Thursday, May 25, 2017

Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Honey and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] Char-Broil is an official sponsor of Nibble Me This and I receive compensation from them in exchange for recipes and content.  Any opinions stated are my own and have not been reviewed or approved by Char-Broil.

One of my recent posts for Char-Broil was these Baby Back Ribs with Honey and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce. The sauce for these ribs has brown sugar and local honey, so to counter the sweetness and boost the flavor, I added a good bit of roasted garlic paste that we make at home.

Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Honey Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce
Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Honey and Roasted Garlic BBQ Sauce

The full recipe is over on Char-Broil's site but here is some B-roll footage from that cook.

I got the idea for the platter from this Burnt Ends-n-Ribs combo that I bought at Famous Dave's BBQ a few weeks earlier.  Their combo uses spare ribs but I had baby backs, so that's what I used.


How to remove the membrane from baby back pork ribs
To remove the membrane for baby back ribs (aka loin back), I find it's easiest to use a blunt knife to start a gap in the middle of the rib and then work a finger into that gap. Then I just wiggle two fingers across the rib as shown and left the membrane straight up and off.  For spare ribs I just start at the end, but for back ribs, this is easier for me.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Smash Steak Burgers with Bacon, Grilled Onions, and Provolone

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] Certified Angus Beef is a sponsor of blog/BBQ team and this is a compensated post.

May is National Burger Month and this is one of our new favorites.

Smash style burgers have been a food trend the past several years.  Essentially, you take a ball of ground beef and smash it flat on a hot flattop, griddle plate, or pan to cook it.  The advantage of smash burgers is they are fast cooking and get a crispy crust.  Smashburger built a chain of over 370 stores around this technique and using fresh Certified Angus Beef.

We do a similar method at home that we call "smash steak burgers" because, instead of ground beef, we use cubed sirloin steaks, like you would use for chicken fried steak or country fried steak.  Plus, we don't smash the burgers but they have a similar texture to the smash burgers that we have had in restaurants.  Of course, we also use fresh Certified Angus Beef!

Smash Style Steak Burger with Bacon, Grilled Onion, and Provolone featuring Certified Angus Beef for #NationalBurgerMonth #BestBeef #GoRare

Smash Steak Burger with Bacon, Grilled Onions, and Provolone Cheese

Makes 2 "doubles"

Ingredients


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Deep South Smokers GC36

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  We received no compensation for this post.  We are proud to have Flame Boss as an equipment sponsor. Smithfield and Certified Angus Beef are both sponsors as well.

If you follow our social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook), then you know that we got a new smoker for competitions and cooking for big events back in March. It is a Deep South Smokers GC36.


Deep South Smokers are hand made in Cumming, Georgia by Randall Bowman (KCBS Board Member) and a small staff.  It is a gravity fed, insulated box smoker which basically means long burn times, steady temperatures, and clean smoke.  I first got interested in this type of cooker because Larry of Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings has been using one (Stumps or Superior, can't remember which) for years and loves his.

I was apprehensive about pulling the trigger on such a major purchase and spent 6 months researching and talking with other owners before making the final decision.  It came down to choosing between Humphreys (also a good box smoker) and Deep South Smokers.  Now that it's done, I couldn't be happier with my purchase.

Features

Randall and his team build a quality smoker with fine craftsmanship and pack it full of extra touches and features.

Deep South Smokers GC36 Review
The first obvious feature is space.  The Deep South Smoker has a smaller footprint than the Warthog but it holds more, cooks infinitely more evenly, and you only have to refill it every 10-12 hours or so, not every 45 minutes.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Jordan's Drunk Pickles

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  We received no compensation for this post. We occasionally receive samples of new products from Albukirky's but we also buy plenty of their wonderful seasonings and sauces.

This is easily one of the most popular dishes that we serve at Eggfests.
  • People ask us ahead of time if we are making "the pickles".  
  • People come back to our booth for seconds and thirds.  
  • We had to make one of those signs with clock hands that shows when the next Jordan's Drunk Pickles are going to be served.
  • People actually stand and wait for the next batch to come out.

Eggfest Jordan's Drunk Pickles recipe
Jordan's Drunk Pickles served at an Eggfest. That's Jordan in the picture in the background.

