Monday, January 16, 2017

Product Review: Norris Dam Good Appalachian White BBQ Sauce

This weekend, we were at Pratt's Country Store here in Knoxville and one of the items we bought was Norris Dam Good Appalachian White BBQ Sauce.  

Norris Dam Good White BBQ Sauce is excellent on chicken.

This is a local product that is named after Norris Dam - a part of the TVA hydroelectric system and the reservoir is a prime outdoor recreation area. Chef Michael Hatcher created this sauce with his 20+ years of culinary experience (including formal training at Le Cordon Bleu) and in the spirit of East Tennessee family traditions.  

You probably notice it's not red or brown...what gives?  This is a white BBQ sauce.

What is white BBQ sauce?

White BBQ sauce originated in Northern Alabama, where Big Bob Gibson invented it at his BBQ joint in Decatur.  White BBQ sauce is mayonnaise based with vinegar, salt, black pepper, and a few other things.  Some have some sweetener put in, some like to add more heat like cayenne or horseradish. But in general, white sauces are tangy, simple, and used mostly for grilled chicken and other poultry.

Mayonnaise based, I get it if you initially recoil and say, "Ewwww, mayo BBQ?"

It does NOT taste like you think it would.  Your food doesn't come out all white and goopy either.  In fact, if I put white BBQ chicken in front of you, I doubt you would notice anything odd about it.  You would just think it is a great tasting smoked chicken.  

A Look At Norris Dam Good Appalachian White BBQ Sauce

Size: 16 ounce glass jar
Price: $6.99 at Pratt's Country Store
Availability:  Online store, Pratt's, Willy's Butcher, and other local markets

Norris Dam Good White BBQ Sauce is a #knoxrocks Knoxville local company

  • Appearance
    • Off white with visible specks of coarse black pepper, red chiles, and herbs.
  • Aroma
    • Quite pungent and vinegary.
  • Taste
    • Straight out of the bottle, so tangy it will make you wince but also it has a surprisingly sweet finish compared to some versions. The Dijon in there is something I haven't tried in my white BBQ sauce recipes but I like it.
    • On food, it is mildly tangy with a subtle sweetness.  It is supposed to enhance, not cover the flavor of the food.
  • Texture
    • Thinner than most BBQ sauces, as white sauce should be. 
    • The pepper and herbs will settle to the bottom so give it a good shake before each use, just like a Carolina vinegar sauce in that aspect.
  • Ingredients
    • Mostly pronounceable things that you have in your pantry - stuff like JFG mayo (another Knoxville company), cider vinegar, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs.  It does have potassium metabisulfite as a preservative but that's it.
The best chicken I have ever had in my life was Alabama white sauce chicken from Chris Lilly, pitmaster and operator of Big Bob Gibson's.  He was teaching a class here in town and that was one of the dishes he made.  We have a few different white BBQ sauce recipes that we make and love.  That said, we haven't liked many jarred white BBQ sauces.

Norris Dam Good Appalachian White BBQ Sauce is one of the better ones that we have had.  It was fantastic on fire roasted wings and I was even dipping our celery and carrot sticks in it.  It was also super on smoked bone-in chicken breasts.  Alexis said it would also be a fine slaw dressing. One thing that we both liked about it is that it doesn't feel or taste like a jarred sauce, they have kept the processing to a minimum.

Overall, we're fond of Norris Dam Good Appalachian White BBQ Sauce and are going to buy more to have on hand.  I'll still make my own too, but this is good stuff.

Here are some wings that we made this weekend.  Since we're talking white BBQ sauce, I borrowed from the legendary Big Bob Gibson's whole chicken technique for my wings.

  • Simple seasonings - If memory serves, they just season theirs with salt and pepper.  I went a little more than that but it's still a simple rub.
  • Oil trick - Big Bob Gibson's dips their whole chickens in oil after smoking and almost done. This gets their chicken crispy before saucing.  So I tossed my wings in oil after they were mostly cooked.
  • Sauce bath - They give their birds a sauce bath and then serve.  The sauce just cooks onto the bird as it rests.  My wings weren't going to have that kind of carry over heat, so I put them back on just for a few minutes to cook the sauce on a little.

