Over a Barrel

In general when it comes to cooking, I am a fan of a big production.  Lots of fan fare, tradition, flamboyance and a bit of a “ta-da” factor.  Like a sculptor removing a cover sheet from my creation to the “oohs” and “aahs” of my guests, I am admittedly guilty of the sin of pride.  A heady smelling smoking pit or a roaring fire to grill on always attracts the guests to the center of attention – where the food (and of course, my bad self) is.

But fickle creature that I am, there are times when I prefer to be alone with my thoughts, a thin blue curl of smoke and a manly beverage – watching the pit slowly work it’s magic and thinking deep thoughts.


I am a complicated being so once in a while, I just want to smoke a ton of grub without thinking about, tinkering with or watching the pit.  Enter the Pit Barrel Cooker from the pit barrel cooker company in Strassburg, Colorado (www.pitbarrelcooker.com).  I bought one of these on a whim at the beginning of the year in order to keep my hovering over the pit to a minimum at deer camp.  I brought it home after deer season, and found that it’s a hoot of a toy to have around the house.  It truly is a set-it-and-forget-it pit.  These run 289 dollars and shipping is free right from the company.  There is no assembly required.  It shows up and just works.

This weekend I did 6 racks (yes, 6) of ribs while watching football, and never even checked the pit.  Here’s a foolproof step by step of what I did.


  1. Purchase 2 3 packs of baby back ribs from costco.
  2. Remove skin on the bone side (there are lots of videos on how to do this)
  3. Slather with ballpark mustard
  4. Coat with Sucklebusters “Hog Waller” rubDSC_0547
  5. Insert hooks into the racks
  6. Fill the charcoal basket in the bottom of the cooker with unlit coals
  7. Remove 40 briquettes to a chimney starter and light them
  8. When ashed over on top, pour these onto the remaining coals in the basket
  9. Wait 15 minutes
  10. Add hickory chunks, hang meat on the rods, cover barrel
  11. Walk away and do not look at the pit for 3 hours
  12. Open the pit and take out your ribs.


If your inner pitmaster has the need for a no frills, inexpensive pit that does exactly what it is supposed to do with no modifications, then look no further than a pit barrel cooker.  And find something else to do while you cook.  Save the big productions for the parties.





About The Quincho Project

Dedicated to the pursuit of all forms of live fire cooking and the thoughtful prose it evokes. Whether prodding at a dying fire, patiently waiting on a perfect steak or simply contemplating a thin blue curl of smoke - I am truly at peace.
This entry was posted in Barbecue, Food, Smoking. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Over a Barrel

  1. Conor Bofin says:

    This IS a big production. Post us one of those racks please!

  2. Looks good, Mr Quincho! The pit has some obvious things going for it. Simplicity being the best design. Not even a water pan to deal with. Does the pit run hotter than your WSM then? I would assume so. Must if the ribs are done in 3 hours. Anyways, you sure do have fun. Carry on, mate!

    • Honestly, if one were to put a temp gauge in the pit you’d see a spike to around 500 at the start following a drop and leveling off at a steady 250. It’ll burn like that for over 8 hours with no tinkering. Meathead at amazingribs.com did a 13 pound packer brisket in 5 1/2 hours on one. I’m trying an 11 pounder on Sunday with it.

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