I am giving away this Grill Dome Rapid Lite electric start for firing up your kamado grill.
I am running the giveaway over on my Facebook page so to enter, just hop over there and leave a comment.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
The end of 2016 and beginning of 2017 have been The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly for BBQ around Knoxville and surrounding parts (aka State of Franklin).
Full Service BBQ
Full Service BBQ opened it's 3rd location this month on Kingston Pike near Pellisippli Parkway. We eat at the Cedar Lane location near our office. Owner, Anthony Difranco, sat with us just a few months ago and chatted about his new location.
They started off of the corner of an abandoned service station parking lot back in 2007 and have rapidly grown to 3 locations by delivering great food and friendly service. They have walk up service and outdoor seating, like some well known Texas BBQ establishments. I love having a "napkin log" on your table to keep the wind from blowing away your napkins.
Dead End BBQ - Maryville Closes
At the end of the year, The Daily Times reported that Dead End BBQ was closing it's location in Maryville, TN. We had many a meal here with friends and family. The original location in Knoxville on Sutherland Drive is still open and serving some of the best BBQ in town, but we'll miss this one.
|My sister, parents, and nephew and I having dinner at the Maryville location before one of Trevor's high school football games.|
|No photoshop work on the sign here...."dead" was just out at the top.|
Bulls BBQ Truck Has Served Their Last Customer
The Bull's BBQ Food Truck (aka BBQ short bus) has made it's last stop. Daniel Crowder and his converted yellow school bus were a frequent sight at the Farmer's Market and local specialty brew houses.
|Bull's BBQ food truck getting ready to serve early one morning at the Market Square Farmer's Market in Knoxville.|
Don't despair, Daniel has reincarnated the BBQ themed food truck into the Burrito Bus - "Mission Inspired - Knoxville Made". You can find where he and the Burrito Bus are at on Twitter as @knoxburrito. I look forward to tracking the Burrito Bus down and trying them out.
|Knoxville's exciting new Burrito Bus! Be on the lookout.|
|You can take BBQ off of the name, but not out of the veins. I see Daniel kept his Pitmaker Vault on the back of the bus. Smart move.|
Blue Ridge BBQ Festival - Tryon NC
One of our favorite regional BBQ contests, the Blue Ridge BBQ Festival in Tryon NC, has been canceled for this year (would have been their 24th year). It was canceled due to declining attendance (from 17,000 in 2011 to 7,000 last year) and the associated funds.
We have attended Tryon's contest in different capacities over the years - as reporters, as judges, and as competitors. It held a special charm for us for several reasons:
- It's nestled in the mountains.
- It's a town festival with fairway rides, a car show, entertainment, vendors, and more.
- It was one of the bigger contests in the area, size wise.
- They had whole hog as a category.
Hopefully it is just a "year off to reboot" and not one of those "closed for remodeling" situations where they never "re-open" because the Blue Ridge BBQ Festival is a great event for competition BBQ.
|Tryon has always been one of my favorite contest sites since it is located in this luscious green valley.|
|The classic car show, mid-way, and vendors gave the crowds plenty to do besides just watch a bunch of sweaty, ugly guys like us cook BBQ :)|
|Jim Loggins of Crow Creek BBQ competing at the 2013 Blue Ridge BBQ Festival. I've gotten to cook with Jim several times, including Memphis in May, the Jim Beam Classic, the Kentucky State BBQ Festival, and yes, 2 years ago at Tryon.|
Whoa There Pardner
According to WCYB News, Pardner's BBQ and Steaks in Piney Flats has been seized this morning by the State for an unresolved tax issue.
|Photo reposted from WCYB News|
Hopefully this is something that can be resolved without the long term closure of the restaurant. Regardless of what the tax situation may be between the owners and Department of Revenue, this affects the people who work there.
Sunday, January 22, 2017
This post is sponsored by Certified Angus Beef and one of the great things about having them on board is that their sponsorship affords us the opportunity to cook at community service events like Laundry Love in Knoxville this past week.
What Is Laundry Love?
One of the stigmas of poverty is dirty, disheveled clothes. Laundry Love helps out people who are struggling financially by hosting a free laundry event each month. In Knoxville, Laundry Love takes over the Super Wash House and gives the quarters, supplies, and assistance to wash up to 3 loads of laundry. Meanwhile, a meal is served and we spend a few hours just being neighbors, socializing while the laundry spins. So it's more than just clean clothes...it is treating people, like people and not labels (i.e. "the homeless", "low income households").
