Saturday, March 31, 2012

Saturday Miscellaneous

Just a few odds and ends.

Final Fire Day Friday
I posted my last guest post for Fire Day Friday at Our Krazy Kitchen last night and it was a good one.  I simple grilled chicken sandwich with a creamy red pepper sauce that was to die for.  I can't believe how easy but great the sauce was.  I'll be reusing that spread for other things for sure.

Gas Leak
One of the great things my blog has given me is the chance to work behind the scenes on product development with great companies.  The down side is that I'm often not at liberty to talk about those things until they come to fruition on the market.  

Right now I have a grill grate prototype that I can't show on my blog because it's in development and a new line of beans that I have known about for while but can't write about until next week.  But we have finely been given the green light to "leak" info about a new Kingsford product that is coming out this Memorial Day - HICKORY INFUSED PROPANE.  The official campaign starts mid-month but apparently the info got out on a BBQ forum so Kingsford has decided to let the test group go ahead and blog about it.  Here is Clint Cantwell, editor of and pitmaster of the Smoke In Da Eye competitive bbq team, talking a little bit about it.

UPDATE:  Yeah.....this was an April Fools prank :) :) :)

BBQ Central Show
Greg Rempe of the BBQ Central Show has shown his usual bad judgement and invited me back for another segment on the BBQ Central Show for Tuesday, April 10th.  Not sure of what time yet but the show runs 9pm to 11pm EST.  The weekly show is about all things BBQ and grilling, from competition cooking to the back yard grill.  

Greg makes the show not only informative but entertaining.  BBQ Central interviews some of the biggest and hottest names in BBQ & grilling, be it comp teams, sanctioning bodies, celebrities, manufacturers or even back yard hacks like myself.  There is a lot of good natured ribbing but also a lot of tips are shared.  It is available live (with video and chat room) or podcast (audio only). 

Tune in for my interview but stay for the whole show and see what BBQ Central is all about.  Get in the smoke!

Okay, I'm off to do some work around the house.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Front Yard Butter

One of the good things about the very mild winter is that the fresh herbs in our front yard are already in full production mode.
Sage, thyme and tarragon in my front yard.

On the other hand, so are the critters. 
  • The good - I've already seen the first lightning bug of the year,
  • The bad - I've also already seen my first flying vampire - a mosquito,
  • The ugly - this little dude was hanging out in our driveway
Tiny little guy, about 6-7" long.

I didn't know what kind of snake it was but I was glad that I let it live.  It was a Northern water snake, non-venomous and beneficial (unless you're a bug or small furry critter).  In fact, of all the 23 types of snakes in East Tennessee, only 2 are venomous. 

Enough snake, more steak!

One of the things I like to do with grilled steaks is serve it with a compound butter.  Tonight I just used some tarragon, parsley, and thyme from our front yard.  Plus....a secret ingredient that makes your butter better.  

Grilled Ribeye Steak with Front Yard Butter
Source:  Nibble Me This

  • 4 ribeye steaks, left at room temperature for 1 hour
  • Steak seasoning* to taste
  • 8 Tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp parsley finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp anchovy paste*

  1. Pick your herbs from my front yard.  Just watch out for my guard snake.  
  2. Mix the softened butter, herbs, garlic and anchovy paste together thoroughly.  Form into a log or roll and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Preheat a charcoal grill to 500f (high heat) and just before grilling, make sure the grates are clean and lightly oiled. 
  4. Season the steaks and then grill until they reach an internal temp of about 130f for medium rare, about 4 minutes per side.  
  5. Remove steaks from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Place each steak on a warm plate*, top with a scoop of the compound butter, and serve.
  • Quantity - This makes almost twice as much butter than you need but you'll find other uses for it. 
  • Steak seasoning - A simple rub of salt/pepper/granulated garlic (2:1:1 ratio) works fine.  Tonight I was testing out a friend's new beef rub that is about to hit the market.  
  • Anchovy paste - I know, I know.  I HATE fish!  But slipping a little of this in your compound butter gives it a umami flavor that goes great with steaks and NO ONE will ever guess it's in there. 
  • Warm plate - a cold plate makes the butter and steak juices congeal faster, not pretty. 
We splurged on a whole ribeye last week.  Hand trimmed it into 14 steaks.

Not blurred for witness protection program...I'm testing out a prototype grill grate for someone and can't release pictures just yet.

Served with a steak side classic - creamed spinach.

