The Dish: World champion pitmaster Tuffy Stone

The Dish: Pitmaster Tuffy Stone

Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, world champion pitmaster Tuffy Stone didn't start out in the food business. After high school he joined the Marines and worked on fighter jets as an aviation engineer. After college and some restaurant and catering work, he founded his Cool Smoke barbecue team in 2004 and they've been on fire ever since, winning 40 grand championships and five world championships, including three wins at the prestigious Jack Daniel's competition. 

Now, his signature dishes are on the menu at his three Q Barbecue restaurants in the Richmond area. His new book: "Cool Smoke: The Art of Great Barbecue" is out next week. Here are some of Stone's signature recipes: 

Competition ribs


1 cup Cool Smoke Rub
2 (3-pound) racks St. Louis-cut pork spareribs, trimmed with membrane removed (ask your butcher to do this)
½ cup apple juice, in a spray bottle, for the grill
1 cup Cool Smoke Barbecue Sauce 
½ cup honey
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup packed light brown sugar 

Rub ingredients

½ cup turbinado sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons kosher salt
¼ cup Smoked Chili Powder (page 50)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon granulated onion 

Barbecue sauce ingredients

3 cups ketchup
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup distilled white vinegar
¼ cup molasses
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Smoked Chili Powder (page 50)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons granulated onion
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup apple cider vinegar 


1. For the barbecue sauce: In a 4-quart saucepan, whisk together all the ingredients with ¾ cup water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously, for 20 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Set aside to cool completely. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 2 weeks.

2. For the rub: In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together thoroughly. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place until ready to use.

3. Use a shaker to dust both sides of the rib racks generously with the Cool Smoke Rub (use ¼ cup per side), and let them sit at room temperature, uncovered, for 1 hour before cooking. When you are ready to cook, heat the smoker to 275°F pit temperature.

4. Alternatively, heat a grill to 275°F, using a 2-Zone setup (see 2-Zone Cooking, page 22), using three or four chunks of your favorite wood in addition to the charcoal or gas. Place the ribs meat-side up in the smoker, or on the grill over indirect heat, and cook for 2 hours, spraying the spareribs with apple juice every 30 minutes to moisten. 

5. In a small bowl, stir together the Cool Smoke Barbecue Sauce, ¼ cup of the honey, and the vinegar and set aside. Cut two 18 x 24-inch lengths of foil to wrap each rib rack in a tight package. When the ribs have cooked for 2 hours, transfer them from the grill and place each rack meat side down on a sheet of foil. Drizzle the ribs evenly on both sides with the melted butter and remaining ¼ cup honey, and sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar. Wrap each rack tightly in the foil, being careful not to puncture.

6. Return the rib packages meat-side down to the smoker, or to the cool side of a grill, close the lid, and cook for 2 to 2½ hours more, or until the meat is tender. The ribs are done when a meat thermometer placed in the thickest part of the meat reads an internal temperature of 203°F to 211°F or use a skewer or a toothpick to check for tenderness.

7. Remove from the heat, carefully unwrap the ribs, and discard the foil. Brush the Cool Smoke Barbecue Sauce-honey mixture on both sides of the ribs to coat and return them meat-side up to the smoker or grill over indirect heat. Cook for 15 minutes to set the sauce. Watch them carefully so you do not burn or overset the sauce. Serve immediately, with any remaining sauce on the side 

Grilled potato salad with soft-boiled eggs 


1 cup grainy mustard dressing 
3 pounds baby potatoes, mixed colors
¼ cup kosher salt, plus more as needed
5 medium eggs
1 large yellow onion, halved, with core intact
3 bunches scallions
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
12 slices crispy cooked bacon, finely chopped
1 cup drained bread-and-butter pickles
¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/8 cup fresh dill
2 cups finely diced celery 

Grainy mustard ingredients

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon honey
1 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 


1. Combine vinegar, mustard, and honey in a large bowl. While whisking continuously, gradually add the olive oil and whisk until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to 1 week.

2. When you are ready to cook, heat the grill to 300°F using the direct grilling method

3. Cool to room temperature, transfer to glass quart jars, and refrigerate. The pickles keep for up to 1 month, covered and refrigerated. Put the potatoes in a heavy-bottomed 4-quart pot and add enough cold water to cover. Stir in the salt, bring the water to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the potatoes are just tender. Drain and set the potatoes aside to cool to room temperature.

4. While the potatoes are cooking, put the eggs in a small pot and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let stand for 6 minutes. Gently drain the eggs, and use a large slotted spoon to carefully transfer them to a bowl of ice water to chill until they are cool enough to peel.

5. Cut the potatoes in half. Lightly brush the potatoes, onion halves, and scallions with olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Grill the potatoes cut-side down over direct heat, with the grill lid open, for 10 minutes. Rotate the potatoes 45 degrees, still cut-side down, and cook for 5 minutes more to char them. Flip the potatoes and cook for 5 minutes more, for a total grill time of 20 minutes. Set aside.

6. Next, grill the onions and scallions. Place the onion halves cut-side down over direct heat, with the grill lid open, and cook for 3 minutes. Rotate them 45 degrees, still cut-side down, and grill for 3 minutes more to char them. Set the onions aside.

