Friday, May 22, 2015

Quick and Easy Surf and Turf on a Gas Grill

This is a super easy recipe that only sounds and looks fancy - surf and turf on the grill.

how to grill crab legs on gas grill, Certified Angus Beef,

More specifically, this is snow crab with a hand trimmed Manhattan filet.  You can't really mess up the snow crab legs, they are already cooked and you're just need to warm them up.  The steak is as simple as you can get but it sounds like you worked hard to "hand trim" the filet.  It makes you sound like a meat wizard and lets you be the hero of your back yard cookout. 

I like the Manhattan filet because you don't need a huge portion since you're also eating the crab but it still lets you have a thicker steak rather than a thin one.  It starts with getting good 1 1/4" strip steak like these Certified Angus Beef steaks that I got at my local supermarket.  You'll also need a sharp knife (I prefer a boning knife) and about 2 feet of kitchen twine for each strip steak.

Manhattan filet

Then it is simple as 1, 2, 3.

Certified Angus Beef
1) Cut the strip steak in half, 2) trim off the edge of fat, and 3) shape the steak into a round portion and tie with kitchen twine.
If you have a bigger appetite, by all means, you could always serve a whole strip steak with this. You'll need a grill safe container for the crab legs.  I like to use half steam pans as shown but you could use stone ware, grill safe pans, or even make a really big "hobo pack" out of foil like the Scouts do.

Grilled Surf and Turf
serves 4

Ingredients
  • 2-3 pounds snow crab legs
  • imitation spray butter
  • seafood seasoning such as Old Bay or Dizzy Pig Raging River
  • 1/2 cup water, beer, or white wine
  • 4 Manhattan filets 
  • 1.5 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 lemons sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup clarified butter
Instructions
  1. Set up your grill for indirect heat (see picture below) and preheat your grill to 450°F.
  2. Spritz the crab legs with imitation butter spray.  This will help the seafood seasoning stick.  Then season the crab legs liberally with the seafood seasoning.  It's pretty hard to over season it since it stays on the outside of the shell. 
  3. Place the crab legs in a steam pan or other container, add the 1/2 cup of water, beer, or wine.  Seal the top with foil.  Place the packet on the grill over the indirect heat (burners underneath off), shut the grill lid, and cook for 8 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile season the steaks evenly with the salt, pepper, and garlic.
  5. Clean and lightly oil your grill grates that are over the direct heat (burners underneath on).
  6. Place your steaks over direct heat and cook for 4 minutes.  Rotate your steaks a quarter turn at 2 minutes if you want cross hatch marks.  Keep the lid closed, your crab legs are still heating.
  7. Flip the steaks and add the lemon halves, cut side down.  Cook the steak until they reach 125°F for medium rare - about 4 minutes of cook time. (For medium cook until 135°F, about 5-6 minutes)
  8. Remove all from the grill, let the steaks rest for 3-5 minutes and keep the crab legs sealed.
  9. Carefully open the crab leg packet using tongs and heat/liquid resistant gloves (steam burns, yo) and squirt with the juice from the grilled lemon halves.  Serve 1-2 clusters with clarified butter and a steak.
I did this one on a gas grill in part because I know the majority of people use gas grills.  But also because I am enjoying my new Char-Broil 3 burner Commercial series grill this Spring, it has quickly become my favorite gas grill I have ever owned.  I need to do a write up on this grill but I love the way the TRU-infrared heat emitters cook and I like the grill's simple styling.  See disclosure at the end but I'm not getting paid to say any of this. 

 
The basic indirect set up.  The pan is where the crab legs would be and the lid would be closed.  Notice that only the far left burner is on.

The imitation butter spray is just to help the seasoning stick.  You could just spray chicken broth or water if you want to instead.

To give you an idea of how much seasoning to use, just sprinkle until it's coated on both sides like this. I'd guess 2-3 tablespoons but it's more about coverage than a measurement.

Have everything ready to go before you start and this will be an easy cook.
  
