Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mesquite Grilled Skirt Steak with Chipotle Tortillas

This is the recipe for which I made those chipotle tortillas the other day.

mesquite grilled skirt steak with chipotle tortillas

Mesquite grilling always makes me think of Texas or Southwestern flavors so I thought the chipotle in the tortillas and cream complemented the steak. 

Mesquite Grilled Skirt Steak

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (4 servings)
    You'll need
    • 1 ea skirt steak
    • 1 cup KC Masterpiece Sante Fe Picante Marinade
    • 1 ea yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges
    • 1 ea red bell pepper, cored and sliced
    • 1 ea green bell pepper, cored and sliced
    • 8 chipotle tortillas [recipe]
    • cilantro for garnish
    For the Chipotle Cream
    • 1 cup sour cream
    • 1 Knorr chipotle mini-cube or one chipotle, seeded and minced
    • 1 Tbsp lime juice
    1. Crush the chipotle cube into the sour cream and whisk in with the lime juice. Refrigerate at least one hour prior to serving.
    2. Place the steak, peppers, and onions in a Glad (tm) zip top bag and marinate for at least an hour.  I let mine go 6 hours.
    3. Preheat a charcoal grill to 400f. Once heated, add 5-6 Kingsford Smokehouse Briquetes - Mesquite variety immediately before grilling.
    4. Remove steak and veggies from marinade. Place the veggies in a veggie wok on the grill. Grill the steak 3 minutes per side.
    5. Take veggies and steaks off the grill. Let the steak rest for 10 minutes.
    6. Cut the steak into thirds and then slice each section thinly across the grain.
    7. Serve on Chipotle Tortillas with veggies, chipotle cream, and cilantro.
    Powered by Recipage

    skirt steak grilled vegetables craycort cast iron grate, craycort wok, big green egg skirt steak, grill dome skirt steak

    Tennessee beef, skirt steak, avocado, tex-mex

    This recipe let me play with two brand new products that the Kingsford team shared with us at the Kingsford Invitational a few weeks ago.  Both are scheduled to hit store shelves around January 2013.

    KC Masterpiece Sante Fe Picante Marinade
    This new marinade joins the rest of the KC Masterpiece family of sauces, marinades and seasonings.  Did you know that all of them are gluten-free?  I didn't.  

    Straight out of the bottle, To me, the aroma is strong of vinegar and tomato paste. The marinade is a little thicker than most and you can see the spices and chiles in it. The taste straight is initially sweet, transitioning to tomato, and then finishing with a kick of chiles and onion.

    As I carried the marinated meat and veggies outside, Trevor announced that something smelled like great Mexican food.  The marinade didn't burn while cooking and you could smell the flavors building as it grilled.  

    Grill skirt steak and veggies on kamado grill

    The real proof was in the final result. The skirt steak was tender and had a pop of Southwestern flavor.  Throw the grilled veggies in and you have a party. 

    I can't wait to use the rest of it on some grilled chicken.

    Kingsford Smokehouse Briquetes - Mesquite
    I also got my hands on a sample of Kingsford's new Smokehouse Style Briquetes.  These aren't meant to be a fuel source like the Kingsford "Blue Bag" or Kingsford Competition.  These are a smoke flavoring agent.  Once your fire is already going, you just throw on a half dozen immediately before grilling and then you get about 15 minutes of real hickory or mesquite powered smoke flavor.

    These briquetes are designed to "bring the flavor of your favorite barbecue restaurant to your own back yard".  The touted advantage of these compared to wood chips is that no soaking or smoker box is needed, you just toss them on your already burning coals.   Idiot proof, so to speak. 

    The briquettes are real mesquite or hickory and all natural ingredients.

    The potential for that is good for me, since this will work in all of my grills/smokers.  

    I used them as noted in the recipe and they definitely delivered the smoke in just minutes after putting them on the grill.  The steak picked up the flavor of mesquite and you know what?  I swear the veggies did too.  I didn't realize the veggie part until the next day at work when I was having a taco with just the rice and veggies (steak was all gone!). 

    Just a note:  Grilling with smoke is not the same thing as smoking.  Grilling with smoke is a much shorter "dose" of smoke, minutes vs. hours, so you can get away with a heavier smoke than when you are looking for the "clear" or "sweet blue" smoke you want for smoking. 

    For a first cook, I am intrigued and can't wait to try these in a few different ways.  But what I really want to do is try the hickory flavor in a true smoking situation.  I think if I bury the Smokehouse briquetes throughout the coal, I'll get a longer, sustained dosing of smoke. 

