If you ask Danielle “Diva Q” Bennett, bourbon was meant to be sipped neat and meat was made to be smoked. A champion pitmaster with over 400 awards to her name, her love of BBQ was instilled in her from a young age traveling through the American South with her family. She’s also an acclaimed cookbook author and has made numerous appearances on the Travel Channel, Food Network, and more. She’s passionate about bringing people together through BBQ and lives by her motto, “life is too short for bad BBQ”.
Hot & fast or low & slow?
There is no one right answer to this. This really depends on the muscle protein and the grading of the meat itself. Higher grades of meat that have copious amounts of fat can handle more direct and intense heat levels due to the compensation by the additional fats. Lower grade meats that are tighter proteins and less fat typically will benefit from slower longer cooking times and enzymatic marinades to help break down the proteins and make them more tender.
Tell us about a cookbook that you love?
Diva Q BBQ (I’m biased. I wrote it and put 10 years worth of my own recipes in it). Also any food science based cookbooks. I like to be able to explain why we do certain things and the reactions based on that.
Your most used or favorite ingredient?
Besides meat it would have to be salt. It’s amazing that just a couple of degrees can make a massive difference in so many things. Salt has been used forever as a preserving agent as a flavor enhancer and I love using a wide variety of salts. So much fun to experiment with flake size, origins etc
Best cooking lesson you learned by trial and error?
I liquefied a brisket once using fresh pineapple. It was an awesome lesson that I have never forgotten and it really shows the power of understanding how enzymes in meat can really work together or against each other. I love meat science.
Strangest food you’ve eaten or cooked?
The strangest food I’ve ever eaten is chocolate covered crickets in Mexico. They didn’t taste bad at all. The strangest food I’ve ever cooked - cow eyeballs. Do. Not. Recommend.