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Clay Should Not Be An Ingredient In Any BBQ Recipe!

By: Don Grissom - Dueling Bubbas


There is one other element that is often overlooked by teams in their quest to provide themselves with their best chance at bringing home the honors of being the Grand Champion at their next contest... carbonized wood, a.k.a. charcoal.

Some of the big name brands put "fillers" in their briquette. These "fillers" range from clay, to coal to lighter fluid and wax and are added to extend the amount of actual hardwood charcoal contained in the briquette or to help it lite or burn hotter due to the lack of hardwood charcoal...these "fillers" are a bunch of stuff that don't help the taste of your BBQ one bit!

None of these "fillers" contribute to a quality tasting product, and most detract from competition quality BBQ. If you've any question if your charcoal has any "fillers" in it look at the amount of ash left over and the nature of that ash. Ash from a charcoal without any "fillers" is light, airy and fluffy and only leaves a fraction of the ash left behind from charcoals with "fillers".

Ash from charcoal with fillers is heavy... like clay. I've never seen a BBQ recipe that lists clay as an ingredient, yet if your charcoal has clay in it, then clay is one of the ingredients in your final BBQ whether you like it or not.

Earlier in our competition career we cooked on the Weber Smoky Mountains. We'd use five for each contest and would build our fires as taught to us by Mike Scrutchfield. We were using briquettes with a mix of wood chunks added for flavor. We used every brand of briquettes we could find and none were just what we were looking for...all produced so much ash that we'd have to take the WSM's we used for the Bostons and Briskets apart and dump the ash after about 7 hours then get our fires going again. Also, the briquettes we used didn't really provide much flavor so we were using quite a bit of wood for flavor.

Last season we had Ron Goodwin of Burns, Kansas build us a custom BBQ trailer with one of his Good One Model 60 smokers and one of his Good One grills. Also had Ron put a 3 compartment stainless steel sink, hand wash sink, fresh and gray water tanks, hot water heater and some real nice storage areas and shelves. Mr. Goodwin did good. Great rig.

Initially we tried lump with wood chunks in the Model 60 then switched to briquettes for their longer burn with wood chunks. As with the WSM's we found ourselves dumping the ash after about 7 hours so as not to choke our fire.

About four months ago we read about a charcoal from Canada that was just being introduced in the U.S. market. It was available as lump and briquette and was made from Yellow Birch, Beech and Maple from storm-downed trees (none are harvested) with only the addition of 100% natural wheat starch in the briquettes as a binder... no clay, no fillers, no nothing except good hardwood charcoal and some wheat. The charcoal was Maple Leaf Charcoal.

We went to their web site, and contacted Laralee Distributors, the U.S. distributors for Maple Leaf Charcoal, ordered some of their lump and briquettes and we've been using Maple Leaf Charcoal ever since.

We've found the Maple Leaf Charcoal provides a bunch of good wood smoke flavor all by itself without the addition of any flavor woods for both Q'ing and for grilling, but we still do add some flavor woods at the contests to achieve a specific flavor profile we think works well with the judges.

We use the Maple Leaf Charcoal Briquettes as our primary heat source initially and throughout the 12 to 14 hour contest cooks we'll supplement it with some of the Maple Leaf Charcoal Lump. We get about a 5 hour initial burn then add a little more Maple Leaf Lump Charcoal as needed.

We still do pre-burn the Maple Leaf Charcoal Briquettes but found it requires a shorter pre-burn as we're only burning off the wheat and not a bunch of other "stuff" that the other brands we used to use had in them. In a very short time the Maple Leaf Charcoal Briquettes are ready for 'da meats.

We've found we use about 30% less charcoal using Maple Leaf Charcoal primarily 'cause we're building smaller fires with the Maple Leaf Charcoal. Seems the Maple Leaf Charcoal burns a little hotter than all the other brands we used and also burns longer. As to the ash, we don't have to dump our ash at contests theses days. The ash produced by Maple Leaf Charcoal is maybe only 50% of the best of the other brands we used to use, and the Maple Leaf Charcoal ash looks all fluffy like wood ash, not at all heavy and clumpy.

You know how when you first light up briquettes they smell toxic 'cause of all the clay and fillers? Well, the Maple Leaf Charcoal Briquettes smell like wood when they burn, nothing but wood (and a little wheat).

In the quest for the best charcoal "Dueling Bubbas" (sponsored by Laralee/Maple Leaf Charcoal) isn't the only team that has found it...."The Bastey Boys"(sponsored by Laralee/Maple Leaf Charcoal), "Tom & Josh's Orgasmic Slabs" (sponsored by {Laralee affiliate} and "Mad Momma & The Kids" (sponsored by Ma's Smokin' Chips/Laralee affiliate) have also discovered that Maple Leaf Charcoal kicks Bostons (as well as Briskets, Ribs and Chicken).

Laralee has a bit of a dilemma on their hands. They're the exclusive U.S. distributor for perhaps the best carbonized wood on the planet. They offer Maple Leaf Charcoal through their web site ( with truly affordable shipping costs. They also have a list of retail stores/restaurants on their website.

Laralee Distributors' dilemma is they need more retailers for developing their nationwide retail distribution. If you're interested in becoming involved with this great product visit their web site and e-mail them @


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