Best in the West – Nugget Rib Cook-Off

Ribs on the Grill_sm

America’s biggest and best rib festival is back. The 27th annual “Best in the West” Nugget Rib Cook-off is right around the corner! Cowboy Charcoal and OBR are heading to Sparks, Nevada to join in the festivities and cheer on 24 rib-burners from all around the country. Admission is free and more than 500,000 BBQ lovers are expected to be in attendance at the event which is being held September 2nd – 7th.

While we can’t all be championship-winning grill masters – we’ve got a foolproof recipe for you to make you feel like you are. Make sure you keep these 6 tips for rib perfection in mind too.


  • 2 full rack of baby back ribs (about 5 to 6 lbs.)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Favorite BBQ sauce – store bought or homemade. Check out the links below for some of our favorite BBQ sauce recipes.

Smokey Sweet Sauce

Mustard-Based Sauce

Moroccan BBQ Sauce



  • Prepare the dry rub first by mixing chili powder, cumin, coriander, salt, paprika, dark brown sugar, pepper, cayenne, mustard and garlic powder in a large bowl
  • Remove the thin membrane from back of ribs by slicing into it with a knife and pulling it off
  • Coat the ribs with lime juice by rubbing a lime, cut side down, over the ribs – squeezing the juice out as you rub
  • Taking care to cover all sides, massage dry rub into ribs
  • Wrap tightly with plastic wrap, place in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish, cover and chill 8 hours
  • Remove baking dish from refrigerator and allow slabs to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Remove plastic wrap
  • Fill half of grill with Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal and light
  • Once coals have ashed over, place slabs over unlit side of grill, stacking one on top of the other. Cook for about 40 minutes with lid on
  • Rotate slabs, moving bottom slab to top and allow to cook for an additional 40 minutes. Repeat rotation of slabs and grill for 40 minutes
  • Separate the slabs and place side by side, again keeping out of direct heat
  • Baste with your favorite barbecue sauce (store-bought or homemade). Grill 20 minutes, covered with grill lid, basting with sauce occasionally
  • Remove from grill, let stand for 15 minutes and enjoy!
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    Sensational Pigs BBQ Team’s Succulent Pork Chops

    Sensational Pigs Logo_sm

    Post Content Provided By: Sensational Pigs BBQ Team

    We were lucky enough to connect with the talented folks from the Sensational Pigs competition BBQ team during our summer travels, and they agreed to share their step-by-step guide to the best pork chops you’ll ever have. Do you have a pork chop recipe or side to share? Give us a holler (, and you could be featured on our blog, too!

    We guarantee these are going to be the juiciest pork chops you have ever tasted. They are always a hit at cookouts, and we get requests for them all the time from family, friends and at catering events.

    Brine Ingredients

    • 4 1” – 1 ¼” thick loin chops
    • 2 cups ice cold water
    • ¾ cup kosher salt
    • 1 cup light brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons large ground fresh black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon mustard powder (not the liquid condiment)
    • 2 cups cider vinegar (heated to near boiling)

    Rub Ingredients

    This recipe makes around 1 ½ cups of rub – enough to use several times if stored in an air tight container.

    • ½ cup kosher salt
    • ¾ cup sugar in the raw (do not use normal processed white sugar, it burns too easily)
    • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
    • 1 tablespoon onion powder
    • 2 tablespoons paprika
    • ¼ cup chili powder
    • 1 tablespoon finely ground, fresh black pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg

    Sauce – Use your favorite recipe! We serve our chops up with a mustard-based sauce. Here’s a suggestion from the folks at Cowboy:

    • 3/4 cup yellow mustard
    • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 teaspoons salt
    • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
    • 2 teaspoons hot sauce (your choice)


