Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tales of BBQ Boot Camp

I don't think there is any better blogging than this. It is a seasonal, breezy May afternoon. I have the day off of work and I am 4 feet away from my Big Green Egg. The sweet smell of hickory smoke and ribs drifts by as I type away.

Why am I off of work on a Thursday? Let's just call it an "applied learning day". You see, after work the past two evenings, I attended World Champion BBQ-er, Mike Davis', BBQ Bootcamp in nearby Sevierville, TN. So today, I took a personal day to try a few things that we discussed.

I will not post what I learned, recipes given, or anything like that because that's why you pay for the class, right? But you probably will see some of the influences pop up in my bbq posts down the road. The only thing I'll tell you today isn't really a secret. I'm trying my spare ribs hotter at 300f instead of the traditional 225f "low and slow" temp.

But here are some shots of the class.

Mike breaks us down in boot camp by telling us
we're worthless and weak. (just kidding)

Mike would discuss the basics of a technique and then...

And then have a few folks get up and try the technique.
A participant spatchcocks a chicken.Then as teams we were assigned a recipe, given the ingredients, and
then prepped the dish in front of the rest of the class.

Of course, the best part was tasting the results.
Here are my quick thoughts on the class:
  • Very entertaining.
  • Hands on - This is not a lecture series. You have rubs, ingredients, etc. right at your table and you are expected to participate, the best way to learn.
  • Walters State culinary school was exceptional with their hospitality and facilities.
  • I expected only locals but was surprised to meet people who had traveled from New Jersey and Detroit solely to attend these classes.
If you failed to attend, don't blame me:) I posted about it on here and on the Egghead Forum. Don't miss out next year.

If you are nearby, consider attending the Bloomin' Bluegrass and BBQ festival and contest this weekend. It is in gorgeous and fun Sevierville, TN. In my opinion, this region is the happiest place on earth despite what that talking rodent in Orlando might say. I've lived in both places.

Dead End BBQ Cooking Series
Another excellent opportunity is coming up. The next class in Dead End BBQ's 2010 Cooking Series in Knoxville is taught by pitmaster, Chris Lilly. You've probably seen Chris on Food Network, The Today Show, or guest appearance on BBQ Pitmasters. Or maybe you know him as the national spokesman for Kingsford. Or maybe you know him as the operator of Big Bob Gibson's BBQ in Decatur AL.

Chris will be teaching a class targeted for Backyard Cooks such as you and me at Dead End BBQ on May 22, 2010 from 8:30am to 12:30pm. The class is limited to 40 people and I have already signed up.

Trust me on this one. I had the privilege of helping Chris prep for a bbq class last year and absorbed a fount of information. If you are within driving distance and want to up your grilling and bbq skills, then you NEED to attend this class.

So how did my "less low and less slow" ribs turn out? No surprise, I over cooked them and they were "fall off the bone". I know most people like them that way, but I like mine just a bit firmer.

This was the first time I cooked them at 300f. The first time I cooked ribs at 250f, they weren't as good as mine now either. I might give 300f another chance or two.

They were good, just not perfect.


  1. The boot camp looks great. Love the photos and look forward to seeing how the class influenced you.

    I'm curious what the reason for the higher cooking temperature? It seems a little sacriligious.

    And good for you for taking time off work to BBQ - I can't think of a better reason to skip! (well, maybe eat wings)

  2. I swear I can smell your Bull...uh I mean your BBQ right now :)

    One day I am going to save my KFC money and come to one of those classes...darn I am going to give up my coleslaw habit, I promise...

    No really I have committed to loosing 40 pounds by August, and I am doing it...glad you had fun, and thanks for sharing, well, not sharing secrets :)

  3. Yeah, they appear just barely edible. Oh, look! There's Halley's comet!

  4. This class sounds seriously awesome. Barbecuing is my definite weak point when it comes to cooking (maybe because I live on the 12th floor of an apartment building with no yard or balcony...or maybe because subconsciously I have decided to just marry someone who will do the barbecuing. Who knows.)

    Your ribs sound awesome though. Maybe I will convince my dad to make them...

  5. Sounds like it was well worth your time.

  6. Pretty soon you are going to be teaching these things! GREG PS Nice egg, did you brings yours to class?

  7. Chris, what gorgeous results you got with those ribs. I don't grill. I leave it to my husband, so I would have loved to go to such a class. I couldn't help but smile at the picture of the man studying the green egg as if he had never seen one.

  8. Why didn't Food Network film this??

  9. Those ribs look delectable, what a fantastic outcome. I'm not a big griller, but every time I see pictures of ribs like that it makes me somewhat wish I did it more often.

  10. The other Mrs. L agrees, I'd eat the fall off the bones ribs in a heartbeat. Boot camp sounds like a great idea, wish I could have gone.

  11. I am jealous of your bbq bootcamp. As for the less lower and less slower, I have never gotten that technique to work. There is just too little time to pull the ribs off when they are perfectly cooked. I always over cook them too.


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