For Sparkman native Louis Williams, "Next Level Barbecue" isn't just a clever name, it's an aspirational goal. Williams has been cooking since he was a child, and credits his Uncle Dave for showing him the ins and outs of turning raw meat into succulent 'cue. He built his first grill in 1997, and placed fourth in his very first barbecue contest, a rib cook-off, back in 2006. Since then, he's entered numerous competitions and runs a thriving catering business in addition to working a day job.
I first came across Williams on Facebook — we have a couple of mutual friends in common, and we've traded recipes and cooking tips over the months, long enough for me to realize that this guy is onto something with the way he treats food. He defies the conventional wisdom of "slow and low" cooking, roasting his meats at above 300 degrees to create what he calls a "combination of Carolina and Memphis barbecue." But his greatest barbecue tip might be one that most folks wouldn't think of — a method to keep the dreaded barbecue "kick back" indigestion from kicking in: "I have found that this is caused, in most part, by garlic in the rub and sauce. Sort of like eating a hot dog or bologna. My rub contains no garlic." From the accolades he's received from folks who have attended his catering events (including many of the Garland-county area motorcycle rallies), I'd say he's probably right.
Williams has shared with us a recipe he came up with on the fly during a cooking competition in 2011. Given an onion and 30 minutes in which to cook it, Williams decided to take the thing, stuff it with the pulled pork he'd already made, and wrap the whole thing in bacon. And if that don't set your mouth to watering, I guess there's no hope for you at all.
Williams hopes to have a fully functioning food truck or concession wagon going by the end of the year, so odds are that we'll be seeing more of him around the state. For now, he's glad to haul his rig to your party or event: people interesting in getting quotes on catering can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 501-760-8020.
The Raider Onion (named for the Sparkman Raiders)
* 1 sweet onion
*4 strips of bacon
*1/4 stick of butter
*5-6 pickled jalapeño slices
*Pulled pork or chicken.
*BBQ sauce of your choice.
Peel and core the onion, taking out approximately 75% of the center. Inside the cavity, pour in two tablespoons of sauce, jalapeños, then the BBQ pork/ chicken. Pressing with thumbs, pack ingredients tight into the cavity. Finally, top with 1/4 stick of butter and wrap with bacon in cross sections. Season liberally with favorite BBQ seasoning. Hold bacon in place with toothpicks, and remove toothpicks before eating. Cook on the grill until onion is soft and bacon is crisp.
Did you give this one a try? Want to brag on Next Level Barbecue? Let us know in the comments.