Serving the meal is where Nibble Me This comes in every few months. We use our C.A.B. sponsorship funds to buy the supplies and cook for 100 people. In the warmer months, we do BBQ but for this January event we were thinking comfort foods, like luscious, slow cooked beef. Our menu for this event was centered around this chuck roast recipe.
When most people think slow cooking, they think "slow cooker" (aka Crock-Pot™). But I used the original slow cooker - a Dutch oven. We sear the chuck roast in tallow and then braise it for hours on the grill until the roast is fork tender.
What The Heck Is Tallow and Why Should I Care?
- Tallow is simply pure beef fat, similar to lard from pork.
- Tallow is an excellent high temp oil for searing, sauteing, and frying.
- Tallow has a milder flavor than lard, making it more suitable for cooking IMO, especially beef.
- Tallow is shelf stable as long as it stored away from light in an air tight container. (We still put it in the fridge, I know it's okay, but.....)
- Tallow is a responsible way to use everything from the animal.
- You can buy tallow from your butcher or even online these days.
Here's the recipe that we did for the Laundry Love event in Knoxville.
Tallow Seared and Fire Braised Chuck Roast
- 3 pound Certified Angus Beef chuck roast
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil or other high temp cooking oil
- 1/4 cup NMT Beef Rub recipe (see substitution notes below)
- 3 tablespoons beef tallow (see substitution notes)
- 1 quart beef stock, divided
- 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into wedges
- 2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- 1 pound baby potatoes
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- 1 tablespoon cold water
- 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter
- Preheat cast iron Dutch oven over high heat. I do this over direct heat on a kamado grill running at 350°f.
- Pat chuck roast dry, lightly coat with oil, and season on all sides with the NMT Beef Rub.
- Put tallow in cast iron and sear the roast on both sides just enough to start building a crust, about 5 minutes per side.
- Set up for roasting. Switch grill to indirect heat and reduce heat to 300°f.. Remove roast from the Dutch oven and deglaze the bottom of the pot by pouring a little of the beef stock and scraping with a wood spoon. Put the roast back in the pot with onions and celery. Pour in enough stock to come up to 1/2 to 2/3 up the side of the roast.
- Place the covered Dutch oven back on the grill and let cook for 2 hours.
- Add carrot and potatoes. You can add more stock if needed. Re-cover and cook until the roast is fork tender, another hour to 90 minutes. See notes about the onion and celery. We left them in this time.
- Make the sauce. Strain off the liquid into a fat separator to get just the broth. Make a slurry by whisking corn starch and cold water together (skip if using veggie puree instead - see substitutions) and whisk the slurry into the broth. Continuously stir a cold pat of butter into the sauce to enrich it and give it a sheen. Return sauce to the Dutch oven
- Break the roast up with a pair of forks and serve with the veggies and sauce.
- NMT Beef Rub - Our beef rub recipe does a great job of bringing out the best in beef without covering it up. But you can make a quickie rub of 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1.5 tablespoons coarse black pepper, 1 teaspoon granulated garlic, 1/4 teaspoon onion powder, and 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano.
- Tallow - I prefer it to any other oil for searing beef but you could substitute other high temperature cooking oils like canola or peanut oil if you don't have any tallow on hand.
- Grill - You can do this inside. Just sear in the Dutch oven on your stove top and then put the covered Dutch oven in your regular oven for the braising portion.
- Celery and onion options. I just left them in this time. But you can also strain them out before adding the other veggies and then make a puree to use to thicken your sauce. You just add it back at the end instead of the cornstarch slurry.
|This specific chuck roast inspired this recipe. I had already picked up my dinner ingredients and was walking past the meat aisle at Food City when this exact roast turned my head. Look at that marbling! It may be a corporate hashtag but I think Certified Angus Beef really is the #bestbeef for my day to day cooking, dollar for dollar.|
|Speaking of Food City, how many of their Certified Angus Beef chuck roasts did we buy?|
All of them!
