Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Smoked Brisket Nachos and the 2014 Kentucky State BBQ Festival

I had the craving for some smoked brisket nachos last weekend.

brisket leftover, tailgating, smoked beef brisket bbq nachos

Normally I would grab a pack of sliced brisket from the freezer but alas the freezer was bare. So I smoked a brisket just so I could have some brisket nachos.

smoke brisket, bbq brisket, kamado grill, big green egg brisket

I'll do a full post about the brisket later, I did do a few tweaks that worked well but this post is about the nachos.

This isn't really a recipe per se, just an idea that a lot of barbecue folks often use when we have leftover pulled pork or brisket.  It is just a base of tortillas and cheese sauce with the meat of your choice and whatever toppings you want. If you don't have leftover BBQ, just pick some up at your local BBQ joint.  Most sell take out by the pound or quart.

This particular time, it was:
  • Nachos
  • cheese sauce - not too much, just a zig zag of it across the chips
  • chopped brisket - about one slice per order of nachos
  • BBQ rub
  • another zig zag of cheese sauce
  • shredded colby jack cheese
  • black olives
  • sliced jalapenos that my neighbors jarred and are HOT 
  • bbq sauce drizzled across it all 
  • topped with chopped green onion
beef brisket, tailgate, bbq nachos

These really hit the spot while watching the weekend's football games with Trevor.  They also reminded me of the Kentucky State BBQ Festival from a few weeks ago because BBQ nachos was one of the things we served.

Kentucky State BBQ Festival 2014 - Danville, KY
Before I get into what a great event this was, how wonderful the team was, and how nice Danvillle is, let's get one thing out of the way - this was the hardest BBQ event I have ever done.  I was physically exhausted after the weekend. That said, it was a blast.

The Kentucky State BBQ Festival isn't a contest like most of the events that you see me doing.  This is a big party and culinary event celebrating all things BBQ.  There are just 7 pitmasters and their teams feeding the throngs of people.  I heard a crowd number of 50,000 and that would not surprise me.  Our team alone literally served more than one ton of food. 

I was lucky enough to be cooking with Shane Draper's team - Draper's BBQ.  I couldn't ask to be a part of a better team - EVERYONE busted their butts. We ran like a well oiled machine at times.  Other times we were in the weeds but we pulled together, cranked up the weed-eater, and got ourselves back up to speed. But at all times, we did it together.

Our Menu
Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Smoked Bologna Sandwiches
BBQ Nachos
Kentucky Cheese Steaks

I didn't get much time to take pictures and when I did, it was very rushed and some are mobile phone shots, but I wanted to share the chaotic and fun experience.  

The first task for me was cooking 150 pieces of bacon for the BBQ quesadillas that we were serving for the festival's VIP dinner.  High noon and hot as fire, but we were already moving fast.

Later we engineered some shade for the cook area where the griddle and two Ole Hickories were.

The back end of "the house" was where the cooking got done.  In addition to the Ole Hickories, we had a Tucker Cooker.  Here Shane is fixing a gremlin in one of the Hickories.

The back of the house crew kicked butt all weekend.  I don't think we ever stopped prepping, cooking, wrapping, or shredding pulled pork.

Getting set up on Friday, the tent area is where we were going to serve and the trailer was for food prep. See all of those cases on nachos on the trailer?  Yeah, those didn't last through Saturday.

Loading coal up for a long burn in the Tucker Cooker.

Here Mike, Alethea, and I are prepping for the VIP dinner.

Frying up some of the nearly 300 BBQ quesadillas that we served up to the VIPs.

Do we look beat already?  Yes we were but as soon as the VIP dinner was done, Alethea and I were back in the trailer making pulled pork sandwiches, smoked bologna sandwiches, cheese for the nachos, and making Kentucky Cheese Steak sandwiches to order.  She was my wingman for the weekend.
Other teams were just as busy prepping for the crowds.

17th Street BBQ getting set up.
Big Moe Cason and Rick Hewatt
Rick and Moe Cason taking a minute to catch up.

Side note:  Moe Cason (pictured above, right), from Ponderosa BBQ and a judge on BBQ Pitmasters, announced this week that he has quit his day job so he can do barbecue as his full time career now.  Congratulations on chasing your dream, Moe!  Moe and I will be judging at the Pensacola Eggfest Presented by Pensacola's Kia Autosport in November.  Come out and join in the fun! 

The sign on the door of the Draper's BBQ trailer.

Big Green Egg representing...

You can't do a festival in Kentucky without bourbon, it's a state law or something I think.

The Char-Broil Mobile Tour was there demonstrating their TRU Infrared grills, giving away prizes, and sharing their message of grilling's Juicy Secret.

Mandatory Char-Broil selfie...
 And then the crowds arrived.  They just kept coming and coming, like relentless waves on the beach. 

Our vending area from the front once we started serving.

Triva:  The white house on the left was were the first abdominal surgery was performed in 1809. Dr Ephriam McDowell removed something like a 22 pound ovarian cyst from a woman.  Source:  The plaque between 17th St BBQ and our booths.

One of our customers getting her BBQ nachos ready to go.  Oh yeah, this picture reminded me - I couldn't believe how many napkins, nacho boats, forks, and things like that we went through.  We would burn through 1000 napkins in just an hour or two. 

Kind of like a scene out of The Walking Dead, the zombies....errr, I mean hungry guests just kept coming and coming.

The folks working the front of the house were amazing and efficient.  We could hardly keep them stocked and supplied fast enough because they were keeping those lines moving. They rocked.

Nighttime came and so did more crowds.

World famous

At least it got cooler...

Saturday there was a BBQ competition.  I only got a shot or two as the early birds set up.

Lucky Dog BBQ getting ready for the next round of crowds.

Our next door neighbor at the event - Mike Mills, the Legend, of 17th Street BBQ in Murphysboro, IL.  He's kind of a big deal...ya know, World Champion and all.
Notice Mike in the back helping serve up food - he's not just a figurehead, the man loves BBQ and works as hard as he expects his people to work.

It was great to see a long time Egghead friend of ours, Mike Tipton and his teammate, Charles Kistler, take first place in the BBQ contest for the One Bite Challenge.

Ron was my roommate for the weekend, not that we spent much time sleeping, maybe a few hours here and there.  Here he is using a drill with a long food safe bit to pull three or four pork butts at once.

So many great teammates, I can't say enough about them - here were are on Sunday getting started all over again.

More people...

More lines.....

More butts to be pulled...
Shane warned me TWICE before I agreed to do this that it would be intensely busy.  I thought I knew, but I didn't.  There was almost never a minute to relax.  There was always something that needed to be done and two or three more things once that something was done. In my opinion and from this limited experience, vending good BBQ is way more difficult than competing in a BBQ contest. 

It was all worth it to see people enjoying the food that we had put together!

Thanks to all of the wonderful sponsors!!
Thanks so much to the entire Draper's BBQ Team for having me at this crazy but fun event.  We earned enough money vending at this event to fund our team's 2015 Memphis In May! I say "our team" because I've been invited to join Draper's team for Memphis In May and we'll be cooking whole hog. Stoked!