    • In a large sealable container, mix the salt, light brown sugar, pepper, mustard powder and vinegar until the salt and sugar dissolve.
    • Add the ice cold water, and then the loin chops. Make sure the chops are completely covered in the liquid (you can add some more ice cold water and cider vinegar in equal parts to cover the loin chops if needed).
    • Seal the container and place the container in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, but no more than 1.5 hours.
    • While the loin chops are refrigerating, prepare the sauce of your choosing by mixing the listed ingredients in a sauce pan over low/medium heat until well blended.
    • Once blended allow to cool to room temperature and store in an air tight container. This will keep for 30 days in the refrigerator.
    • Mix the ingredients for the rub.
    • Prepare a grill or smoker for indirect cooking using Cowboy Charcoal lump or briquettes and add a few pieces of Cowboy Charcoal 100% Apple Wood Chunks.
    • Bring the temperature to 250-275 degrees. (We use a kamado style cooker for family sized meals and use gravity feed smokers for larger recipes.)
    • Remove the chops from the brine and wash thoroughly in running water and pat somewhat dry.
    • Sprinkle a small dusting of rub on each side of the chops.
    • Cook the chops over indirect heat, flipping 3 times until they reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees.
    • Once the chops have reached 135 degrees, baste a light layer of sauce on both sides of the chops and continue cooking until an internal temperature of 145 degrees.
    • Allow the chops to rest for 5 minutes, allowing the sauce to set before serving.
    • We recommend pairing these loin chops with grilled corn and asparagus.


    About Sensational Pigs BBQ Team:

    Sensational Pigs BBQ Team is based out of Milledgeville, Georgia. The team competes in numerous events throughout Georgia each year, and caters events when they are not out on the competition circuit.  Contact them on Facebook at or on Twitter at @sensationalpigs by using #sensationalpigsbbq

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      5 Unexpected Foods that are Perfect for the Grill

      Grilled Avocado

      While we’ve officially made it through the Dog Days of summer, we’re still making our way around the country in search of the ultimate masters of BBQ. We have five more stops before we conclude our Great American Cookout Tour. Next up, we’re headed to Excelsior Springs, Montana for their annual BBQ on the River and Fly In, where 100 teams will compete for the winning title and $10,000 in prizes.

      In addition to sampling all of the delicious food, other activities include live performances, a beer garden, airplane rides and flyovers, vendors, and fireworks. Cowboy Charcoal and Operation BBQ Relief will be there enjoying the festivities and celebrating the festival’s 15th year by raising awareness of OBR’s efforts.

      In honor of our five remaining stops, we thought we’d share five unexpected foods to put on the grill.

      Do you grill the unexpected? Email us your tips and tricks to for a chance to be featured on our blog!

      Aim for harder, higher quality cheeses when grilling cheese – the idea being to use a whole wedge or round of cheese and giving it a rich, smoky flavor before serving. Halloumi, Kefalotyri and Provolone are a few we recommend trying out. You’ll need to watch the cheese closely as it cooks rapidly on the grill. Sear quickly on either side, and ensure grill grates are oiled if you opt not to use a grill sheet.

      Try throwing whole sprigs of thyme, rosemary, sage and lavender on the grill to enhance the natural, flowery aromas already in these hearty herbs. Add your grilled herbs to marinades, cocktails and other recipes for an extra flavorful kick.

      Add a crunch to your cake by brushing slices with butter and grilling lightly on both sides. The heat from the grill will caramelize the sugar for a delicious, crispy treat!

      Give this superfood a smoky touch – halve, pit and brush with oil before putting on the grill. Add your grilled avocados to guacamole or a classic BLTA sandwich.

      Grill lobsters, oysters, clams, mussels and shrimp right in their shell and serve with all the usual fixings: butter, cocktail sauce or aioli.

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        Happy Birthday, Julia Child

        Source: KUHT Collection, University of Houston

        Photo Source: KUHT Collection, University of Houston

        Julia Child holds a special place in many hearts for bringing fresh and sophisticated, yet approachable, French cuisine to American kitchens. On August 15th, Julia would have been 103 – in honor of her birthday we thought we’d share some of our favorite meat marinades from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. These recipes were originally created for the oven/stove, but are easily transferrable to the grill – adding that delicious, smoky flavor we know you love! Bon Appetite!