|A cast iron Dutch oven (aka CIDO) over hot wood coals is my favorite slow cooker. We do actually own a Crock-Pot™...somewhere. I think it's down in the basement.|
|I make batches of my beef rub, super coarse like this, and then grind it up in a pepper grinder just before using it. That gives me the most intense, fresh flavors.|
|If I had lesser quality beef, I might have injected these with a beef stock solution. But these were all Certified Angus Beef - well marbled quality beef - so all it needed was simple seasonings and hot black iron to make it tasty.|
|I like to use racks like this when seasoning flat cuts of meat so that all of the seasoning on the bottom side doesn't stick to the counter.|
|Alexis scooping tallow out for the searing. It's excellent for frying eggs, even better than clarified butter.|
|You aren't cooking it here, you are just building up a layer of flavor and color. Black iron and beef get along so well together.|
|We obviously don't have 10 Dutch ovens so we seared the roasts off, two at a time.|
|Then we had to rely on half steam pans instead of cast iron for the braising. Not ideal but it worked.|
|You want a slow simmer. A rapid boil will cause issues with your sauce, so adjust your cooking temps up or down as needed for a steady but gentle simmer. With practice, you can pretty much tell by the sound, without opening the lid.|
|Since it cooks with a lid closed, I know that there isn't much difference between cooking this in a 300°f kamado grill versus indoors in a 300°f oven. But for me, cooking is as much about the journey as it is the destination.|
|I did two roasts each on several of my kamado grills using multi-level set ups like this.|
|I also put two on our pellet cooker. Basically if a grill was on my deck, it was getting used for something.|
|The consummate mid-winter comfort food - tender, slow cooked beef roast with vegetables.|
Don't get me wrong, the BBQ competitions that we do are still fun.
But cooking community service events like Laundry Love and Operation BBQ Relief are so much more rewarding. Getting a thank you hug from someone and knowing that you made a difference in someone's life that day is infinitely more satisfying than getting a couple of scores from 6 anonymous BBQ judges.
Thank you to Certified Angus Beef for sponsoring my blog so we can do these events.
For more on slow cooking beef....
Monday, January 16, 2017
This weekend, we were at Pratt's Country Store here in Knoxville and one of the items we bought was Norris Dam Good Appalachian White BBQ Sauce.
This is a local product that is named after Norris Dam - a part of the TVA hydroelectric system and the reservoir is a prime outdoor recreation area. Chef Michael Hatcher created this sauce with his 20+ years of culinary experience (including formal training at Le Cordon Bleu) and in the spirit of East Tennessee family traditions.
You probably notice it's not red or brown...what gives? This is a white BBQ sauce.
What is white BBQ sauce?
White BBQ sauce originated in Northern Alabama, where Big Bob Gibson invented it at his BBQ joint in Decatur. White BBQ sauce is mayonnaise based with vinegar, salt, black pepper, and a few other things. Some have some sweetener put in, some like to add more heat like cayenne or horseradish. But in general, white sauces are tangy, simple, and used mostly for grilled chicken and other poultry.
Mayonnaise based, I get it if you initially recoil and say, "Ewwww, mayo BBQ?"
It does NOT taste like you think it would. Your food doesn't come out all white and goopy either. In fact, if I put white BBQ chicken in front of you, I doubt you would notice anything odd about it. You would just think it is a great tasting smoked chicken.
A Look At Norris Dam Good Appalachian White BBQ Sauce
Size: 16 ounce glass jar
Price: $6.99 at Pratt's Country Store
Availability: Online store, Pratt's, Willy's Butcher, and other local markets
- Off white with visible specks of coarse black pepper, red chiles, and herbs.
- Quite pungent and vinegary.
- Straight out of the bottle, so tangy it will make you wince but also it has a surprisingly sweet finish compared to some versions. The Dijon in there is something I haven't tried in my white BBQ sauce recipes but I like it.
- On food, it is mildly tangy with a subtle sweetness. It is supposed to enhance, not cover the flavor of the food.
- Thinner than most BBQ sauces, as white sauce should be.
- The pepper and herbs will settle to the bottom so give it a good shake before each use, just like a Carolina vinegar sauce in that aspect.
- Mostly pronounceable things that you have in your pantry - stuff like JFG mayo (another Knoxville company), cider vinegar, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and herbs. It does have potassium metabisulfite as a preservative but that's it.
The best chicken I have ever had in my life was Alabama white sauce chicken from Chris Lilly, pitmaster and operator of Big Bob Gibson's. He was teaching a class here in town and that was one of the dishes he made. We have a few different white BBQ sauce recipes that we make and love. That said, we haven't liked many jarred white BBQ sauces.
Norris Dam Good Appalachian White BBQ Sauce is one of the better ones that we have had. It was fantastic on fire roasted wings and I was even dipping our celery and carrot sticks in it. It was also super on smoked bone-in chicken breasts. Alexis said it would also be a fine slaw dressing. One thing that we both liked about it is that it doesn't feel or taste like a jarred sauce, they have kept the processing to a minimum.
Overall, we're fond of Norris Dam Good Appalachian White BBQ Sauce and are going to buy more to have on hand. I'll still make my own too, but this is good stuff.
Here are some wings that we made this weekend. Since we're talking white BBQ sauce, I borrowed from the legendary Big Bob Gibson's whole chicken technique for my wings.
Here are some wings that we made this weekend. Since we're talking white BBQ sauce, I borrowed from the legendary Big Bob Gibson's whole chicken technique for my wings.
