“Thanksgiving and Christmas is truly a time to celebrate family and friends. And in our house, part of that appreciation comes in the form of good food made with love,” says Noah Glanville, the founder of the Pit Barrel Cooker Co., headquartered in Prospect, Kentucky. Having served combat deployments in the U.S. Navy, Glanville learned to prize the power of sharing great food, a passion which ultimately led him and his wife, Amber, to establish the company in 2010.
The Pit Barrel Cooker (PBC) looks deceptively simple. Unlike the traditional drum smoker—literally a steel drum, laid on its side and cut in half to form a charcoal grill—the PBC sits on end, like a normal drum, with the standard top serving as the lid.
Keeping the drum whole and vertical opened the possibility of hanging meats to cook instead. “I looked at how in Brazil they have the meat upright at an angle over the coals, and it worked better and tasted better,” Glanville says. “And you could cook more food at once.” A vertical cooker using the hanging method can smoke ten racks of ribs in a single cook.
He also found that the hanging method created a fortuitous outcome. “The juices drip right onto the coals and create a smoke fog of the meat’s flavor. It’s a unique experience,” Glanville says, which makes for an extremely humid environment in the vertical cooker. “All the meat gets so tender and juicy. People are really taken back by it.”
Glanville says his days in combat forged his appreciation of good food shared with others. In fact, veterans make up much of the PBC staff. “Being a vet gives me a different perspective on many things,” he adds. “An appreciation for simple things and simple traditions that we’re losing more and more of every day, like making your own food and being around others.”
That makes Thanksgiving and Christmas a highlight at the Granville home. “There are some dishes that are absolute requirements for our family feast,” he says, listing traditional mashed potatoes and roasted winter squash. “And we always include at least one dish of sweet potato hiding beneath a towering layer of toasty marshmallow.”
The turkey, he states, must be show-worthy. “That’s why we turn that bird into a deep mahogany-skinned, smoked delight. It’s hands down, the best turkey you will ever eat.” And for those wanting to cook one of their own, Granville has shared his simple recipe to creating a worthy centerpiece using the Pit Barrel Cooker’s vertical cooking technique.