Myron Mixon Discusses Barbecue and Great Grilling
Myron Mixon was born with barbecue in his veins.
The celebrity chef, esteemed competitor on the barbecue circuit and judge on Destination America’s reality show “BBQ Pitmasters,” began working at his dad’s barbecue carryout restaurant in Georgia when he was a boy. He learned the art of barbecuing from his daddy, and he from his daddy.
His parents have their own barbecue sauce, Jack’s Old South, and Mixon launched his competition team under the same name in 1996—Jack’s Old South Competition Bar-B-Que Team. He’s a three-time barbecue World Champion and the winner of more than 200 grand championships.
Add to that the cookbooks, Smokin’ with Myron Mixon and Everyday Barbecue: At Home with America’s Favorite Pitmaster, and it’s easy to see why Mixon is a virtual authority on the cooking style.
“Everything I do is barbecue,” says Mixon. “I’m living doing what I love.”
During the summer months, most people get the barbecue bug—though perhaps not as severely as Mixon has it. Homeowners clean off their patios and dig their grills out of their sheds on the first warm days, but after taking a look at their aged grill, suffering with inconsistent hot spots and grimy with years of greasy burgers, they may decide it’s time for a new one. Fortunately, there are a lot of options out there: small or large; residential or commercial; charcoal, wood-burning, pellet or gas.
Many who have enjoyed grilling at home are looking to upgrade or try something new. The next step? Smoking your own meats. Maybe shows like “BBQ Pitmasters” have something to do with that.
“People [who] watch us have a back yard or a patio,” says Mixon. “To some degree they can do what they watch us do—I mean, I can watch ‘Cake Boss’ but there’s no way I can bake a damn wedding cake!”
Mixon has perfected the art of smoking meats. When he does, he’s strictly a “stick-wood burner” because in his opinion “you’re getting everything you can get by burning the whole stick.” His favorite thing to cook is a whole hog.
It was really only a matter of time until Mixon, with his barbecue pedigree, launched his own line of smokers (above). In 2012, the time was right. He teamed up with businessman Rob Marelli to design and manufacture his own line of residential, competition and commercial smokers called Myron Mixon Smokers. “It was a natural fit,” says Mixon. “I should be building and selling my own smokers. I had the designs and the face recognition. He had the facility and the manpower.”
Mixon may be a Georgia boy through and through, but his smokers are pure Connecticut. Myron Mixon Smokers is based out of Waterford, and Mixon says there are plans to open a showroom in Naugatuck in the coming months where customers can see the smokers up close and test them out.
Myron Mixon Smokers use patented Waterpan Technology™—an indirect water cooking system to evenly disperse heat throughout the cooking chamber and lock in all the natural juices. It’s a design perfected by Mixon after years of using similar indirect water cookers. The process tenderizes the meat while it cooks, resulting in truly juicy barbecue.
Myron Mixon Smokers have a product for “all kinds of needs,” ranging from the MMS-36˝ backyard model, which can hold 12 baby back ribs or a 60 pound hog, for $3,595, to the MMS-1500 rotisserie commercial model (above), which contains 24 racks at 18˝x 48˝ each and costs $30,800.
Soon they will introduce their Gravity Feed System to make the art of smoking even simpler. Mixon calls it a “set it and forget it” model that’s a little more user-friendly.
“Barbecue now is the ‘it’ food,” says Mixon. “It just keeps rising and rising. Anything associated with it is almost always a winner.”
Mixon’s line of smokers is not the only Connecticut-made option on the market.
Kenyon All Seasons Grills, produced in Clinton, have over 70 different varieties of electric grills (right). Kenyon is the largest manufacturer of two-burner ceramic glass cooktops and stainless-steel electric grills in North America. Kenyon grills produce virtually no smoke, which allows people to grill outside or indoors and is at the other end of the spectrum from Mixon’s grills.
According to Kenyon President Phil Williams, the company’s best seller is the Floridian All Seasons Built-In Electric Grill, a 120V electric grill that can preheat in less than 7 minutes. The model costs $1,125.
Many of Kenyon’s grills have won awards including the Floridian, which was named a finalist in the Vesta Award for innovation in design and technology in 2008. In 2009, another of their designs, the Texan All Seasons Grill, was a finalist for the same award.
However, there are many options between electric grills and commercial smokers. John Tarquinio, owner of Fireside Supply in Hebron, explains that there are three major categories of grills for the average backyard barbecue—gas, charcoal and pellet. The right grill for each consumer is entirely dependent on what they’re hoping to accomplish.
“Gas is generally good for fast cooking,” says Tarquinio. “For people who want to fire it up, throw a steak on it, sear it on both sides and go eat dinner.”
Charcoal is better for slower cooking at a lower temperature, says Tarquinio. It infuses a smoke flavor into the food. Meat cooked on a charcoal grill is usually moist in the center and crisp on the outside.
Pellets—hardwood compressed to look like long pills—produce similar cooking results to charcoal. “It’s more convenient for ramping up and ramping down,” says Tarquinio.
One charcoal grill, popular at Fireside Supply, Inc. and elsewhere, is The Big Green Egg (left). Tarquinio says the grill has a kind of “cult following.”
“The Big Green Egg is the best charcoal grill out there,” he says. The unique dome shape circulates the hot air around the food, the inverse of a rotisserie oven, which rotates food.
According to its website, The Big Green Egg is a modern-day evolution of ancient cookers, with a design that “is modeled on the clay cooking vessels first seen during the Chinese Qin Dynasty and then used by the Japanese beginning in the 3rd century.”
The Big Green Egg, originated in Atlanta, is now the world’s largest producer and international distributer of the high-quality ceramic cooking system. There are now six different sizes of Eggs.
Barbecue really is the “it” food these days. Between television shows, cookbooks and blogs, there are a lot of lessons out there on how to perfect your cooking techniques. But when picking the right grill, consider your needs. Do you want fast or slow cooking? Do you want a deep smoky flavor or just a good char? Looking to get into the competition circuit? Ask around. The professionals will be able to help you select the grill or smoker that’s right for you.
And take Mixon’s advice—don’t stress. “Barbecue is very simple food,” says the barbecue champion. “It’s very enjoyable.”
Myron Mixon Discusses Barbecue and Great Grilling