Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Bourbon Butter Pork Chops with Cheesy Potatoes

[FTC Standard Disclosure] I have a business agreement with Oklahoma Joe's; however, it has nothing to do with this blog or my social media.  I received no compensation for this post.

A boatload of good grilling and BBQ books have come out in the past few years.  At the time things were busy, and I didn't get to spend the time cooking them.  Now I'm delving back into these books like these ridiculously good pork chops from the book Praise the Lard by Mike Mills and Amy Mills.


The original recipe was Bourbon-Buttered Reverse Sear Double-Cut Pork Chops.  I only had single-thick chops, so I made it work, I just had to adjust the length of the smoking portion of the cook.  We also made the Cheesy Potatoes recipe from the same book and fire-roasted summer squash. 


The Top Shelf Bourbon Butter melts over the smoky chops creating an intense buttery sauce.  
I made the sides in a large Big Green Egg and did the chops and bacon on the Oklahoma Joe's Bronco drum smoker.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Event: Certified Angus Beef BBQ Summit 2019

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  I was fortunate to have my travel, food, and lodging for this trip paid for by Certified Angus Beef® Brand.

May is National BBQ Month and Certified Angus Beef® Brand kicked things off by hosting their first BBQ Summit at their Culinary Center.  They brought in amazing pitmasters from legendary BBQ joints across the country to do some hands-on butchery lessons, discuss the science behind the sizzle, light the spark of new recipe concepts, and share their BBQ stories.

2019 BBQ Summit at Certified Angus Beef Brand

The BBQ talent that attended this event was so incredible that if I were to start dropping names, you'd have to put on steel-toed boots!  I was thrilled to be invited to tag along, and I wanted to share the fun and information with you.

Day 1 Travel and Reception Dinner

The first day was a travel day for everyone, but the chefs and crew at the Culinary Center put together one heck of a reception and dinner.

Airport routing is always interesting, I flew into Cleveland from Knoxville by way of NYC.

The Certified Angus Beef® Brand's Culinary Center is located in Wooster, Ohio, adjacent to their corporate headquarters.  It houses a gorgeous meeting room, offices, a newly expanded dining facility, a full-service bar, the Meat Lab, and two commercial kitchens - one front facing and a typical "back of the house" kitchen.

The reception started off with a vast charcuterie table featuring many of their house-made dried beef sausages.  I could have just eaten that and been fat and happy.  

2019 BBQ Summit at Certified Angus Beef Brand
Do you remember The Big Salad episode of Seinfeld?  Chef Brad Parker does! Here he is putting together a huge salad, Elaine would approve.  I'm not sure if that is a paella pan or a satellite dish stolen from a deep space observatory, that thing is gargantuan! 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Giveaway: Operation BBQ - 200+ Smokin' Recipes from Competition Grand Champions - UPDATED

Operation BBQ Relief is one of the best organizations that you can support.  OBR was founded to feed survivors and first responders in the wake of the Joplin Tornado in 2011.  Since then, Operation BBQ Relief has gone on to have 57 deployments and provide over 2.9 million meals to those in need and first responders.  

The organization has released Operation BBQ - 200+ Smokin' Recipes from Competition Grand Champions as a fundraiser and this is a top-notch, rocking BBQ and grilling cookbook.


Let's face it, sometimes community fund-raiser cookbooks are a hodge-podge of hit and miss recipes.  They are often full of lack-luster recipes like Aunt Judy's jello mold or are unoriginal casserole recipes copied from the label on a can of condensed "cream of whatever" soup.

Not this one!  Every single recipe in Operation BBQ comes from a competition BBQ team that has at least one Grand Champion victory to their credit.  The recipes are kickin' and the photography by Ken Goodman is drool-inducing.  For example....

Jalapeno and Applewood Bacon Burgers with Smoked Vermont Cheddar and Crispy Vidalia Onions by Three Men and A Babyback BBQ Team (page 147).  Photo from the book.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Event Recap: 2019 Sunshine State Eggfest in Vero Beach, FL

The Nibble Me This Grilling & BBQ Team had a fun-filled time at the Sunshine State Eggfest hosted by Wassi's Meat Market this past weekend in Vero Beach.


An Eggfest is a food festival that features mouth-watering grilled delights cooked on Big Green Eggs by teams of "Eggheads" (BGE enthusiasts).  This year there were 41 grilling teams, 8 restaurant teams, and 10 vendor teams participating in the event that raises money for Candlelighters of Brevard.

So much fun, food, and fellowship go on at these events that it is impossible to capture it all in a post.  But here are some pictures from the weekend to give you an idea of what goes on at these food festivals.

For Alexis and me, it starts with loading up the truck with coolers, hotboxes, grilling tools, and whatever else we can fit in the Titan XD.   Our drive for this event was 13 hours thanks to traffic so we got to the AirBnB (actually VBRO?) after dark. 

I woke up the next morning and saw that Sean was fishing at dawn. I rolled over an got another hour or two of sleep, the fish could wait.  Photo credit: Rhonda Hollis

We were on the Indian River which brings back memories of driving to Cape Canaveral to watch Apollo and Shuttle launches.   Rhonda got this fantastic picture from the balcony.
Usually, we do most of the food prep on Thursday at Rhonda's home so we have Friday to goof off and finish up any details.  This year; however, work got in the way and we ended up prepping most everything on Friday.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Product Review: Char-Broil Kamander (after 2 years of use)

[FTC Disclosure]  I received my Kamander for free from Char-Broil when they first came out.  I do have a service contract with Oklahoma Joe's, a related company; however, that agreement does not require or request that I post about their products on this blog or social media.  Anything I post here is just because I feel like it.