    Both of these products roll out in January 2013.  The price point will be about $4.99 for a 2.8lb bag, which will yield 4-5 cooks.  

    [Standard Disclaimer]  I contribute to, the spot for great grilling/BBQ tips and recipes.  As such, I have received compensation from the Kingford team (trips, product for testing, etc) but any opinions stated are my own.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012

    Chipotle Tortillas

    I made homemade tortillas for the first time, recently.  Thanks to Mely's Mexico In My Kitchen and her excellent tutorial on making tortillas, they came out perfectly!  We've been making them often since then.

    Store bought corn tortillas are convenient but there is no comparison to home made ones.  Home made tortillas have a softer but sturdier texture and a more pronounced flavor.   That got me to thinking (uh oh, do you smell smoke?) - could I push that flavor even further?

    Yep!  I added chipotle to the tortilla dough and the end result was a mildly spicy tortilla.  When served  all together, you could still pick up the flavor from the tortilla but just as a supporting flavor, it wasn't overpowering.

    Chipotle Tortillas

    Cook Time: 30 min

    Ingredients (16 tortillas)
    • 2 cups hasa marina flour
    • 1 Knorr chipotle mini-cube
    • 1 pinch salt
    • 1 1/4 cup warm water
    1. Sift the flour, salt and finely crushed chipotle cube together. Tip: The chipotle cubes crush easily in your finger tips but may leave a few bigger pieces. Crush it into a sieve and the press the bigger pieces through.
    2. Add the water and mix until it forms a ball of dough. They say you might have to add additional water and I did, probably another quarter cup, 1 tablespoon at a time until I got the dough consistency.
    3. Divide the dough into 16 equal portions and work each into a ball, they should be about ping pong ball sized. Keep them covered with a damp cloth while you work or they will dry out.
    4. Cut the sides of a Glad (tm) zip top bag so you can open it up. Place it on a tortilla press. Place one of the balls on the bag/press and fold the bag over it. Press it flat then carefully peel the tortilla off.
    5. Place tortilla in a hot skillet with a little oil for 60 seconds each side.
    6. Remove and keep warm in a tortilla warmer. Repeat for remaining balls.
    Powered by Recipage

    Sorry for the lack of "in process" pictures.  I was a one man show and was having to work quickly here.

    I know someone is going to ask about the Knorr Chipotle Mini-cubes because my sister had a hard time finding them in Florida.  I find ours at Krogers where the cans of chipotle are in the Latino section of international foods.  You can also find them in some Walmarts.  One cube is the equivalent of one chipotle.  I like them because they provide more flavor than heat, they are easy to use, and convenient to keep on hand. 

    I still use regular chipotle too, it just depends on what I'm making.  Obviously, you couldn't substitute regular canned chipotle easily in this dish unless you pulverized it.  You could try adding dried ground chipotle but take it easy, that is usually hotter to me.

    I also found my Imusa tortilla press and tortilla holder at Kroger.  

    If you can't find one locally, check out Imusa's site for online retailers, I know target carries the cast iron press for under $25.  Mely's blog post shows alternative ways to press them out but I find the tortilla press makes it super easy.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't also find it fun to use like one of those Playdoh Fun Factory toys from my childhood.  

    Not just a pretty face.  This warmer does a fantastic job keeping tortillas ready to eat.

    I picked up the warmer just because it was there and I thought it would only be a "cutesy" thing but it turns out to be very functional.  It kept the tortillas warm and tender beyond the length of preparation and the meal, much more so than just wrapping in tea towels would have done.  I recommend picking one of these warmers up if you're going to make fresh tortillas, it's worth the few bucks.

    [Standard Disclosure]  I received no compensation for this post.  I was offered free product from Imusa a few months back but didn't take them up on their offer.  I bought it on my own instead and paid full price.   

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Potato "Meatball" Soup

    Inspiration strikes out of nowhere, doesn't it?

    The idea for this recipe came to me as I drove through the middle of Thanksgiving night to get back home in Tennessee. 

    The white lines of the Alabama highway flew by hypnotically like the blur of a passing train.  My car radio played static along with The Doors' "Riders On The Storm" while Trevor and Alexis slept.  Meanwhile I  mused about the Pommes Parisienne that I made last week and the thought hit me.  They would be great as a "meatball" in a creamy soup.

    A cold front was prepared to march across and render Black Friday into a cold and dreary day.  Alexis had to be at work at noon at the mall so I made this batch of this soup for her to take for her and her co-workers.