Norris Dam Good White BBQ Sauce Fire Roasted Wing recipe

Norris Dam Good Fire Roasted Wings

Yield: 28 wing pieces


  • 28-30 chicken wing pieces (wingettes, drummettes)
  • cup high temperature cooking oil (peanut, canola, avocado, etc)
  • 1/2 cup Norris Dam Good Appalachian White BBQ Sauce
For the Dry Rub
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried lemon peel (optional)


  1. Preheat a charcoal grill to 400°f.  
  2. Mix the dry rub ingredients together in a small bowl. 
  3. Season the wings all over with the dry rub.
  4. Place the wings on the upper rack or a raise grill grate on the grill and cook for 8 minutes.
  5. Flip the wings and cook another 8 minutes.
  6. Toss the wings in a bowl with the oil and place back on the grill for 5 more minutes per side.
  7. Toss the wings in a bowl with the Norris Dam Good Appalachian White BBQ Sauce and place back on the grill for 2 more minutes per side.
  8. Remove the wings and spoon any remaining sauce from the bowl over the top of the wings.

How I cook wings on a Big Green Egg ceramic kamado grill.
I took advantage of the Spring like temperatures Knoxville has been having and  trimmed my wings outside.  Those family packs of wings are typically in the 4-5 pound range and have 14-15 wings, giving you 28-30 wing pieces. 

Grilling chicken wings on my Big Green Egg kamado grill.
Cooking the wings on a raised cooking grate does two things.  First, it cooks a little more gently, making your job easier.  Second, it builds up color more evenly by roasting more than grilling.  
Homemade raised cooking grate on a Big Green Egg grill.
Some grills come with an upper rack, if yours has that, just use it.  For kamado grill users, there are a lot of options like Adjustable Rigs, grid extenders, or just building your own like this one that I use often.
I like to toss my wings in a large bowl like this.  It just makes it quick and easy to coat them. You can just baste the oil and sauce onto the wings if you don't want to mess up a bowl or are worried you might lose some wings.

Norris Dam Good White BBQ Sauce Fire Roasted Wings on a ceramic kamado grill.
See?  Doesn't look like mayo.  Nice and crispy too.

Norris Dam Good White BBQ Sauce grill chicken wings
Drizzle that last bit of sauce over the wings, you don't want to waste any of that good flavor.

Norris Dam Good White BBQ Sauce fire roasted chicken wing recipe

So is everyone going to love it?  No, everyone has different tastes.  But if you like Carolina style vinegar sauce, South Carolina mustard BBQ sauces, or just want something away from ordinary - you should give this white BBQ sauce a try.

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I received no compensation for this post, paid full price for the BBQ sauce, and have no affiliation with Norris Dam Good.....although I hear they're dam good people ;)

Friday, January 13, 2017

Fire Roasted Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Here's a recipe that we came up with when my sister was visiting in November for one of our BBQ competitions.  We bought our competition butts and spare ribs from Sam's because they had started carrying Smithfield Prime Reserve. I noticed that they also had the tenderloins so I grabbed a pack of those as well.  

It was the day after the competition and we wanted to have a little fun with the tenderloins for dinner - nothing too crazy, just something drastically different than BBQ.

Stuffed pork tenderloin featuring Smithfield Prime pork

Pork Tenderloins Expand Your Options

I often use pork tenderloins in the kitchen and out at the grills.  Why? For several reasons.

  • Pork tenderloin has a mild, neutral taste which gives the chef a lot of freedom for choosing flavor profiles.
  • Pork tenderloin can be prepared in many different configurations.  I can serve it as a whole roast, cut it into filet, cut it into medallions, cut it into strips for pinwheels, or flatten it out for a roulade like I did for this recipe.
  • Pork tenderloin is one of the leaner cuts of pork for those counting fat calories.
  • Pork tenderloin is quick cooking so I get it on the table faster.

Speaking of options, yes you can cook this under the broiler in your oven instead of on the grill.  Sure, you can swap out ingredients.  Don't have pizza sauce? Use marinara sauce.  Do whatever you want, it's all about exploring.  