The creamed spinach that I served with it was one of the better ones I have ever had.  You can find that recipe at Chef John's site, Foodwishes

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pimento Macaroni and Cheese

I guess that I forgot to mention that I was going away for a week on a fishing trip with Trevor and my father in law in Florida.

Gone fishin' ......

Actually, I didn't forget, I just didn't want any of you folks to steal our two Big Green Eggs while I was gone, (not that I don't trust you - wink).

When Trevor and I got back, I was craving some good barbecue so I uncovered the grill and smoked a rack of pork loin back ribs (aka "baby back" although these were 2 1/2 down instead of 2 1/4 down).

big green egg ribs, craycort grate ribs, kamado ribs, grill dome ribs
Gratuitous rib shot.

I won't go into the details because I used a version of the method I learned in George Ewart's Hands On Rib Class at Dead End BBQ last year.  George is repeating the class next month [details here] and I would highly recommend the class.  Whether you are a beginner wanting to learn to BBQ or a seasoned competitor, you will learn a lot.

Alexis made a batch of her pimento mac and cheese to go with the ribs.  Mac and cheese is a perennial BBQ side dish and let's be up front, it's not health food.  I'd rather do an extra 20 minutes on my work out than eat "lite" mac and cheese.

The recipe can be made in the oven but we also like to do it on the grill in a stoneware pan.  I like the way stoneware cooks on the grill, it acts as a heat sink and helps cook evenly.  The particular pan used here is a deep dish pie pan (11" x 2") from the Family Heritage line at Pampered Chef.  Many people often ask me about the durability of stoneware on the grill.  Almost all of the stoneware you see used on my blog are at least over 6 years old, some 10 years old.
Served with Bush's  new Sweet Mesquite Grillin' Beans.

Pimento Macaroni and Cheese
adapted from Kelli's Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

  • 16 oz Velveeta, cut into 1" cubes*
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 18 oz large elbow macaroni, dry
  • 2 cups colby jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp McCormick's Smoked Paprika
  • 3 Tbsp roasted red pepper*, diced
  1.  Pour the cream and milk into a medium sauce pan over medium heat.  Add the Velveeta and allow to melt, stirring occasionally.  Add the butter and melt.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Cook the pasta according to directions.
  3. Place the pasta and half of the shredded cheese in a pan that will hold the pasta about 2-3 inches deep.  Pour the cheese sauce over the pasta.  Top with the other half of shredded cheese.  Sprinkle with smoked paprika.
  4. Bake at 350f on charcoal grill (indirect heat) until the top is golden and bubbly, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Yes, Velveeta.  Don't judge me.  The Bible says it's okay. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:  A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to use Velveeta."  I swear it's in there.  Trust me, don't go look it up.  I'm quoting the Bible, would I lie?
  • I find that roasted red pepper gives much more flavor than jarred pimentos, which are often lacking in the flavor department.
  • Served with Bush's New Sweet Mesquite Grillin' Beans (Black beans simmered with onions and red pepper in a sweet and smoky sauce).  Helps make up a little bit for the mac and cheese since a serving of the beans has only 1 gram total fat.  But I still have to do extra workouts today because of the mac and cheese!  It was worth it....
Ran out of hickory chunks so I used 2 small hickory splits from my offset smoker, then buried them in more coal.

Like I said, went easy route and used Dead End BBQ rub...

And Dead End BBQ sauce.
George's rib technique is meant for spare ribs but works on loin backs too, if you adjust the time.

Pimento Macaroni and Cheese on the big gree egg, kamado grill mac and cheese,
Don't worry if you have a little "over-bubble-itivity"

[Standard Disclaimer] Bush Beans - I have a paid business agreement with Bush Beans for this year but have used their products for long before.  McCormick/Lawry's - I had a recent paid post with McCormick's and received a box load of free samples.  Pampered Chef - I paid full price for the Pampered Chef stoneware mentioned.  Dead End BBQ - I pay full price for their food and classes.  I just like to promote them because George and his crew do a great job. 

If you were born before MTV, you probably remember family and friends get togethers where someone would break out the carousel slide projector and share vacation pictures.  Here is my modern version of that.

There were 4 dozen other boats fishing "the Pass" at Pensacola on day 1.
We cruised the coastline 10-20' deep, site fishing for cobia.  Dolphin in the foreground.

Me standing on the seat, searching for the elusive cobia. We didn't find them....
But we did find and track a large school of black drum for 45 minutes.

We hooked up a half dozen times while paralleling the school.

The drum were all big hogs! 

Trevor (12 y/o)  getting practice at the helm.  He is going to get an operators license this summer.