    Potato "Meatball" Soup


    Ingredients (6 servings)
    • 4 Tbsp butter
    • 1/4 cup celery, finely diced
    • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
    • 3/4 cup carrot, peeled and finely diced
    • 1 cup potato, peeled and finely chopped
    • 4 Tbsp all purpose flour
    • 4 cups beef stock
    • 4 cups half and half
    • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
    • 1 tsp kosher salt
    • 1/2 tsp black pepper
    • 1/2 tsp chili powder
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    • 1 recipe pommes parisienne (click for recipe)
    • 4 slices bacon, chopped and cooked
    1. In a stock pot, melt butter and saute potato, carrot, onion, and celery until tender, about 10 minutes.
    2. Whisk in the flour and stir to form a blond roux.
    3. Whisk in the stock to thoroughly blend and simmer for 15 minutes.
    4. Use an immersion blender to make this soup base smooth. [Note: You can skip this if you want a more coarse and chunky soup.]
    5. Stir in the half and half, remaining seasonings, and pommes parisienne. Simmer until heated through, about 10 minutes.
    6. [Note: If you don't want to look up the pommes parisienne, you could just pan fry peeled fingerling potatoes or small potatoes in clarified butter until cooked and then add roasted red pepper, parsley, salt and pepper.]
    7. Garnish with bacon pieces.
    Powered by Recipage

    Potato "Meatballs"! 

    Yes, those are styrofoam bowls and a cafeteria style tray.  I thought it was fitting since I was sending this in to her work ;)
    I apologize for the lack of pictures.  I made this recipe after about 2 hours of sleep and really wasn't planning on posting it but it tasted too good not to write up.

    Speaking of which, here is a bonus recipe that I did for Alexis' work crew on Sunday and I didn't take a single picture.  But it was pretty damn good too.  It was adapted from a chicken and wild rice soup recipe that my mom gave to me years ago.

    Smoked Turkey and Dirty Rice Soup

    • 6 quarts water
    • 4 chicken bullion cubes
    • 1/2 cup carrot, peeled and finely diced
    • 1/4 cup celery, finely diced
    • 1 8oz package Zatarains Dirty Rice mix
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
    • 2 1/2 cups half and half
    • 2 cups smoked turkey, chopped
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp creole seasoning
    • 1/2 cup smoked gouda
    1. In a stock pot, bring water, bullion, carrot, celery, and rice mix to a boil. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
    2. In a sauce pan, melt butter and whisk in flour to form a blond roux (about 3-5 minutes). Slowly add the half and half while rapidly whisking to thoroughly blend.
    3. Add the cream mixture to the stock pot and stir to blend. Add the turkey, gouda cheese, salt, and creole seasoning. Simmer for 10 more minutes to blend.
    4. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed.
    Yeah, I realized that no grilling or smoking was involved in either of these recipes.  Live fire cooking resumes shortly.

    Sunday, November 25, 2012

    Kentucky Hot Browns - Yet Again

    How was your Thanksgiving?

    We traveled to Florida so I didn't get to smoke a turkey this year.  Nor did I have leftover turkey when we got back home.

    That's a problem.  If I don't have leftover turkey, how can I have one of my favorite sandwiches ever - the Kentucky Hot Brown?

    The Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich with crisp bacon, thin sliced smoked turkey, tomato, and topped with Mornay sauce.  It's all put under the broiler for just a few minutes to make the cheese sauce bubbly and a little charred.

    Since I didn't have leftover turkey, I ran to Food City Friday morning and bought their last turkey breast.  I didn't have time to brine so I used an injection instead.

    Turkey Injection
    1/2 cup butter
    1/3 cup honey
    1/3 cup white wine
    1/4 tsp kosher salt
    1/4 tsp MSG
    1/4 tsp creole seasoning
    1/4 tsp garlic powder

    Heat all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat and blend well.  Allow to cool slightly before using.

    After injecting the turkey breast, I seasoned the outside heavily with thyme and Lotta Bull's UnBULLevable All Purpose Seasoning.  I smoked it with some cherry wood on the Big Green Egg at 300f for about 2 1/2 hours until it reached an internal temp of 155f.  

    Great!  Now I had me some leftover turkey.   Time for Hot Browns.

    Alexis works retail in the mall so this weekend (Black Friday) was slammed busy for her and her co-workers.  I surprised them with a batch of these yesterday.

