.
Mr. HUNTLEY: One person does not go out and, you know, have 200 pounds of charcoal to cook, you know, hotdogs.
Ms. LEDNICER: These are the kind of rigs that, say, you'd see at a milestone event like a wedding or a birth or an engaging party. You bring out these kinds of rigs and just people ooh and ah. And then you produce awesome food and it just - the whole combination is just amazing.
NEARY: Well, one intriguing rig that you write about - I think, Dan, this is one of your favorites - is the pig coffin. Now, what exactly is a pig coffin? You got to explain to people.
Mr. HUNTLEY: Well, the story behind the pig coffin is - I guess, four or five years ago, I was down in Louisiana, and had been out. And they had to fly a basin there and came in there was this and came in and there was this Cajun cooking in the shallows. And he basically had, like, a wooden coffin that had been lined with stainless steel.
He had put a pig inside of it, and had a burn barrel next beside him there and was using it like a Dutch oven where you put the coals on top and it effectively works as a convention oven. And, you know, two hours later, you take the lid off, it's a mahogany brown pig. He referred to it as pig candy. And we found a rig down in Miami, La Caja China cookers, who essentially do the same thing. It's not out of a wooden coffin, but, you know, it was just a fun way, but the bottom line of this is that how does it taste on the tongue.
Mr. HUNTLEY: It's not just a novelty, it's like it's genuinely good food that you - most of the recipes in the book can be replicated in the - in your oven at home, but it's not quite the same…
NEARY: Well, I was going to ask you. You have to have these rigs, these unique rigs in order to create the unique taste.
Ms. LEDNICER: Well, not necessarily. I mean, you were again able to - we were able to replicate a lot of the recipes in the home oven. But what we're doing is encouraging people to go out there and build more rigs…
NEARY: (Unintelligible) more rigs.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Ms. LEDNICER: Yeah. Exactly. Just for a little more funk in their lives. I mean, you're not going to find architectural drawings in this book. You're not going to find perfect measurements or even suggestions of different equipment to buy. It's more we're encouraging people to do something wild and wacky, and not just again go for the traditional rigs that you can find at any superstore.
NEARY: Talking about extreme barbecues. The number if you'd like to join the conversation - 1-800-989-8255. That's 989-TALK. And we're going to go to a caller now. We're going to Dan who's calling from Tempe, Arizona. Hi, Dan.
DAN (Caller): Hi, how are you?
NEARY: I'm good.
DAN: I was calling about my Uncle Paul Kiltson(ph) who's a sculptor in Houston, and a while ago for the Art Car Parade, he created a carbecue.
Ms. LEDNICER: A carbecue. Tell me…
DAN: (Unintelligible) VW bug that he turned into a barbecue.
NEARY: What did he turn into a barbecue? I missed that.
DAN: A VW bug. A Volkswagen, an old bug.
NEARY: Wow. How did he do that? Can you explain that to us?
DAN: I don't know exactly how he did it, but they took out the engine and it was towed through the Art Car Parade in Houston. And they roasted a pig on the inside.
DAN: Yeah. It was quite interesting. And it's no longer with us, it was featured in an episode of Monster Garage, which I guess is a Discovery Channel show.
DAN: And it kind of got totaled when they were towing it on one scene.
NEARY: Now - so, it isn't not a car that could ever be driven again, it's because it's only good for barbecue at this point?
DAN: No, it was purely a barbecue car. And it's stuck around in their - the back of their acre for a while, but it's no longer with us.
NEARY: Did you taste the barbecue that was grilled on this - what did you call it?
DAN: No. I wish I could have tasted the carbecue.
NEARY: Carbecue. I like that. That's a good name. And you've got Dan and Lisa smiling here. Lisa, you like that idea.
Ms. LEDNICER: Yeah, so I said that a lot. It reminds me of the Cessna that we saw at the American Royal Barbecue competition. Some guys had removed the cockpit from an old Cessna, and that's where they were smoking ribs. And they actually won a contest with it.
