From Buildings to BBQ – Daniel Dutton’s “Big Bad Wolf”

By: Sara Krassin

With its recent acquisition of Building System Solutions (BSS), Parallel Technologies expanded its building automation expertise, magnified its customer reach, and gained 11 outstanding employees. For some, you could even say that they eat, sleep, and breathe technology and energy management.

Systems Software Technician Daniel Dutton and BSS President Jay Stark first met in high school, and continued their friendship through college, while attending Creighton Institute of Technology. Dutton then moved to Kansas City, MO where he played in a rock band, started a family, and worked as a custom cabinet maker. Kansas City is also where he fell in love with barbeque.

Fed up with poorly constructed store-bought smokers, and uninterested in the hefty price tag of a custom built one, Dutton finally got creative and built his own. Featuring a 55-gallon steel drum body, Dutton’s “Big Bad Wolf” smoker also utilizes replacement grill grates, a pizza pan, and bailing wire.

After many years of living in Kansas City, Dutton happened to run back into Jay Stark. By this time, Dutton had returned to school to obtain a degree in engineering and Stark had founded Building System Solutions. Eventually, Dutton made the move back to Omaha and joined the BSS team.

To help himself learn how to use Niagara AX for his new position, Dutton decided to develop a program that would automate his smoker. Using a Honeywell Web-300 JACE controller and PID loop, his program controls the smoker’s temperature against an adjustable set point via actuated ball valves.

Dutton also created a menu of preset meat types and smoke temperatures, and programed various user notification alarms. He plans to rewrite the program in Sedona and install it on a Raspberry Pi controller to allow for wireless access, and to switch the air intake control from actuated valves to PC cooling fans.

For now, Dutton is excited to join the Parallel Technologies team and eager to share his knowledge and expertise. Starting with the recipe below!

Big Bad Wolf’s Smoked Pork Ribs
Yield: 6 to 8 servings


3 slabs St. Louis style ribs or baby back ribs
½ cup turbinado sugar
1 cup favorite BBQ rub (I like sweet and spicy)
1 cup honey
2 cups favorite BBQ sauce (again, I like sweet and spicy)
½ cup yellow mustard

If smoking on a grill
1 ½ cups apple juice
Shots bourbon (optional)


1. Prep your meat (if your butcher didn’t already do it for you). Remove the skirt meat and the membrane from the back (bone side). Flip to the front (meat side) and remove the flap of meat at the end of the rack. To do this, look at the narrow end of the rack and locate the last (shortest) bone. There’s usually a portion of meat attached to that bone that’s loose and will overcook if not removed. Make a vertical cut parallel to, and about 1/2-inch away from, that last bone. Carve off any extra fat. Despite what you might think, fat has nothing to do with tenderness and too much will only make your BBQ greasy. If you’re not sure how to do any of this, there are plenty of how-to videos on YouTube.

2. Rub these bad boys down with mustard. This makes a good bed for the dry rub to stick to. If you’re not a fan of yellow mustard, don’t worry. After 6 hours of smoking, the mustard will completely cook off, leaving only the dry rub firmly imbedded on the surface of the meat.

3. Mix the turbinado sugar with your dry rub and coat the ribs. Apply about 2/3 of the mix to the meat side and 1/3 to the bone side.

Cook 5-6 hours (if using a smoker)

Set smoker up with 1 part hickory to 2 parts cherry wood for flavor. Run at 220F-230F. Smoke the ribs meat side up for 3 hours, lightly spraying with apple juice mixture every hour. Flip ribs and smoke another 2 hours. Check for doneness after 5 hours using the “bend test”- grab the ribs meat side up and at their middle with a pair of tongs. Lightly bounce them. If the skin cracks and shows white meat underneath, they’re done. Transfer ribs to a platter or sheet pan and brush both sides with honey. Transfer ribs to a medium hot grill and flip for a few minutes. Brush with BBQ sauce, cut into pieces, and serve.

Cook 2-4 hours (if using a grill)

Set grill up for indirect cooking (use YouTube if you’re not familiar). Use a few chunks of hickory and cherry wood for flavor. Cook ribs at 325F for 1 to 1.5 hours. Use a rib rack if you need it for space.
Transfer ribs to an aluminum foil pan and add one inch of apple juice. Cover with foil and return to grill (or oven) until tender, about 1 hour at 325F. If you have a hard time keeping your grill low, you’ll need to check that the apple juice doesn’t cook off. Replenish as needed. Test ribs with a toothpick. Transfer ribs to a platter or sheet pan and brush both sides with honey. Transfer to a medium hot grill and flip for a few minutes. Brush with BBQ sauce, cut into pieces, and serve.

Dale Klein

Dale Klein is the president and owner of Parallel Technologies. He has more than two decades of experience in technology and business leadership. He transformed Parallel Technologies from a cabling services company into a high-growth technology company by helping clients with their reliable data center and intelligent building strategies.