Friday, August 26, 2016

Huevos Rancheros with Brisket and Black Bean Chili

In March of 2015, I was in Nashville for the National BBQ Association's annual conference and staying at the Sheraton Music City Hotel.  It was snowing out so I got room service and was surprised to get some of the best huevos rancheros I have ever had.

The huevos rancheros in question.  They used poached eggs and 3 chile black beans were in the mix.  It was amazingly good, way better than you'd ever expect from room service.

That dish stuck with me and I finally got around to making a version of it this weekend when I had some leftover brisket from a community service event that we cooked for last Thursday.  Because what would go better under huevos rancheros than 3 chile black beans?  How about a black bean, chile, and brisket chili!?!  

Huevos Rancheros with Brisket and Black Bean Chili

Published 08/25/2016
Spicy black bean and chopped brisket chile topped with crispy grilled tortillas, fried eggs, and Oaxaca cheese all smothered with homemade fire roasted salsa.  If you don't have leftover chopped brisket, you can always buy some from your local BBQ joint.


  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 cups fire roasted salsa
  • 2 cups shredded Oaxaca cheese
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 1 cup pico de gallo
  • 1 cup Mexican crema
For the Brisket and Black Bean Chili
  • 2 cans Bush's Seasoned Black Beans
  • 1/2 cup leftover chopped brisket
  • 1 onion, sliced, grilled, and diced
  • 1/2 of a fire roasted poblano chile, seeded, peeled, and diced
  • 1/2 of a fire roasted jalapeno chile, seeded, peeled, and diced
  • 1/2 of a serrano chile, seeded, peeled, and diced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/2-3/4 cup beef stock


  1. Preheat grill to 350f (medium).
  2. Mix all chili ingredients together in a grill safe pot.  Place on grill and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.  (Alternate method using raw chiles and onion:  Just dice the onion and chiles, then saute in a pot over medium high heat until tender, 8-10 minutes.  Add in remaining chili ingredients and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3.  Grill tortillas until crispy, about 1 minute a side.  Wrap in foil and keep warm.
  4. Fry eggs sunny side up (or to your preference).
  5. Place a cup of the brisket and black bean chili on a plate.  Top with two of the tortillas and two eggs.  Smother the eggs with salsa and serve with pico de gallo, crema, and avocado on the side.  Repeat for other 3 plates.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 30 mins.
Total time: 50 mins.

It might be difficult to find the Oaxaca cheese but it's worth it if you can find it.  I call it "Mexican mozzarella" because it is rich, buttery, and melts like a dream.  We buy ours at Kroger or Walmart in the refrigerated Latino foods section in the Dairy department.

Stick burner BBQ smoker trailer pit.
I had leftover brisket because we cooked for a community event.  I brought the "Warthog" stick burner out of storage for this one. 

Huge 18 lb Certified Angus Beef brisket that we bought from Kroger.  I wish that we had a regular, consistent source for CAB briskets in Knoxville because the last 2 we have gotten were very nice.

Injecting a beef brisket with Butcher's Original Brisket Injection.
I injected using Butcher's Original Brisket Injection.  I switched from the Chops Power Injector to this type of injector because I like that it applies metered doses instead of guessing how much I have injected.  Each squeeze of the hand grip is 1 to 5 cc, depending on the settings.  This way I am injecting a consistent amount everywhere.

You probably noticed that I separated the point and the flat.  We do this at competitions, mainly because it cooks quicker, more evenly, and it gets me better bark coverage for my burnt ends.  Here's a great video by David Bouska of Butcher's BBQ about how to trim this yourself.

How to prepare beef brisket
I used a dalmation rub (salt, pepper, garlic, red pepper).

Here's how I start my stick burner smoker
To get the Warthog going, I do about 6 small, cross-stacked splits of hickory or oak and use a shovel to put about a half chimney starter of live charcoal briquettes on top of the splits.  Then I open up the intake vents and exhaust ports full bore to get the air flowing.

We cooked roughly 50 lbs of chicken, 40 lbs of pork, and 20 lbs of brisket for the event, which is why I used the stick burner.  This was in addition to vacuum sealed freezer packs of pork and beef that we had from previous competitions.  We were anticipating 100 guests and had enough food for 150 guests.  That's why we ended up with extra, which is a good problem to have.  Sure beats the alternative.

How to warm up leftover bbq beef brisket smoked
This is the leftover part of the flat heated back up for the eggs.  To reheat brisket I wrap it in foil with about 1/3 cup of beef stock and put it in a 250f oven for 45 minutes to an hour, just until it gets flexible again.

