PERRYSBURG — Inspired by his basketball coaches’ team building dinners, Harrison Hosler took his virtual education a step further, learning the arts of the meat smoker and barbecue grill.

“My favorite food is ribs. I love ribs, ” Hosler said. “Those are called 321 Ribs St. Louis Style. That’s a different cut. I tend to notice with St. Louis style I tend to get more meat out of them, compared to baby back. I’ve cooked with both baby back and St. Louis and those are my favorite.”

Hosler is a 2020 Perrysburg High School graduate, stuck at home in the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic. His barbecue education was done through virtual learning, much like his final semester.

“That started almost right away. I forget what happened, but I knew I was going to be out of school for a while, a couple weeks at least. I instantly started researching hobbies and stuff like that. Some of them were hard to do, but with cooking, I had all the cooking stuff and it was something that I figured I might as well pick up because I can use it the rest of my life,” Hosler said.

The basketball team would have team camaraderie building evenings with the coaches that centered around food. Hosler had noticed that a number of teammates had been sharing cooking videos and sharing recipes and tips between classes.

“I called my coach. He used to cook for us and his food was always amazing,” Hosler said. “He was all about it. We would do Google Meet and he would explain to me everything I needed to cook.”

Brent Shafer was the assistant basketball coach and is the school director of technology.

“Many kids and former players will contact him and ask him how to cook. So he will record himself cooking and then all the kids who ask him how to do it, he will send it to them,” Hosler said.

Shafer had Hosler start with a brisket, then from smoking to grilling. Next was doing all the different meats, starting with different cuts of chicken.

Hosler normally cooks for five and there will usually be leftovers from three racks of St. Louis style pork ribs.

The cooking process takes about five and half hours.

“The 321 is three hours in the smoker, without it wrapped and then two hours wrapped in tinfoil and then about 30 minutes to an hour on the grill. On the grill is where you put the sauce on. I’m lucky that I have an electric smoker, so I can control the temperature, which is set to 200 degrees. Some people, without an electric smoker, will do the two hours in the oven,” Hosler said.

For the rub, vinegar and barbecue sauce, Hosler doesn’t hold back.

“I’m not sure about the specific size. I always make sure to get the biggest size possible, especially for the rub and seasonings, the holes on the top are bigger, so if you’re cooking a lot of meat it’s easier to get out all at once.”

He just eyeballs the amount used. It’s not very technical.

“I am going to eventually start making a homemade rub. I’m starting to get into that, buying the spices and all of that. That’s when it gets kind of technical, with half a cup here and there. I’m not there yet,” Hosler said.

He has also tried a wide variety of wood chips for the smoking.

“The ones I have tried are the hickory, cherry and apple. For my ribs I like to use cherry,” Hosler said.

He believes the cherry has less of a smokiness and a sweeter flavor, which is what his mother and sister prefer.

For the Fourth of July, or other events, he will mix it up.

“Personally, my favorite thing to make with ribs is chicken. Chicken tenders or chicken breast. I feel they work really well with each other,” he said. “For sides, we normally do cornbread, corn on the cob and baked beans.”

His mother has her own recipe for baked beans, but he has yet to try making it.

“There are times when I will cook a bunch of steak, and my family and I won’t even end up eating it. I enjoy the process of cooking and doing it. Sometimes I just get the need to cook and I won’t actually eat it, or I won’t be hungry, so I will have to call some buddies over and they will have it,” Hosler said. “Yeah, it’s funny. I’ve had a lot of fun doing it.”

It wasn’t unusual for dad, Perrysburg Superintendent Tom Hosler, to get a shopping list sent to him at work.

Hosler will be going to Kent State University in a few weeks and is leaning toward a marketing major. He was an avid athlete, playing basketball, as well as throwing discus and high jumping for the track team.

He’s considering athletics in college, but he still has a boot on his left foot from a recent exploratory cartilage surgery. He had played on it all basketball season and it got bad in the preseason training. There wasn’t a track season this year.

Harrison is the youngest in his family. He has two brothers, mom and dad living at home right now. His sister was recently married and lives in Florida.

Hosler has one more tip, which is for tinfoil folding.

“You want all the folding to be on the top of the ribs. If it’s on the bottom, all the juices will leak out and you want the juices to stay in the tinfoil,” Hosler said.

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