    Kentucky Hot Brown

    Prep Time: 25
    Cook Time: 45

    Ingredients (serves 12)
      You'll Need
      • 1 loaf Italian bread, sliced on a bias into 12 pieces
      • 12 pieces cooked bacon
      • 1 1/2 lbs smoked turkey
      • 2 tomatoes, sliced
      For the Mornay sauce
      • 1 Tbsp butter
      • 1 Tbsp shallot, finely diced
      • 1 clove garlic, whole slightly crushed
      • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
      • 1 1/4 cup half and half
      • 1/2 cup mozzarella shredded
      • 1/4 cup pecorino romano
      • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
      • 1/4 tsp black pepper
      1. Melt butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic and saute until the shallot is tender, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the flour, stirring constantly to form a blond roux.
      2. Whisk in about a quarter cup of the half/half and whisk until well blended. Add some more, repeat. Then add the remaining half/half. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.  Remove the garlic clove and discard.
      3. Whisk in the cheeses in small batches and stir until well blended. Season with salt and pepper. Sauce should be thick.
      4. Assemble the sandwiches on a cookie sheet. From the bottom up, you'll use bread, bacon, sliced turkey, tomato slices and then spoon the sauce over it.
      5. Stick under a broiler until the Mornay sauce is bubbly and starts to brown.
      Powered by Recipage

      You can use a blend of different cheeses but I always like to include some of a salty, nutty cheese like Pecorino Romano or Parmesan.

      The sauce needs to be thick enough to cling to a spoon.

      Slice the turkey thinly.

      Ready to broiler-ize.  Broiler-ate?

      One is enough for me, two really fill you up.
      These Hot Browns are my favorite Thanksgiving weekend tradition.  Are you finished with your leftovers yet?

      Monday, November 19, 2012

      Pommes Parisienne

      This might be one of our new favorite side dishes and it is just in time for the holidays.  It goes wonderfully with the cherry juice brined pork chops that I grilled tonight but it would be just as great with a prime rib, smoked turkey or ham.

      It's a simple recipe.  The prep of the potato balls is the hardest part but it is worth it in the end.  The outer edges get slightly crispy from frying in clarified butter but the insides are fork tender.

      Pommes Parisienne

      adapted from
      Cook Time: 20

      Ingredients (serves 4)
      • 5 lb russet potatoes
      • 4 Tbsp clarified butter
      • 2 Tbsp roasted red pepper, diced
      • 2 Tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
      • salt to taste
      • pepper to taste
      1. Peel potatoes. Use a melon ball tool to remove 1" balls from the potatoes and place the potato balls in a large bowl of cold water. Save the scraps for mashed potatoes, potato soup, hash browns, etc.
      2. Preheat a large saute pan over medium high heat and melt the clarified butter. Note: It is important to use the clarified butter because of the temps and length of time. Plain butter will burn.
      3. Remove the potatoes from water and dry carefully. Add to the pan and cook for 15 minutes. Toss or swirl the potatoes every few minutes to evenly brown all sides.
      4. Add the red pepper and parsley. Season with salt and pepper (Start with 3/4 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper). Toss to coat and cook another 1-3 minutes.
      5. Taste for seasoning and add salt/pepper as needed.
      Powered by Recipage

      • Melon ball tool - I started off using the type of baller that you squeeze a lever and it pops out the ball.  It broke, a potato is much harder than a melon.  Then I used one like this and it worked much better. 
      • Flexible flavor - The original recipe just called for salt and pepper, so feel free to substitute whatever seasonings you like.  I went with the red pepper for flavor and color.
      Soaking helps remove some starch and avoid enzymatic browning.

      Dry well shortly before cooking.  Water is the enemy of browning during cooking.

      While the potatoes and chops rested, I quickly steamed some broccoli.

      Cherry Brine
      The brine resulted in a nicely flavored pork chop.  The cherry brine recipe was simply 2 cups cherry juice, 1/4 cup Braggs Liquid Aminos (you can sub soy sauce), 3 Tbsp kosher salt, and enough water to make 1 quart.  I soaked the boneless chops for 4 hours and then grilled until the internal temp was 140f, about 5 minutes per side at 375f. 
      All-Clad B3 Nonstick Hard Anodized
      All-Clad has a new product line out, right now exclusively at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.  I fell in lust with All-Clad when Alexis worked at Williams-Sonoma two years ago, particularly their d5 line of stainless cookware.

      So when a rep for All-Clad asked if I wanted to try out their new line, I gladly accepted.  The B3 cookware line is nonstick hard anodized aluminum.  The work horse of my kitchen for the past 4 or 5 years has been a set of Kitchenaide anodized nonstock pans so I have a good frame of reference for comparison.