I grilled the veggies for the black bean and brisket chili on my Big Green Egg Mini-Max.  It's perfect for small jobs like this.

My recipe for homemade fire roasted salsa is my most recent post.

How to grill tortillas on a charcoal grill
I grilled the corn tortillas to get them crispy, about 30 seconds per side at 350f. 

Breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner, this meal is a winner.  I like making the salsa, chili, and pico de gallo ahead of time so all I have to do is toast some tortillas and fry some eggs.

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I received no compensation for this post.  I have no affiliation with Sheraton, Big Green Egg, or Butcher's BBQ.  I have a good relationship with Certified Angus Beef but have received no benefits or compensation from then this year.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Restaurant Style Salsa At Home On Your Grill

We love eating at Mexican restaurants around town and on the road.  It's one of my guilty pleasures.  And I am not talking about Frontera Grill or somewhere like that.  I'm definitely not talking about any large chain places.  No, I've got my eyes set on the local places.  You know the place - clean, but a little worn.  The once brightly painted exterior has faded over the years. The menus are combos of tacos, burritos, enchiladas and stuff.  They make up for their low food prices by keeping the drinks flowing. Yeah, that place.

One of the best things about eating at Mexican Restaurants is snacking on the simple house salsa and thin, warm tortilla chips while enjoying a margarita or Dos Equis. It really doesn't even matter if it's a bad house margarita and cheap beer. This is that time when we feel like the world stops a bit for us.  Just for a moment, we're just hanging out.  Just the two of us.  No worries, no pressures.  No schedule to keep, nowhere to be.  It's just the two of us like when we first started dating eons ago.

Fire Roasted Restaurant Style Salsa
Published 08/23/2016
This is our version of the typical red salsa you get at Mexican restaurants in America. It's basic - just tomatoes, chiles, onion, garlic, cilantro, and a few spices - but that's what makes it so good. But the real flavor amplifier is starting by fire roasting your vegetables on your grill.


  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 1 med onion sliced into 1/2 inch rings
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 poblano chile
  • 1 serrano chile
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder


  1. Preheat your charcoal grill to medium high heat - 400 to 450°f.  This is a quick direct grill so your food will be place directly over the hot coals.
  2. Quarter the tomatoes, remove the hard core, and thread onto skewers so the skin sides are lined up.  Thread the garlic cloves onto a skewer or toothpick
  3. Place the tomatoes on the grill, skin side down, and let grill until charred or even blistered - about 4-5 minutes.  Turn on one of the cut sides and grill for 2 minutes,  then repeat for the other cut side.  Total cook time 8-9 minutes.  Remove from skewers into a large bowl.
  4. Place the chiles and onions on the grill (can be done at the same time as tomatoes).  Turn the chiles occasionally, until the chiles are charred, about 8 minutes total.  Flip the onions after 4 minutes and add the garlic skewer, grill lightly browned. The garlic, onions, and chiles should all come off about the same time.  Remove all of this to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Coarsely chop the tomatoes, onions, and garlic and put in a blender or food processor along with any juices from the bowl.  Add the cilantro, lime juice, salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder.
  6. Cut the stem end of the chiles, slice lengthwise, and scrape off the seeds and ridges on the inside.  Flip, scrape off, and discard as much of the blistered skin that comes off easily.  See notes about heat below.  Dice and add to the blender/food processor.
  7. Blend for about 30-45 seconds until the salsa is as smooth as you like it.  
  8. Place in a medium pot over medium high heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.
Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 10 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.
Total time: 30 mins.

Heat Control
The heat is controlled by the type and amount of chiles.  I like to use one half each of a serrano, jalapeno, and poblano chile for a basic, medium salsa.  Want hot?  Use whole chiles or mix in some habanero.  Want mild?  Skip the serrano. 

Fresh restaurant style salsa recipe.
Fresh veggies make the salsa.  But in a pinch, you could substitute 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes. 

Big Green Egg Mini-Max
I used my BGE Mini-Max for this job, it is the perfect size.  As you can see I picked up a new cart for it.  Got it at Sam's for $59.  It doubles as a station for our smaller flat top griddle.

How to grill tomatoes on a charcoal grill
When it comes to fire roasting tomatoes, some folks will tell you to cut an x on the top of the tomatoes, parboil them, then roast them indirect and peel them.  Not for my salsa.  I just direct grill them and throw them into the blender, skins and all.