NEARY: All right. Thanks for that call, Dan.
DAN: All right. Thank you. Have a great day.
NEARY: I mean, that's just - just makes me ask, what makes people want to do this? Why does somebody want to make a barbecue out of a Cessna or a Volkswagen for that matter?
Ms. LEDNICER: I think probably because they've got a little different way of looking at the world. They've got a corky imagination. And again, this whole spirit of ingenuity really goes back to the beginning of the country. And that the founding of the United States and how people use their ingenuity to say, George Stephens, in fact, with the Weber grill, I mean, it was his desire to make a real good grill that spawned a whole Weber grill empire.
Mr. HUNTLEY: Which started from a buoy, like at sea, and he was working for - I think it's for the Coast Guard or something like that.
Ms. LEDNICER: He - yeah. And it became a Weber Stephens product…
Mr. HUNTLEY: And they just cut the buoy in half, and that's the dome part of a Weber grill.
NEARY: Oh, really? I never knew that.
Ms. LEDNICER: We have that in our book.
NEARY: Originally, I didn't - I missed that part of the book, I'm sorry to say. But originally, it was a buoy?
Mr. HUNTLEY: And it was just, you know, it was the perfect - it's practically indestructible. If you have a Weber grill, it's like a big egg, sort of…
Ms. LEDNICER: Yeah.
Mr. HUNTLEY: …and with the lid, it's just a - it's the perfect tie. I mean, I have a Weber, I have two Webers at home.
NEARY: I was going to say, a lot of people with Weber grills would never grill on anything else as far as I understand it.
Mr. HUNTLEY: Oh yeah.
Ms. LEDNICER: Yeah. Right.
NEARY: (Unintelligible). All right, let's go to Jack(ph). He's calling from Michigan. Hi, Jack.
JACK (Caller): Hi. How's everybody this afternoon?
NEARY: Well, we're having a good time. Thanks.
JACK: Happy Memorial Day.
NEARY: Happy Memorial Day.
JACK: I'm looking forward to your book. I'm kind of a - I'm a geek about collecting barbecue books and cookbooks. I'm looking forward to seeing what you guys have. A question for you - I've got a homebuilt barbecue grill and smoke room. And I guess my question for you folks is when you talk barbecue, are you talking about the slow, smoking over a low heat or grilling over high heat?
Mr. HUNTLEY: We're talking about both. You know, with - if you're in the backyard - and we have a line in the book where we talk about meat, metal and fire. And that pretty much covers whether it's grilling, it's low temperature smoking, barbecuing. Where I'm from, in the Carolinas, I mean, you know, barbecue is a religion and people really, really have philosophical debates about, you know, the nuances of, you know, is barbecue a noun, is it a verb.
JACK: Now, there is pork, isn't it?
Mr. HUNTLEY: Right, right.
JACK: You wouldn't be caught dead barbecuing.
Mr. HUNTLEY: Right. You know, we do some chicken, but…
NEARY: But not beef.
Mr. HUNTLEY: Right. Well, you know…
NEARY: I lived in North Carolina.
Mr. HUNTLEY: Right. All right.
Ms. LEDNICER: Grilling is more of a quick way, really, of doing the meat. You'd say, grill a steak. You could grill hamburgers. You could grill hotdogs, if you wanted something done pretty quickly. Smoking is much more low and slow. That's the kind of method that you'd use. You'd use a covered grill and say you'd use it for brisket. You'd use it for chicken. You'd use it for pork.
If you would try to smoke a steak, it would come out like shoe leather. Never, ever do that to a steak. But you do it for brisket because brisket is a notoriously different meat to cook, and so you need long hours, again, low-and-slow method at low temperatures to make it come out perfect.
JACK: What part of North Carolina are you from? Do you use the vinegar base sauce or the tomato base sauce?
Mr. HUNTLEY: I use both. I'm politically correct.
(Soundbite of laughter)
JACK: Good answer.