Rhonda got the idea for this recipe at Frozen Fest - a unique Eggfest held at a lodge on a lake in Wisconsin.....in February. This is her spin on that recipe.  The reason it has taken so long to get this written up is because we are normally making it in batches of at least 500 servings and just used ratios (3 ham:3 Swiss cheese:1 salami mixed and 1 to 1.5 parts of that mix to 2 parts green chile smoked pork).  Here it is scaled down for what you might make at a tailgate or at home.


Jordan's Drunk Pickles

makes 18 appetizer servings

Ingredients

  • 9 jumbo Kosher dill pickles 
  • strained pickle juice in a spray bottle
  • 1.5 ounce thick sliced Boar's Head Tavern Ham, chopped
  • 1.5 ounce sliced Boar's Head Mild Swiss cheese, chopped
  • 1 ounce Boar's Head Genoa Salami, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Albukirky's Green Chile Smoked Pork, chopped
  • mustard
Equipment needed
  • muffin pan
  • coring tool

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cilantro Lime Wings with Habanero Butter

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post and paid full price for any brand names mentioned.

This is one of the dishes that we served at the 2017 Sunshine State Eggfest and at  the campground for our Egging friends at the 2016 Eggtoberfest.  You can substitute our NMT All Purpose Chicken Rub but I like the Chicken Scratch just a bit better in this recipe.

Cilantro Lime Wings with Habanero Butter Sunshine State Eggfest

Cilantro Lime Wings with Habanero Butter

Ingredients

Thursday, May 4, 2017

2017 Sunshine State Eggfest presented by Wassi's Meat Market

[FTC Standard Disclosure] We received no compensation for this post; however, Smithfield and Certified Angus Beef are both sponsors of Nibble Me This.

We attended and cooked at the 2017 Sunshine State Eggfest this weekend and it was another rockin' food festival.  



This Eggfest was presented by Wassi's Meat Market and it benefits Candlelighters of Brevard. Wassi's is a top notch butcher shop and Big Green Egg dealer located in Melbourne, FL and I have to admit, I get jealous when I see those central Florida Eggers getting to shop there every weekend!  

The event was held at the Radisson Resort at the Port again this year. The weather was absolutely gorgeous as 30 or 40 (my guesstimate, I didn't count) culinary teams cooked up some amazing food on Big Green Eggs and served samples to the thousands in attendance.  We handed out about 1,500 samples this year.  Here's a look back.  

2017 Sunshine State Eggfest by Wassi's Meat Market - a Big Green Egg food festival

2017 Sunshine State Eggfest by Wassi's Meat Market - a Big Green Egg food festival
Loaded up and ready to roll.  Things I take to every Eggfest are my knife bag, my gear box, EZ-ups (with tie downs in case of winds), folding prep tables, disposable cutting boards, a bin full of seasonings, and plenty of coolers and 2 Cambro's. 
It's 716 miles from our house to the event.  I like to take the scenic route through the Great Smoky Mountains.  It's 19 miles longer than the I-75/I-10 route through Atlanta but way faster and more enjoyable.

We stop in Jacksonville first, to see family and for a day of prepping at my sister's house (aka "Nibble Me Sis").

First part of prep day is getting supplies. We hit Costco, Restaurant Depot, Gordon Food Services, Publix, and I'm sure I'm forgetting a stop or two.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Memorial Day Grilling Ideas - Ribeye Steak with Garlic Chile Compound Butter

This post is sponsored by Everywhere Agency on behalf of Char-Broil; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.


May is one of my favorite months for grilling. First, it is the National BBQ Month.  Second, it kicks off the "grilling season" for those folks that don't grill all year long.  Third, it has the second busiest grilling holiday of the year - Memorial Day.  Yep, May is the month when everyone embraces the outdoor lifestyle, cooking and entertaining in backyards across the country and I love that.

Char-Broil® just made outdoor entertaining a little easier for me by upgrading my Commercial TRU Infrared™ 3 burner grill with a 4 burner Commercial TRU Infrared™.  That's extra grilling real estate!

I have said before, the Char-Broil® Commercial grill one of the top 2 gas grills that I have ever used. My newer, bigger Commercial grill has everything I loved about the 3 burner version plus a few extras.