How to make restaurant style salsa at home
Grill the onions until they are tender, about 4 minutes a side.  Grill the chiles until blistered, about 8 minutes total.  Grill the garlic until turning golden and slightly tender, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Because the coals are so close to the grate with the BGE Mini-Max, I almost always use my Grill Grates when direct grilling.

I throw all the veggies in one bowl for steaming.  I've read that the steaming of roasted chiles in a bag or bowl really doesn't help them peel any easier.  But I don't think it hurts at all and I still prefer to do it.

The best jarred salsa off the shelf can't compare to fresh made at home.

Other Salsa Recipes
Fire Roasted Salsa Verde
Salsa Verde Cremosa

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  GrillGrates provided me with my 2 sets of GrillGrates at no charge, one in 2009 and the set for my Mini-Max in 2016.  I have no relationship with Green Egg or Dos Equis.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

BBQ Competition: Smokin' In McMinnville

Our BBQ team rattled the rust, shook off the dust, and got back on the competition trail this weekend. We headed out West to McMinnville, Tennessee for the Smokin' In McMinnville KCBS BBQ competition.

You'll have to excuse the potato quality of the pictures.  I didn't take my camera so these are all just camera phone pics.

Ramsay was excited to see my sister arrive.  He always brings her these toy flowers.  He thinks she comes here to see him....don't tell him it's for the competitions, it'd break his heart ;)  [Photo credit: Rhonda H]
Nibble Me This competition BBQ team
I always refer to "the team" but have never actually had a picture of all of us in one shot.  From left to right:  Rhonda (my sister), me, John (my neighbor), and Alexis (my wife).  [Photo credit: Rhonda H]

Smokin' In McMinnville BBQ competition 2016
We got up at the butt crack of dawn, towed our stuff across the Cumberland Plateau and got set up by mid-morning Friday.  [Photo credit: Rhonda H]

Smokin' In McMinnville BBQ competition 2016
Contest sites vary pretty widely.  This was a new configuration for us because our site was a little too narrow for our normal set up.  You have to be flexible and adjust because every contest location is different.

Victory Lane BBQ
I knew we were going to be facing a talented field when I saw some of the teams. Heath has been doing sanctioned BBQ contests for 19 freaking years. 

Jackie Price Knoxville
Jackie Price of Smoke on This and Donny Bray of Warren County Pork Choppers are perennial favorites on the BBQ comp circuit. 
Did that make us nervous?  No.  When we started 2 years ago, we decided to skip the backyard division and jumped right into the professional group.  We want to compete against the best.  It's been a trial by fire but we are learning a lot!  

Smokin' In McMinnville BBQ competition 2016
Since we were traveling further away from our home base of Knoxville, there were teams we were used to seeing like Smoke Me Silly and teams that were new to us, like Big Papa's. 

Smokin' In McMinnville BBQ competition 2016
There were a lot of stick burners (horizontal offset smokers) here like this Jambo pit that belongs to South Pork (one of my favorite team names ever). 
Smokin' In McMinnville BBQ competition 2016
Some of them were bigger than your standard Lang offset pit.  This big pit belongs to Hammondville Hawg Mafia.

Another big one.

Smokin' In McMinnville BBQ competition 2016
This is more like your typical black steel stick burner. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

My Version of a Grilled Stuffed Buritto

This isn't a clone of Taco Bell's Grilled Stuft Burrito.  It's just a dinner that we made this week that was pretty good.

Grilled Stuffed Burrito Recipe
Grilled stuffed burrito stuffed with fire roasted chicken, TexMex Rice, and cheese with chipotle lime crema.

This was a quick meal because it was mostly leftovers and food that we had already made ahead of time.  We had the chicken, charred corn, and Tex-Mex rice already in the fridge.  If you don't have those, just grab a rotisserie chicken and packet of Mexican rice from the grocery store.  They also have fire roasted corn in a can now.  It's nowhere as good as fresh but it's not awful in a pinch.

Grilled Stuffed Burritos

Published 08/05/2016
Fire roasted chicken, TexMex rice, and cheese tucked away inside a burrito that is crisply cooked on a flat top griddle and served with chipotle lime crema.