Mr. HUNTLEY: I'm from near Charlotte, and I personally prefer the eastern North Carolina vinegar base. But where I'm from, it's tomato. And then, on the South Carolina's side of the border there, it's a mustard base.
JACK: Yeah, down at (unintelligible). That's tasty stuff.
Ms. LEDNICER: And I'm from Portland, Oregon but my father-in-law lives in the outer banks. And he kind of got me turned on to the vinegar base sauce.
NEARY: And I'll tell you my story. I grew up in the New York metropolitan area, in the suburb of New York, and then moved from Manhattan to Rocky Mountain, North Carolina. One of the first days I was there, somebody said, you want to come to a pig-picking?
NEARY: And I thought, what are they talking about? I had no idea what they're talking about. And that was - it was a barbecue.
Mr. HUNTLEY: Wow. I bet it was good.
NEARY: It was good. It was during -
Ms. LEDNICER: And memorable.
NEARY: Very memorable. So thanks for your call, Jack.
JACK: Okay, thanks for the show.
NEARY: That's an interesting distinction, that smoking versus grilling, because I tend not to think of smoking so much as barbecue, I guess from where I came from. But that really is considered part of the whole genre.
Ms. LEDNICER: It is. People used the terms barbecue, grill and smoke, really, interchangeably. But, again, grilling is the fast stuff that you do, the kind of searing of the meat. And smoking is, again, more of low-and-slow - low temperature, long time.
NEARY: Well, it's Memorial Day, so of course, we are talking barbecue, extreme barbecue. And we're taking your calls at 800-989-TALK. And we're also taking your emails at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm Lynn Neary. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. We'll be back.
(Soundbite of music)
NEARY: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Lynn Neary in Washington. Nothing's tastier of Memorial Day than a rack of ribs. The scent of the grill is a calling many have heeded. This hour, we're talking about people who have taken barbecue to the extreme. My guests are Dan Huntley and Lisa Lednicer. They are co-authors of the book "Extreme Barbecue: Smokin' Rigs and Real Good Recipes."
And if you can bear to tear yourself from the grill or smoker, you're invited to join the discussion. Give us a call at 800-989-TALK. Our email address is email@example.com. And check out our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation.
We're going to start with a call now. We're going to go with to - let's see, it's Scott in Flagstaff, Arizona. Hi, Scott.
SCOTT (Caller): Hello, and thank you for asking me to join you. I was hoping to tell you about a practice we had when I was in college, of cooking with the engine of the car, sort of, like the fellow who used his car as a barbecue. But this is, you cook the food while driving.
NEARY: Okay, how do you do that?
SCOTT: It takes - it helps that there's a lot of room in the engine compartment, like an old Volvo is wonderful because there's a lot of space. You couldn't do it in a new car because there's no space. And you just support the food - a chicken's really easy - in some contraption using wires or coat hangers, and you drive.
And one day, we had a little contest. We went out to a state park and we had a car potluck. And everybody brought their different dishes. Some people were vegetarians, so they had to cook…
(Soundbite of laughter)
NEARY: Wait, what does this taste like? I mean, doesn't it, I can't imagine that it would taste so good.
SCOTT: Oh, it's wonderful.
Mr. HUNTLEY: (Unintelligible).
SCOTT: You know, it really does help to have - you put, like, if you have - it was chicken you put it in turkey roaster so, you know, it doesn't taste like car. It tastes like barbecue.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SCOTT: More so, the best part is one fellow was late to this cookout because he stopped to look at his food. And his car was (unintelligible) and sure enough, an officer stopped him. So he just did the natural thing. He pulled up a drumstick and he said, would you like to join us for lunch, officer? And I didn't get to see the look on the officer's face when he saw the food, but I would have enjoyed it.
NEARY: I'm trying to say whether I believe you or not.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SCOTT: Oh, ma'am. I'm not the only one who has done this.
NEARY: I know. How long do you have to drive around to get a chicken cooked?