Yeah, I've had mornings where I'm slow and need this sign too.

Fishing at Pensacola Pass on Day 2.

Lunch at the Sunset Grille was always a favorite.
Trevor working a plug at Marker 28.

Me pulling up anchor on our last day of fishing.  Time to go home.
Just a funny pic - Forget Madison Ave....we "rednecks" know how to market and advertise!  Sign near a roofless abandoned building off of US 331 in Alabama.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Marsh Madness: Fakin' Bacon and Eggs

Nibble Me This is a blog about my serious study of errr...misadventures in all things related to live fire cooking, such as; barbecue, grilling, cold smoking, "stir firing", and stuff like that, right?

So how in the world did I get involved in Marsh Madness - a contest in which 16 influential food bloggers (well, 15 and then there's me) from all over the country compete in regional brackets to create the most original marshmallow based on Shauna Sever's outrageous new book Marshmallow Madness?   

I guess I just have a hard time turning down a challenge!   Just the same, this was a fun departure from my usual stuff.  

I won't lie, I was intimidated by the thought of making marshmallows.   But Shauna's book is very easy to follow and lays out an easy game plan for making your own.  In fact, it was so easy, we made a second batch just for fun.  These aren't boring, white, Sta-Puft marshmallows.  These are wild colored, interestingly flavored, and creatively shaped bundles of sweet.  I couldn't believe how many ideas she packed into one book about marshmallows.  Who knew you could do all of that?  Marshmallows could be the "cupcake of 2012". 

So the challenge - most original marshmallow and how do I fit that into the theme of my blog.  

Plan A: was to make a layered sweet/savory marshmallow colored like a barbecued rib and topped with a caramel bbq glaze.  Problem: my colors were a bit off.  Instead of a dark outer crust and a smoke ring, we ended up with something that was light brown and pink.  *$(#)%!  

Plan B:  Hmmmm, it's made of mostly sugar, I could use a torch to caramelize the top like a creme brulee to give it a barbecued looking crust.  Problem:  It worked PERFECTLY and I got a nice crust, looked like a rib and smelled like a toasted marshmallow....for about 10 seconds until the carry over heat from the torching melted the sublayer and it oozed out with the colors mixing together to form a purple color that looked like someone made a smoothie out of Barney The Dinosaur.  Well *$(#(@!

Plan C:  As I sat there looking at the half slab of layered marshmallow sitting there, I said, "That doesn't look like ribs, it looks more like a slab of..."

"BACON!" Alexis chimed in.

So we made some fakin' bacon and eggs.  But the trick up my sleeve was hickory smoking the "bacon"

Everything on this plate is marshmallows.  Breakfast of champions.

Fakin' Bacon Marshmallows


For the bloom
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
 For the syrup
  • 2/3 cup pure cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
For the mallowing
  • 1/4 tsp BBQ rub*
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped candied bacon
  • 1/2 cup classic coating*
  1. Whisk together the gelatin and cold water in a small bowl for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Stir the sugar, syrups, water and salt in a medium sauce pan.  Bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.  You are wanting to cook it to 240f.
  3. In the mean time, microwave the gelatin until complete melted about 30 seconds.  Pour into a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and start on low, leaving it running.
  4. When the sugar mixture hits 240f, carefully and slowly pour it into the mixing bowl.  Increase the mixer speed to medium for 5 minutes.  Increase to medium high and beat 3 more minutes.  Add the BBQ rub in the last minute
  5. Pour half the mixture into a second bowl.  Add pink gel coloring and chopped bacon to one bowl, folding in well.  Add brown gel coloring to the other bowl and mix.
  6. Pour 1/2 of the brown marshmallow into a greased 8 x 8 pan and spread evenly with a spatula.  Pour all of the pink marshmallow into the pan and spread out even with a spatula.  Pour the rest of the brown mixture into the pan and...yeah, spread out even.
  7. Sift some of the "classic coating" onto the top and allow to cure in a cool, dry place for 6 hours.  
  8. Use a metal spatula and free the sides from the pan.  Top the pan with plate, invert and allow the marshmallow to drop onto the plate.
  9. Use a pizza cutter rubbed with some of the classic coating and slice the marshmallow loaf into 1/4" slices.  
  10. Dust the slices with more of the classic coating.  
  11. Optional:  For an extra touch, do a quick hickory cold smoke of 20 minutes using a home made smoke generator or a Smoking Gun.