  • 4 mission style flour tortialla
  • 2 cups Sargento shredded 4 cheese Mexican blend
  • 1 1/3 cup TexMex rice cooked
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
For the saute sauce
  • 1.5 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1.5 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon tequila (substitute chicken stock if necessary)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon NMT All Purpose Chicken Rub
For the chipotle lime crema
  • 1 cup Mexican crema
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile


  1. Mix together the crema, lime juice, and chipotle and refrigerate.  It is best after sitting a while and lasts easily for 1 week, so make it ahead of time if you want.
  2. Reheat the rice if leftover.  
  3. Whisk the saute sauce ingredients together in a small bowl.
  4. Preheat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add the chicken and saute sauce and cook, stirring or tossing occasionally, until the chicken is heated through and the sauce is reduced - about 5 minutes.
  5. Top each tortilla with 1/2 cup of cheese, 1/3 cup of rice, and 1/2 cup of the chicken.
  6. Roll the bottom (edge closest to you) of the tortilla over the food mix and then pull the two edges inwards.  Now roll the burrito away from you towards the other edge and set aside, seam side down while you make the others.
  7. Preheat a griddle or skillet to medium high heat.  Add enough canola or peanut oil to coat the surface.
  8. Place the burritos, seam side down, onto the griddle and let cook until toasty and golden brown, about 90 seconds.  Flip and do the other side.  Finally use tongs to toast the edges about 12-20 seconds each.
  9. Remove, drizzle with the chipotle lime crema and serve with pico de gallo.
Yield: 4 burritos

I'll often cook an extra chicken on Sunday night just to have cooked chicken on hand for quick dinners on the first few nights of the work week.  You will typically get 3 cups of chicken meat per bird.  If I don't have time to brine, I'll inject chicken broth into the chicken.  I'll use about 20-25cc per breast, 10-15cc each in the legs and thighs.

Here is how to spatchcock a chicken for grilling.
To spatchcock a chicken, just cut up each side of the spine with a sharp pair of poultry scissors.  Then just flip it over and press down on the breastbone, flattening out the chicken.

Season the bird all over with the NMT All Purpose Chicken Rub.  Don't be shy with it.

This is a basic easy chicken seasoning rub.
I like this rub because it is basic but bold in flavor.  You can add to it to make it BBQ, Southwestern, Asian or whatever but it's flavorful enough to stand on its own.

How to grill whole chicken on a kamado grill best way.
A spatchcock chicken cooked "raised direct" like this takes right about 1 hour at 350°f.  This set up was in one of my Big Green Eggs but using the grill extender from my Grill Dome with a Craycort cast iron grate placed on top of that.  This gets the bottom of the chicken away from the searing hot coals and closer to the heat reflecting off the top of the grill lid.  That gives you a more evenly cooked chicken and nicely roasted skin on top.  Any kind of a raised grid should work for this.

How to get rotisserie chicken results at home on your grill
Grocery store rotisserie birds are cheap and convenient but they pale in comparison to a fire roasted bird at home.

The saute mix just adds another layer of flavor onto your chicken.

Remember that big flat top that I bought two years ago?  It is awesome but heavy and I don't always have it out on the deck.  We bought it's little brother which is so much more convenient for us. We've been using this heavily since we bought it for pancakes, eggs, bacon, grilled cheese, quesadillas, and burgers.

If you don't have a flat top, there are plenty of other options.  You can get a grill top griddle like the Griddle-Q, a lot of kamado grillers love those. One of my favorites is a cheap cast iron griddle plate that I bought years ago for $11, it fits across the fire ring of a large BGE perfectly.  A cast iron skillet would do great too.

It doesn't take long, just seconds a side.

Don't forget the sides.

These were fantastic with Alexis' pico and some avocado slices that we coated with lime juice and seasoned with chile powder, cumin, and salt.
[FTC Standard Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post and paid full price for the griddle.  Grill Dome was a sponsor last year and Craycort is an equipment sponsor.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Brat-jitas: Bratwursts Go Tex-Mex

This coming weekend is the 63rd Johnsonville Brat Days in Sheyboygan, Wisconsin, one of the best bratwurst festivals in the country.  Alexis and I were fortunate enough to attend this in 2012 and had a great time.  If you are in the area, you should check it out, it's a fun food festival.

When Char-Broil asked me to come up with a brat recipe, I was inspired by the crazy dishes that they come up with at Brat Days.  They make things like brat tacos, brat eggrolls, and things like that.  So I came up with Brat-jitas with Green Chile Crema.

Of course I had to make some Mexican street vendor corn too.  I just love that stuff!

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  Char-Broil is our premium sponsor and I work with them to provide content like this for their online presence.