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Published 01/13/2017


  • whole pork tenderloin, trimmed and butterflied or spiral sliced
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves, rinsed
  • 1 cup white cheddar cheese curds
  • 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 7-8 pieces kitchen twine, 10" long
  • 1 tablespoon high temp oil
  • 1 cup roasted garlic pizza sauce
For the seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried lemon zest (optional)


  1. Set up your grill for direct heat and preheat it to 400°f (Medium High). 
  2. Butterfly the tenderloin.  See notes.
  3. Mix together the seasoning ingredients.  Use a little more than half to season the top half of the butterflied pork tenderloin.  Reserve the rest for seasoning the outside later.
  4. Assemble the roast.  Layer the spinach on top of the tenderloin, leaving a 1 1/2" gap on one side.  On the opposite side, layer the sun dried tomatoes and cheese curds in a row against the edge (see pictures).  Use both hands and roll the cheese curd edge towards the exposed edge like a jelly roll.  Lay the strings about and inch a part and put the roast seam down on top of the strings. Tie the strings and cut off the excess.
  5. Lightly coat the outside of the roast with oil and season with the remaining seasoning.
  6. Place the roast on the grill and cook for 24-27 minutes, turning every few minutes.  Meanwhile, heat your pizza sauce.
  7. Temp check the meat to make sure it is 145°f and allow to rest for at least three minutes. (That's FDA recommendations.  Honestly, I pull it at 140°f.)
  8. Remove the strings and then slice about 3/4" thick.  Plate the slices on top of a smear of the pizza sauce. 
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 27 mins.
Total time: 0 hrs. 47 mins.

I first found out about Smithfield Prime at the American Royal last year (which Smithfield took over as title sponsor this year, kind of a big deal!). Smithfield sponsored my trip there to be a part of the event and cover their Hog Wild Throwdown on social media. The hospitality tent was serving the Prime line and I was pretty impressed with the results.
Smithfield Prime spare ribs at the American Royal
What is so special about Prime? First, it's a label, NOT a grade.  But it is special.
  • The Prime line is all natural and a part of the USDA's Process Verification Program.  
  • It is 20% more tender than other brands in the non-enhanced (injected, etc) category.  
  • But what I like is that this is a premium pork, a Duroc blend.  Smithfield has their own line of Duroc hogs and they are the sires for the hogs used for the Prime line of pork.  

Smithfield Prime Reserve pork tenderloins are 20% more tender than non-enhanced competitors.  Better pork, less junk.
I noticed that our local Sam's Club started carrying Smithfield Prime Reserve in mid-November.  I asked my contact who advised that it is the same pork as the Smithfield Prime.

How to trim a pork tenderloin using a Victorinox boning knife with fibrox handle and flexible blade.
On the far left is an untrimmed tenderloin.  The one on the right, I have removed the silverskin and any excessive fat.  I also trimmed tip off and around the other end to make the roast even.  I cut those scraps up for stir fri, sausage, or things like that. A sharp boning knife does wonders.  That is an Amazon Affiliate link but this is my favorite boning knife - I have 2 others that both cost 3 times as much.  The Victorinox flexible blade has just won me over.  It's also popular with meat cutters and prep chefs.

tips and tricks for spiral slicing or butterfly cut a pork tenderloin from Smithfield
To start, I place my knife down next to the tenderloin.  The gap between board and blade, caused by the handle, is just the height at which I want to begin.  Again, sharpen and hone your knife before doing this.  It is so easy with a sharp knife.  With a dull one, it's a pain.

How to butterfly a pork tenderloin from Smithfield Prime Reserve
Cut a straight line almost all of the way across like this and then stop about  1/2" from the edge.

Spiral slicing a pork tenderloin from Smithfield Prime Reserve
Flip the top half over and start cutting through that piece the same way, opening it up flat.

How to stuff a pork tenderloin for grilling, roasting, or broiling.
Place plastic wrap above and below the meat and finish flattening it out evenly with a meat mallet.

Step by step instructions for stuffing pork tenderloin
Here's how to stack the stuffing, leaving the edge exposed.  You will start rolling from the right, curling tightly over the curds, and keep rolling.
I use cheese curds for 2 reasons....wait, make that 3 reasons.

  • I just love them.  
  • They give a good shape for getting the roll started tightly and firmly.  
  • They don't seem to melt out of the ends of the roast as sliced or shredded cheese likes to do. 
Because of that, if I couldn't get cheese curds, I'd take shredded cheese and squeeze it into pieces the size of curds.

How to stuff pork tenderloin for grilling, roasting, and broiling.
All tied up and ready to go.