      The B3 cookware line seems to target the mid-range home cook like myself (cooks just well enough to be dangerous, ha ha).  It delivers All-Clad's professional performance, quality, and durability to the cooking enthusiast.  The B3 designation is given because
      • they bond three layers of heavy gauge aluminum to provide even heat distribution
      • they bond three layers of nonstock surfacing to give unequaled release and durability.    

      They shipped me a 12" chef's pan to try and right out of the box it had the quality design and feel that I've come to expect from All-Clad.  The stainless steel handles are sturdy and stay cool during cooking.  

      The sides are sloped for easy tossing.  

      The lid seals tightly.   It has a stainless steel bottom plate to help durability to make it compatible with all cooking surfaces including induction.  

      Of course, it comes with All-Clad's lifetime warranty.  It beats my existing cookware on all fronts so far, but how does it cook?

      Steaming - The almost wok like shape and air tight lid made steaming 2 heads of broccoli easy.  

      Sauteing - I cooked the pommes parisienne with this pan.  I had excellent heat control using it on a gas range.  This is a dish that requires frequent rotation and tossing the potatoes was easy with the banked lip of the pan.  
      Excuse the blurry shot, I took this picture while I was tossing the potatoes.

      Shallow frying - the heavy gauge steel bottom let me hold a consistent temp for shallow frying hash browns and quesadillas.

      Overall, I was highly impressed with the All-Clad B3 Nonstick Chef's pan in terms of design and performance.  Only time will tell about durability but it seems well made.  The line is available in stores and online from Bed Bath and Beyond.

      [Standard Disclaimer]  I received the 12" chef's pan for free from All-Clad for the review.

      Saturday, November 17, 2012

      Grilled Sweet and Spicy Pickles

      Grilled pickles !?!?

      Yes, grilled pickles!

      We had these last Saturday at lunch for Kingsford University.  They were so good that Robyn Grill Grrrl Medlin-Lindars stole temporarily borrowed the jar from another table because we had eaten all of ours.

      grilled sweet and spicy pickles

      This is another recipe from Chris Lilly, World Champion Pitmaster and our host at last weekend's Kingsford Invitational.  Why grill the pickles?  That bit of heat concentrates some of the natural sugars in the cukes and the slight char adds a subtle smokiness to the final product.
      Grilled Sweet and Spicy Pickles

      reprinted with permission from Kingsford Charcoal
      Prep Time: 30 minutes
      Cook Time: 15 minutes

      Ingredients (3 pints)
        You'll need
        • 10 small cucumbers (Kirby or Persian) about 4-5 inches each, cut in half lengthwise
        • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
        • 6 springs fresh dill
        • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
        • 3 teaspoons red pepper flakes (see notes)
        Pickling Liquid
        • 1 1/4 cup white vinegar
        • 1 1/4 cup water
        • 1 cup sugar
        • 2 Tbsp salt
        1. Preheat the grill and build a charcoal fire for direct grilling.
        2. In a saucepan, combine the pickling liquid ingredients and cook, stirring often, over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves and the liquid is clear. Remove the liquid from the heat and light cool slightly.
        3. Wash cucumbers well with cold water. Trim the blossom stems and grill the cucumbers over direct heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or just long enough to mark each side.
        4. Grill the onions for 5-7 minutes on each side or until the onions have softened and are marked.
        5. Remove the cucumbers and onions from the grill and set aside to cool.
        6. Divide the cucumbers, onions, dill, garlic and pepper flakes evenly and place in three sterilized canning jars. Fill each jar tot he top with the pickling liquid mixture and seal tightly. Cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
        Powered by Recipage
        making pickles
        You can find pickling cukes at most grocery stores now.

        grilled sweet and spicy pickles, Kingsford, Weber
        If you want pickle chips instead, you could grill the cukes whole and then cut into slices.

        grilled sweet and spicy pickles, Kingsford, Weber
        Pierce onion wedges with a tooth pick to hold them together and make them easy to flip.

        grilled sweet and spicy pickles,
        They are ready to eat after a few hours in the fridge.

        The ones that I made according to the recipe as written were much spicier than the ones at the contest.  If you have average heat tolerance, I would recommend cutting the red pepper flakes to half (1 1/2 tsp).