Char-Broil TRU Infrared Commercial Grill make juicier food because it cooks with infrared instead of hot air.
Parts removed to show the TRU Infrared™ system. Left is the burner with the heat shield moved aside. Middle is the infrared emitter.  Right is the full system of burner/emitter/grates.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Steakhouse Mushroom Pork Loin Filet with Spinach Rice Pilaf

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  This post is sponsored by Smithfield but any opinions given are my own. The giveaway listed at the bottom is all theirs....I can't afford to send you on a trip to Napa Valley!

It's funny - as a bbq/grilling blogger, a lot of people think that every night we eat something that I cooked for hours.  The reality is much different!  

Our youngest son plays high school football, which means most days he leaves the house by 6am for his private trainer and after school workouts with the team can have him home anywhere from 5-7pm. Our evening meal schedule is best described as "controlled chaos" and there are plenty of nights when we just need something quick and easy.

This meal last week is a perfect example. Our son got home surprisingly early at 4 PM but threw a curve ball because he had to be back at school by 5 PM for a school function.  I needed real flavor and I needed it real fast. Luckily, I had a Smithfield Steakhouse Mushroom Pork Loin Filet.


They come premarinated so they are ready to grill as soon as you open the package. It is seasoned with portobello mushrooms, onion and spices, which sounds like the start of a great rice pilaf....so that's what I did

Steakhouse Mushroom Pork Loin Filet with Spinach Rice Pilaf

4 servings

Ingredients

  • Smithfield Steakhouse Mushroom Pork Loin Filet, cut into 4 portions & tied
  • 4 slices Smithfield Hometown Original Bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely diced shiitake mushroom
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
  • 1 shallot, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach, rinsed and stems removed

Instructions

  1. Preheat a grill to medium high heat and preheat a skillet with a thick bottom over a) medium-low heat if using a gas grill side burner or b) medium heat if using a stove top burner.
  2. Crisp the bacon.  Add the bacon to the skillet and cook until browned and crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate and reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.
  3. Saute the veggies.  Add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, cook for another 2 minutes.  Add the garlic and shallot.  Season with a pinch or two of salt and cook another 2 minutes.
  4. Cook the rice.  Stir in the rice into the veggies and toss to coat with any remaining oil.  Cook for about 1 minute until the rice starts to turn golden and you can smell a slightly nutty aroma.  Add the stock, remaining salt, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 18-20 minutes.
  5. Grill the Steakhouse Mushroom Pork Loin Filet.  Grill the pork filets 7 minutes per side on the two cut/flat sides.  Halfway through each side (3 1/2 minutes), rotate each filet a quarter turn if you want cross hatch grill marks [optional but preferred].  Grill the edges of the filets for a total of 7 minutes, turning frequently to brown all of the edges.  So that is a total of 21 minutes of grilling (7 first side, 7 second side, 7 edges).  Check the internal temperature with an instant read thermometer. Your target is 145°f with a 3 minute rest.
  6. Finish the rice.  As soon as the rice is done, immediately fold in the spinach and cooked bacon. As always, taste for seasoning and adjust if desired.  Cover tightly and let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.
  7. Serve.  You can serve the pork a few ways. The easiest is as a whole filet, just like filet mignon. You can slice it in half and serve as two medallions with the cut side down. You can also slice it into 3 or 4 slices and serve fanned out.  All of these ways work and taste great, it's just up to your preferences.

Notes/Substitutions

  • Shallot - I've used a 1/4 cup of finely diced sweet yellow onion (Vidalia, Walla Walla, etc) and it works just as well.  I prefer the shallot though.
  • Shiitake mushroom - You can use about any mushroom but shiitake is a flavor affiliate with spinach.  My next choice would be portobello or baby bella mushrooms since they supplement the portobello flavor in the pork.

Normally I'd fire up a kamado type grill but I had about 30 minutes to get dinner on the table so I fired up one of our gas grills.

#RealFlavorRealFast Smithfield's pork loin filet are a key to quick and easy dinners.
The key to cooking fast is having everything in its place. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Product Review: Pizza Porta

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]:  We received no compensation for this post and have no affiliation with the manufacturer.