- Simple seasonings - If memory serves, they just season theirs with salt and pepper. I went a little more than that but it's still a simple rub.
- Oil trick - Big Bob Gibson's dips their whole chickens in oil after smoking and almost done. This gets their chicken crispy before saucing. So I tossed my wings in oil after they were mostly cooked.
- Sauce bath - They give their birds a sauce bath and then serve. The sauce just cooks onto the bird as it rests. My wings weren't going to have that kind of carry over heat, so I put them back on just for a few minutes to cook the sauce on a little.
Norris Dam Good Fire Roasted WingsYield: 28 wing pieces
- 28-30 chicken wing pieces (wingettes, drummettes)
- 1/4 cup high temperature cooking oil (peanut, canola, avocado, etc)
- 1/2 cup Norris Dam Good Appalachian White BBQ Sauce
For the Dry Rub
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon coarse black pepper
- 1 teaspoon mild chili powder
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried lemon peel (optional)
- Preheat a charcoal grill to 400°f.
- Mix the dry rub ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Season the wings all over with the dry rub.
- Place the wings on the upper rack or a raise grill grate on the grill and cook for 8 minutes.
- Flip the wings and cook another 8 minutes.
- Toss the wings in a bowl with the oil and place back on the grill for 5 more minutes per side.
- Toss the wings in a bowl with the Norris Dam Good Appalachian White BBQ Sauce and place back on the grill for 2 more minutes per side.
- Remove the wings and spoon any remaining sauce from the bowl over the top of the wings.
|I took advantage of the Spring like temperatures Knoxville has been having and trimmed my wings outside. Those family packs of wings are typically in the 4-5 pound range and have 14-15 wings, giving you 28-30 wing pieces.|
|Cooking the wings on a raised cooking grate does two things. First, it cooks a little more gently, making your job easier. Second, it builds up color more evenly by roasting more than grilling.|
|Some grills come with an upper rack, if yours has that, just use it. For kamado grill users, there are a lot of options like Adjustable Rigs, grid extenders, or just building your own like this one that I use often.|
|I like to toss my wings in a large bowl like this. It just makes it quick and easy to coat them. You can just baste the oil and sauce onto the wings if you don't want to mess up a bowl or are worried you might lose some wings.|
|See? Doesn't look like mayo. Nice and crispy too.|
|Drizzle that last bit of sauce over the wings, you don't want to waste any of that good flavor.|
So is everyone going to love it? No, everyone has different tastes. But if you like Carolina style vinegar sauce, South Carolina mustard BBQ sauces, or just want something away from ordinary - you should give this white BBQ sauce a try.
[FTC Standard Disclaimer] I received no compensation for this post, paid full price for the BBQ sauce, and have no affiliation with Norris Dam Good.....although I hear they're dam good people ;)
Friday, January 13, 2017
Here's a recipe that we came up with when my sister was visiting in November for one of our BBQ competitions. We bought our competition butts and spare ribs from Sam's because they had started carrying Smithfield Prime Reserve. I noticed that they also had the tenderloins so I grabbed a pack of those as well.
It was the day after the competition and we wanted to have a little fun with the tenderloins for dinner - nothing too crazy, just something drastically different than BBQ.
Pork Tenderloins Expand Your OptionsI often use pork tenderloins in the kitchen and out at the grills. Why? For several reasons.
- Pork tenderloin has a mild, neutral taste which gives the chef a lot of freedom for choosing flavor profiles.
- Pork tenderloin can be prepared in many different configurations. I can serve it as a whole roast, cut it into filet, cut it into medallions, cut it into strips for pinwheels, or flatten it out for a roulade like I did for this recipe.
- Pork tenderloin is one of the leaner cuts of pork for those counting fat calories.
- Pork tenderloin is quick cooking so I get it on the table faster.
Speaking of options, yes you can cook this under the broiler in your oven instead of on the grill. Sure, you can swap out ingredients. Don't have pizza sauce? Use marinara sauce. Do whatever you want, it's all about exploring.
Stuffed Pork TenderloinPublished 01/13/2017
- whole pork tenderloin, trimmed and butterflied or spiral sliced
- 1 cup baby spinach leaves, rinsed
- 1 cup white cheddar cheese curds
- 1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes
- 7-8 pieces kitchen twine, 10" long
- 1 tablespoon high temp oil
- 1 cup roasted garlic pizza sauce
For the seasoning
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon dried lemon zest (optional)
- Set up your grill for direct heat and preheat it to 400°f (Medium High).
- Butterfly the tenderloin. See notes.