SCOTT: That's the same as, you know, it's the same as you would normally. The engine compartment gets pretty hot real fast. It's better to cook - drive a little than a little less far.
NEARY: All right.
Mr. HUNTLEY: I had a friend who was a trucker. He used to do that, Scott. And he had a recipe for a dish, and it was called the 45-minute casserole.
SCOTT: Aha. See? See? He can vouch for me.
Mr. HUNTLEY: Right.
NEARY: He's vouching for you. That's right. All right. Well, thanks so much for calling, Scott.
SCOTT: Thank you, Scott.
NEARY: Okay, bye. All right. We're going to take another call from Mike. He's calling from Oregon. Hi, Mike.
MIKE (Caller): Hi, how are you doing today.
NEARY: Good. Thanks.
MIKE: Good. I would just like to encourage all those eco-conscious barbecuers out there to try solar barbecuing this summer.
Mr. HUNTLEY: I will.
NEARY: Well, how does that work?
MIKE: Well, it's pretty easy. You get a large, say, cardboard box, paint the inside black and rig up a series of reflectors around the outside of it to focus sunlight into the box. And you can cook up to 450 degrees.
NEARY: Wow. Have you - I presume you've done this.
MIKE: Oh, absolutely. They're easy to make and inexpensive, probably less than 10$.
NEARY: Have you heard of this before?
MIKE: (Unintelligible) really.
Mr. HUNTLEY: When I was in college, I had a professor that made one that looked like, kind of, like a satellite dish, and he had a thing in the center of it that you could actually put a hamburger. It took about 45 minutes to do it, but the rays of the sun were focused right thereon. It was amazing built.
Ms. LEDNICER: And we actually have an example on the book of a girl scout box oven, which is not quite the same thing, but it still used cardboard box with charcoal in the bottom. You put a rack on the top. And the girl scouts swear, you can put, cook muffins and bread, and even a whole cake, depending on how big the box is.
NEARY: Yeah, Mike, how much can you barbecue with this at a time?
MIKE: Well, the biggest one I've ever made is about three cubic feet, so you can fit a whole chicken in there, but not a whole lot more.
NEARY: Okay, so you have to - this wouldn't be for a huge crowd, you couldn't do it. Or…
MIKE: Oh, no, definitely, this would be more of potluck style.
NEARY: All right. Okay, thanks for your call, Mike.
MIKE: Thank you so much.
NEARY: Okay, well, joining us now from his home in Charleston, South Carolina is Jimmy Hagood, the owner and operator of a two-story grilling contraption, as well as the founder and owner of Food for the Southern Soul. Jimmy, welcome to the show.
Mr. JIMMY HAGOOD (Founder and Owner, Food for the Southern Soul): Good afternoon. How are you all doing?
NEARY: We're doing very well. Now, your rig is in the book, but maybe you could explain the big, red rig to us. Describe it for us.
Mr. HAGOOD: The big, red rig is the ultimate barbecue experience.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. HAGOOD: One that has, which is very unique, besides two cookers on the first floor, as you might describe it, one that's a rotisserie that we can cook up to about 20 Boston butts or 100 pieces of chicken to - or 20 racks of ribs.
Mr. HAGOOD: And then, on the other side is a barrel-shaped cooker where we could cook a whole hog, which we'll do next weekend. And the other great feature about it is the spiral staircase that will take you up the stairs to observation platform that gives you a view of the barbecue landscape like you've never seen before.
NEARY: The barbecue landscape.
Mr. HAGOOD: We use this in competition cooking.
NEARY: Oh, I see. Okay.
Mr. HAGOOD: As a matter of fact, last weekend, we were on the banks of the Mississippi River at the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest.
NEARY: So you can keep an eye on the competitors, huh?
Mr. HAGOOD: Oh, we definitely can keep an eye on the competitors, and we have sort of a leg up by allowing the judges to come upstairs and sit at a table setting just for them, while we give our 15-minute presentation.
