Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Cilantro Lime Marinade for Wings

The beginning part of tailgating season is more fun, don't you think?  The weather is still beautiful all over the country, so people take advantage of that and party earlier and longer.  It's also early in the season and most fan bases still believe that this is OUR year, so more people come out to tailgate central.  

These wings are just the ticket for those warmer, early season tailgates because they have hints of Summer with the warm flavors of lime, cilantro, and habanero.  

Cilantro Lime Wings with Habanero Butter

I made this marinade with wings in mind but it works with any chicken, of course.
This recipe makes enough for a family pack of wings, about 4.5 pounds or 14 whole wings. The marinade itself is rather mild, I add heat with the rub and sauce.

Cilantro Lime Marinade for Wings

Published 08/25/2016


  • 2/3 cup peanut oil
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 ea jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup packed chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon season salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile


  1. Place oil, lime juice, jalapeno, and cilantro in a blender and pulse for 15-20 seconds until blended.
  2. Stir in the pepper, season salt, chili powder, salt, cumin, and chipotle.  Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Marinate wings for 4-6 hours

Yield: 1 cup
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 00 mins.
Total time: 10 mins.

Marinate the wings for 4 - 6 hours, just the right amount of time to get loaded up and down to the stadium.

Take the wings out of the marinade and shake off the excess.  Then season them with your favorite rub.  I used a couple of tablespoons of my NMT All Purpose Chicken Rub.

I used my Grilla pellet cooker for this cook using applewood pellets.  I got my Grilla as a thank you for being on their Memphis in May team and I have used it a ton this Summer.  

I cooked them pretty much just like my 30-20-10 kamado wings - 30 minutes at 375-400f, flip.  Twenty more minutes, then sauce and put them back on just long enough to set the sauce, 5-10 more minutes.

Grilled wings have a flavor that you just can't get from frying.

They were pretty fantastic just like this - crispy and tangy.  About half of the family wanted them this way.
But my older son and l were in the mood for more heat so I had made a habanero butter sauce using 6 tablespoons of butter and about a third cup of Yucatan Sunshine Habanero Sauce.

Spicy, tangy, buttery, and....the game is starting?  I'll be there in a minute, I have a few more wings here.

If you want to shake your tailgate up with some extraordinary wings - break out these bad boys!

Monday, September 19, 2016

World Food Championship: Low Country Boil Fundraiser, Orange Beach AL Nov 2016

The 2016 World Food Championships are going to be on the scenic Gulf Coast this November in Orange Beach, Alabama.  I'm excited to be attending the Blogger Summit and judging in the first contest.  In addition to the cooking contests, there are a lot of great events that give the public an opportunity to dive in.  

One of these events is...

For just $20 you can enjoy a low country boil featuring the amazing seafood from the Gulf.  The best part is that the proceeds benefit one of our favorite charities - Operation BBQ Relief.  OPR's sole mission is to feed people affected by disasters and the first responders there to help.  

November 10, 6-8pm

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fajita Friday At Work [Phone Photo Dump]

I have a really great staff where I work, from top to bottom. Every now and then, my Director and I like to do things to show our appreciation to them.  Friday we did an impromptu Fajita Friday at our Knoxville office.  Here are some of the phone pics from the day and some tips about how I plan to cook at offsite locations.

The flier that we put together.  I like the menu because it has a lot of prep work that can be done ahead - I did 75% of the work at home Thursday night.  Things like shopping, meat trimming, making seasonings & marinades, making the rice, prepping veggies, and loading up everything.

Normally we would use skirt steak and thighs for fajitas but I find it's easier to feed bigger crowds using flank steaks and chicken breasts.  

Did a little quality control and taste testing the night before. I used our BGE Mini-Max with GrillGrates.  I use them or a raised grid almost exclusively on the Mini-Max because the coals are so close to the cooking surface. [FTC Disclaimer: GrillGrates are an equipment sponsor of this blog but this is not a sponsored post.]

When cooking offsite for tailgates and such, I frequently turn to my Char-Broil Kettleman grill because it's light in weight but it's not a lightweight.  It's a great general purpose grill with plenty of space since it has 22.5" grates versus the standard 18.5".  I also like the TRU Infrared grates because they prevent flare ups and infrared heat doesn't dry out your food like hot air does.  [FTC Disclaimer:  Char-Broil is one of my premier sponsors but this is not a sponsored post.]

This is the "backyard" of our Knoxville office.  Not bad, right?  This is the highest point in town and from the top of the ridge, you can see across the whole city and to the Great Smoky Mountains.  It's rather peaceful and has a nice stone lined grilling area.