At the 2015 Pensacola Eggfest (a "must do" Eggfest), Big Green Craig and I spotted a crazy contraption on a Big Green Egg that captured our attention immediately.  It looked like a mailbox and it was spitting pizzas out every few minutes.  We talked to the creators and found that it was a prototype of their invention - the Pizza Porta.  

Pizza Porta at the 2015 Pensacola Eggfest
Seeing the protoype in action at the 2015 Pensacola Eggfest had me intrigued.

I believe Craig's exact quote to them was, "Shut up and take my money now!"

They weren't in production yet but at the 2015 Pensacola Eggfest but at the 2016 event, I finally bought one from Escambia Electric Motor for my neighbor and BBQ teammate, John. It was a "thank you" for all the work he puts in on our BBQ team throughout the year. He makes pizzas every Saturday so I knew he'd like it (plus we borrow each other's grill accessories so it's a win-win).  

Pizza Porta fitted on a Large Big Green Egg. They also fit on a Kamado Joe.

After 6 months of heavy use, here is John's review of the Pizza Porta.

Pizza Pizza!!  Who Loves Pizza?  A Review of the Pizza-Porta


Friday, April 21, 2017

BBQ Event Coverage: Ooltewah BBQ Brawl 2017 - World Food Championship Qualifier

We had a great time at the Ooltewah BBQ Brawl last weekend. The weather was gorgeous, the aroma of 20 grills cooking filled the valley, and the crowds came out to experience it all.  What a fun food festival! 

Ooltewah BBQ Brawl 2017 World Food Championship Qualifier In Tennessee

This was a fun local food festival with a welcoming "home town" vibe, but it has implications much bigger than that.  As a qualifying round for the World Food Championships, this was like an opening round of the NCAA basketball tournament.  For the two winners, this event is the first step toward winning the lion's share of a $300,000 purse.  "All they have to do" is win 3 more times at the World Food Championships in Orange Beach, AL this November.
  • Opening Rounds - Place in the Top 10 for your category (1 of 9) for the Signature Dish and Structured Recipe entries.
  • Infursed Round - Create a winning dish based on the category's special ingredient (of course, topping the other Top 10 competitors from your category).
  • Final Table - the 9 category winners go head to head in a gloves off, no holds barred food fight with the winner taking home a world title and $110,000
Let's check out the fun!

Ooltewah BBQ Brawl 2017 World Food Championship Qualifier In Tennessee
Some members of the Ooltewah High School Choir came out to perform a patriotic medley and our National Anthem.
 You know the first thing that I like to do is go around and look at the gear people are using.  

Deep South Smokers BBQ pit at World Food Championship qualifying round at the Ooltewah BBQ Brawl 2017
Chef Nick Thiers, a World Food Championships veteran, was using this nice Deep South Smokers.  I told him he was super brave to have a white BBQ pit.  He laughed and said he cleans it more often then his car.  I know that feeling.

Choo Choo BBQ from Chattanooga/Red Bank competing at a World Food Championship qualifying round in Ooltewah TN
Just like the World Food Championships in Orange Beach, the competitors were a blend of local restaurants, amateur "back yard" teams, and professional competition teams.

Owls Nest BBQ set up at the Ooltewah BBQ Brawl
Owls Nest BBQ, a local professional competition team, set up and starting to cook.  They have a gravity feed cooker (right) and a Pit Barrel Cooker, set up for using a blower/controller (black drum on the left).  I really like the idea of a blower on a PBC. These are set it and forget type cookers meant for people new to BBQ and there aren't any settings other than the pre-set air fit at the bottom.  Doing this gives you full temperature control of the PBC and expands the possibilities. 

When one competitor sees something another competitor does and copies it - that's called "shigging".  As in "Chris saw Stevie Ray's Pit Barrel Cooker using a blower and he fully plans on shigging this idea when he gets back home."

Cute little pig faced offset BBQ pit, maybe a Lang 48? 

Friday, April 14, 2017

FREE GRILLING CLASS in Kansas City Thursday Evening, April 27th!!!!!!!!!!!!

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] Smithfield Foods is a sponsor of Nibble Me This; however, any opinions stated are my own.

How would you like to attend a FREE GRILLING CLASS in Kansas City AND participate in attempting to set a Guinness World Record?  Did I mention this free class is taught by multiple World Championship winning pitmaster, Chris Lilly?

