Many of Kentucky’s barbecue restaurants are fondly referred to as “joints” and often become favorite community gathering spots. Few, however, share their secrets, which may be generational.
Kentucky Champion on the BBQ Pitmasters TV show, John Foreman is owner and pitmaster of Old Hickory Bar-B-Q, which began in Owensboro in 1918. He still uses his great-great-grandfather’s recipe for barbecue. And he’s keeping it to himself…”not in a safe,” he laughs. “It’s in my head.”
Another generational pitmaster, Shane Draper is a big-rigger whose granddad owned Draper’s Pit Barbecue in Bardwell. He now competes nationally and won honors at the Memphis in May International Festival.
“I remember the faces in my grandfather’s restaurant,” Draper says. “You’d serve people a barbecue sandwich, and they’d take a bite, look up at you, and nod as if to say, ‘You’re still doing it right.’ Hearing that today is one of my greatest joys.”
Two joints, Dave’s Sticky Pig in Madisonville and Hickory Hill Barbecue in Scottsville, have whispered a couple of their recipes below to Kentucky Living readers. Enjoy!
Dave’s Sticky Pig’s Baked Beans
1 cup onion, diced
1/2 cup green bell peppers, diced
6 cups beans, cooked or canned
1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar
4 teaspoons granulated garlic
1/4 cup of sweet barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cups smoked pork or beef brisket. Dice into 1/4-inch pieces. Use bark from pork and briskets if available.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large casserole dish, mix onion, peppers, pork, beans, mustard, maple syrup, brown sugar, barbecue sauce, lemon juice, and garlic. Bake, covered, for 50 minutes. Stir and bake, uncovered, for 20 more minutes.
A preferred method is this: Place on smoker, uncovered, and cook about 12 hours at around 225 degrees. We’ve experimented with liquid smoke but it isn’t the same. These beans will come off the smoker with a crust of intense smoke flavor on top. Stir well and let it rest at least an hour, then stir again before serving.
Hickory Hill Barbecue’s Kentucky Bourbon Sauce
3/4 cup of your favorite Kentucky bourbon
1/2 onion, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/3 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/3 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and bourbon. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until onion is translucent. Mix in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Run through a strainer and enjoy. The amount of bourbon can be adjusted to taste.
Read the Kentucky Living September 2014 feature that goes along with this Web exclusive, How Do You Q?