Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Cue ball

Smoking is not only allowed... it's encouraged this weekend at the Manitoba Open Barbecue Competition

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The first thing you need to understand is the difference between barbecuing and grilling.

Grilling takes place over direct heat and is a quick method of cooking. Generally speaking, you grill hamburgers.

Barbecue is low and slow and indirect and often involves smoke as part of the process. Generally speaking, you barbecue ribs.

The Manitoba Open Barbecue Competition is all about the low, slow and smokey. This weekend will be the fifth year for the Kansas City Barbecue Society (KCBS) -- sanctioned competition but it's about to undergo a big change.

Bernie Lutzer, proprietor of Smokin’ Hawg BBQ Co., serves up some ribs, sweet potatoes and baked beans.

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Bernie Lutzer, proprietor of Smokin’ Hawg BBQ Co., serves up some ribs, sweet potatoes and baked beans. (KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Photo Store

According to producer/organizer Perry Hopkins, a shift in sponsorship is the catalyst for the makeover to come in 2012. As a result, this weekend's competition, taking place at the Morden Corn and Apple Festival, will focus exclusively on the competitors and judges. The KCBS-trained judges will determine the overall winner and who will receive an automatic invitation to the big-time cook-offs: the Jack Daniels and American Royal Championship Invitational Barbecue Competitions in Tennessee.

Hopkins says next year's plan is to move the competition much closer to the city and provide additional attractions for the folks who want to come and meet the competitors and learn about barbecue.

He's planning to provide demos and a trade show and other side competitions to involve more people as well as include a charitable benefit to give back to the community.

"Our goal is to get people down for a fun, educational weekend all wrapped around barbecue," says Hopkins.

The date will also be moved up to the beginning of the season so more people can try their hand at home barbecuing through the summer. Check out the MOBC website for more information, and keep your eye on it for details of next year's competition. Go to:

Your rib winner

You might recognize Bernie Lutzer with his distinctive handlebar moustache as the proprietor of Smokin' Hawg BBQ Co. He's usually a lunchtime fixture on Broadway through the summer. Although he's taken this summer off to do some catering, he should be back on the street next year. Last year, Lutzer was the winner of the rib competition at the MOBC (he placed third overall). He came close to winning the whole shebang, but missed it when he turned in his chicken too late.

"Because of me talking to the onlookers, my chicken went to the wayside and I missed the Jack (Daniels competition) by four points.

"I'm still kicking myself for that one," he says, shaking his head, "We won't go any further than that."

The community and camaraderie of barbecue is strong but the competition is fierce. Lutzer says that the cooks will offer you advice and ideas to help you out right up until the competition starts... then your game face is on and you can't even borrow sugar.

"But if your smoker or anything breaks down, they'll be willing to help you so you can get back in the game."

Lutzer has been in the food industry for about 30 years, and been hot on barbecue for about eight. He's sending a shout-out to his wife and kids for their patience and support as he does the low and slow, and his friends and family who help him develop his menus. You can find him at

Lutzer also recommends that would-be cue-ers check out a barbecue forum ( run by Jim Beauchamp of Smokin' Jim's BBQ at, whom Lutzer credits with giving him his start.


Fire it up

Here are some recipes from Bernie Lutzer, last year's winner of the rib competition. Use these recipes for rub and sauce to make ribs using any low and slow cooking method.


First apply the rub to the ribs and let them stand for 30 minutes at room temperature. Heat the barbecue to about 150C (300F). Place ribs bones toward heat, as far from the heat as possible and close the lid. Check them periodically for doneness. It should take 3 to 4 hours.


Manitoba Open Barbecue Competition producer/organizer Perry Hopkins.

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Manitoba Open Barbecue Competition producer/organizer Perry Hopkins. (JANEK LOWE/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Photo Store

Bernie's Rub

This is a good basic all-around barbecue seasoning (or "rub"). This is also a great base recipe for creating your own signature seasoning, for any kind of meat, vegetables and even popcorn, so take it and make it your own.

