Barbeque inspires people and intense rivalries

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

When we recently had our spreading pecan tree pruned, my friend Jim Wathen requested that I save him the wood for his ongoing adventures in grilling and barbecue.

Jim Wathen and his friend, John Hosmer, competed in the Best Butt in Helena Cookoff and used pecan and hickory for their smoking woods. Their team, Boom Shaka-Laka, raised $371 and was the People’s Choice winner. (contributed)

Jim Wathen and his friend, John Hosmer, competed in the Best Butt in Helena Cookoff and used pecan and hickory for their smoking woods. Their team, Boom Shaka-Laka, raised $371 and was the People’s Choice winner. (contributed)

Wathen and his friend, John Hosmer, competed in the Best Butt in Helena Cookoff and used pecan and hickory for their smoking woods. Their team, Boom Shaka-Laka, raised $371 and was the People’s Choice winner.

This brought to mind a recent Birmingham News article that quoted UAB Professor Joshua Rothman noting, “Barbecue — like football — inspires pride, intense rivalries and seemingly endless debates.”

Rothman received an $18,000 grant from Southern Foodways Alliance and observes that, “One reason that barbeque stands out as worth doing is that it is something that is very communal.”

“Ten groups competed,” Wathen said, “and each had their own way of cooking.”

“Commonly hickory and red oak are the woods used as they are most accessible. You can also toss unshelled pecans onto the fire.”

Wathen said Hosmer, a fellow Knights of Columbus friend, had always wanted to compete and they devised a game plan.

“We had early donations from Sam Lilly, Jay Modi at Helena Chevron, photographer Gretchen Birdwell, and David Schlueter of Buck Creek Stained Glass.”

The Knights of Columbus council donated charcoal, plates and their grill that day.

“It’s all about the butts,” Wathen is fond of saying. “Our meat came from Evans Meat Company.”

The butts are injected with apple juice and brown sugar, rub added, then smoked for ten hours.

“We used a special rub Hosmer created from fifteen spices. We like Penzy’s spices,” Wathen added. “We started with charcoal then added hickory and pecan. We salt and pepper the ribs, douse with Worchester sauce, then smoke for 5 hours. A final glaze of apple juice and ketchup is applied.”

Save the Date for Family Fun: See the Helena High School “Band-Its” Celebrity All-Stars take on the Harlem Trick Hoops & Alley Oops on Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. at Helena Middle School. General admission tickets are $15 through Sept. 30.

The Band-Its include “Payday” Jay Peoples, Scott “Hollywood” Knight, Mary “the Kid” Cooper, Jeff “The Jokester” Burnside, and JaNae “to the third power” Bozeman. A free autograph session will be held after the game.