Ceramic kamado grills, like Grill Dome and BGE, are all weather grills and smokers.
For this cook, I was using my kamado grills, specifically the Big Green Egg on the right.  It was the coldest day of the year, think we got down to 7°f that night.  Ceramic kamado grills can handle ridiculous weather.  Pork tenderloins are small enough that you can do them on small grills like a BGE Mini-Max.

How to use mojobricks for a kamado grill
I wanted to put a little wood in the grill for extra smoke flavor but all of my wood chunks are on the trailer in storage and my logs downstairs were snow covered and wet. Fortunately I had some Mojobricks (hickory) leftover from Memphis In May.  I cut them with a saw so they were basically Mojobricks Mini's at that point and put one in the kamado grill.  They may look like MDF but they are just wood pieces and lignin - a natural binder in wood.

Kick Ash Basket is a great tool for grilling on a kamado grill like a Kamado Joe, Big Green Egg, or Vision Grill.
Since the Mojobrick products are dense, in a kamado grill, placement is key.  Place it too far from the lit coals and it might not even get lit for a few hours (which can be useful in longer cooks).  This was a brief cook so I made sure the one that I put in was near an ignition point.  This is in a Kick Ash Basket in a large BGE.

fire roasted stuffed pork tenderloin on a large Big Green Egg
Two stuffed tenderloins just after going onto the Big Green Egg.  Leave them for about 5 minutes and then start turning every 3-4 minutes until done. 

How to grill stuffed pork tenderloins and how to cook pork tenderloins on a Big Green Egg.
I put the sauce on in the last few minutes, just to warm up. Don't worry if a little of your cheese melts out at the end, most is staying in there.

Stuffed pork tenderloin steaming hot
Yeah, it was a little cold out (about 20°f) so these steamed up a good bit when they came off.  

Techniques, tips and tricks for grilling pork tenderloin:  Rest it on a raise rack to avoid moisture loss.
As always, rest your cooked meats on a raised rack to help even cooling and minimize moisture loss.
Sliced fire roasted stuffed pork tenderloin featuring Smithfield Prime pork
Sliced and ready to serve! 

Stuffed pork tenderloin recipe for the big green egg.
Close up of the slices, look how nicely cooked these are.  And even though it was a hot and fast cook, the tenderloins still got a slight "smoke ring" around the edges.

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I received no compensation for this post.  However here is clarification on any mentions.

  • Smithfield - I attended two events hosted by Smithfield in 2016, travel included, but don't have any kind of endorsement deal, pay for content, or anything like that.
  • Victorinox - I paid for my knives, but love the brand.  Just ask to look in my knife bag at a contest and you'll see my 4 main ones are Victorinox with the Fibrox handles.  
  • Mojobricks - These were the last of the leftovers from Memphis In May last year.
  • Kick Ash Basket - Got the first one as a sample and ended up buying 4 more for our other kamados.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Bacon Crusted Salmon

Tender, smoked salmon topped with a crust of crumbled brown sugar bacon - you just can't go wrong with that, right?

This salmon is easy and crazy good and it comes from a BBQ expert and grilling authority.
The recipe for the Charred Corn Bisque was in my previous post.

About The Recipe

The first time that I ever saw this dish was at the photo shoot for Chris Lilly's second book.   Here you had a world famous food photographer, a food stylist from Southern Living, and other people who are used to stunning food.  But when they had finished shooting this particular dish and the crew started tasting it, things got quiet.  Instead of the usual chaos before the next shoot, everyone just got absorbed in eating this fantastic recipe - it was literally "shut your mouth" good.

The Komodo kamado is best in class when it comes to kamado grills, actually it's in a class by itself compared to other kamado grills.
Chris Lilly adorning his bacon crusted salmon with the ginger maple glaze during the photo shoot for his second book.  The grill is Chris' personal Komodo Kamado.  I'd say Komodo is the "best in class" of kamado grills except it's not even in the same class as most other kamados, including the brands I love and use. They have exquisite tile work, unique designs, and decked out in premium stainless hardware inside and out.  Of course, I could buy 4 Big Green Eggs for the cost of one Komodo. 