To clarify butter, just put a stick in a half into a pot and put it on your side burner over medium low heat until it simmers awhile and the fat/solids separate as shown on the left.  Then just scoop off the fats with a spoon.  Carefully pour the clear butter into a dish, leaving the solids on the bottom of the pan.
 
Grilling the lemons concentrates their natural flavors and really adds to the crab legs.

We planned on grilling asparagus with this but somebody (i.e. me) forgot until we were in the middle of eating. 

Beef vs Pork - Which is the real BBQ?
My recent post for the Char-Broil Allstars is showdown between pork and beef in the smoker.  I know, fightin' words, right?


Hop over there to see which one reigns supreme.

[Standard FTC Disclaimer]  I am a member of the Char-Broil Allstars and have a compensation package with them but this is not a sponsored post. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Free Grilling Demo - Knoxville, TN


Our BBQ competition team will be doing a grilling demonstration this Saturday (5/23) from 11a-3p at The Great Backyard Place on Kingston Pike & Downtown West (formerly Don Pablos). 

It's not a class, rather it's more of an informal thing where we will be grilling, giving the recipes, sharing tips, and of course, passing out samples. We'll be cooking on Grill Dome kamado grills and Saber's line of premium gas grills. There's no registering, so feel free to just stop by and you don't have to stay for the whole time. 



Thai Sticky Wings – 11AM
Award winning recipe from our book, these sweet and spicy wings put a new spin on the game day classic. Chris and John will discuss general options for cooking wings on the grill while they cook up this delicious appetizer.

John's House Pizza – 12PM
The coal fired ceramics of the Grill Dome are a pizza oven that will let you create a pie that will blow the doors off of your local “wood fired pizzeria” restaurant. John will share his secrets to the perfect pizza.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Bootlegger's BBQ Sauce – 1pm
Perfect for tailgating on your Saber grill, these sliders include a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce boosted by a touch of the ol' Appalachian “remedy”. We'll share tips for keeping your grilled pork always juicy, never dry.

Reverse Seared NY Strip Steak with Green Peppercorn Sauce – 2pm
The “reverse sear” is one of the hottest techniques used by advanced grillmasters to get that perfect medium rare steak from top to bottom. Learn the secrets.

If you're local, come out, pick up pool supplies for the holiday weekend, and taste what the Saber and Grill Dome grills can do to make your back yard a Great Backyard!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

How To Cook Competition Style Pork Ribs on a Kamado Grill

Our first BBQ competition of the year is this weekend at the Blooming BBQ and Blues Festival in Sevierville, TN.  That means we have spent the past several fine tuning our processes for our chicken, ribs, pork, and brisket.  For example, this past weekend I made five racks of these:

bbq ribs, how to barbecue ribs, bbq competition,


We made two significant changes since last year.  First, after talking to many winning competitors and spending good money on classes from top teams, I am swallowing my pride and using commercial products instead of my own rubs and sauces.  I still stand by my spare ribs using my NMT Basic BBQ Rub and NMT Cherry Barbecue Sauce as an excellent rib to eat at home.  Competitions are just a different beast.

The second change is we are not using The Warthog stick burner BBQ trailer for competitions this year.  Instead we are using kamado grills because
  1. that is what we are used to cooking on, 
  2. they run all day on one load of coal/wood, 
  3. they maintain steady temperatures, 
  4. they aren't bothered by weather, and
  5. they make moist, flavorful BBQ.  
We will be cooking on the Grill Dome brand of kamado grills.  My first hands on experience with the Grill Dome brand was at the Blount BBQ Bash where a team called Pull My Meat was cooking on them. I was intrigued by the hinge design that has adjustment screws and spoke to one of the cooks about them compared to their Big Green Eggs.  I walked away from that conversation very interested in them.


These are stock Grill Domes - the exact same grill/smoker/roaster that you could have in your backyard. 

kamado grill, Grill Dome,
I love being out on my deck early in the morning with the smoker running while everyone else is just starting to wake up.  It's so quiet and peaceful, like a walk alone on the beach.  It really is like meditation.

Here is how I am doing my competition ribs this year, assuming a standard KCBS turn in time of 12:30 Saturday.