Chris Lilly of Big Bob Gibson's BBQ has probably taught me more about BBQ than any other single person.  He will be teaching the class with Kevin Kolman of Weber Grills.

If you can get to Arrowhead Stadium on April 27th at 6pm, Smithfield is going to hook you up with that opportunity.  


Grilling classes Kansas City Smithfield





If you're in the area, start your summer grilling out in a big way and REGISTER NOW to learn from the masters!  If you know someone in the area, pass this on to them!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

BBQ Book Review: Texas BBQ - Platefuls of Legendary BBQ Flavor

Texas BBQ - Platefuls of Legendary BBQ Flavor
Publisher:  Oxmoor House
Suggested Retail:  $19.99
Release date:  TODAY - April 11, 2017

Review of Texas BBQ Platefuls of Legendary Lone Star Flavor


Texas BBQ - Platefuls of Legendary BBQ Flavor is from the Editors of Southern Living.  I have enjoyed their previous forays into BBQ Books including The Big Book of BBQ and Christopher Prieto's Ultimate Book of BBQ.  I received a free copy for review from the publisher and I have been very impressed with this book.

Growing up in the South, my idea of BBQ was the traditional Southern BBQ with lots of pork and chicken with sweet sauces or sharp vinegar sauces.  Hell, I didn't even HAVE BBQ brisket until I was over 30 years old!  Now smoked brisket is my favorite BBQ and a dream for me is to spend a few weeks crawling across Texas, sampling as many BBQ shacks and stands as I can.  Until then, Texas BBQ - Platefuls of Legendary Lone Star Flavor is a good substitute!  

Monday, April 10, 2017

Char-Broil Post: Honey BBQ Wings

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] Char-Broil is a sponsor of Nibble Me This and I receive compensation from them for developing recipes and other content.  However, any opinions offered are my own.

I am glad to have Char-Broil on board as a sponsor for 2017.  Most of my work with them will appear on their website but I want to link to it from here and give you a few behind the scenes shots.  Last month, I made these super easy and delicious Honey BBQ Wings.

Simple, easy, and quick recipe for grilled wings featuring the Char-Broil Kamander kamado grill

I cooked these wings on Char-Broil's new and first (to my knowledge) kamado style grill - The Kamander.  

The Kamander is a budget priced kamado (~$350 neighborhood).  I have to be honest and tell you that I was surprised at it's performance.  I expected it to be "not great" because of it's price point but after several grilling and smoking sessions, it actually performs well.  As I would expect from a good kamado grill, I was able to both grill at high temps and steady, low temps. Obviously, there are many factors to consider, so I'll post a full review later.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Pan Seared Ribeye Steak with Bourbon Sauce

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] We received no compensation for this post. Certified Angus Beef is a sponsor but this is not one of their sponsored posts.

Last weekend, we smoked 6 pork butts and 2 whole briskets for a friend's fundraiser dinner.  Doing all of that cooking makes one hungry, right?  So I made these steaks on one of our Big Green Eggs.

Pan seared Prime ribeye steaks recipe featuring Certified Angus Beef

Pan Seared Steaks vs Grilled Steaks

When I posted this on Instagram last weekend, someone asked "Why the pan?" for grilling steaks.  You know I love grilled steaks, that's obvious, but a pan seared steak can be just as amazing.  Both have their strong points but the advantages of cooking steaks in a pan include:

  • Pan searing steaks creates an even crust across the surface.
  • Pan searing steaks allows you to use the basting technique that a lot of chef's utilize to add flavor.
  • Pan searing steaks retains the brown bits (aka sucs) that are the foundation of great pan sauces.

Basting steaks is when you see a chef tilt a skillet and repeatedly spoon the butter and seasonings back over the steak.  This builds flavor and helps the formation of that great crust.  In this case, I had fresh tarragon growing in the front yard and tallow that we made from rendering down brisket trimmings, so that's what I used instead.  

Standard flambe warning - Fire is dangerous. Igniting alcohol can be dangerous. You should wear protective equipment, have extinguishing methods available nearby, and know what you are doing. Google "how to flambe safely" if you aren't experienced at this. 