Firing up some coals in my chimney starter

I prepped all of the veggies the night before.  After slicing, I toss them in some oil, lime juice, and tablespoon or so of Meat Church Season All. Gallon zip top bags are the friend of the tailgate griller.

I scored the skirt steaks and marinated them overnight with my fajita marinade.  Same with the chicken breasts.  Another time saver for tailgate and offsite cooks are these disposable cutting boards that come on a roll. We use them at BBQ contests and they are a huge time saver!  Plus my picnic tables are gross....I'm trashing them and getting new ones.

Once onsite, I shake off the excess marinade and season the meat with some dry rubs.

The rubs are my NMT Fajita Seasoning and Albukirky's Green Chile Rub. We love that green chile rub, it works on so much stuff, from eggs to briskets.  Kirk is a fellow egghead and we have used his stuff for probably 5 years or more now.  

We also brought my Char-Broil CB500X grill for grilling the veggies using a vegetable wok.  I consider this grill to be our camp grill for the past 2 years but it makes a good one for tailgating too.  It's not much to look at but it's a rugged little beast.  It's compact but has a good bit of space, an adjustable charcoal tray, and cast iron grates. 

Everything coming together.  I cooked the flank steaks about 5 minutes a side.

The chicken took longer, about 6-7 minutes a side.

One reason I like doing flank steak instead of skirt steak is that some folks at my office like their meat medium.  Flank steaks are thicker at one and and slender the other so one end was medium rare like this and  medium at the other end. 

No plated shots.  I was hungry and once everyone got their plates, I was ready to eat.  But we had a good time together and shared a great meal.

We aren't the Smoky Mountains but Knoxville's highest "mountain" was smoky that afternoon.

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post.  I don't get any sales commissions from the links either.  I'm just throwing them in there in case you're interested in something that I mention.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Product Review: Meat Church Injections - Beef, Chicken, and Pork

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post, have no affiliation with Meat Church, and paid full price for the products mentioned.  

Did you know that Meat Church has meat injections now?  Neither did I!

Meat church meat injections are low cost, high quality BBQ injection.

I had logged into their website to order a pound of their Honey Hog BBQ rub when I saw a listing for a combo package of their 3 injections - chicken, beef, and pork - for about 65% the cost of my usual injection.  I immediately bought a set.  We have been using them for several weeks now and here are my thoughts on them.  

Meat Church Holy Cow Brisket Injection ($15.00 per pound)

For brisket, when I do inject, I normally either use a popular commercial injection or a homemade mixture of stock, shallot, and liquid aminos.  The Meat Church beef injection is similar to the two commercial ones that I use in competitions with proteins, MSG (flavor enhancer), phosphates (moisture retention/flavor additive), xanthan gum (thickener), and beef flavor.

I've used Meat Church Holy Cow Brisket Injection on 3 briskets now including this one that I did at my sister's house this weekend.  We were cooking for family but trusted Meat Church (and my mad skills, ha ha) to not screw it up.  In my trials, I mixed the Meat Church Holy Cow Brisket Injection as directed and injected in 1 inch grid pattern all over. I used 5ml for each injection point.

Challenger kamado cart / table
I fired my sister's large BGE up at the crack of dawn and put on a 16 pound angus brisket that we got at Restaurant Depot there in Jax.  I injected it with the Holy Cow and rubbed it with Meat Church's Holy Cow Brisket rub about 12 hours before it went on.

How to smoke brisket on a kamado big green egg grill smoker
I used some seasoned pecan cut branches that my sister had and smoked the brisket at 290°f.  I separated the point and flat so they would cook quicker.  Plus it makes my burnt ends have bark and smoke rings on at least 2 sides.

...said burnt ends that I just mentioned.  They were a big hit, as usual.  I glazed them with Blues Hog cut with beef jus.

Smoked brisket on a ceramic kamado grill like the big green egg, grill dome, or kamado joe.
Look how moist the flat was when I sliced it.

Finger test passed with flying colors.

Meat Church Hog Injection

Typically we use either a commercial pork injection for competitions or at home we make Chris Lilly's pork injection recipe (apple juice, water, salt, sugar, worcestershire sauce) from his Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book.  Meat Church Hog Injection has a lot of the same ingredients as that other commercial injection.  

I used the Meat Church Hog Injection on several pork butts that we did for the Laundry Love community event last month. We also smoked a few butts to refill our freezer because we always try to have some frozen pulled pork on hand at the house.

Meat Church T-Bird's Chicken Injection

When it comes to chicken, I used to use a homemade mix of things like chicken stock, butter, and seasonings.  For competition we started using a commercial injection.  Meat Church Chicken Injection has a lot of the same ingredients as the brisket injection, but with chicken stock and flavor instead.

