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How to Make Life-Changing Barbecue

By Adam Neder
Bruner-Welch Chair in Theology

This won't take long: Buy a good grill, preferably a Green Egg, and smoke meats at low temperatures for long periods of time.

With that out of the way, shall we talk about why you might want to start making barbecue?

BECAUSE PERFECTLY SMOKED MEATS ARE DELICIOUS. That's why you've never heard anyone say, "I don't like smoked meat. I prefer boiled or baked meat." There are lots of good reasons not to eat meat – so many, in fact, that I've been a vegetarian for 12 of my 45 years. But no vegetarian who cares about truth will pretend that lovingly prepared brisket, ribs and pulled pork are not very delicious. Why? Because they are very delicious.

BECAUSE GOOD BARBECUE MAKES PEOPLE HAPPY. I once surprised my friend Jonathan with a rack of ribs, and he thanked me as though I had just given him a Swiss mountain chalet. If you're like most people, you enjoy being kind, and giving people meat bathed in wood smoke is a foolproof way to make them feel good.

BECAUSE LEARNING TO MAKE BARBECUE WILL BUILD YOUR SELF-ESTEEM. As we've already established, making barbecue is not hard. Nevertheless, lots of people think making barbecue is hard, and when you give those people barbecue, they will compliment you as though you are the heir apparent to Julia Child. Which, while absurd, nevertheless feels good.

BECAUSE MAKING BARBECUE CULTIVATES PATIENCE, and patience helps you live at peace with God and other people. Simone Weil believed that academic study cultivates the attention necessary for prayer. Likewise, learning to smoke a Boston butt to perfection will help you acquire the patience necessary to become a more loving person. No joke – it really will.

But as I said, the vegetarians might be right, and if they are, then forget about barbecue and learn how to make good bread.

Smoked-meat master Adam Neder's top barbecue tips:

How to do it: Smoke meat at low temperature for a long period of time. Aim for 70 minutes per pound of meat at 225 degrees.

The gear you need: Meat and a smoker. In a pinch, you can create smoke with your gas grill by filling a reusable smoker box with water and wood chips. But to do it right, buy a smoker.

How to prepare a pork butt: Slather the meat with cheap yellow mustard (don't worry – you won't taste it), smother it with BBQ rub, then cover it with turbinado sugar. There are other methods, but this one's pretty hard to beat.

What not to do while your meat is smoking: Don't fiddle with it, poke it or check it obsessively. Instead, just relax and give it time. The tastiest meats are made with love, and love is never anxious, impatient or coercive.

Why to barbecue: Kindness, tenderness, friendship, pleasure and the common good.

This story appears in the spring 2019 issue of Whitworth Today magazine.

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