Sunday, August 15, 2010

Car Wash Mike: A Tribute

On July 4th, the world lost a rib master.  "Car Wash Mike" McKernan won awards for his ribs.  But his generous spirit was what impressed me.  I knew his technique before I encountered Mike.  But once I started asking questions about rib prep on I was stunned to find that Mike himself would patiently field questions from me and other newbies.  The takeaway I got from Mike is that the ribs that you like are the best you'll prepare.  Don't try to cook them to please a judge or other crowds.
It was only this week that I realized Mike had passed.  I was catching up on Dave's awesome blog: My Carnivorous Habits when I saw he'd done ribs in memory of Mike.  What?!  I had sort of taken a hiatus from the online community while I was doing some traveling during July, so this all went right under my radar.  Of course when I went back to the Egghead Forum I saw the outpouring of support. 

Saturday Labon and I did a 2 rack salute to Mike.  As his technique suggests, we gave the ribs a light coating of yellow mustard.  We then rubbed 'em with a Kansas City style rub I picked up at the Carolina Eggfest.

Mike believed that cold ribs took on smoke better, so while the Egg settled in around 200f, the ribs chilled in the freezer wrapped in foil.  For the smoke I was using some gorgeous apple wood chunks my dad gave me.  They soaked in water for a couple of hours Saturday morning prior to getting started.

The ribs went on right at noon.  We poured a little out for Mike as the ribs went on and his beer sat on the table throughout the cook.  After 5 hours we took the ribs off to get the temp up to 275f and slapped on Stubb's spicy barbecue sauce before putting them on for the finish.

We left these going a little longer than usual--nearly 6 hours by the time they came off.  That meant they were a little less juicy than some that we've done lately, but I honestly like the texture better this way I think.  They were not yet fall off the bone, but they were getting close.  They were mighty tasty.  I think Mike would have enjoyed them.

Thank you, Mike.


  1. Thanks for the plug. Good looking ribs and nice memorial. Well done!

    I'm starting to do my ribs a little longer too. You risk them drying out, but I like them better at that tender-almost-falling-off-the-bone stage.

  2. That was quite a shock to the Egg community. I bet there is a special tribute at the Eggfest since he was always the rib man at those. Nice job on the ribs.

  3. @Dave, yes I like them that way too. No sweat on the plug. I always enjoy seeing what you're up to. Always creative stuff. You're a very good photographer too.

    @ Chris, I bet you're right about Eggfest. Should we make suggestions on the forum to be sure it happens?