- Mix together the seasoning ingredients. Use a little more than half to season the top half of the butterflied pork tenderloin. Reserve the rest for seasoning the outside later.
- Assemble the roast. Layer the spinach on top of the tenderloin, leaving a 1 1/2" gap on one side. On the opposite side, layer the sun dried tomatoes and cheese curds in a row against the edge (see pictures). Use both hands and roll the cheese curd edge towards the exposed edge like a jelly roll. Lay the strings about and inch a part and put the roast seam down on top of the strings. Tie the strings and cut off the excess.
- Lightly coat the outside of the roast with oil and season with the remaining seasoning.
- Place the roast on the grill and cook for 24-27 minutes, turning every few minutes. Meanwhile, heat your pizza sauce.
- Temp check the meat to make sure it is 145°f and allow to rest for at least three minutes. (That's FDA recommendations. Honestly, I pull it at 140°f.)
- Remove the strings and then slice about 3/4" thick. Plate the slices on top of a smear of the pizza sauce.
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 20 mins.
Total time: 0 hrs. 47 mins.
I first found out about Smithfield Prime at the American Royal last year (which Smithfield took over as title sponsor this year, kind of a big deal!). Smithfield sponsored my trip there to be a part of the event and cover their Hog Wild Throwdown on social media. The hospitality tent was serving the Prime line and I was pretty impressed with the results.
- The Prime line is all natural and a part of the USDA's Process Verification Program.
- It is 20% more tender than other brands in the non-enhanced (injected, etc) category.
- But what I like is that this is a premium pork, a Duroc blend. Smithfield has their own line of Duroc hogs and they are the sires for the hogs used for the Prime line of pork.
|I noticed that our local Sam's Club started carrying Smithfield Prime Reserve in mid-November. I asked my contact who advised that it is the same pork as the Smithfield Prime.|
|On the far left is an untrimmed tenderloin. The one on the right, I have removed the silverskin and any excessive fat. I also trimmed tip off and around the other end to make the roast even. I cut those scraps up for stir fri, sausage, or things like that. A sharp boning knife does wonders. That is an Amazon Affiliate link but this is my favorite boning knife - I have 2 others that both cost 3 times as much. The Victorinox flexible blade has just won me over. It's also popular with meat cutters and prep chefs.|
|Cut a straight line almost all of the way across like this and then stop about 1/2" from the edge.|
|Flip the top half over and start cutting through that piece the same way, opening it up flat.|
|Place plastic wrap above and below the meat and finish flattening it out evenly with a meat mallet.|
|Here's how to stack the stuffing, leaving the edge exposed. You will start rolling from the right, curling tightly over the curds, and keep rolling.|
- I just love them.
- They give a good shape for getting the roll started tightly and firmly.
- They don't seem to melt out of the ends of the roast as sliced or shredded cheese likes to do.
|All tied up and ready to go.|
|I wanted to put a little wood in the grill for extra smoke flavor but all of my wood chunks are on the trailer in storage and my logs downstairs were snow covered and wet. Fortunately I had some Mojobricks (hickory) leftover from Memphis In May. I cut them with a saw so they were basically Mojobricks Mini's at that point and put one in the kamado grill. They may look like MDF but they are just wood pieces and lignin - a natural binder in wood.|
|Since the Mojobrick products are dense, in a kamado grill, placement is key. Place it too far from the lit coals and it might not even get lit for a few hours (which can be useful in longer cooks). This was a brief cook so I made sure the one that I put in was near an ignition point. This is in a Kick Ash Basket in a large BGE.|
|Two stuffed tenderloins just after going onto the Big Green Egg. Leave them for about 5 minutes and then start turning every 3-4 minutes until done.|
|I put the sauce on in the last few minutes, just to warm up. Don't worry if a little of your cheese melts out at the end, most is staying in there.|
|Yeah, it was a little cold out (about 20°f) so these steamed up a good bit when they came off.|
|As always, rest your cooked meats on a raised rack to help even cooling and minimize moisture loss.|
|Sliced and ready to serve!|
|Close up of the slices, look how nicely cooked these are. And even though it was a hot and fast cook, the tenderloins still got a slight "smoke ring" around the edges.|
- Smithfield - I attended two events hosted by Smithfield in 2016, travel included, but don't have any kind of endorsement deal, pay for content, or anything like that.
- Victorinox - I paid for my knives, but love the brand. Just ask to look in my knife bag at a contest and you'll see my 4 main ones are Victorinox with the Fibrox handles.
- Mojobricks - These were the last of the leftovers from Memphis In May last year.
- Kick Ash Basket - Got the first one as a sample and ended up buying 4 more for our other kamados.