Recipe Source

The recipe can be found in Chris' book, Fire and Smoke, A Pitmaster's Secrets ($24.95).  I'm not going to post the recipe, just buy the book it's worth it - it's loaded with great recipes.  I'll just give you the basic idea and what I did differently (not that the recipe needed any changes...I'm just incapable of following directions).  

My Grilla pellet cooker makes smoking and roasting easy, simple, and makes delicious food every time.
For the bacon crust, I wanted to up the ante a bit. First, I sprinkled a LIGHT amount of brown sugar on the bacon and just on one side. I only wanted it slightly sweetened, not full on candied bacon.  Second, I smoked the bacon in my Grilla pellet grill. Grilla is the sponsor of the Memphis in May team on which I compete and I got my Grilla as a thank you for being on their team last year.

Bacon crumbles for bacon crusted salmon.
Chris Lilly used a mini-food processor to crumble his bacon.  I like to practice my knife skills so I used a santoku knife to finely mince the bacon. You can do either but the food processor makes more sense for mixing in the bacon fat and panko bread crumbs. 

Chris Lilly uses a flavorful marinade for his salmon recipe with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and more. I used a lot of the same ingredients but I cheated because I had this pair of aces up my sleeve...

Ink Soy Sauce is a gourmet flavored soy sauce that makes marinating, glazing, and saucing easy and delicious.
 A friend of mine has a client that is a start up company making gourmet soy sauces and they had a small packaging error. As a result, I got a 6 bottles (each one a different variety).  This isn't a product pitch because they haven't gone in full distribution mode yet and you can't get Ink Soy Sauce.....yet.

But when you can get Ink Soy Sauce (such a tease, right?), I recommend giving it a shot.  It's good stuff and rocked in this marinade.  It was rich, tangy, sweet, and salty.  The marinade was good and will be good with chicken too.  Mix a little (1/4 cup or so) with some maple syrup or honey and you have a nice glaze too.

Garlic Ginger Sesame Marinade

  • 1/2 cup Ginger Sesame Soy Sauce by Ink Soy Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Garlic Sesame Soy Sauce by Ink Soy Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons sushi vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 3/4 cups peanut oil
Mix first four ingredients together and then slowly add the oil while whisking rapidly.  

For the fish, it was a short swim in the marinade, just long enough to make the Charred Corn Bisque and Poblano Crema.  For chicken I'd let it ride for 4 hours.

Bacon crusted salmon on the grill, the recipe is easy, quick, and stunning.
So I forgot to add bacon grease to my bacon/panko mixture and it didn't stick to the fish when I pushed it down into the crumbles.  No big deal, when I flipped it back over, I just sprinkled the leftovers on top and pressed them down a bit.  Worked fine.

Recipe for bacon crusted salmon on the grill.
If I was cooking on a kamado grill, I would have used wood planks like the book recipe does.  But I was cooking these on my Grilla pellet grill so 1) it was going to get plenty of smoke from the pellets burning and 2) the planks wouldn't smolder much if at all because there would be no direct heat under them.

The Grilla pellet cooker is simple to use for smoking, roasting, and braising.  Here's how I make salmon on a pellet cooker.
It was a quite cold and very blustery night, with snow moving in. The Grilla did well fending off the wind and cold, holding temps.  If I opened it up all the way like this, of course, I lost a good bit of heat and it took a few minutes to restore cooking temperatures.  So most of the time I just barely opened the Keep Heat Swing Lid to check on progress or to drizzle the glaze.  That kept the heat much more stable.
The Grilla pellet cooker is one of my favorite, best reviewed pellet cookers.
Here is a better shot of how the Grilla's Keep Heat Swing Lid works.  Instead of opening up, the lid access door swings right and left. The advantage of this is you can open it just a crack for checking doneness, basting, spritzing, or glazing.  

Bake biscuits on a ceramic kamado grill like the Kamado Joe, Grill Dome, or Primo.
While the salmon was cooking on the Grilla, Alexis used one of our ceramic kamado grills to make a clone recipe of Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits.  The set up was a plate setter (legs down), a raised rack above that, and a pizza stone on the rack.  This got the biscuits high up in the kamado so they get brown on top.  Yep, there was also a Kick Ash Basket in there, we pretty much always use those in our kamados.

