Friday, August 18, 2017

Quick White Sauce Chicken Wings

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

I have a lot of great wing recipes that I like to cook.

Sometimes, though, I want wings but only want to put out a minimum effort.  Today was one of those days and I was craving wings for lunch.  So I used used a reliable commercial rub and sauce to make these easy but fantastic tasting wings.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Scallop Diving Trip

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post.  Certified Angus Beef is a sponsor and I received the Grill Dome as part of a sponsorship package a few years ago.

We went diving for scallops in the Gulf of Mexico with my sister and several good friends last weekend.  My sister's beau had use of his friend's house that is on a canal and is just a stones throw from the Gulf.  

I had never gone scalloping before but anything out on the water is fun for me.  It was a very quick 72 hours but well worth the drive. 

View from the deck.  Just two right turns from here and you are in the Gulf.  We were so grateful that his friends were so gracious to share their home with us for the weekend. 

The hot tub was a welcome relief after a 10+ hour drive down from Tennessee.

Putting green in the back yard.

Sean made beef chimichangas for us the first night. 

They were crispy and delicious!  I topped mine with guacamole, crema, salsa verde, and cheese.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Cooking For A Crowd

When your kid is on a high school extracurricular program, you get roped into fund raising "opportunities".  Our youngest plays football and when we had the team parents meeting at the end of last school year, one of the opportunities was a BBQ party to kick off the 2017-18 season and school year.  Obviously, that's the one I went with!

We were told to plan for 600 portions.  We said that we would just do pulled pork but we decided to add in chicken, slaw, and BBQ beans too.....because why not, right?

Here are the few snapshots that we took during that weekend and a little insight in to how we prepared for such a big event.

How to Calculate How Much Pulled Pork For A Crowd

  1. Determine your crowd size.  This is the biggest unknown and being off will make you run out of food or have too much waste.  That's why my biggest advice for fundraisers is to pre-sell tickets!!!  This gives you hard numbers to use and keeps you from suffering from weather related poor turnouts.  They told me 600-700 people but it was a guess based on the annual team dinner plus extra people invited.
  2. Calculate how much cooked pulled pork you will need.  You will do 4 oz per person for regular sandwiches and 5.3 oz for large sandwiches.  We usually go with 4oz.  So 700 x 4= 2,800 ounces or 175 pounds
  3. Calculate how much raw pork you will need.  Conservative figures are about a 50% yield for pulled pork and 60% yield for chopped smoked pork.  We were doing chopped so 175 pounds divided by .6 (60% yield) comes out to just under 300 pounds of raw pork needed (291.6667).

Another great tool is SoEzzy's Free BBQ Catering Planner Spreadsheet.  It's much more in depth and takes a lot of factors into consideration, such as; # of meats, # of sides, types, and costs.  This also provides much more information to help you ensure a profit.  

Smithfield Prime Reserve pork butts from Sam's saved us time in trimming.
Our calculations showed that we needed about 37 pork butts so we bought 5 cases of Smithfield Prime Reserve pork butts from our nearby Sam's Wholesale Club.  Another supply store had butts for $.15/lb cheaper (case price) but there was a lot more fat on theirs which would require more time trimming, plus a lower yield.  It's not always about price - it was worth paying more.

The Flame Boss 300 is the engine to my Deep South Smokers GC36
The Deep South was going to run for 36 hours, the Flame Boss 300 had a lot of work to do. The orange tie downs?  We were getting a strong series of storms coming through during the cook so we had to tie that EZ-up down.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Bratwurst Stuffed and Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] This post is sponsored by Smithfield.

When I went to Smithfield VA last year, I learned about both the town and the company's storied history.  So I wasn't surprised to see them team up with Yuengling, America's oldest brewery, to bring a little excitement to your grill this Summer.  Smithfield has introduced their new Craft Collection by rolling out their Yuengling Traditional Lager Bratwursts.

Alexis found these this week at the Kroger on Northshore Drive in Knoxville.  Of course, the first thing that we did with them was grill some on grill over medium low heat for 15-20 minutes.  They were just what you want in a brat - juicy, well seasoned, and a kiss of beer.  

Then I had an idea for a recipe - stuff center cut boneless pork chops with the bratwurst sausage, then wrap them with Smithfield Hometown Original bacon, and smoke them on the grill.  I know, smoking usually takes hours, right?  But this is a quick smoke at a bit higher temperature, so you get all of that smokehouse flavor in just an hour and a half.

Smithfield Yuengling Bratwurst Stuffed Pork Chops
Bratwurst Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops on Smoked Cheese Grits

Your cooking times are going to vary depending on how thick of pork chops you use and how thick you stuff them, so always go by your internal temperature instead of time and cooking temperature.

Bratwurst Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Pork Chops

Published 08/02/2017
A pork trifecta - center cut boneless pork chops stuffed with Smithfield's Yuengling Traditional Lager Bratwurst and then wrapped with bacon.  Normally wouldn't cook pork chops past 145 but the fat from the bacon and sausage makes it okay.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

Steak, Black Bean and Rice Burritos

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  We received no compensation for this post. Smithfield and SABER Grills are two of our partner brands but this isn't a sponsored post for either brand.

