BBQ Picnic Catering Meal

8 BBQ Tips from a Pro: Talking All Things Denver BBQ with Chef Chris Puter

Chris Puter
Executive Chef Chris Puter

The art of barbecue, or BBQ for short, is more than just cooking meat over an open flame. It is a centuries-old tradition with a rich history and unique regional styles.

And Rocky Mountain Catering Executive Chef, Chris Puter, is certainly keeping the art of BBQ alive in Denver.

True barbecue requires patience, attention to detail, and a deep understanding of smoke, fire, and heat. Pitmasters spend hours, sometimes even days, tending to their meat to ensure it is perfectly cooked and infused with a smoky flavor.

Chris is going to tell us all about it.

8 Pro BBQ Tips from Chef Chris Puter

At Rocky Mountain Catering, BBQ-style Denver picnic catering is our special sauce. We’re lucky to have chefs that double as pitmasters who have years of experience in their craft—experience that they infuse into each carefully curated menu item. So today, we’re sharing some of the top BBQ tips we got from the best BBQ chef in Denver (we may be biased), Chris Puter.

1)  Low and slow is the only way

“Memphis Style” Pulled Pork

It’s no secret that good BBQ can’t be rushed. Chef’s go-to method is whipping it up at 225 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-14 hours. Patience is a virtue that pays off big-time when it comes to BBQ!

2) Not all marinades are created equal

While many people marinate beef or pork by soaking it in the same bottled sauce… no shade, but that’s not how it’s done in the RMC kitchen. You can expect to enjoy brisket that’s just salt and peppered before smoking and pork and poultry that’s marinated for 24 hours prior to smoking and finished with a dry rub before hitting the grates.

3) Sauce Matters

We offer a variety of scratch made BBQ sauces

Chef’s favorite BBQ sauce is Kansas City BBQ. He shared all that he could, saying, “Ketchup based with molasses, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, [and] chili powder, just to name a few of the ingredients! The rest are a secret!” We suppose you’ll just have to try a BBQ menu item soon to see if you can identify the secret ingredients.

4) Mesquite is best for dark meats, while honey and hickory are best for white meats

Well, maybe we shouldn’t say “best.” What type of wood to use for smoking on a BBQ does come down to preference, but in our world, what Chef says goes! He shared that his go-to rule was mesquite for dark meats like brisket, lamb, duck, and wild game, whereas he loves maple or hickory for pork and chicken.

5) It’s not sacrilege to add toppings to your BBQ

Some people say that good BBQ should be enjoyed on its own. But Chef shared that there’s nothing better than a beef brisket sandwich topped with onion rings. Drooling yet?

6) Baked beans must always be on the side

Chef likes to do it like the cowboys did—and naturally, that means home-cooked baked beans. He did say that it’s rather unfortunate they didn’t have mac and cheese in those days, because that’s pretty delicious, too.

7) Good BBQ has to fall off the bone

Doneness is a big question people have when they’re cooking BBQ at home. So, we asked Chef how he knows meat is cooked to perfection. His answer? Feel or experience. For pork butt specifically, you want to gently pull the bone. If it pulls away easily, it’s done! If it doesn’t, leave it on a little while longer. This goes for any bone-in meats you’re smoking.

8) Ultimately, there’s a whole lot of good BBQ out there. Try it all!

In his closing thoughts, Chef shared more about each type of BBQ. “There are so many styles of BBQ to try before deciding on a favorite. The flavors from the Carolinas, Texas, Memphis, Kansas City, Alabama, Kentucky, and Virginia are all a little different but fantastic! Try them all, and let me know what you think.”

Breaking down the styles of BBQ

BBQ seasoned ribs
Behind the scenes seasoning

You’re probably wondering how there can possibly be that many different types of BBQ.

So, we asked Chef Chris for the breakdown.

Memphis-Style BBQ:

Dry rubs with spice blends served with a tangy, sweet, tomato-based BBQ sauce. Typically pork ribs or shoulders smoked in a pit.

Kansas City-Style BBQ:

A bit more diverse on the meat front featuring beef, pork, and chicken with a big emphasis on hickory wood. As Chef mentioned, the sauce features molasses and ketchup, which gives it a thicker consistency. This is also the style of BBQ that serves up burnt ends.

Alabama-Style BBQ:

This is one of the more unique forms of BBQ, as the sauce is a white sauce made from vinegar and mayo, used primarily on chicken.

Kentucky-Style BBQ:

Naturally, this style of BBQ is very heavily influenced by Southern cuisine and often features pork as the main meat. But it’s also known for hickory-smoked mutton served with a side of burgoo, which is a BBQ stew that meshes flavors together seamlessly.

Virginia-Style BBQ:

Virginia BBQ is less well-known than other regional styles but is recognized for its use of a vinegar-based sauce with a subtle blend of spices that create a tangy flavor. The meat used in Virginia BBQ is traditionally lean pork shoulder, which is slow-cooked until it is tender and juicy.

Texas-Style BBQ:

Perhaps the most well-known, Texas BBQ is known for its beef, particularly brisket, which is seasoned with a dry rub of spices and then slow-cooked over mesquite or oak wood, resulting in a crispy crust and a tender, juicy interior. Texas-style BBQ also features other meats like pork and sausage, but the brisket is undeniably the highlight of the show.

Carolina-Style BBQ:

Carolina-style BBQ features smoked pork as the main meat—typically pork shoulders or whole hogs. The meat is seasoned with a dry rub of spices and then slow-cooked over wood for several hours, resulting in a tender, juicy meat with a slightly smoky flavor. Carolina BBQ also features different styles of sauce, with eastern Carolina sauce being vinegar and red pepper-based and Western Carolina sauce being a tomato and vinegar-based sauce.

The moral of the (BBQ) story?

Each regional BBQ style has its own flair. Whether the difference is the sauce, the cooking style, or the meats used, you’re bound to experience something different each time you taste it—which is the beauty of this cuisine!

Next time you’re looking for a traditional BBQ meal catered by real people with real culinary prowess, give us a call or send a message our way. Chef Puter and the RMC+E team can’t wait to share their own unique take on BBQ with you!