        Kingsford Invitational
        I've already introduced the judges in the prior post.  The judging criteria was simple.
        • Instead of breaking out subcategories such as taste, appearance, and texture and assigning a weighting to each score, each judge would just give one score based on their overall experience.  
        • The scoring scale is 1 (inedible) to 13 (excellent).  
        • The standard 4 categories to be submitted are chicken, ribs, pork (shoulder, butt, or whole hog), and brisket
        • Judging is blind
        • No garnish for turn in boxes
        • The team with the highest cumulative score for all categories wins the $50,000 and is crowned "Best of the Best" on the competition bbq circuit
        The teams competing were
        • Motley Que Crew qualified by winning the 2012 Houston Livestock & Rodeo World Championship Bar-B-Que Contest
        • Yazoo's Delta Q qualified by winning the 2012 Memphis in May World Championship 
        • Smoker's Purgatory qualified by winning the 2012 Great Lenexa BBQ Battle 
        • Smokin' Triggers qualified by winning Destination America's "BBQ Pitmasters:  Season 3"
        • Shiggin' and Grinnin' qualified by winning the 2012 American Royal Open
        • Lucky's Q qualified by winning the 2012 Sam's Club National BBQ Tour
        • Pig Skin BBQ qualified by winning the 2012 Jack Daniels World Championship Invitational
        • Checkered Pig BBQ qualified by winning the 2012 Kingsford $40k Challenge
        The atmosphere of the contest seemed a bit odd.  First, it seemed sterile because it was a closed event and the general public wasn't milling around.  Second, with $50,000 at stake, the tension was palpable.  Third, because of the film crew wanting to keep us out of shots, we weren't able to get the access to the teams that we normally might.  I'm not saying it was bad, just different from most comps.

        The turn-ins from 1:20pm to 3pm were uneventful from what I saw.  No dropped boxes, no missed turn ins.  Then it was all over except for the cryin', as they say. 

        The Motley Que Crew working as turn in times approached.

        Smoker's Purgatory finishing their ribs.

        Patio Daddio, John Dawson, being interviewed about the event.

        Clint Cantwell of used the ATV to bring us team samples, the man's a saint.  Seen here with Greg Rempe of the BBQ Central Show.

        I love this  shot of John Thomas of Grilling 24x7 eating ribs because he is so content looking while the rest of us piranhas dive into the tray on his lap.

        Folks from the Kingsford Plant joined us after turn ins and sampled whatever didn't make it into turn in boxes.
        I was still full from eating all weekend but I did taste a few samples while we waited for the judging.  Yazoo's ribs were tender but too sweet for my tastes, but that is competition style.  Checkered Pigs BBQ brisket was tender and very good.  Yazoo's whole hog was the best I have ever had. 

        The announcements started with a reminder that Yazoo's Delta Q started the day with a 1 point bonus from the previous day's One Bit Challenge.

        The winner of the Chicken category was Lucky's Q!

        The winner of the ribs category was Yazoo's Delta Q.

        The winner of the pork category was Yazoo's Delta Q.

        The winner of the brisket category was....Yazoo's Delta Q.

        So without much surprise, the winner of the inaugural Kingsford Invitational and $50,000.....

        Pitmaster Melissa Cookston and Yazoo's Delta Q!

        For the record in this post just a few weeks ago, I said Melissa Cookston is one of the best pitmasters out there so....yeah, I told you so ;)

        My overall thoughts on the Kingsford Invitational contest was that it was wonderful and I think they are definitely on to something. 
        • Unified Championship - with all of the different world championships in BBQ I like the idea of trying to declare an end of the year, overall champion.  This concept works for me.  I'm glad Kingsford has ponied up to do this.
        • Qualifying - The fact that a team like 3 Eyz BBQ, probably the hottest team on the circuit, wasn't there makes me thing there should be some tweaks to the qualifying events.  It is kind of like trying to tweak the existing college bowl system into a playoff system. 
        • One Bite Challenge - That 1 point bonus going into the event can be huge.  Great twist.  I like that it wasn't a surprise challenge, so teams had time to practice their entry before coming to the event.  I think the 5 ingredient limit may have stifled creativity on some of the entries.
        • Judging - I like the judging format.  There were some thoughts that the fact one team was submitting whole hog tipped off their pork entry.  Possibly, but with a field this small (8 teams) and judges as intimately familiar with the teams, all sorts of things COULD tip off a submission:  flavor profile, box arrangement, etc etc.
        • Overall - I want to see this continue next year and see it grow.
        If you have never been to a BBQ contest, you should check out your local events next year.  Knoxville will be having a KCBS event next spring with the West Knoxville Rotary BBQ Cookoff in May.