Hot To Cook Competition Style Pork Ribs on a Kamado Grill
Before getting to the contest site, I have already trimmed 4 racks of pork spare ribs into St Louis style ribs.  Here is a post I did on how to trim St Louis style ribs.  They are just trimmed, there can't be any seasoning, brine, injections, or anything like that done to them until after the official meat inspection on Friday. 

If the weather forecast is for dry, I will get my coal and wood all set up Friday afternoon.  If it is going to be super damp overnight (humid, raining), I will keep the coal somewhere nice and dry like my car then just load it in Saturday morning. 
I start with a cleaned out kamado grill - no ash or left over coal - so I can get started and up to cooking temperatures quickly.
coal, wood chunks for smoke
I bury several pieces of hickory chunks throughout the coal in the fire box and then top it with a little more coal.  This is different than my pork and brisket set ups where I use a triangle burn set up.
5am Saturday
  • Light grill, set it up for indirect heat using a spider and drip pan and bring it up to 275°F.  I want my grill to be steady and burning cleanly for at least an hour before my ribs go on.
5:30am Saturday
  • Season the ribs on both sides with a moderate coat of a sweet BBQ rub and a similar amount of a spicy BBQ rub.  I'm going with Meat Church Deez Nuts for sweet and Smoking Guns Hot for the spicy.  If you are trying this at home and want something you can buy from the grocery store, you could try a sweet rub like McCormick's Brown Sugar and Bourbon rub and use their Fiery Five Pepper rub as the spicy.
You can buy pre-trimmed ribs at some places.  GFS Marketplaces sells boxes of 5 from Chicago Meat Authority and Costco sells three packs of St Louis trimmed spares from Smithfield.

how to make competition bbq ribs
All rubbed up and ready to go!

7am Saturday
  • Place the ribs on the smoker with the bone side down and meat side up.
  • I use a multi rack set up like the Grill Extender, a homemade second rack, or in this case I was using an Adjustable Rig.  Whatever I use, I try to keep the ribs as far up in the cooking chamber that I can.  Low in the chamber the rib ends will be over the hot spots and get too dark.
good smoke vs bad smoke
This is an example of when you know your kamado is ready for smoking.  The thick, white smoke on the left is from incomplete combustion and will leave your food tasting like a foul smoke.  The one on the right is burning cleanly - the wood is still creating the compounds needed to make your food taste great and impart a smoke ring.  

kamado bbq ribs, barbecue ribs on grill, how to smoke ribs big green egg, grill dome, primo

9am Saturday
  • Spritz ribs with spray butter.
10:30 Saturday
  • Pull ribs from smoker and foil them.
  • For each rib, place an 18 x 24 double piece of foil on a table and sprinkle lightly with light brown sugar (less than 1/4 cup), a few squirts of liquid margarine, and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of honey.  Place the rib down meat side down and then top with the same amounts of sugar, margarine, and honey. Pull the foil edges up to make a 'nest' and pour 1/4 cup of apple juice around the rib and then seal the foil into a packet around the rib.  Place them all back on the cooker.
BBQ ribs, barbecue ribs
I like using a hotel pan so I can get the ribs off of the grill and shut the lid as quick as possible to keep my cooking temps stable.  Just leaving the lid open for 5 minutes is enough to let your fire get out of control.

 11:15am Saturday
  •  Open the foil pack and check for doneness by looking at the bone draw back and flexibility of the rib..  I want the ribs done at noon when chicken turn ins are gone so at this point, I'll either slow down (drop the temp) or speed up (raise the temp) as needed.  If they aren't getting done, I'll leave them in the foil.  If they are looking done, I'll take them out and put them back on the grill "naked". 


barbecue ribs on big green egg, kamado joe
Ribs back on after being foiled.