250 ml (1cup) sea salt, medium fine (not table salt)

125 ml (1/2 cup) unrefined evaporated cane sugar (not table sugar)

125 ml (1/2 cup) dark brown sugar, dried (instructions below)

30 ml (2 tbsp) sweet Hungarian paprika

30 ml (2 tbsp) chili powder

30 ml (2 tbsp) granulated onion (not powder)

30 ml (2 tbsp) dry mustard

30 ml (1tbsp) granulated garlic (not powder)

10 ml (2 tsp) black pepper, fresh ground

10 ml (2 tsp) celery salt

10 ml (2 tsp) ground ginger

5 ml (1 tsp) ground cayenne


1. Preheat your oven to 80C (170F).

2. To dry sugar, pour the sea salt and dark brown sugar on a large sheet pan, mix well and spread the mixture evenly over the entire pan.

Bake the salt/sugar mixture 60 minutes, or until the sugar is very dry.

This will prevent clumping.

3. Combine the other remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

4. When the sugar is dry, remove the pan from the oven and let cool. Once cool, grind the mixture well in the pan by rolling it with a rolling pin. Do this several times in alternating directions.

5. Sift the salt/sugar mixture into the mixing bowl. You can use a fine mesh strainer and a pestle to break it up further. Toss out any rock-like clumps.

6. Mix all the ingredients very well and store in an airtight container


A whole lotta rub seasonings

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A whole lotta rub seasonings

Barbecue Sauce

375 ml (12 oz) commercial chili sauce

175 ml (6 oz) tomato paste

150 ml (2/3 cup) water

175 ml (3/4 cup) dark brown sugar

125 ml (1/2 cup) Worcestershire sauce

125 ml (1/2 cup) unrefined evaporated cane sugar

75 ml (1/3 cup) apple cider vinegar

30 ml (2 tbsp) yellow mustard

10 ml (2 tsp) Kosher salt

7 ml (11/2 tsp) granulated onion (not powder)

5 ml (1 tsp) granulated garlic (not powder)

2 ml (1/2 tsp) smoked paprika

1 ml (1/4 tsp) black pepper, ground fresh

1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground chipotle chile

0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) cinnamon


Combine all of the ingredients in a large sauce pan. Use the water to rinse out the chili sauce bottle.

Bring the sauce just to a boil, whisking occasionally.

Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Simmer about 30 minutes, or until the sauce is reduced by about one quarter.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool to room temperature.

Store in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a month.

Note: If you want to make this sauce more pork-specific, just double the apple cider vinegar and the pepper and chipotle to your taste.


Bite into Bernie's barbecue ribs.

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Bite into Bernie's barbecue ribs. (KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Photo Store

Bernie's Baked Beans

The secret to good baked beans is slow cooking!

1750 ml (28 oz) can of beans, northern or pinto

50 ml (1/4 cup) light brown sugar

50 ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup

45 ml (3 tbsp) honey

30 ml (2 tbsp) molasses

15 ml (1 tbsp) Worcestershire sauce

30 ml (2 tbsp) chipotle, pureed or minced optional

125 ml (1/2 cup) onion, finely diced

2 strips of bacon, raw and cut into 2-inch pieces

30 ml (2 tbsp) bourbon (such as Jack Daniels)


Preheat barbecue to 140C (275 F).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, molasses, Worcestershire and chipotle.

Add the beans, onion, bacon and bourbon and mix well. Transfer to a baking dish and cover.

Place in barbecue or oven and bake for at least 21/2 to 3 hours. Remove cover the last 30 minutes to allow beans to thicken and caramelize a bit on top. Stir well before serving.

Note: You can speed up the cooking process by turning the oven up to 175C (350 F) and baking for only an hour. Still good but not quite as rich.


Sweet Sweet Potato

60 ml (4 tbsp) unsalted butter

50 ml (1/4 cup) maple syrup

60 ml (4 tbsp) chopped pecan

1 ml (1/4 tsp) cinnamon

1 ml (1/4 tsp) cayenne pepper

0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) salt

Pierce the sweet potato several times with a fork. Place it on a cookie sheet.

With the oven set at 205C (400F), cook until sugars begin to leak from the holes or the potato is soft to the squeeze, about 1 hour.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add the maple syrup, pecans, cinnamon, cayenne pepper and salt. Heat on low for about 2 minutes, just until a layer of bubbles forms over the surface. Turn down the heat and keep warm.

Once the potatoes are done split lengthwise and top with the pecan butter.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 24, 2011 D1

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