Pan seared ribeye steaks with bourbon sauce recipe featuring Certified Angus Beef #bestbeef #gorare

Pan Seared Ribeye with Bourbon Sauce

Ingredients

  • 2 10-ounce ribeye steaks, left out at room temperature for 1 hour
  • NMT Beef Rub V.2
  • 2 tablespoons beef tallow or other high temp oil
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon roasted garlic paste
  • 1 ounce bourbon
  • 1/2 cup stock
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Huevos Rancheros Featuring Smithfield Seasoned Carnitas

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I'm proud to be a brand ambassador for Smithfield's Marinated Fresh Pork line this year and I receive compensation for this post.

I kind of feel bad for you all.  Last year Smithfield took me on those great trips to Smithfield, Virginia and The American Royal World Series of BBQ.....and I didn't get you all anything.  But here's a chance to make up for it!

Real Flavor, Real Fast

Smithfield is giving you the chance to win a trip to Napa wine country or hundreds of other prizes. All you have to do is enter the Real Flavor, Real Fast challenge and share your tips and tricks for using Smithfield marinated fresh pork products to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes or less.  It's easy to enter, just click on over to their site and then send me pictures from Napa when you win.

Examples of Smithfield's Fresh Marinated Pork include: Sweet & Smoky Marinaded Fresh Pork Roast, Seasoned Carnitas, Applewood Smoked Bacon Marinated Fresh Pork Loin Filet, and Steakhouse Mushroom Marinated Fresh Pork Loin Filet.
When I opened the package that they sent me, I immediately went for the Seasoned Carnitas.  Smithfield has already done the seasoning and trimming so all that you have to do is put them in a slow-cooker or slow roast them in an oven or grill.   

Of course, you know that I chose to cook mine on the grill. I made these Huevos Rancheros featuring Smithfield's Boneless Pork Shoulder Seasoned Carnitas.  The tender, mildly spicy chunks of pork shoulder really hit the spot, they are surprisingly easy to make, and they keep me fueled up for the day!

Easy huevos rancheros recipe with Smithfield tender Seasoned Carnitas pork shoulder, homemade salsa and fresh vegetables.



The Seasoned Carnitas cook great in a slow cooker so you can just do that while you sleep and have them ready for you when you get up in the morning for a hassle free breakfast in 30 minutes. Of course, I give alternative direction for making this on the grill, for all of my brothers/sisters in smoke.  Either way, it's Real Flavor, Real Fast.


Huevos Rancheros with Carnitas

4 servings

Ingredients


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

North Florida Eggfest 2017

[Standard FTC Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post.  I have received complimentary products in the past from some vendors mentioned, including: FlameBoss, Smokeware, Albukirky's Seasonings,Craycort, and GrillGrates.  Certified Angus Beef is a sponsor.

A few weeks ago, I went down to Florida to cook at the North Florida Eggfest.  This was a first year Eggfest sponsored by Pinch A Penny.  In addition to being a top notch Big Green Egg dealer, this Pinch A Penny is your total pool, patio, and spa store if you are in the North Florida area (Duval, St. Johns, etc).

It may have been a first year event, but from attending the event, you wouldn't know it was their first rodeo. James Simmons and the Pinch A Penny crew did their homework and put on an excellent Eggfest.

  • The event was a charity fund raiser for ESPWA Ministries.
  • They had great cooking teams involved.  Teams like Southbound Rob, Gentry's BBQ, North Georgia Eggers, and well, everyone was awesome.
  • They brought in some of the most popular accessory companies.  Smokeware, Flameboss, and Pizza Porta were on hand to demonstrate their products and answer questions.
  • Their prizes and giveaways were as good or better than some much bigger, well established Eggfests.  The prizes included inflatable Eggs, custom Yeti products, and even a BGE Mini-Max for the People's Choice winner.  That's first rate!
  • They thought of the tasters.  Small touches like giving away free bottles of ice cold water were well appreciated.
  • The swag bags for the cook teams were stuffed with great things that Eggers can use.
  • Best of all?  Pinch A Penny paid off the weatherman and we had absolutely gorgeous blue skies and warm temps. 
We had a great time cooking and serving the crowds.  The absolute best part was spending time with my best friends and our families came out for the event.  We do a lot of contests, Eggfests, and other events each year but this is the first time my whole family has ever been there at once.  That made this a special event for me.