11:45am Saturday
  • Warm up the BBQ sauce.  Easily the most common sauce used by competitive BBQ teams is Blues Hog Original or Blues Hog Original mixed 1:1 with Blues Hog Tennessee Red.  
 12:00pm Saturday
  • Take the ribs off the grill.  
  • Remove the indirect piece (plate setter, spider/pizza stone combo, Indirect Rack/stone) and place a handful of wood chips on the coal.  This will give you a burst of smoke.
  • Brush the sauce onto the ribs and a light sprinkle of fine sea salt.
  • Place the ribs back onto the grill meat side up for 5-10 minutes for one last kiss of smoke. It's going to LOOK like it's getting too much smoke here but for such a short duration, it will be fine.
how to smoke ribs on kamado grill

 12:15pm Saturday
  • I pick the best looking slabs and then slice them bone side down.
  • I brush the top and sides again with one last thin coat of sauce.
  • I take the best 4 rib sections and plate them in the blind box in a 4 x 4 configuration.
At first glance, this box looked okay but that's why I took this mobile phone picture.  Judges don't have a lot of time to form their opinion on the appearance of a turn in.  In the few seconds they have to see the ribs, the judges' brains reach a lot of quick decisions.  One thing that helps create a positive opinion is symmetry and that's what bothers me about this box.  The ribs in back are skinner than the ones in front. There are gaps around the third rib on the second row. The front right rib significantly shorter than the others on the front.  That's a lot of differences.  Do the judges think through all of that in 4-6 seconds that they see an entry?  No, but if you give the brain a good dose of symmetry, there's a good chance that judge will form a positive decision on appearance. 

rib blind box
Not a great box, I'd probably give it an 8 for appearance but it was all 9s in taste/tenderness
12:25pm Saturday
Wipe the box for any sauce, close the box, and walk/run the ribs to the turn in table.

how to bbq spare ribs, grill bbq spare ribs

Wish us luck this weekend.  I feel like we are ready for it.  If you are in the area, stop by our booth and say hello!

Update:  Got 6th out of 44 well qualified teams at the KCBS contest at Sevierville Blooming BBQ and Bluegrass Festival for these last weekend.  Any day you get a call is a good day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Grill Dome Sponsorship

It is only ten days until our first BBQ competition of the season.  If you follow my Twitter account or my Facebook page, then you have seen a couple of new colorful kamado grills in my pictures.  

Grill dome, kamado grill, ceramic grill, BGE,

We are excited to have Grill Dome sponsor us this year and they have provided us with these two Grill Dome Infinity Series kamado grills.  You'll be seeing them often on this blog, at our competitions, and at certain cooking demos. 

We have only had them put together for a little over a week but John and I have already run through several cooks on these. We couldn't wait to try them out.  He's done things like grilled chicken and pizzas and has been impressed with their performance.  My first cook on the blue one was Green Chile and Brisket Enchiladas.  

leftover brisket, Frontera enchilada sauce, Grill Dome recipe

I have to admit this this wasn't a recipe, it's a "cheating" recipe because I used a commercial enchilada sauce because I was short on time.  I used Rick Bayless' new (new to us at least) line which cost more than twice as much as the other canned options.  It really wasn't bad, I'd use it again when I don't want to make my own green enchilada sauce or red enchilada sauce.   

I used about a cup of leftover brisket that Alexis chopped up and seasoned with some of my fajita dry rub.

Grill Dome indirect, kamado grill indirect heat
To warm up the corn tortillas, I put them in a foil pack with a damp paper towel and tossed them on the Grill Dome indirect at 400°F for about 5 minutes.

brisket enchilada, leftover brisket, enchiladas on the big green egg
Then I just rolled them up with about 1/4 cup of cheese and 2 tablespoons of brisket.

Grill dome, kamado grill, ceramic grill, BGE,
I poured a few tablespoons of the enchilada sauce in a casserole stoneware dish and put the assembled enchiladas in seam side down. Then I topped that with more cheese and poured on the rest of the sauce.

Grill dome, kamado grill, ceramic grill, BGE,
The Grill Dome held temperatures rock steady, just like I'd expect from a quality kamado grill.

Grill dome, kamado grill, ceramic grill, BGE,
Twenty minutes later, our quicky dinner was ready.  Total cheater dinner but my tastebuds and stomach did not care.

brisket and cheese enchilada, Grill Dome recipe, beef and green chiles enchilada
Enchiladas, burritos, chimichangas, and tacos are fantastic ways to use leftover brisket.