My Thermoworks RT600C is quick, accurate and fits in my chef's shirt, apron, or jacket.
I cooked the salmon until the crust was golden brown and the internal temp was 130°f, about 20 minutes at 350°f.  Internal temps for fish should be between 120°f and 140°f.  Dense flesh fish like tuna and salmon can be done at 120°f..

This is a great idea for a salmon recipe that will impress your guests.
We liked the glaze so much that I reserved some of it and drizzled it over the finished fish as a sauce. Sooooo good.

Great salmon idea for ceramic kamado grills, like Big Green Egg, Vision, etc.
Served at 10pm on a snowy, cold Saturday night (we ate lunch at 4pm....don't judge) with cheddar biscuits and Charred Corn Bisque.

This is a rock solid recipe, but then again, recipes from both of Chris Lilly's books typically are. His first book was instrumental in helping me master BBQ and grilling and the second one continued that journey.  If you don't have them, you should correct that immediately :)

For more about plank grilling on a kamado grill, you can check out my post about Plank Grilled Potlatch Salmon.

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post but just to be clear on a few product mentions....

  • Chris Lilly's books - I paid full price for both and I don't get affiliate sales or anything from the links I provided.  
  • Grilla Grills - I don't work for Grilla Grills but I am on their Memphis In May competition team and I got my Grilla pellet grill for helping out.
  • Ink Soy Sauce - Like I said, they are just a client of a friend of mine and I got some free samples from my friend.  Good stuff, though.  Keep an eye out for it in the next few months.
  • Kick Ash Basket - Great product.  I received one as a review piece a couple of years ago.  Since then I have bought 4 more (3 large and 1 for my Mini-Max) at full prices, putting my money where my mouth is. 
  • Komodo Kamado - No affiliation whatsoever.  Just a great kamado grill with a wonderful reputation.  

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Charred Corn Bisque with Poblano Crema

We got our first snowy weather of the year last night and I wanted something comforting to go along with the bacon crusted salmon that I made for dinner.  I found a recipe for Corn Bisque in the McCormick and Schmick's Seafood Restaurant Cookbook adapted it to the grill and my tastes to come up with this version.

This fire roasted corn in this bisque recipe creates bolder flavors in this comfort food.


  1. I fire roasted the corn for my bisque because it amplifies the flavor. 
  2. I didn't strain the bisque a second time. That might make it questionable as to whether this is even a bisque instead of a soup or chowder. I wanted those delicious bits of charred corn in there. If you want a finer texture, strain the bisque at the end or use an immersion blender (aka motor boat) in it.
  3. I increased a few of the ingredient quantities.
  4. I had an extra poblano chile in the fridge so I made a charred poblano crema as a finishing touch for the bisque.

Of course, you can do this in the kitchen too.  Just roast your corn and chile under the broiler or on a gas burner.  

Charred Corn Bisque with Poblano Crema

adapted from McCormick & Schmick's
Yields: 4 cups


  • 3 ears yellow corn, shucked and peeled
  • 1 poblano chile
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced shallot
  • 1/4 pound unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 tablespoon NMT beef rub
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup Mexican crema 
  • salt to taste


  1. Set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to high heat.
  2. Roast the corn.  Grill until slightly charred on each side, about 2 minutes per side.  Remove from the grill and allow to cool.  Use a sharp knife to slice the kernels off of the cob.  Keep both the kernels and the cob.
  3. Roast, seed, and peel the poblano chile
  4. Make the corn stock.  Put the corn cobs and stock in a medium stock pan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.  Strain stock and discard the cobs/pulp that was strained out.
  5. Melt the butter in the stock pan and saute the shallot and garlic until softened, about 3-5 minutes.
  6. Whisk in the flour and keep stirring a few minutes to make a blonde roux. Then keep whisking as you slowly add in all of the strained corn stock.
  7. Add the reserved corn kernels, tumeric, beef rub (or just pepper and salt) and sugar.  Then bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes
  8. Make the poblano crema.  Either finely mince the poblano, whisk together with the crema and a pinch of salt OR lightly process the crema, poblano, and a pinch of salt in a food processor or blender.  Keep refrigerated until ready to use.
  9. Stir in the heavy cream, simmer for 5 more minutes and then remove from heat.
  10. Serve and garnish with a health dollop of the poblano crema.


