Friday, July 9, 2010

Grilling Pellet Envy and Sam's Club Card Giveaway

One of the best things about BBQ and cooking is that you can get the opportunity to rub elbows with the top names in the game. It would be like a tennis fan getting to talk with Nadal or Roddick.

A few weeks ago, my favorite Sam's Club rep asked me if I'd be interested in the opportunity to "grill" Rod Gray of the competitive BBQ team Pellet Envy. Pellet Envy won last year's KCBS Team of the Year by besting about 4,800 other teams throughout the year's contests. If you have never been to a sanctioned BBQ contest, you don't understand what an achievement it is to win one event, let alone be consistent enough all year to win Team of the Year. It takes not only skill but an enormous amount of practice, dedication and sacrifice. For example, Rod spent weeks on end away from home and traveled 40,000+ miles to compete. Diva Q can tell you, it is hard work competing.

Of course I jumped at the chance and last week, Cyndi (Yes! You Can Grill) and I spent an hours long phone conversation picking Rod's brain for tips, trick, and techniques about grilling and BBQ. Rod was incredibly busy. Not only was he trying to get ready for the Daytona Smoke On The Water contest, he was also serving the likes of Dale Jarrett and other NASCAR personnel some amazing Q as part of a promotional event for Sam's.
Rod explaining to Dale that Dale's "pit crew" can't make BBQ cook any faster than Rod's "pit crew"....BBQ is done when it's done.

I have pages of notes from the conversation and have struggled with what I should write about, since I can't cover it all. I decided to limit it to one technique tip, one ingredient tip, and on preparation tip.

Technique Tip
Fruit woods like cherry or apple will increase coloring of the smoked meats but have lower heat. Oak and hickory put out higher heat (BTU). I have often mixed fruit and hardwoods but never knew the coloring or BTU issues.

Ingredient Tip
I asked about specialty meats like waygu beef or berkshire pork. Rod advised he doesn't use it in competition and his results last year speak for themselves. He uses USDA choice beef and gets all of his pork from Sam's because he can pretty much get them at any contest site.

Prime Secret: Rod mentioned that Sam's is dabbling in USDA prime beef. He said he has found it in Kansas City and Daytona Sam's only recently. It hasn't hit Tennessee as of this week but keep your eyes peeled, you might get lucky.

Preparation Tip
A common theme in several areas of discussion (common grilling mistakes/cooking for crowds/contests) was that ADVANCE PREP WORK MAKES GRILLING MORE FUN. Do anything you can a day or at least hours in advance to make the cooking fun for you. Plan your menu around that concept and follow your plan. Simple yet effective!

Sam's Club Giveaway
Sam's Club is sponsoring another giveaway for me. This time up for grabs for one lucky winner is:
1) A free Sam's Club membership (I think that's a $35 value if memory serves) and
2) a $25 Sam's Club gift card

To enter, all you have to do is check their website here and then in the comment section below tell me what is the closest Sam's location to you. A winner will be drawn via on Monday (7/12/10 7pm EST) and my rep will send the winner the prize directly.

FTC Disclosure Notice
While Sam's is sponsoring the giveaway prize, no compensation has been provided to me for posting this. I post these because I appreciate them supporting the competitive and recreational BBQ/grilling events.

I have been a paid member of Sam's Club since 1999 and enjoy getting a lot of my grilling products from them. Here is my top 10 list of things I get from my Sam's Club
  1. nitrile gloves (food handling)
  2. 1/4 cup plastic serving cups - they are recyclable and make "on the fly" measuring during prep work so amazingly easy!
  3. pork butts
  4. spare ribs (3 pack) (Thank you for not selling those nasty "enhanced" ribs)
  5. whole pork loin
  6. chicken wings
  7. bulk rolls of aluminum foil
  8. steam pans and 1/2 steam pans
  9. short paper products (paper plates, solo cups, serving trays)
  10. whole beef ribeye
Thanks to Sam's for setting up the call and Rod for being so gracious with our questions.