7. Grill the scallions for 1 minute on each side until just charred, being careful not to burn them. Set the vegetables aside to cool at room temperature, then slice the onions and scallions into 1/4-inch-wide slices. 

8. To assemble the salad, toss the potatoes, onions, scallions, bacon, pickles, parsley, dill, celery, and Grainy Mustard Dressing together in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter. Peel and halve the eggs and arrange them on the platter. Serve immediately.

Macaroni and cheese with smoked paprika

Bread crumbs ingredients

1 cup canola oil
3 large or 5 small garlic cloves
1 (26-inch) baguette, crust removed, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt 

Macaroni and cheese ngredients

6 tablespoons (¾ stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
5½ cups whole milk
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups Fontina cheese
1½ cups Gruyère cheese
1 pound cavatappi pasta
1 teaspoon olive oil
1½ cups grated smoked cheddar cheese 


1. Prepare the garlic and smoked paprika bread crumbs: Line a small rimmed baking sheet with paper towels. Puree the garlic cloves and oil in a blender. Strain the mixture, reserving the oil and discarding the garlic pulp. In a large sauté pan, heat the garlic oil over medium-low heat for 1 minute, or until the oil begins to shimmer. Add the bread cubes and stir with a wooden spoon for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the bread turns a light golden brown. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet to drain and cool completely.

2. Transfer the cooled bread cubes to a food processor and pulse into coarse crumbs. In a medium bowl, toss the bread crumbs with the smoked paprika and salt. Set aside until ready to use. Keeps for up to a week in a tightly sealed container.

3. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish. Bring a large pot of water to a rapid boil. Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, but do not allow it to boil. Meanwhile, in a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When the foam subsides, stir in the flour and reduce the heat to low.

4. Whisk continuously for 2 minutes, then begin gradually adding the hot milk as you whisk, and cook for 10 minutes, until the mixture is thick and bubbling. Remove the pot from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of the salt, mustard powder, black pepper, cayenne, Fontina, and Gruyère. Whisk until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the cheeses have melted. Set aside.

5. Meanwhile, add the remaining 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling water. Add the pasta, stir gently, and return the water to a boil. Cook for 11 minutes, or until the pasta is not quite al dente. Drain, and rinse the pasta with cold water to halt the cooking process. Drain well again, and toss in a large bowl with the olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking.

6. Fold the cooked pasta into the cheese sauce to coat. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole. Sprinkle the smoked cheddar cheese evenly over the top and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling.

7. Let the macaroni and cheese cool for 10 minutes, then top with the garlic and smoked paprika bread crumbs and serve immediately.

Grilled corn on the cob with chipotle white sauce 


6 to 8 ears corn, with husks
1 cup chipotle white sauce
¼ cup whole fresh cilantro leaves
1/8 cup fresh oregano leaves 

Chipotle white sauce ingredients

1½ cups Duke's Mayonnaise, or your favorite brand
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¾ teaspoon granulated garlic
2 tablespoons chipotle puree 
1½ teaspoons simple syrup
2¼ teaspoons dried Greek oregano 
1 tablespoon kosher salt


1. Place the ears of corn in their husks in a lidded container with enough water to cover and refrigerate overnight. Prepare the chipotle white sauce: In a medium bowl, whisk together all the ingredients thoroughly. Refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to use, up to 3 days.

2. When you are ready to cook, heat the grill to 300°F. Place the ears of corn in their husks on the cool side of the grill and cook for 15 minutes, then flip and cook for 15 minutes more, or until the corn is tender. Remove from the grill and set aside until cool enough to handle.

3. Peel the husks and silk back from the ears, but do not remove them from the cobs. Brush the ears lightly with Chipotle White Sauce and place them on the cool side of the grill, positioning the husks with the silks so that they hang over the edge, away from the heat. Grill for 5 minutes, turning halfway through to cook evenly on all sides.

4. Transfer to a platter with the husks still on, and drizzle the corn with additional Chipotle White Sauce. Serve the remaining sauce on the side. Sprinkle each ear with cilantro and oregano and serve immediately.

Frozen coconut lime pie 


3 cups broken graham crackers (½-inch pieces)
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can Coco Lopez coconut cream (scant 2 cups; available in the Hispanic section of most groceries)
1¾ cups sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon lime zest
1 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons coconut extract
1 cup heavy cream 


1. In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers and ½ cup of the shredded coconut for 10 seconds, just until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add the melted butter and pulse again until just combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside to cool completely before adding the filling.

2. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese for 3 to 5 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until smooth. Add the coconut cream, sweetened condensed milk, lime zest, lime juice, and coconut extract and mix until combined. Add the remaining ½ cup shredded coconut and mix until incorporated.

3. Place a metal bowl in the freezer to chill. When the bowl is chilled, add the heavy cream and whisk just until it holds firm peaks. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese filling.

4. Pour the filling into the prepared crust, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze overnight. Remove from the freezer 30 minutes before you plan to slice and serve.