We have used Meat Church Chicken Injection for a ton of leg quarters and bone in breasts that we smoked to make pulled chicken for the Laundry Love event.  We also used it when making a recipe that we learned in a BBQ class at Dead End BBQ last month.

Final Thoughts

After those cooking trials, the brass tax is this - Meat Church injections work every bit as good as the other commercial injections we have used but cost a third less.  They helped to keep the meat just as juicy and flavorful as our usual injections.  I have not used them in competition yet but I'm happy enough with the results to use them in our next competition.

  • Meat Church Holy Cow Brisket Injection - Good beef flavor, mixes well, and it doesn't discolor the beef. Intended for brisket, this would also be good used with beef short ribs and chuck roasts.
  • Meat Church Pork Injection - It works well.  But honestly, pork needs the least help and I don't always inject.  I have found that Chris Lilly's recipe with a little thickener like xanthan gum (we use Bob's Red Mill xanthan gum) work as good as any commercial injection we have used.
  • Meat Church T-Bird's Chicken Injection - Alexis likes this one more than the commercial one we used and it is her favorite.  It keeps the breast meat luscious and has a good but not overbearing flavor.

People who inject their BBQ meats mainly do it for retaining moisture and adding flavor.  Injecting also increases your margin of error, making it less likely that your BBQ will turn out a tad bit dry.  I think the latter is why most competition BBQ teams use some sort of injection, especially with us cooking hot and fast.  I find it makes the BBQ handle reheating better too, when you have leftovers. Do you NEED to inject?  Absolutely not.  It there anything wrong with injecting? Absolutely not. It's a personal decision.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Grilled Porterhouse Steak

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have been cooking a lot, just not posting much here on the blog.  I'm going to start trying to post some of the quicker, during the week type of cooks like this one.  

This past weekend we had a lot going on one night.  I was in the middle of prepping a pair of big ol' briskets and Alexis was busy canning a ton of our fire roasted salsa when we realized it was 9pm and we hadn't eaten since breakfast.  So stopped and grilled this delicious steak.

We had bought a porterhouse steak at Fresh Market that morning and something about the label caught my attention.

Premium choice?  Alexis and I talked about what that might mean since "premium choice" isn't a USDA grade.  My thought was it might be like Certified Angus Beef (CAB) because they are a form of "premium choice".  Choice can have marbling of small, modest, or moderate and CAB only accepts beef with modest or moderate, the upper two levels of USDA Choice.  

Tonight I Googled while writing this post and what do I find on Fresh Market's website?

That's a bingo!  So apparently Fresh Market has started carrying Certified Angus Beef.  That makes them, Kroger, Food City, and and Butler Bailey Market.  Now if just one of them will start carrying CAB whole briskets consistently, I'll be happy.

So anyway, back to my steak....

The first thing I did was get some quality balsamic vinegar reducing on the stove top.  

I was trimming brisket so I already had a batch of Christopher Prieto's beef rub made up for the briskets.
So I just used the beef rub on the steak - it was perfect since it has just the basics - salt, pepper, garlic, and cayenne.  
Since we were just doing one steak, we fired the BGE Mini-Max up.
No time for reverse searing or that stuff.  I just grilled it for about 5 minutes a side.  I always use my GrillGrates when searing on my Mini-Max. 

I always rest my steaks on a raised rack instead of on a flat surface. Resting meat on a flat surface traps moist heat.  This steams tissues, relaxes them and causes more juices to be release. Resting meat on a rack avoids the steaming and retains the juices.

Sliced up before the balsamic reduction.  Perfect medium rare, I love it.  That's filet on the left of the bone and a NY strip on the right.

I know it's not the 90's anymore but Alexis LOVES balsamic reduction on her steaks.  Happy wife, happy life, screw food trends.  We eat what we like.

Texas Monthly BBQ Fest 2016 Dates Announced!

Texas Monthly has announced the dates for their BBQ Fest which will showcase the smoked goods from 27 of Texas' most renowned pitmasters - big names like Snow's, Lockhart's, Louie Mueller's, Franklin's and many more.  Unlike BBQ contests where only the judges get to eat, this is a BBQ festival and you can samples all of the pitmasters' incredible food. This is a pretty amazing line up. It would take you much more time and a lot more money to visit all of these famed BBQ establishments but they will all be at teh TM BBQ Fest.  Click here for more information.

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I received no compensation for this post.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Huevos Rancheros with Brisket and Black Bean Chili

In March of 2015, I was in Nashville for the National BBQ Association's annual conference and staying at the Sheraton Music City Hotel.  It was snowing out so I got room service and was surprised to get some of the best huevos rancheros I have ever had.

The huevos rancheros in question.  They used poached eggs and 3 chile black beans were in the mix.  It was amazingly good, way better than you'd ever expect from room service.