Friday night I cooked these three large briskets on the Grill Dome for a big Mayweather-Pacquiau Fight Night Party on Saturday.

brisket prep, how to cook beef brisket on Big Green Egg
Prep was trimming, injected with Butcher's BBQ, and seasoned with garlic powder, my beef rub, and Obicue's brisket seasoning.  I let them sit in a cold Cambro until ready to cook.
Grill dome, kamado grill, ceramic grill, BGE,
I cooked these at our competition temps of 275-290°F to practice timing.  Fuel was Grill Dome coal (which burned exceptionally well, btw) and hickory chunks.  I put them on at 4am.


Grill dome, kamado grill, ceramic grill, BGE, brisket, bbq brisket
I mopped them twice with a competition seasoning mop that I was trying out.  Think I'll skip it next time.  I foiled them when they reached around 180°F but I was going by the color.  I pulled them off at an internal temperature of 200-204°F.  Total cooking time was about 7 1/2 hours.  I stored them in a warm Cambro and took them to the party whole, to slice on site.

Brisket on Grill dome, kamado grill, ceramic grill, BGE,
I normally prefer whole packer briskets but these flats did quite alright.  They were moist and very tender, almost a touch too tender for competition.

We also served 4 smoked pork butts, 5 hotel pans of chicken, half steam pans of MOINK! balls, ABT's, beans, potato salad, coleslaw, and buffalo chicken dip.  We were thinking that we made way too much for the 30 people who confirmed they were coming but more than twice that showed up.  Sunday morning only about a pound of pork was left and nothing else. 


I have also fired up the Grill Dome a few times just for quick meals like some grilled chicken breast to use in meals this week.

Chicken on grill dome

So after a heavy weeks worth of use, I'm quite happy with the performance of these Grill Dome kamado grills.  The ceramics are nice and thick and they come with a lot of nice touches that I appreciate.

Grill dome, kamado grill, ceramic grill, BGE, kamado joe, vision grill
Look at all of that virgin ceramic, just waiting to get smoked up.

That heavy duty spring loaded hinge seems durable and makes the top effortless to open.  The first thing I noticed on the very first Grill Dome that I saw in person a few years ago was the adjustable screws on the hinge because I've had to re-allign the dome on one of my other kamados a few times.  Also notice the dome clips, I guess that keeps the bands from getting loose and having the dome fall off.  I've heard horror stories about that happening to kamado owners after a high temp cook and their dome falls out of the ring and breaks.

I like the graduated scale for the upper vent lid - that makes knowing your settings easy and consistent.

Grill dome, kamado grill, ceramic grill, BGE,
Same goes for the bottom slide vent - it is marked so you know specifically how wide it is open.

I like the stainless steel bands that come standard and the heavy duty bolts.

Flip top standard grate let's you replenish coal or wood chips.  That need doesn't arise often with a kamado grill because they are so fuel efficient, but at least the option is there.

Grill dome, kamado grill, ceramic grill, BGE,
I know it has only been a week but I am enjoying cooking on the Grill Dome and I am looking forward to using these heavily this year.  Can you have our Big Green Eggs and Vision grills?  Heck no!  They are all quality kamado grills and we'll still be using them too.  But my Domer friends were right, these Grill Domes are fantastic cookers.  I have John's initial impressions in a post coming up next week. 

Here's my home security system for my grills.  I just taught Ramsay the BBQ Pit Bull where brisket comes from.

He's still a puppy, only 7 months old.  He just looks intimidating, he's the biggest cuddle bug ever.
 

So wish us luck for the Bloomin' BBQ and Bluegrass contest in Sevierville, TN on May 15-16th.  If you're there, stop by our team booth and say hello (just understand we'll be pretty slammed between 9am to 1:30pm on Saturday). 

[Standard FTC Disclaimer]  Grill Dome has provided us with two Grill Dome Infinity Series kamado grills as part of our sponsorship.