Over The Hill BBQ and A

Dale SligarFor some, barbecue is more than
just throwing your favorite meat on the backyard grill. Meet Dale Sligar, a
professional barbecuer with Over the Hill BBQ in Edmond. Having been in (and
won!) several barbecue competitions, Dale agreed to sit down with us and share
some of his secrets, stories and sauces.

How long have you been barbecuing?

I’ve always enjoyed backyard
grilling (which is different than barbecuing). I cannot recall not cooking
something. My team partner Jim Cox and I decided to try competition barbecuing
since we both enjoyed BBQ cooking and both had recently purchased new smokers.
We belong to the same church and Knights of Columbus Fraternal Organization.
Initially our cooking was at council events where we raised funds for an
intellectually disabled adults facility in Okarche.

How many competitions have you been in?

Jim and I have competed in about
ten events since we partnered. We first branched into cooking at sanctioned
events when the Edmond Arts Council hosted a KCBS event in 2011 at Hafer Park.
We won People’s Choice at the 2011 & 2012 events, which gets you fired up
to do more events.

What is your favorite meat to barbecue? Why?

Depending upon the activity and
number of people to serve, I prefer pulled pork. My granddaughter Hannah can
just about live on pulled pork and always has a great opinion of it. Ribs and
chicken seem to be the toughest to consistently score well in competitions. The
margin for error is very critical. Both are easy to overcook, which is not
correctable.

What does barbecue mean to you?

BBQ is a very regional thing. I
was raised in Kansas City and came to Oklahoma as soon as I could in 1985. Kansas
City-style BBQ is sweeter, less spicy, and ribs and pork dominate, and you use
mostly hickory wood smoke. Texas is Mesquite country with mostly beef brisket
& ribs. Memphis and the Carolinas areas prefer a vinegary sauce. The
Northeast is fish country and the West Coast has a blend of their own.

Can you tell us about your barbecue trailer?

My partner and I used to borrow
a flatbed trailer. Our smokers each weigh about 450 pounds, plus all the other
needed equipment—we came home very tired and with sore backs. The trailer makes
a big difference, and makes everything go easier. As with any hobby, more is
always better.

What seasoning should every barbecuer know about?

Pepper! I was once told by a
wise old man that you cannot use too much. Following pepper would be sugar and
salt.

Any trade secrets that you would be willing to share?

Well now, they wouldn’t be a
secret anymore would they! About the best advice I can offer to anyone cooking
anything is to cook to internal temperature. “It is done when it is done” is
another wise tale—no need to rush. A fellow I once knew thought that if the
recipe said cook a 12-pound brisket at 225° for 12 hours, surely it would cook
faster at 500° a shorter time. That brisket would have made a nice pair of
shoes.

Any advice to the backyard barbecuer?

Have fun, cook the things you
like best. Try something new once in a while. Though delicious in its own
right, there are many things better than a grilled hot dog.

Do your family, friends and neighbors get to test out your creations?
What kind of feedback do they give?

My friends and family keep my
freezer empty. My granddaughters are my biggest fans. I have several more
friends around tailgating times.

Do you prefer to go sweet or spicy?

I like sauce that tastes a
little sweet initially with a tiny kick at the end. I prefer to taste the meat
and smoke so I use sauce sparingly.

What’s the perfect barbecue side dish?

If I said anything other than
baked beans, I would be lying. A good potato salad or slaw would run second and
third.

Any plans for going full-time and opening an Over The Hill BBQ
restaurant?

I’m retired, and find that I am
perfectly qualified for that. If my kids wanted to do that, I would help them
cook—as long as I didn’t have a golf game scheduled.

Do you have any other hobbies?

I do charitable work with the
Knights of Columbus, play golf, visit grandkids and I’m trying to complete a
50-year-old honey-do list for my bride.

Anything else you would like us to know about you?

I have the best wife, family and friends any man
could ask for. Without their love and support none of my hobbies would be
possible.

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