That dish stuck with me and I finally got around to making a version of it this weekend when I had some leftover brisket from a community service event that we cooked for last Thursday.  Because what would go better under huevos rancheros than 3 chile black beans?  How about a black bean, chile, and brisket chili!?!  

Huevos Rancheros with Brisket and Black Bean Chili

Published 08/25/2016
Spicy black bean and chopped brisket chile topped with crispy grilled tortillas, fried eggs, and Oaxaca cheese all smothered with homemade fire roasted salsa.  If you don't have leftover chopped brisket, you can always buy some from your local BBQ joint.


  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups fire roasted salsa
  • 2 cups shredded Oaxaca cheese
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup pico de gallo
  • 1 cup Mexican crema
For the Brisket and Black Bean Chili
  • 2 cans Bush's Seasoned Black Beans
  • 1/2 cup leftover chopped brisket
  • 1 onion, sliced, grilled, and diced
  • 1/2 of a fire roasted poblano chile, seeded, peeled, and diced
  • 1/2 of a fire roasted jalapeno chile, seeded, peeled, and diced
  • 1/2 of a serrano chile, seeded, peeled, and diced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/2-3/4 cup beef stock


  1. Preheat grill to 350f (medium).
  2. Mix all chili ingredients together in a grill safe pot.  Place on grill and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.  (Alternate method using raw chiles and onion:  Just dice the onion and chiles, then saute in a pot over medium high heat until tender, 8-10 minutes.  Add in remaining chili ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3.  Grill tortillas until crispy, about 1 minute a side.  Wrap in foil and keep warm.
  4. Fry eggs sunny side up (or to your preference).
  5. Place a cup of the brisket and black bean chili on a plate.  Top with two of the tortillas and two eggs.  Smother the eggs with salsa and serve with pico de gallo, crema, and avocado on the side.  Repeat for other 3 plates.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 30 mins.
Total time: 50 mins.

It might be difficult to find the Oaxaca cheese but it's worth it if you can find it.  I call it "Mexican mozzarella" because it is rich, buttery, and melts like a dream.  We buy ours at Kroger or Walmart in the refrigerated Latino foods section in the Dairy department.

Stick burner BBQ smoker trailer pit.
I had leftover brisket because we cooked for a community event.  I brought the "Warthog" stick burner out of storage for this one. 

Huge 18 lb Certified Angus Beef brisket that we bought from Kroger.  I wish that we had a regular, consistent source for CAB briskets in Knoxville because the last 2 we have gotten were very nice.

Injecting a beef brisket with Butcher's Original Brisket Injection.
I injected using Butcher's Original Brisket Injection.  I switched from the Chops Power Injector to this type of injector because I like that it applies metered doses instead of guessing how much I have injected.  Each squeeze of the hand grip is 1 to 5 cc, depending on the settings.  This way I am injecting a consistent amount everywhere.

You probably noticed that I separated the point and the flat.  We do this at competitions, mainly because it cooks quicker, more evenly, and it gets me better bark coverage for my burnt ends.  Here's a great video by David Bouska of Butcher's BBQ about how to trim this yourself.

How to prepare beef brisket
I used a dalmation rub (salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper).

Here's how I start my stick burner smoker
To get the Warthog going, I do about 6 small, cross-stacked splits of hickory or oak and use a shovel to put about a half chimney starter of live charcoal briquettes on top of the splits.  Then I open up the intake vents and exhaust ports full bore to get the air flowing.

We cooked roughly 50 lbs of chicken, 40 lbs of pork, and 20 lbs of brisket for the event, which is why I used the stick burner.  This was in addition to vacuum sealed freezer packs of pork and beef that we had from previous competitions.  We were anticipating 100 guests and had enough food for 150 guests.  That's why we ended up with extra, which is a good problem to have.  Sure beats the alternative.

How to warm up leftover bbq beef brisket smoked
This is the leftover part of the flat heated back up for the eggs.  To reheat brisket I wrap it in foil with about 1/3 cup of beef stock and put it in a 250f oven for 45 minutes to an hour, just until it gets flexible again.

I grilled the veggies for the black bean and brisket chili on my Big Green Egg Mini-Max.  It's perfect for small jobs like this.

My recipe for homemade fire roasted salsa is my most recent post.

How to grill tortillas on a charcoal grill
I grilled the corn tortillas to get them crispy, about 30 seconds per side at 350f. 

Breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, this meal is a winner.  I like making the salsa, chili, and pico de gallo ahead of time so all I have to do is toast some tortillas and fry some eggs.

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I received no compensation for this post.  I have no affiliation with Sheraton, Big Green Egg, or Butcher's BBQ.  I have a good relationship with Certified Angus Beef but have received no benefits or compensation from then this year.