If you didn't make it this year, you'll want to put North Florida Eggfest on your calendar for next year. It is a fantastic Eggfest and I anticipate it will grow quickly.

To give you a glimpse of our experience at this fun Eggfest, this post is entirely comprised of phone pics from my mom, my sister, and myself.

Normally it's a little over 8 hours from Knoxville to Jacksonville.  Then again, NORMALLY the Interstate in North Carolina isn't a parking lot! 

Cooking pork butts on a Big Green Egg using a Flame Boss controller and a Thermoworks ChefAlarm.
10+ hours later, I arrived in Jax.  Rhonda already had pork butts smoking on her Large BGE. She had her FlameBoss 200 controller keeping the temps.  I love her Egg table...do you think she'd notice if I tried to take it home with me the next time?

Albukirky Seasonings Green Chile Rub makes a superb smoked Tex-Mex pork butt.
These pork butts are our favorite Tex-Mex style pork - seasoned heavily with Albukirky's Green Chile Rub.  This style pulled pork is a tasty departure from the usual pulled pork and it is amazing in tacos, burritos, and on huevos rancheros.  


Friday started off with a planning meeting at Poe's Tavern in Atlantic Beach. We joked about a raven pooping on our plates. At the end of the meal, a sparrow pooped partially on my plate. Good times:)
Their burgers are big, creative, and messy. This is the Black Cat with grilled onions, applewood smoked bacon, chili, piemento cheese, and onion straws.



Beauty and the Beastie Boys.  Sean arrived from Tampa and it was time to knock out the food prep.  We three dudes tried to look "tough" but you can see we could barely contain our grins, if you look closely.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

How I Smoke Homemade Pastrami

[FTC Disclaimer] Certified Angus Beef is one of my sponsors and I receive compensation from them.  It's easy being a brand ambassador for a product that I already use and love.  

St Patty's Day is upon us and one of the most popular menu items is corned beef.  Making corned beef from scratch is a several day process so it's too late to do it this year but don't worry.



Pastrami

But for me, I only make corned beef so that I can smoke it to make pastrami!  The Reuben sandwich is one of Alexis' all-time favorite sandwiches and it's even better when you make the pastrami from scratch.

How I make, cure, and smoke pastrami at home using certified angus beef.


The basic process is:

  1. Start with a quality beef brisket "flat" from Certified Angus Beef.
  2. Make a heavily seasoned brine with savory flavors and pickling spices.
  3. Use the brine to wet cure the flat for several days.
  4. Rinse off the brisket flat, dry it, and season with a black pepper and coriander based seasoning.
  5. Smoke the brisket to 165°f-180°f.
  6. Refrigerate overnight.
  7. Steam the brisket to 200°f.
  8. Slice and serve.
Yeah, it's a bit of a process but it's not that difficult and the results are worth it.  For this pastrami, I used elements of two recipes:
  • Pastrami from Michael Symon's book, Carnivore, and 
  • Montreal Smoked Mean from Andy Husband and Chris Hart's book, Pitmaster. 


Trimming a whole beef brisket.
I could just buy a brisket flat and start there, but I had a few whole briskets in the freezer and used that instead.  So I separated the flat (pictured left) from the point (in my hands) and trimmed off most of the fat. The fat pile was used to make beef tallow so it's not waste.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Prime Ribeye Steak with Shiitake Mushrooms and Asparagus with Hollandaise

Murphy's Laws of Grilling
  1. The fire only flares up during the time that you went inside "just for a minute".
  2. The cut of meat you go to the store to buy for the cook out is never the one on sale.
  3. Trying to "grill before the storms hit" is a sure fire way to make it rain instantly.
Number 3 was the one that got me last night.  A major storm system was crossing Tennessee and I thought I had time to quickly grill a steak.  Of course, the grill is hardly preheated when the cold rain drops started pelting the deck so I pulled the grill back under the gazebo to hide out from the rain.

Alexis was at Food City and picked me up a prime Certified Angus Beef ribeye (they are a sponsor but this isn't a sponsored post).  I had some leftover shiitake mushrooms and a half a bundle of asparagus in the fridge.  I thought about doing those two together in a stir fry side dish but went this route instead.