NEARY: Oh, sneaky.
Mr. HAGOOD: (Unintelligible) check and that kind of thing. So…
NEARY: How many people does it take to operate this, or how many people are working at one time?
Mr. HAGOOD: Well, we usually have three or four team members. One to operate each cooker, and then another to operate the 500-watt stereo system that we have, that can have hooked up to satellite radio. And then, the fourth person just to observe and to make sure everybody's doing that they're supposed to be doing.
NEARY: Now, what about when you're just cooking for a smaller crowd, for -just for your family, like on a day like Memorial Day, you might want to invite a few people over. Do you still your big rig or…
Ms. HAGOOD: No, we sort of scale back. I've got a, just a basic grill on the back porch. And today, as a matter of fact, we're cooking baby back ribs that we'll soon to be wrapping up in a brown paper Kraft bag, which is a secret that I have kind of let out, because it's in the extreme barbecue book.
NEARY: Not so secret anymore, then.
Mr. HAGOOD: Not a secret anymore. But we do, we do a lot of cooking in the backyard. That's kind of where I got started years ago. And it's led me on a path that never thought I'd be on, but it's been a lot of fun.
NEARY: All right now, I understand, Dan, that you and Jimmy are going to be cooking together at some point soon?
Mr. HUNTLEY: Yes. In - as of two weeks…
Ms. LEDNICER: Actually, all of us are going to be at the Big Apple barbecue in New York City in two weeks.
NEARY: Oh, wow. Do you know what you're going to cook?
Mr. HUNTLEY: We're going to be gophers for Jimmy, because I…
Mr. HAGOOD: I'll tell you what we're cooking.
NEARY: What are you cooking?
Mr. HAGOOD: I'll tell you what you all are cooking.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. HAGOOD: Three thousand pounds of pork shoulders…
NEARY: Oh my goodness.
Mr. HAGOOD: …over two days, and 800 pounds of coleslaw.
NEARY: Wow. Can you make coleslaw in your rig, too, or do you make that some place else?
Mr. HAGOOD: Well, we will have a prep tent there. We will make it up, but we'll use our vinegar based barbecue sauce to enhance the coleslaw, to give it a little extra kick.
NEARY: All right.
Mr. HAGOOD: So it should be a lot of fun and a lot of work.
NEARY: And very...
Ms. LEDNICER: We'll we've got a lot of energy, Jimmy.
Mr. HAGOOD: Yes. Well, get ready.
NEARY: All right, great. Well, I know you've got to get back to your rig now, but I want to thank you for joining us today.
Mr. HAGOOD: Well, thank you all.
Mr. HUNTLEY: We'll see you in New York, Jimmy.
Mr. HAGOOD: See you soon.
Ms. LEDNICER: Take care.
NEARY: All right.
Mr. HAGOOD: Bye-bye.
NEARY: Jimmy Hagood is founder and owner of Food for the Southern Soul, and he joined us from his home in Charleston, South Carolina. We're going to go take another call now. We're going to go to Beverly, and she's calling from North Carolina, I think. Hi, Beverly.
BEVERLY (Caller): Hello.
NEARY: Hi, are you there?
BEVERLY: Yes, I am. I've been enjoying this, listening to this. And we love barbecue. We love cooking, and my husband made a grill off of a '72 Volkswagen bug.
NEARY: Well, this is a common thing then, I guess.
BEVERLY: Yes. And we call it barb-bug-q(ph).
NEARY: Okay. And are you coking on that today?
BEVERLY: Oh, we're not cooking on it today, but we do cook on it a lot. And it's the front half of a Volkswagen, and he's cooked a lot of ribs. Everything he cooks on, it's very good.
NEARY: All right. Thanks so much for your call, Beverly.
BEVERLY: Thank you.
NEARY: All right. We're going to go now to Johnny, and I'm not sure where Johnny's calling from. I think, maybe, New Jersey. Hi, Johnny.
JOHNNY (Caller): How are you doing?