This is one of our "go to" recipes when we want something quick, delicious, and satisfying.  Even our ultra picky, in house food critic (aka our son) loves these steak, black bean, and rice burritos.

recipe for steak, black bean, and rice burritos

The Components
  • Steak - We use whatever looks the best and is the least expensive between flank steak, flat iron, skirt, and sirloin flap.  I have really become a fan of the sirloin flap in the last year or two, we just can't get it all of the time. The main thing is that the steak has to be thin sliced and medium rare.
  • Rice - Sometimes we use a version of this Mexican Rice recipe.  Other times I'll just do regular basmati rice with some fire roasted poblano tossed in while it cooks.  If I have leftover plain white rice, I'll even use that just to get rid of the leftovers.
  • Cheese - Ideally, this should be fresh shredded and something like Monterey jack, pepper jack, Chihuahua, or our favorite, Oaxaca. Oaxaca is like Mexican mozzarella, rich, buttery, and melts well.  But as a confession, there are times we use pre-shredded cheese....yeah, I know, it's coated with stuff to keep it from sticking together and drying out.  When we do pre-shredded, we like Sargento's the best because it seems the least processed.  
  • Tortilla - We use Mission style sized flour tortillas for our burritos.  
  • Black beans - We usually use the black bean recipe below.  It has more onion and bell pepper than I would normally use when making black beans for eating as a side dish. We usually use Ranch Style brand or Bush's unseasoned black beans. 

Black Bean Mix for Burritos


  • 4 slices Smithfield Homestyle Bacon, chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 1/3 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 15 oz can black beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup tomato sauce
  • 3/4 teaspoon taco or fajita seasoning

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Beef Filet and Pineapple Skewers With Pepper and Onion Stir Fry

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] We are proud to be sponsored by Certified Angus Beef and this is a sponsored post.

Grilling food on a skewer is popular around the world and you can find examples of it in almost every culture.  Whether it is Middle Eastern shish kebabs, Japanese yakitori, Greek souvlaki, Brazilian rodizio, or African sosatie, grilling on skewers is fast, convenient, and tasty.

There are grills specifically made for skewer cooking but it is easy to build your own by using fire bricks to make a trough 10"w x 12"h x however long out of fire bricks.  For me, skewers are easy enough to do on any gas or charcoal grill, I don't think you need any special equipment other than a bag of bamboo skewers.

5 Tips for For Easier Skewer Grilling

  1. If using bamboo skewers, soak them for 30 minutes before using them to keep them from burning.
  2. If using metal skewers, buy the flat blade style instead of round.  It will hold the meat in place better.
  3. When using round skewers, use 2 skewers parallel to each other through each kebab to keep the food from spinning.
  4. Put your meat and veggies on different skewers so they can cook the appropriate length of time.  When you cook meat and veggies together, you'll often end up with under cooked veggies if the meat is cooked correctly or overcooked meat when the veggies are cooked right.
  5. If using wooden skewers and a lot of excess skewer is sticking out, either wrap foil around the exposed wood or just trim it off closer to the food. 

Regardless of which flavor profile I choose or which grill I plan to use, I always start with quality beef, preferrably, Certified Angus Beef from my local Food City.  I think their quality control standards and grading make their beef consistently better than the other selections available to us.  

Here is a recipe that we made this week using the "scraps" from a whole beef tenderloin that I was trimming in to a center cut roasts.  At your butcher, they might sell these as "tenderloin tips".  

Beef filet and pineapple skewers with pepper and onion stir fry from Certified Angus Beef #gorare #bestbeef
Beef Filet and Pineapple Skewers with Pepper and Onion Stir Fry featuring Certified Angus Beef.

The sweet, slightly earthy, and spicy glaze brings out the best in the pineapple and the beef.  Using tenderloin for kebabs is a little expensive but I promise you that these are some of the most tender kebabs you'll ever eat.

Beef Filet and Pineapple Skewers With Pepper and Onion Stir Fry

Monday, July 24, 2017

Smoked Beef Back Ribs with Chimichurri Sauce

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  I received my Grilla Grill and extended rack from Grilla Grills for no charge as thanks for cooking on their Memphis In May BBQ team.

These are the best beef back ribs I have ever tasted.

Smoked beef back ribs with chimichurri sauce

Types of Beef Ribs

There are two types of beef ribs - back ribs and short ribs.

  • Short ribs can be either "chuck" or "plate" but either way, they are very meaty and have a taste/texture similar to chuck roast.  
  • Beef back ribs come from the primal that gives us rib eye and prime rib.  In face, beef back ribs are basically just the bones removed from a prime rib.  
  • Not as meaty - because it comes from that expensive cut, there usually isn't much meat left on back ribs.
  • Steak on a stick - but because it is from that section, the meat is more like a steak than a roast.
Argentina loves beef so I put a Argentinian spin on these beef back ribs.  I made a simple seasoning that adds smoky chiles and a little bit of heat to a basic salt and pepper rub.  Next I smoked these hot and fast, they are thin and don't have a lot of connective tissue so they don't need the low and slow treatment.  Finally, I served them with a chimichurri sauce that was just over the top good.  

I should note that chimichurri sauce in South America is typically more thin and almost like a vinaigrette or Eastern Carolina BBQ sauce.  Mine isn't authentic because I add a secret ingredient to it that makes it a bit thicker and I added cilantro instead of just flat leaf parsley. So it's "chimichurri-ish".

recipe for Smoked Beef Back Ribs with Chimichurri Sauce

The ribs are very good with the seasoning alone but the chimichurri sauce takes them over the top. Plan on 2-3 ribs per person.