Friday, September 15, 2017

Tex-Mex Brisket Benedict

This dish was inspired by a breakfast that Alexis and I had a few weeks ago at First Watch in the Bearden district of Knoxville.  Their Barbacoa Benedict was a summer special menu item that had braised barbacoa, 2 poached eggs, Hollandaise sauce, and sliced avocado on a ciabatta roll.

First Watch barbacoa benedict
First Watch's Barbacoa Benedict

Although I was inspired by First Watch's Barbacoa Benedict, I didn't want to just copycat it - I wanted to riff off of it.  
  • Beef - Our waitress didn't know if their barbacoa was beef cheek or brisket but whichever, it was braised.  I used smoked brisket for my protein.
  • Saucy - Although Hollandaise is traditional for Benedict, I borrowed a page from Croque Madame or Kentucky Hot Browns and used a Mornay sauce.
  • Extras - I wanted to kick up the flavors a bit with fire roasted tomatoes and Hatch green chiles.

leftover brisket idea - tex mex brisket benedict
My Tex-Mex Brisket Benedict was a wee bit different.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Quick Fajitas on the Grill

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I am sponsored by Char-Broil but this is not a sponsored post.

Sometimes I don't plan out my meals too well.

This was the case earlier this Summer when I had a flank steak and was craving fajitas.  I didn't have a long time for a marinade so I did a few things to work around that.
  1. Boosted the acid in the marinade - Normally I do about 2-3 parts of oil to 1 part of acid but for shorter marinade times, I up that ratio to 1.5 parts oil to 1 part acid.  In this case, the acid was lime juice.
  2. Increased the seasoning - Since the fajita seasoning wasn't going to have time to absorb into the meat much at all, I increased the seasoning by 50% to make it bolder.  This doesn't get any more flavor in faster, it just means a little more will cling to the meat.  
  3. Scored the meat - I scored the meat a little deeper than I normally do.  I put a little more pressure when dragging a sharp knife across the raw flank steak, which opens more surface area up to the marinade.
If you have the time for a proper marinade, check out my recipes for

Quick and easy fajita marinade

Quick Acting Fajita Marinade

Published 09/13/2017


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Event: Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off

This weekend was the 27th and final running of the Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off in Cookeville, Tennessee. This cook-off is a professional BBQ contest sanctioned by the Kansas City BBQ Society and it is held at the same time as the idyllic town's Fall FunFest.  

Last year, we registered for the contest but couldn't attend. Mick Chessor agreed to compete in our place in 2016 as long as Alexis and I competed with him this year.  I just had two heart procedures ten days before this contest and was on limited duty, but I wasn't going to miss the final year of the Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off.  Alexis and Mick just did all of the "heavy lifting"

I didn't take my camera but here are some phone pictures from the event.

The cook-off was well organized and I hate to see it go, but I understand how difficult it is to maintain such an event over so many years.

Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off Cookeville, TN #bbq #bbqcompetition
This was our first contest using a Deep South Smokers insulated box smoker instead of kamado grills (Big Green Egg, Grilla Kong, Grill Dome, Primo, etc.).  Not having to break down and move four 200-lb kamado grills was so much easier and faster.  But with all that red, I might have to buy a Kamado Joe to have on the trailer.

Jackie and Sherry Price's rig for their team, Smoke on This.  They are seasoned pros and win more than their share of these contests.  He uses Backwoods cookers (see them through the window), a drum smoker, and a PK Grill. 

Tony Stone BBQ Cook-off Cookeville, TN #bbq #bbqcompetition
A nice Yoder Smokers pull behind pellet smoker.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Rotisserie Garlic Roast Beef Wraps

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I am proud to be sponsored by Certified Angus Beef.  This is a sponsored post but any opinions stated are my own.

Summer break is over and school is back in session.

For parents who have kids involved in after school extracurricular activities like sports or band, getting dinner on the table can be a challenge because of  the timing.  We never know exactly what time they will be home but they will be ravenous - ready to eat right away.

Trevor plays football for his school and has after school practice or workouts every school day. Two of the ways we deal with having food ready quickly once he does get home are:

  • Cook once, eat twice - This is simply "leftovers on purpose".  For example, if I'm firing up a grill to cook a chicken, cook two chickens instead - one for dinner and one for leftovers.  For these wraps, we cooked a Certified Angus Beef whole beef eye round.  Half was for dinner with mashed potatoes, the other half was for lunch meat.
  • Wraps/Burritos - These are a fast way to compile a bunch of leftovers and fridge finds into something that resembles a planned meal without much cooking.
These Rotisserie Garlic Roast Beef Wraps are a good example of that.  We slathered a Certified Angus Beef whole beef eye round with a garlic paste and fire roasted it on a rotisserie.  The crust adds intense flavor to an otherwise mild cut of beef.  We sliced it thin and then used it for a few meals this week.  Roast beef and mashed potatoes one night, sandwiches for lunch one day, and then these great wraps for dinner the next night.

The wrap is as simple as a fridge dive but here is how we made the Rottisserie Garlic Roast Beef.

Rotisserie Garlic Roast Beef


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.