  • Chile - Poblano chiles are mild, between a bell pepper and jalapeno in heat level.  You can use whatever you have or prefer.  Like it hotter? Use jalapeno or serano. Heatophobe? Go with a bell pepper.
  • NMT Beef Rub - I used it because 1) I had it on hand and 2) it's salt, pepper, dried onions, garlic, and bell peppers....great general purpose seasoning.  You can just use some salt and pepper to taste instead.  Or use some season salt and black pepper.
  • Mexican crema - More than half of the grocery stores in our area carry crema now but if you can't get it, you can substitute sour cream or creme fraiche.


I cooked on 3 different grills for this meal's cook (including salmon and biscuits), but could have done it on one grill.  It was cold and snowing so I had three fired up simultaneously so I could minimize the amount of time that I was freezing my butt off.  For the soup, I used my Big Green Egg Mini-Max - a small, ceramic kamado grill. But you could do this on just about any grill, your broiler, or on a gas stove top burner.

Fire roasting vegetables roasting on a Big Green Egg Mini-Max ceramic kamado grill.
Grilling or fire roasting the corn increases the flavor in two ways.  It concentrates the natural sugars in the corn and the char adds a smoky flavor.

How to slice corn from the cob.
To remove the kernels, I hold each cob on end like this and then run my chef's knife down each side.  Be sure to stay as close to the cob as possible to get all of the good stuff off.

Smokey charred corn bisque with poblano crema is easy to make at home.
The poblano crema adds flavor but also makes the texture extra creamy.
We will absolutely be making this recipe again.  I might throw some shredded chicken in there to make it a meal in itself.

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I received no compensation for this post.  I did get the McCormick and Schmick's book for free in a giveaway from Greg at SippitySup (great food blog, btw) several years ago.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Giveaway News: Grilla Silverbac Pellet Grill

Our friends at Grilla are kicking off 2017 in a big way with this impressive giveaway.

Grilla Grills giveaway of a free kamado grill or pellet grill

The Grilla Grills New Years Giveaway - They are giving away a free Pellet Smoker or Kamado Grill of your choice, PLUS a Thermapen, Grill Grates, Grill Cover, award-winning sauce, rub, and a Grilla Grills hat.

So for all of you who are envious of my kamado grills, here is your chance to win one for free.  I've cooked on the Grilla Kong at Memphis in May and it's a very good kamado grill. At 21 inches, it's bigger than my kamados and it comes with plenty of standard features.  

Grilla Kong kamado grill is a quality ceramic kamado grill at a bargain, cheap price.

Of course, if you win, you could also choose one of their pellet cookers instead.  I've used the Grilla since May 2016 and it's one of my favorite cookers now.

You have three chances to enter before January 31, 2017. Good luck!  

Grilla Grills New Years Giveaway

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post but I am a member of Grilla's Memphis In May competition team.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steaks on the Grill

At what point does a "steak" become a "roast"?

That's just a rhetorical question for fun, not a discussion of semantics.  But if you put these two ribeye steaks together, they would be a two-bone, 4.5 pound prime rib roast.  

How to grill super thick steaks

When I cook normal sized ribeye steaks, ones a little bigger than an inch thick, I prefer to grill them over direct heat about 4 1/2 minutes per side.  But when I have thicker steaks, in excess of 1.5 inches thick, I take a different approach in terms of seasoning, cooking, and serving.
  • Seasoning the Steak - I go bigger for a bolder flavor.  With a bigger steak, you have more unseasoned internal meat than seasoned surface meat, kind of like with a roast. So I use coarse rubs to get bigger bursts of flavor.  For my salt, I'll go with David's Kosher salt because it seems to have bigger flakes of salt than the Morton's Kosher that I use day in/day out.  For black pepper, I like a 16 mesh sized Malabar or Tellicherry black pepper (those are types, not brands).  
  • Cooking the Steak- Direct heat is fine for steaks in the 1" neighborhood. But "big ol' honkin' steaks" do best with combination cooking techniques, like reverse sear, sous vide, or sear/roast.  This goes for ribeyes, NY strip steaks, or beef filet.  The slower roast or sous vide cooking gradually brings the entire mass of beef to the appropriate temp while the sear puts that flavorful crust on the outside.
  • Serving the Steak - Steaks this thick are meant for sharing.  Sure, competitive eaters and freaks of nature can eat a 72 ounce steak(Saw this place on TV.  Our friend, Larry went there...he did not attempt the challenge.  Don't blame him.).  But for most of us, 8 ounces of steak is plenty.  With massive steaks, treat them as a roast, slice, and share. 
More semantics - difference between a "cowboy ribeye" and a "tomahawk steak"? I think of a cowboy ribeye as a bone in ribeye steak, with the eye, lip, and cap intact. The bone is usually about as short as the steak.  The tomahawk is also a bone in ribeye but it has a longer portion of the bone but to really resemble a tomahawk, it should just have the eye portion of the ribeye (cap and lip removed).  So these have the full bone handle but also have the cap and lip still attached....maybe they are more of a meat axe than a tomahawk steak?  Ha!  

