Oak And Patience Secret To Great Barbecue



Albert Hunt, with a little help from his grandson, prepared the deep-pit cooked beef for a benefit dinner.

Like most good cooks, Albert Hunt prefers to keep his deep-pit barbecue techniques a secret.

But those who attended his most recent benefit meal, April 24, near the Payson High School softball field, are clamoring to know how he prepares the mouthwatering beef and cowboy beans.

For the sake of the clamoring crowds, Hunt and his wife, Charlene, agreed to share a few of their secrets.

For many years, Albert cooked the meal in a deep pit at his father-in-law Roy Creach's home on South McLane Road.

Charlene said it was her father who inspired them to begin the deep-pit cooking tradition.

"My dad had been doing it since the 1960s," she said.

After Creach moved from Payson to Utah, Albert began cooking the beef in a pit he prepared at the Hunt family home on Airport Road.

He normally burns about a cord of oak cooking the meat. The hard oak produces better coals than other types of wood, he said.

After the oak has burned for about eight hours and turns white-hot, Hunt covers the coals with large rocks, then the wrapped meat is set on top of the rocks and the pit is covered with an iron lid.

About six inches of soil is then shoveled on the lid.

After simmering underground for 12 hours, the meat emerges juicy and fork-tender.

The cowboy beans, also a recipe passed down from Roy Creach, are slow-simmered in a 20-gallon kettle and seasoned with a variety of spices.

The Hunts do not serve any barbecue sauce with the meal.

"If it's good beef and slow-cooked, no sauce is needed," Charlene said.

After the meal is prepared, Albert, Charlene and friends take the smoked beef and beans to the dinner site, where it is usually served up to hundreds of hungry patrons.

The dinners have long been served at a variety of local events, including the softball team benefits, weddings, pioneer celebrations and funeral receptions.

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