Thursday, September 19, 2019

Grilled Pork Chops with Fontina Cheese Mashed Potatoes

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

These chops were so delicious for dinner last night, thick, juicy and delightfully seasoned.  Of course, you can't go wrong with cheesy mashed potatoes and to top it all off, I added a hefty dollop of smoked onion jam.

I did something different with these bone-loin chops.  First I dry brined them and then after grilling I treated them sort of like Memphis-style dry-rubbed ribs.  This is a "free cook," where I'm just cooking for the enjoyment so I won't lay out a full detailed recipe here.  

Grilled pork chops with fontina cheese mashed potatoes.

I used the dry-brine technique on the pork chops to create flavor and retain moisture during the cooking process.  The dry-brine method is applying a salty rub to meat and letting it rest, refrigerated, for a while.  At first, the salt draws out moisture from the meat but then as the concentrations change, diffusion pulls the now seasoned moisture back into the meat.  There's more to it than that, but that's the gist of it.
Tips for how to dry brine pork chops
I applied the dry brine before I left for work in the morning, so it had 9 hours to work its magic.
The dry brine was simple but covered the bases - salty, sweet, savory, and heat. 

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Midway Sausage, Pepper, and Onion Hoagies

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  We received no compensation for this post.

The Tennessee Valley Fair has been running in Knoxville.  As a kid, I loved the local fair with its bright lights, blaring sounds, and whirring "one loose bolt away from a catastrophe" rides.  Then there was the food - eating brilliant red candy apples, clouds of cotton candy, and fried funnel cakes until you might explode.  

One of my favorite memories of the fair is the smell of peppers, onions, and sausage wafting across the midway.  Here's how I make the best fair sausage hoagie at home on my Big Green Egg.  These are quick and they are also fantastic for gameday food.

Midway style sausage, peppers, and onions on a toasted hoagie.

So, this isn't as much a recipe, I mean, it's just sausage, peppers and onions, right?  But there are a few key steps in my process that make it better.

  1. Toasting the bun
  2. Using a griddle or cast-iron skillet 
  3. Seasoning the peppers and onions
  4. Splitting the sausage
  5. Using ultra-thin provolone on the veggies and meat

Big Green Egg using a Smokeware thermometer.
I like to run the grill about 400°f for sausage hoagies.

I toast the hoagie rolls cut side down without butter or anything.  I skip brushing them with butter or anything because there is enough rendered fat clinging to the sausage and veggies.  

Friday, September 6, 2019

Competition Style Ribs

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

I did a couple of racks of competition style ribs and then fed them to our neighbors at the pool a few weeks ago.  My competition rib process hasn't changed that much so I won't rehash it here.

Competition style pork spare ribs from a Kamado grill featuring Cheshire Heritage Pork ribs

Big Green Egg Modular Nest with two racks of spare ribs
I start with thick Cheshire Heritage Pork St Louis-style trimmed pork spare ribs.  They aren't cheap but I have had the best results with these.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Event Coverage: 2019 Big Kahuna Wings Festival a World Food Championships Qualifier

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

The 7th Annual Big Kahuna Wing Festival was this past weekend.  The crowds consumed some 20,000 pounds of delicious Springer Mountain Farms chicken wings during the festival and enjoyed a full schedule of entertainment activities.  

Big Kahuna Wing Festival in Knoxville, TN

Thirty-One teams competed for the "Big Kahuna" title, giving them bragging rights for the best wing in Knoxville.  But this is also a World Food Championships Qualifying Event, so the winner gets to go to Dallas later this year to compete for $100,000 at the World Food Championships sponsored by Walmart.  

Three members of our BBQ team are EAT Certified Food Judges and we were selected to judge this qualifying event.  Here is how to become a judge for the World Food Championships, if you're curious.  

Alexis and I have been judges for a few years and have judged both regional qualifiers and categories at the World Food Championships.

Mike McCloud of the World Food Championships giving judging instructions.
World Food Championships founder, Mike McCloud, gives the certified food judges assignments and special instructions for the event.

The judging format for this event was altered from the typical EAT methodology, with the approval and oversight of the WFC organization.  The judging utilized the EAT scoring system but instead of double-blind judging, this event had live on-site judging like Memphis in May.  The competitors got to present and explain their wings to us, and we got to ask questions.  As a judge, I found this experience to be much more fun and feel that I had a better understanding of the wing that I was judging.  That said, blind judging has its own set of benefits.

I was excited to be a part of this controlled experiment, and I'm glad that WFC has the confidence to explore alterations to the EAT methodology, such as on-site judging.  Who knows if this will lead anywhere, but WFC is all about innovation so you never know.  

Due to the altered format, we had a different scorecard than EAT Certified Food Judges typically use.
We were broken up into groups of 5 or 6 judges with a captain and assigned a section of teams that our group would be judging.  Then we were off to carefully evaluate the wings served to us.

Big Kahuna Wing Festival in Knoxville, TN
The location of the festival is the site of the 1982 World's Fair, thus the cryptically named World's Fair Park.  The Sunsphere, is a remnant of the World's Fair and is a Knoxville landmark.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger

[FTC Standard Disclosure] I received no direct compensation for this post; however, I have accepted two trips to the Certified Angus Beef® Brand Culinary Center this year.

I just ate the best burger last night - a pan-seared Certified Angus Beef® Brand burger on a toasted bun topped with sauteed onions, homemade pepper jack pimento cheese, and our home-cured bacon.

Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger featuring Certified Angus Beef Brand Schweid and Sons
This burger was cheesy, smoky, gooey, and slightly spicy from the poblano and pepper jack cheese.  I would be thrilled to get this burger at a sports pub.

Dinner was a last-minute thought process last night.  Alexis was calling me from Food City and I just told her to buy "burger stuff."  I wasn't sure what kind of burger I was going to make, burgers just sounded like a good idea.

Schweid & Sons burger patties are ideal for quick dinner solutions.
My favorite way to make a burger is to start with a home ground brisket and sirloin flap blend, but I wasn't about to do all of that tonight.  For quick nights like this, we often go with Schweid and Son's.  The C.A.B. All American is made with Certified Angus Beef® Brand chuck with the One Percenter burgers are made with USDA Prime Certified Angus Beef® Brand beef.

When Alexis got home, she reminded me that we had a batch of Pepper Jack Pimento Cheese that we made earlier in the week.  Naturally, we decided to make pimento cheese burgers.

Digging in the freezer, Alexis found some home-cured Sorghum and Bourbon Bacon that we smoked a while back.  The burgers just got upgraded.

My set up for the cook was a large Big Green Egg filled with Tennessee hardwood lump charcoal lit in three places with a gas torch.  I ran it with direct heat in the 400°f range for the bacon and onions.  When I put the burgers on, I upped the temperature to 450°f.

I placed a small cast-iron skillet directly on the grill grates.  I added a bit of beef tallow and then a thinly sliced onion for sauteed onions.  I just tossed them every few minutes until they were golden brown.  Then I seasoned them with some of my finely ground beef rub, but you could just use salt and pepper.

Cooking bacon in cast iron skillet on a Big Green Egg
This Sorghum Bourbon Bacon is a recipe from my second book, The Offset Smoker Cookbook.  That's cooking in a Lodge 8SK, a fantastic skillet for the grill.  It is inexpensive, built like a tank and fits well inside an Egg or other 18" sized grill.  Just take care of it, and you'll have a grill skillet for life.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Product Review: Challenger Designs Torch 48 Grilling Cart

Earlier this year, Grillin' Garry hosted a raffle fund-raiser benefiting The Center for Violence-Free Relationships.  The project doubled the raised funds thanks to a matching contribution from Blue Cross Blue Shield of California.

Alexis bought an entry ticket and that's the last we thought of it.  We frequently enter various charity raffles but never win, we just consider it a donation.  So Alexis was shocked when she got a notification that she had won the grand prize - a Challenger Designs Torch 48 grilling cart.

Review of Challenger Designs Torch 48 grill cart

Challenger Design grilling carts are recognized as the Ferrari of grilling tables. I've wanted one ever since my sister bought hers several years ago, because of the well thought out design and meticulous construction. 

My sister's Challenger Designs Torch 48 with a large Big Green Egg and Mini-Max.
My sister's challenger cart is over 5 years old and has spent the entire time exposed to the humid elements in Florida, but it remains in fantastic condition.  Here we are using it to smoke green chile pork butt for the North East Florida Eggfest a few years ago.

Why are the Challenger Design carts so good?  For me, it comes down to quality, dry-storage, and durability.

  • Quality - The Challenger Designs Torch is designed and made with a focus on "good enough isn't good enough."  Everything fits together, snug and secure.  When you shut a cabinet door, you can hear the quality.  When you slide a drawer out, it feels smooth and steady.  Just looking at the sleek cabinet, the quality is evident.
  • Dry-Storage - The cabinets are weatherproof and keep out the dirt and moisture.  Now I can keep things like my Flame Boss, my Thermoworks electronics, and my heat gloves out by the grill all of the time.  No more having to run inside to grab gloves or a Thermapen at the last minute.
  • Durability -Let's face it, the Challenger Designs Torch isn't cheap.  It had better last so you can spread the cost out over many, many years.  They use non-corrosive, lightweight aluminum that won't warp, rot, or rust and back it with a limited lifetime warranty.  My sister's cart stays in a rather harsh environment, and it has stood the test of time.

I was THRILLED to add the Challenger Designs Torch 48 to my outdoor line-up.  To the left is a large BGE with a BGE Modular Nest.  Center is a large BGE in the new Challenger Designs cart and to the right is my BGE Mini-Max on a basic stainless cart from Sam's.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Event Notice: AmazingRibs announces Pitmaster Club Meat-Up In Memphis

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

If you follow my blog, you know that I love grilling meetups where grillings and BBQ enthusiasts from all over the country get together for a few days of amazing food, sharing techniques, and meeting new friends.  The number 1 BBQ website,, is putting together a Meat-Up in Memphis, one of the BBQ capitals of the US.  Here is the press release for more info - 


– Inaugural Event Brings BBQ Lovers Together In The Capital City Of Pork BBQ For
Spectacular Food, Seminars, And Fellowship –

MEMPHIS, TN (AUGUST 21, 2019) –, the world’s leading outdoor cooking
resource, today unveiled details for the Pitmaster Club Meat-Up In Memphis,
a first-of-its-kind BBQ weekend filled with spectacular food, seminars, and fellowship taking
place in Memphis from July 31 - August 2, 2020. The event is limited to 400 attendees, so early
registration is encouraged.

This is THE ONLY barbecue conference for consumers, bringing enthusiasts together in one of
the BBQ meccas to experience some great educational sessions, enjoy some amazing food
prepared by renowned BBQ competitors and restauranteurs, and socialize with fellow Pitmaster
Club members.