Enough talking about beef, let's eat it.  Here is how I prepared these two tomahawk ribeyes.  

Bone in ribeye recipe, how to cook bone in ribeye, thick steak tips.
I used my NMT Beef Rub recipe, shown before grinding here. It's black peppercorns, green peppercorns, coarse smoked salt, dried shallots, dried garlic, and dried bell peppers. 

Tips, tricks, and how to for cooking large thick steaks perfectly
I rubbed the steaks with peanut oil and then the coarse ground beef rub. Notice the rack. I try to avoid putting meat on a flat surface after I have rubbed it because a good portion of the rub will stick to the flat surface when you lift the steaks.

I was using a ceramic kamado grill for this cook.  Here are a few set ups you can use for indirect heat on those grills. They all work effectively, it's just a matter of using what you have on hand.

Indirect cooking grilling on kamado grills like Big Green Egg, Primo Grills, Kamado Joe and Vision
Clockwise from upper left. Cast iron plate setter and standard Big Green Egg grate. Pizza stone, Raiser rig, and a Craycort cast iron grate (section removed for visibility only). Pizza stone, Grill Dome indirect rig, and Grill Dome grate.  Pizza stone, spider rig, and standard Big Green Egg grate.

Grill Dome is a brand of ceramic kamado grills.  Others include Big Green Egg, Primo Grills, Kamado Joe and Vision Grills. Thermoworks ChefAlarm pictured
This time, I had a strategy for my set up. I used a Grill Dome, cast iron plate setter (inverted), and the Grill Dome extender above that.  This gave me 2 advantages. First and foremost, I wanted to use the griddle surface of the cast iron plate setter to get a deep crust like a pan seared steak but with grilled taste. Second, this way I don't have to bother taking a hot pizza stone or plate setter out of the grill before I sear.

How to perfectly grill extra thick steaks, including ribeye steak, beef filet, and NY strip steaks
Steaks on! I used straight lump coal, I didn't need any additional smoke for my preferences.  I was cooking at 250°f (as measured at the dome thermometer) and it took a wee bit over 1 hour and 10 minutes to hit 128°f.  
Thermoworks remote probe thermometer has a max temp feature making it great to know when temps are falling
Two points. Notice the rack - again with the flat surfaces. If you put hot meat on a flat surface you are trapping heat and creating a steaming effect. That will loosen the tissues and allow the meat juices to seep out.  Second point - you need to let the steaks to finish their carry over cooking.  The internal temp should rise about 5-7°f  and then start falling.  That way, you know the cooking energy is depleted and quick searing it won't raise the internal temp more than 1°f.

While the meat rested, I opened up my vents and brought the cooking temp to 600°f  Then I seared the steaks for about 1 minute per side.  If I wasn't using my cast iron plate setter, I would just sear it on a grate directly over coals for about the same time.

As soon as the steaks finished, I put a red chile compound butter on them so the butter would melt.

Compound butters add a next level of flavor to your grilled meats.
Served with Alexis' pinto beans and Chef Travis Wilson's "tater tots" (Chef at Blue Wahoo Stadium).  Boiled fingerling potatoes, smashed and coated with panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and seasonings.  Then you deep fry them and hit with more Parmesan while piping hot for the best tater tots you've ever had.

Techniques for perfectly grilled steaks and best steaks for grilling.

The steaks were perfect for us! The crust was richly flavored, the butter luscious, and the insides perfectly cooked to tender, medium rare from edge to edge.

[FTC Disclaimer]  I received no compensation for this post. Craycort and Innovations by Chance/Smokeware are equipment sponsors.