        Pork Chops w/ Julia’s Marinade Seche


        • 1pound pork chops, bone-in
        • 1 teaspoonsalt
        • 1/8 teaspoonfresh ground pepper
        • 1/4 teaspoon ground thyme and/or1/4 teaspoon sage
        • 1/8 teaspoon bay leaf powder
        • 1 pinchallspice
        • 1/2 garlic clove, mashed


        • Fill up grill with Cowboy Lump Charcoal and light
        • In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together
        • Rub the mixture into the surface of the pork, coating thoroughly
        • Return to bowl and cover
        • Marinate the chops for a minimum of 2 hours for best results – if you have the time, try marinating for 6-12 hours – turning the meat 2 or 3 times throughout
        • Before grilling, scrape off the marinade and dry the meat with paper towels
        • Once coals have ashed over, grill the chops for 4-5 minutes on each side. You’ll want to watch them carefully, as overcooking can lead to tough pork

        Note: Try this pork rub with absolutely any cut of pork – shoulders, tenderloins and more! The larger the cut, the longer you’ll want to marinate.


        On the Grill: Julia’s Flank Steak


        • 3 tablespoons minced scallions or shallots
        • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
        • 2 tablespoons olive oil
        • 1/2 teaspoon thyme or Italian seasoning;
        • Big pinch of pepper or drops of Tabasco
        • The juice of one-half lemon


        • Fill grill with Cowboy Lump Charcoal and light
        • Mix the marinade ingredients in a bowl.
        • Turn the steak and spread with the rest of the marinade.
        • Cover with waxed paper or towel and let sit for least 20 minutes – although we recommend refrigerating for several hours and up to two days!
        • Once coals have ashed over, place flank steak on grill and sear each side for 1 minute in direct heat.
        • Move steak out of the direct heat, towards the edge of the grill and cook for 3-4 more minutes.
        • To ensure the steak is cooked to your liking, use a meat thermometer. Remove the steak at 125 to 130°F for rare, 140°F for medium rare, and 150°F for medium.
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          S’mores on the Grill

          National Smores Day

          Happy National S’mores Day Pitmasters! We’re satisfying your summer sweet tooth on the grill. We’ve got a few recipes to help you create chocolatey, gooey masterpieces in your own backyard.

          Classic and Simple S’mores

          • Graham crackers
          • Marshmallows
          • Chocolate


          • Fill grill with Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal and light.
          • Once coals have ashed over, place 1/2 of the graham crackers on the grill – away from direct heat.
          • Add marshmallows & close lid for 3 minutes.
          • Remove graham crackers with melted marshmallows with metal spatula.
          • Place the other half of the graham crackers on the grill, also away from the heat & add chocolate. Allow to warm for just a minute.

          If you’re looking for something a little less traditional, try one of these recipes:

          S’mores Cones

          • Chopped strawberries and/or bananas
          • Mini-Marshmallows.
          • Semi-sweet chocolate chips.
          • Waffle ice cream cones


          • Fill grill with Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal and light.
          • Mix chopped fruit, mini-marshmallows and semi-sweet chocolate chips together in a large bowl.
          • Wrap the outside of the waffle cones in tin foil.
          • Leave an opening at the top to stuff the waffle cones with mixture
          • Once the coals have ashed over, fold foil over the opening of the cones, making sure the ingredients are sealed inside.
          • Place on grill and rotate every 2 minutes for 7 minutes
          • Remove, unwrap and enjoy!

          S’mores Granola

          • 3 1/4 cup granola
          • 1 Tablespoon butter, softened
          • 1 cup mini marshmallows
          • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


          • Fill grill with Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal and light.
          • Coat a large sheet of tin foil generously with oil cooking spray and set aside.
          • In a large mixing bowl combine granola with softened butter.
          • Lay the mixture in the center of the tin foil in a single layer. Be sure to leave enough foil along the edges to wrap the granola into a pouch.
          • Once the coals have ashed over, place pouch directly on the grill.
          • Shake the granola pouch every 3-4 minutes to evenly toast the granola. Grill the granola for approximately 10-12 minutes.
          • Remove from grill and open the pouch. Remember to do so carefully as granola inside will be quite hot.
          • Add in the marshmallows and chocolate chips.
          • Reseal the pouch and let stand for 1-2 minutes to allow marshmallows and chocolate to melt.
          • Enjoy!

          Plan on celebrating National S’mores Day? Send photos of your festivities to for the chance to be featured on our blog!

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