Since it didn't turn out to be ribs and was bacon instead, we made up a batch of the Classic Vanilla Marshmallow from the book to make "fried eggs" to go with the bacon.  For each egg, I took 1/4 cup of the marshmallow mix and poured it onto a greased surface so it could spread out in it's own shape like an egg would.  For each "yolk" I took about 2 Tbsp of the mix and added yellow gel coloring and put into a 1/4 cup silicone cup.  We let that cure for 4 hours and it was ready.  I inverted the "yolk" onto the "fried egg" and then shaved some sweet chocolate over it as the "pepper".  

Any recipe that has pig candy as an ingredient has got to be good!

I was worried when it first started off as a sugary liquid but it thickened up exactly as the book said it would.

Since bacon is often hickory smoked, I put strips of the "bacon" on a plate under a large container and then used a Smoking Gun.

Where'd the bacon go?  I can't see it in the smoke!

Sometimes, failures turn out to produce some awesome results.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

MOINK Balls, Armadillo Eggs and Sea Turtle Eggs

More March Madness food.  I swear we don't eat like this all the time. 

MOINK balls, BGE appetizer

Barbecue folks have the best appetizers and best appetizer names.  That's what happens when it takes hours and hours to smoke meats.  You play around and cook snacks in the mean time.  Here are some of the classic BBQ appetizers.
  • Fatty - Breakfast sausage chub stuffed with cheese, peppers, or whatever, seasoned with BBQ rub, sometimes wrapped in a bacon weave, and smoked.
  • Atomic Buffalo T**** (ABT's) - Jalapenos stuffed with a cheese mixture, seasoned with BBQ rub, wrapped with bacon and smoked
  • Stuffed Fritos - See my previous post
  • MOINK Balls - covered in today's post
  • Armadillo Eggs - covered in today's post

If you have ever spent 30 seconds on a BBQ forum, you have probably seen or heard of MOINK Balls because they are wildly popular.  They are the creation of Larry "The BBQ Grail" Gaian.  Here is the funny story behind the name.

Here's the Cliff Notes version.  If you don't have a smoker or smoke capable grill, you could cook these indirect at a very low heat on a gas grill.
MOINK balls, BGE appetizer
Wrap meat balls in 1/2 strips of bacon, impale with a tooth pick and season with your favorite BBQ rub.  I used Drapers AP Rub.

MOINK balls, BGE appetizer, Craycort grate
Smoke at 250f for an hour.

MOINK balls, BGE appetizer
Glaze with your favorite BBQ sauce.  Tonight I used Blues Hog Original.  Not my favorite but my family loves the super sweet sauce.  Smoke another 30 minutes.

MOINK balls, BGE appetizer
Eat.  Wait....remove toothpicks first.

Armadillo Eggs
Did you know that an armadillo can grow as large at 132 pounds?  I do only because Trevor had to do a research paper on the armadillo a few weeks ago.  

Anyway, when I first started trying to learn about barbecue 10 years ago, I heard about Armadillo eggs.  They are a jalapeno (or jalapeno boat) de-seeded, stuffed with a cheese mixture, wrapped in sausage, seasoned with rub, and then smoked for an hour.  It's kind of like a spice Scotch Egg without the egg.  

We LOVE ABT's but since the jalapeno in Amradillo Eggs is wrapped in sausage, it doesn't cook as much.  That leaves it spicier and not as tender.  So if you like spicy, make them as Armadillo eggs.  

My family likes a milder version that uses a diced jalapeno/cheese stuffing.  Because they turn out round, we call them Sea Turtle Eggs.
armadillo egg big green egg, armadillo egg grill dome, sea turtle egg grill dome
Armadillo Eggs (oval) and Sea Turtle Eggs (round)

Sea Turtle Eggs
Source:  Nibble Me This
Serves:  Makes one clutch of sea turtle eggs

  • 1 lb Jimmy Dean Sage Breakfast Sausage, cut into 10-11 slices
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese*
  • 1/2 cup shredded colby-jack cheese*
  • 2 jalapeno chile, de-seeded and finely diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp Draper's AP rub or your favorite BBQ rub (divided)
  1.  Preheat a charcoal grill set up for indirect heat to 250f.  Add a chunk or two of cherry, hickory or whatever smoking woods that you have on hand.
  2. Mix the cream cheese, cheese, jalapeno and 1/2 tsp of BBQ rub together.
  3. Place about 1 tsp of the cheese mixture on each slice of sausage.  Pull up the edges of the sausage and seal, forming it into a round, golf ball sized "egg".  
  4. Season your "eggs" with the remaining 1 tsp of BBQ rub.
  5. Smoke the "eggs" for about 90 minutes.
  • I used whipped cream to me, that stuff is awesomely good.
  • Feel free to sub any other cheese.
This an an armadillo egg being made.