Earlier this week, news outlets reported on Consumer Reports testing of kamado grills and Consumer Reports recommended the Char-Broil® Kamander™ for a low-cost kamado.  The Kamander currently lists at $379, but it is currently advertised as low as $299.

I thought that I would share my experience with this cooker after two years of use, for the people who are considering buying one.

Image from Char-Broil.com

Initial Impressions

I have to admit that I had preconceived notions about this smoker before I got it.  I was expecting to dislike it because of bad experiences using another brand of cheap, metal kamado grills.

When I unboxed and assembled the Char-Broil Kamander, I thought it looked snazzy, I loved the price, and I liked how light it was compared to my heavy ceramic kamado grills.  But my past use of cheap metal kamados made me wary.  I didn't like the weird air intake vent, I assumed that holding temperatures would be an issue, and I thought it would rust out quickly.

It only took a few cooks to prove me wrong.   For the past 2 years, we have used our Kamander in frequent rotation with our other grills and smokers. This kamado became our "on the road grill" because it was so portable.  It even got pressed into severe use, cooking several hundred wings at the 2018 Big Kahuna Wing Festival when our big smoker went down. Our abuse of the Kamander has shown that this kamado can grill and smoke with the best of them.

Here is a breakdown of the Kamander, component by component.

Exterior Shell

The shell is made out of powder coated steel.  The dome lid is double-insulated to maintain steady temperatures, and the exterior stays relatively cool, showing the insulation is sufficient. The base is double insulated by utilizing the internal components and also stays relatively cool.


The advantage of the metal shell is that it is much lighter than the ceramic shell of my Eggs. The obvious concern with steel is rust but two years in and I have none anywhere on mine so far, inside or out. The metal does not have the temperature stabilizing thermal mass of ceramic, but I haven't seen this be an issue even on cold, windy days.  A strength of the metal shell is it doesn't break like ceramic.

Gasket

The gasket is the piece that makes an airtight seal.  The stock gasket on my three Big Green Eggs was constructed of felt and two of those gaskets burned out within six months. A "high performance" gasket offered as an upgrade, I believe that is made of Nomex® or another type of meta-aramid.  I chose instead to replace the gasket on my Eggs with a woven fiber gasket, and I have never had to replace those.  Kamado Joe has switched to a woven fiber gasket on their new kamados.

The Kamander features a woven fiber gasket, as well.


Instead of adhesive, this gasket is held on by a series of spring clips.  I was worried that the spring clips would give out, but that hasn't been an issue, I've never had to touch them since installation.  My gasket has held up nicely, it is still fully intact and doesn't leak air.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Dry Aged Ribeye Steaks

[FTC Disclosure] I received the steak knives as a gift from Certified Angus Beef® Brand.  

I have been having some fun with dry-aged, ribeye steaks over the past month.

Dry-aged ribeye steak with crisp potato stack

I had the steaks because I had dry-aged a Certified Angus Beef® Brand whole ribeye to make this dry aged ribeye roast.  It was one of the final recipes that we shot earlier this year for my new book coming out in July 2019.  

Dry aged smoked ribeye roast from The Offset Smoker Cookbook

I like to use UMAi Dry bags for dry aging because I don't have a dedicated dry aging refrigerator.  These bags are semi-permeable and let air and moisture pass out through the bag but won't let aromas from other foods in the fridge get to the ribeye.

I placed the ribeye into the bag and then vacuum-seal the end with a special membrane (supplied in the kit) in place. One problem we ran into was our vacuum sealer.  After burning through sealer after sealer, we finally found a durable one that we like and has lasted a few years.  The problem is to seal these bags with a ribeye in it, we actually needed one that opens up like a clamshell, so we had to buy another cheap one, just for this.

Dry aging a Certified Angus Beef Brand ribeye using an UMAi Dry bag
Ribeye in the fridge. Notice that it is on a raised rack so air can circulate around the entire ribeye.  The sweet spot for dry aging is 33-36°f, so I kept a refrigerator thermometer near the ribeye to make sure that it was staying in that range.  I also kept an eye on relative humidity (65-70%) with a cheap hygrometer and put a small battery powered fan near the ribeye.
I dry aged this ribeye for 30 days.  During that time, a couple of things happen.  Moisture evaporates from the meat, which is going to concentrate the flavor much like reducing a stock.  Also, natural enzymes in the meat break down the meat, making it more tender and flavorful.


Thursday, April 4, 2019

Stockyard Spud - Prime Rib Stuffed Baked Potatoes

[FTC Disclosure]  I received no direct compensation for this post; however, I am attending an expenses-paid trip to Certified Angus Beef® Brand's BBQ Summit later this month.  Also, if you end up buying one of my books, obviously I get compensation there.

The Stockyard Spud is my latest creation from leftovers.  It is a mammoth-sized Idaho spud fire-roasted on a kamado grill and then stuffed with chopped, smoked prime rib, beef jus, cheddar cheeses, and caramelized onions.  

The Stockyard Spud - Fire roasted potato stuffed with smoked prime rib, beef jus, cheddar cheese, and caramelized onions featuring Certified Angus Beef Brand


If you don't have a slice of prime rib roast lying around, some chopped up leftover steak would be just as good in this.  Heck, this will let you split one steak between 3 or 4 people and still leave no one hungry.

I'm not going to write up the recipe, this is more of a "take the concept and run with it" kind of thing.  If you have any questions, just shoot me an email or reach out on social media.  I had to turn off comments because of the ridiculous amounts of spam comments per day made it too hard to manage.

I happened to have a slice of this dry-aged, smoked rib roast leftover from the last photo shoot for my second book -  The Offset Smoker Cookbook (releases in July 2019).

I dry aged an 18-pound Certified Angus Beef® Brand ribeye roast for 30 days using a Umai Dry bag.