Grilled Prime Certified Angus Beef Ribeye Shiitake Mushrooms and Asparagus
Prime Ribeye Steak with Shiitake Mushrooms and Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

Certified Angus Beef prime ribeye recipe ideas
The main characters.

Char-Broil Kamander kamado grill is a low cost option for grills like Big Green Egg
Today I was using the Char-Broil Kamander kamado grill.  They are a sponsor and this is the first kamado they have come out with since I partnered with them.  At a MSRP of $349 it's a low cost kamado and I expected to have performance issues but it actually works surprisingly well so far. I'll still be using all types and brands of kamados but I've added this one to the fold.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Gordon Ramsay MasterClass

I've been taking the Gordon Ramsay MasterClass for the past few weeks.  Alexis bought it for me as part of my anniversary present.


The class is structured as a self-paced, 20 lesson online program.
  • Each lesson is centered around a short video from Gordon Ramsay in which he discusses the topic and then demonstrates a technique or recipe.  
  • There is a PDF workbook and for each lesson the book gives links to further explore the lesson topic through other recipes that build on what Ramsay just taught.  
  • Typically there is a recipe to do hands-on practice.
  • Finally, you post your practice recipe and discuss with your fellow MasterClass students in "The Hub" (basically an online forum specific to each lesson).
Here are a few pictures of my first few practice classes.
The recipe called for using cubed bacon to saute a variety of mushrooms.  The last time I smoked a pork belly for bacon, I cubed and saved the butt ends to use for something just like this.  I sauteed portobello and shiitake mushrooms with it which made the mushrooms peppery, smoky, and delicious.

Gordon Ramsay Masterclass review practice
Using Chef Ramsay's process was about 15 minutes faster than the way I normally poached eggs.  I seasoned the egg with black pepper and alaea red clay salt.

Gordon Ramsay Masterclass review
The recipe was spot on.  I want to turn this into a gastro pub style burger.  It would be an open faced burger topped with the bacon sauteed 'shrooms and the poached egg.

Review of the Masterclass by Gordon Ramsay
Perfectly cooked poached egg.  Before I took this class, if someone asked if I knew how to poach an egg, I would have replied that of course, I do.  I still gained something because I learned a new, faster method than my old way.

Review of Gordon Ramsay's MasterClass
The classes encourage you to explore what you learned in the lesson.  To practice poached eggs, I made Eggs Benedict.  I had cured and smoked a big batch of Candian bacon.  I made a rich Hollandaise sauce and poached a few eggs using the method I had learned.

Review of Gordon Ramsay's MasterClass
Egg-ceptional!

Chef Ramsay shared his method for the creamiest scrambled eggs but his recipe involved sea urchin, which I just couldn't do.  So I did scrambled eggs his way with roasted Hatch green chiles instead of the sea urchin and Mexican crema instead of sour cream.  Served it on a warmed tostada with the last of our fire roasted salsa that we canned at the end of summer.

The most common two questions I get about the class are:
  1. Has Chef Ramsay cursed or yelled at you yet?  No.  This is an online class and there really isn't any interaction or feedback other than your fellow students.  You can upload a video question and if selected, Chef Ramsay will provide a video response, but I haven't uploaded any questions.
  2. Is the class worth the money?  Short answer: For me, it is worth the $90 we paid. 
The long answer is more complicated and more than a yes/no answer.

  • I have seen a few fellow students write that they haven't learned anything or that they get the same info from his videos already on line.  I think if you don't use the workbook and skip the assignments, I could see that being the impression.  But for me, I have learned something with each assignment I have completed.
  • If you are an accomplished cook, you might not be bowled over with new information but it still might be a fun set of exercises to reignite your passion for cooking.
  • I think that basic home cooks will gain a wealth of information and techniques, if they do the work.  It's more than just learning 17 or 18 new recipes and/or techniques.  They should gain a confidence in their culinary skills and knowledge and to me, THAT is when cooking gets fun. 
So I'm enjoying the Gordon Ramsay Masterclass. It's not the end all and it won't turn you into a Michelin star chef but it's educational and entertaining for me.  I'll post some more stuff as I get back to the classes.