Friday, April 2, 2010

Quick Pizzas and info on BBQ Classes

Last night was the first night of a three day weekend and a gorgeous Spring evening, so we made some pizzas outside on the Big Green Egg.

I've often said that my Egg is not only a smoker and grill, but also a wood fired oven. That is possible thanks to this critter known as a "plate setter".

As you can see, it is a ceramic piece with three legs that can be inserted into the Egg either "legs up" or in this case "legs down". "Legs up" is a set up for indirect cooking and it lets you insert a drip pan and standard cooking grate.

"Legs down" turns your Egg into more of a convection oven. The heat from your natural wood coal fire down below rushes up through the three gaps. There it hits the curved top of the Egg at the edges and reflect inwards, creating a circular current of hot air. Instead of using a grill grate, I just put my preheated pizza stone directly on the plate setter like this.

This one was simply our standard sauce, mozzarella, red onion, yellow bell pepper, baby bella mushrooms, and mini pepperonis.
I swear there is something special about pizzas cooked like this that you can't capture in an oven. Fire roasted pizza joints are popping up everywhere in Knoxville. I just use the one on my deck.

BBQ Boot Camp
The Bloomin' BBQ & Bluegrass Festival is a great event held in Sevierville, TN in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains each Spring. In addition to the BBQ contest, they will be having a BBQ Bootcamp for those wanting to learn from the best.

Mike Davis of the Lotta Bull competitive BBQ team is a real champ. You may have seen him win the BBQ Championship series on the Versus channel a few years ago. He has also won the American Royal Invitational (2006), the big daddy of them all. I met Mike the following year at then 2007 Tennessee State BBQ Championship, which he also won.

Mike will be teaching two of the three courses. If you have ever priced BBQ classes, you know this is a bargain! Here's the text from the festival website:

What better way to kick off a BBQ Vacation than to attend the all new BBQ Boot Camp presented by Bloomin’ Barbeque & Bluegrass? Learn BBQ techniques from world champion Mike Davis (Lotta Bull BBQ – Marietta, OK) and sweeten it up with a Pastries & Desserts class taught by Chef Catherine Hallman. All classes will be hands-on and eat-what-you-make so come ready to cook and maybe just a little bit hungry.

BBQ Boot Camp can pick and choose which classes they want to take for only $50 each or take all three for only $125! Supplies and meats are included. Each class takes place between 5:30-9:30pm so there’s plenty of time to check out the great attractions, shopping and dining in the area during the day. Also, special room rates will be available for BBQ Boot Camp attendees.

BBQ Boot Camp classes will be taught at the Rel Maples Institute for Culinary Arts at Walters State Community College in Sevierville, TN. This new facility offers state-of-the-art kitchen facilities rivaling major cooking schools nationwide.

May 11
Spices, Rubs & Sauces ($50) –
Instructor World Champion BBQ Cooker Mike Davis

May 12
Advanced BBQ Smoking – using The Big Green Egg ($50)
Instructor World Champion BBQ Cooker Mike Davis

May 13
Pastries & Desserts ($50) –
Instructor Chef Catherine Hallman

Did you notice he'll be using the Big Green Egg? I'm signing up today. Here's the sign up form if you're interested.

Have you ever taken any cooking classes like this and if so, how did you like it?