Smoking with cherry wood.  Armadillo eggs in front, Sea turtle eggs in back.

Don't panic if you get a few ruptures.

sea turtle egg, big green egg
Sea turtle egg cut open, armadillo egg in the rear. 
 Okay, so after that weekend of March Madness food, this week requires a diet of nothing but Shredded Wheat, veggies, and a lot of exercise.  But it was worth it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Stuffed Fritos - March Madness Food

Stuffed Fritos....

stuffed fritos, Big Green Egg appetizer,

Your argument is invalid.

I made a game grub menu for today's ACC Championship Basketball game featuring our beloved Tarheels against the Florida State Seminoles.   I'm not a huge sports fanatic, usually sports are just an excuse to grill and chill with friends.  But college basketball is my favorite sport and March Madness is MY favorite time of the year.  There is so much drama starting today with all of the underdogs, Cinderella stories, and upsets. 

Our menu was

Tip Off Course:  Armadillo Eggs (smoked cheese stuffed jalapenos wrapped in sausage and smoked)
Half Time Course:  Grilled Hot Wings
Crunch Time Course:  Stuffed Fritos

But first, funny story about last night.  Trevor spent the night at his buddy's house with a dozen other 12-13 year olds for a birthday party and the police ended up getting called.  It's not like it sounds though.  Apparently they were being rambunctious and playing hide and seek at 10pm (on a Saturday night).  A neighbor came down banging on the door to complain because it was making his dog bark.  He was so belligerent to the single mother that other neighbors ended up calling the police on him.  If he had complained to me I would have had to ask, "Were you ever a kid or did you come straight out of the womb as an @$$hole?"

Okay, back to the food.  I'll cover Armadillo Eggs in another post but the stuffed Fritos...yeah, they are as awesome as they sound.  They are kind of like a one bite taco, but even better.  I learned about these from Frank From Houma on the GreenEggers forum in 2009.  They are ri-donk-ulous as tailgating or party food but they don't hold for too long, so serve them right away.

And yes, you could do them in an oven.  But it's beautiful, get outside and grill, you know you want to.

stuffed fritos, Big Green Egg appetizer,

Stuffed Fritos
Source:  Adapted from Frank From Houma 

2 bags Fritos Scoops*
1 lb ground beef 93% lean*
1 cup colby jack cheese, shredded
1 packet taco seasoning
1/4 cup salsa or Homemade enchilada sauce
2 Tbsp roasted red pepper, finely diced
2 Tbsp cilantro, finely diced
Southwestern Sauce*

  1. Preheat a charcoal grill set up for indirect heat to 350f*.
  2. Mix the beef (yes, raw), cheese, enchilada sauce, taco seasoning, red pepper and cilantro thoroughly.
  3. Pick out the 48 most perfectly formed Frito Scoops from the two bags.  
  4. Stuff about 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture into each Frito Scoop.  
  5. Roast on the grill until the meat registers an internal temperature of 165f which should be right at 20 minutes.  
  6. Serve immediately topped with Southwestern Sauce
  • Scoops.  First, it HAS to be Frito Scoops, not just Fritos.  You need the size.  In a perfect world, you would need only one bag, but a good bit of each bag will be broken or unevenly formed.  
  •  Lean Beef.  This is the only time I ever use lean ground beef.   Anything else will render too much fat and soak the Scoops in grease, not good eats.  
  • Southwestern Sauce.  I just used 2 parts homemade ranch dressing, 2 parts homemade enchilada sauce and 1 part sour cream. 
It was a 2 Egg day since cooking at different temps.  See all the Bradford pear blooms?  Achoo!

Big Green Egg wings, Game Day appetizer
Wings were the half time course but I post too many wings already, so no post for them.

Photo Credit to Alexis.  Doing the "spin and toss in sauce"  in the last 10 minutes of the wing cook.

Big Green Egg wings, grilled wings
Wing Porn.

stuffed fritos, Big Green Egg appetizer,
Stuffed and ready to go on the grill. 

stuffed fritos, Big Green Egg appetizer,
Finishing on the grill.  Try to eat just one, just try it.
Hope you guys have all had a great weekend!  Guess what?  We lost an hour of sleep last night but we gained an extra hour of grilling time for the rest of the summer!