NEARY: Good. How are you?
JOHNNY: All right. I just want to say a little opinion. I'm from Dominican Republic, and my wife's from El Salvador. We don't have that special cooking over there, but I can tell you that - I'm from the Dominican Republic, and I tell you that we're called in there barbecue ground(ph).
NEARY: Oh, yeah. How does that work?
JOHNNY: Okay. This is - we make a hole right in the ground. We put the soil like half of the drum (unintelligible) and real nice. Put the pork or the beef inside, oil (unintelligible) bottom and then we put a coal(ph) with a piece of steel, a big platform like a steel. And we put all the fire, all the fire - the wood fire on top, bury for, like, around four or five hours.
NEARY: Wait, the fire goes over the…
JOHNNY: In top.
JOHNNY: That's the pork or the beef are going to be right in the ground. After we make a big hole, we'll put it half of drum in the bottom then we put them - (unintelligible) the meat and then we'll cover it up with a steel, the piece of wood or steel, something like that. And then we put a fire on top and stay, like, for four or five hours.
NEARY: Okay. Now, I think that you, Dan, included some barbecues like this in the book.
Mr. HUNTLEY: Yeah. Johnny, we have a similar rig where, it's called a Barbacoa.
Ms. LEDNICER: From Oaxaca, Mexico.
Mr. HUNTLEY: And they, actually - it's ingenious method where they dig a hole and then they have the fire down there. And then they put lava rocks or sands.
JOHNNY: It sounds it's the same thing. Yeah.
Mr. HUNTLEY: Yeah. But here, they have the heat is up under there, and then you put the meat, the goat, or whatever you're cooking and then you cover it up. And obviously, the fire goes up while the stone are still heated.
Mr. HUNTLEY: And a it's great barbecue, and a lot of people seemed to believe that that is the very first barbecue in North and South America (unintelligible)
JOHNNY: Oh, I got it.
(Soundbite of laughter)
JOHNNY: I got it.
NEARY: How does it taste, Johnny? What does it taste like?
JOHNNY: It's good. It tastes real good. You got those - how do you call that cream, that beautiful sauce is coming out and then, even, you can have a piece of bread…
NEARY: It's great.
JOHNNY: …and with the - with the Oreo(ph). Oh, my God.
NEARY: Are you doing it today? Are you doing that today?
JOHNNY: You know, I was waiting for my wife, Virginia Fernandez and she is doing some grill. You know, we can call this electrical grill.
(Soundbite of laughter)
JOHNNY: Because I do barbecue outside and a lot of them in my house.
JOHNNY: So she is working right now. And I'm sorry. I'll shut up. I love you, mommy. And I thank you guys.
NEARY: All right.
Ms. LEDNICER: Thank you.
NEARY: Thanks for calling in, Johnny.
JOHNNY: Bye. Thank you.
NEARY: Good story. We're going to go now to Sarah(ph), and Sarah is calling from North Carolina. We got a lot of people from the Carolina's calling here today. Hi. Hi, Sarah.
SARAH (Caller): Hi. Can you hear me?
NEARY: Yes. Go ahead.
SARAH: Okay. I just wanted to say I'm Kansas City transplanted to Charlotte. And a part of my welding class, which, of course, I'm the only girl and I built a kegacue(ph) with a novelty cake that I had around the house.
NEARY: Oh, what a cue? I'm sorry, I didn't get that.
SARAH: A kegacue, a beer keg.
Mr. HUNTLEY: Beer cage. Yeah.
SARAH: I cut it in the middle and I put some lights on it and I actually made an A on my project, so I guess I did okay.
NEARY: Okay. All right. Was that fun to do?
SARAH: Oh, it was a blast.
NEARY: Yeah, and…
SARAH: …and I used it for my son's birthday party, and everybody enjoyed it. It made great burgers.
NEARY: It made great burgers. So it's a pretty good one then, huh?
SARAH: Yes. I think I did good.
NEARY: Is it better than the one at the store bar, the ones you've had in the past?
SARAH: You know, not that I'm a little partial to it, of course.
NEARY: Okay. All right. Well, thanks so much for calling, Sarah. And I just want to remind everybody that you are listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. And if you'd like to join our conversation about extreme barbecues, the number is 800-989-8255. That's 800-989-TALK.
I wanted to ask you guys about one - you know, a lot of these rigs that you wrote about have good stories behind them, and one that has a really nice story that I wanted you to talk about is the Lester Rig(ph). There's a sweet story behind that…
Mr. HUNTLEY: This is a rig near my hometown in South Carolina, Lynn, in which we'd heard about this, kind of, legendary cooker had what - amounting to a Ferris wheel inside of meat that would roll around and, you know, people had told me about it. And Lisa and I are both reporters and, you know, you get a tip and you start chasing it down. You call on somebody. And this one just had an unusual amount of dead ends in it. You know, it finally got down to the point where we found out that, Lester, the guy, who had built the rig, had died.
And so, we couldn't find it, so I gave up on it. But six months later, Lester's nephew called and was telling me about it. We went down to see it. It was an incredible set up. And it was just this whole story about this guy who had, you know, kind of, become a father for this young man and had brought him up. And then he inherited the Lester's…
NEARY: Inherited the rig, and he was taking care of it and cooking on it and he will cherish it.
Mr. HUNTLEY: Oh, right.
Ms. LEDNICER: He was even reminding him of this mentor that he'd had.
NEARY: Yeah. All right. Let's see if we can get one more caller here. We've got Sheila(ph) calling from Fairbanks, Alaska, I think. Hi there, Sheila. How's the barbecuing up there in Fairbanks?
SHEILA (Caller): Hello.
SHEILA: Hi. Yeah. I just wanted to tell you about an extreme barbecue we had up here once. It was in September. And a friend of ours who was celebrating his birthday, who lives in the cabin in the woods, had quite a crowd there in an open fire and a grillwork of chains, set on a tripod, and he had a whole quarter of moose on that. And a quarter of a moose is about 300 pounds, and he was marinating it with garlic butter. And it was starting to get dark, and every time he lifter this lid of corrugated sheet metal that he had under, the whole crowd would quiet down. It's like the meat is coming.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SHEILA: And we tossed this meat and passed it around.
NEARY: It's a great story. Thank you for calling, Sheila.
SHEILA: Okay, thanks.
NEARY: And one of the things, Dan, that we haven't mentioned when we talk about barbecuing - and we've been talking a lot about meat, but there's also a lot of steaming that goes on, too, steaming with sea foods.
Mr. HUNTLEY: Sure. Sure.
NEARY: That qualifies as barbecuing.
Mr. HUNTLEY: We've got, Lisa, with two or three rigs in there in which we're doing oysters. The first one that I love is by the Whitener Brothers in Blacksburg, where they take a sack of oysters and with a galvanized trashcan. They put a cinder block down the bottom of it, put about a gallon of water, put it over a burner, and put the oysters in there, put the lid on it. And the first time we come up on a party with these things going on it's like, you know, they're cooking garbage out there, you know. And you see the steam coming up but it's like a perfect rig. It's inexpensive. And, of course, I use new trashcans.
Ms. LEDNICER: And then there's also the New England Clam Bake that we went to in Newport, Rhode Island, where they use huge steel cooking trays and it's done with seaweed and burlap sacks and the steam just, kind of, comes up from the fire and just - and cooks the seafood, and it's just absolutely amazing. But it's a process that takes a really long time -about six hours of prep work. You need gravel. You need the burlap sacks and you need two quasi-sober helpers to do it.
NEARY: Oh, we made everybody very hungry for their barbecue today. Thanks so much for being with us.
Dan Huntley and Lisa Lednicer joined me in Studio 3A. They are the co-authors of the book "Extreme Barbecue: Smokin' Rigs and Real Good Recipes."
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