Thursday, June 29, 2017

Craycort Cast Iron Grate for Large Big Green Egg, Grill Dome, and Primo

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  We are proud to have had Craycort as an equipment sponsor of our blog since 2009.

Craycort has redesigned their modular cast iron grate system for large Big Green Eggs for 2017.  I received one in January and have put it through 6 months of heavy use on our kamado grills, including Big Green Egg, Primo, and Grill Dome.

I've had my original Craycort for 8 years and it still works just fine. Why did they want to redesign it?

Albukirky pork chops grilling on my older Craycort cast iron grates.

That was the first thing I asked Rolf and he told me that originally these grates were designed for any 18.5" grill. The new models are designed specifically for the Large Big Green Egg for a more exacting fit when used with a plate setter.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Bacon Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Summer Squash Succotash

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  This post is sponsored by Smithfield's line of Marinated Fresh Pork products.  Any stated opinions are my own.

Summer time is here and that means time for some of the best vegetables of the year.  Summer can also mean chaotic schedules but that doesn't mean you don't have time to make a quick dinner like this Bacon Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Summer Squash Succotash.

Smithfield Marinated Fresh Pork #RealFlavorRealFast

I was able to get this done in about 30 minutes because I used Smithfield's Hardwood Smoked Bacon and Cracked Black Pepper Marinated Fresh Pork Tenderloin for the main course.  They already did the prep work for me, including that bacon crust.  I didn't have to do anything other than take it out of the package and roast it.

Since Smithfield uses only 100% fresh pork in these products, we wanted to use the freshest vegetables.  So we headed to the Farmers Market in Maryville, Tennessee to see what the local farms had to offer.

We ended up buying corn (not all of it!), yellow squash, yellow and green zucchini, bell pepper, sweet onion, and some small variety tomatoes.

Normally I lean towards contrasting flavors but Alexis had the idea to echo the tastes of hardwood smoked bacon and cracked black pepper in our succotash.  She was absolutely right because this was perfect together. The roasted tomatoes brought it all together with their sweet, slightly acidic flavor brightening the entire dish. 

Bacon Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Summer Squash Succotash #RealFlavorRealFast

Bacon Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Summer Squash Succotash


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Event: The Big BBQ Bash - Maryville Tennessee

The Big BBQ Bash benefiting the Helen Ross McNabb Center was held this weekend in Maryville, Tennessee.  

The original Big BBQ Bash was THE first BBQ contest that I ever attended. I volunteered and was hooked.  Now this BBQ competition is sanctioned by the KCBS and it has grown into a State Championship.  

We didn't compete or judge at this year's contest because I was supposed to be at the Blythe Ranch in Kansas the same weekend.  Unfortunately, that trip was scrubbed for me due to medical reasons.  To cheer me up, Alexis took me to The Big BBQ Bash to see our friends.  Here are some pictures from the contest.

The Smokers

I love checking out all of the smokers that the cook teams are using at BBQ competitions. There are all kinds.
  • Stick burners
  • Insulated cabinet smokers
  • Bullet smokers
  • Drum smokers
  • Pellet cookers
  • Kamado grills/smokers
Some of the rigs are homemade. Some can be bought at stores for a few hundred bucks.  Some are custom made rigs that start in the $10-15k neighborhood.  But they all have one thing in common - being owned by a pitmaster who loves cooking BBQ.

This is what comes to mind as a smoker for most people.  It's an offset stick burner, called that because it burns split logs.  This particular one belongs to our friends, Greg and Melanie Edmonds of Paradise Que.  It is a reverse flow stick burner made by Mike Lang.

Blount County The Big BBQ Bash KCBS BBQ Competition 2017
A small box or cabinet cooker. These are usually heavily insulated and have tightly controlled airflow for long, even cooking temps.

Blount County The Big BBQ Bash KCBS BBQ Competition 2017
This is a fancy version of the offset stick burner.  This is Chairman of the Boar's smoker.  It is a Champion Smoker made right here in Knoxville, TN.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Grilled Chicken Sandwich

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  No compensation was received for this post.

This was a quickie that we cooked the other night. Storms were moving in and I just wanted something quick and easy for dinner so we made grilled chicken sandwiches.

Grilled chicken salad recipe

They were nothing fancy, just quick.  If you want something a bit more evolved, check out these other chicken sandwiches we've made.

But here is how I made this chicken sandwich.

I took 2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves and butterflied them. Then I seasoned them liberally on both sides with some Pork U Masters Degree rub.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Smoked Chicken Salad - Lower Calorie Version

We're trying to eat a little better at our house with 3 different goals.

  • One of us is trying to eat more heart healthy.
  • One of us is trying to eat to lose weight.
  • One of us is trying to eat high protein, low fat for athletic training.
Hint....the last one is neither Alexis nor I! 

We love chicken salad but our usual recipe for that does not exactly fit any of those three categories. Most of the fat comes from mayonnaise so we cut the fat by using a blend of light mayonnaise and non-fat Greek yogurt instead.  The light mayo alone could cut about half of the fat from regular mayo.  But by mixing in the non-fat Greek yogurt and light mayo, we cut about 310 calories from fat compared to the chicken salad made with regular mayo.  

I'm good with that.

Recipe for a low calorie version of smoked chicken salad

Lighter Smoked Chicken Salad


  • 1 cup chopped smoked chicken
  • 1/2 cup diced sweet onion
  • 1/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 ounce Dukes Mayonnaise Light
  • 1 ounce non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon juice from grilled lemon
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake


  1. Place all ingredients into a food processor and pulse several times until you get the texture that you like.  
  2. Eat it.  That's it.

Smoked chicken on a Deep South Smokers GC36
John and I were smoking a bunch of pork butts and beef ribs on the Deep South Smokers GC36.  Since we already had it running, we threw some chicken in there too.  We love how this thing cooks.

Smoked chicken
For chicken salad, we smoked a blend of bone in split breasts and bone in thighs.  After smoking, we pull off the skin and pull the chicken into chunks like this.  

Ready to make our chicken salad.  The red pepper flake was added later after we tasted.  It just gave the chicken salad that pop it needed.

If our figures are correct, this works out to about 128 calories per half cup serving.  

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Bacon Jam and Tomato Burgers

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] We are proud to be sponsored by Certified Angus Beef.  We have no affiliation with Food City or Schweid and Sons.

This is a crazy good burger. It's one of my favorites that we've ever made.  It has a Certified Angus Beef prime burger with quite possibly the best burger condiment ever - bacon jam.

Bacon Jam and Tomato Burger featuring Certified Angus Beef Schweid and Sons

This burger started on the meat aisle at our Food City when Alexis pointed out these gourmet 1/3rd pound burgers that they had just gotten in.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

SABER Elite SSE 1500

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] SABER Grills is a sponsor of Nibble Me This; however, any opinions stated herein are my own.

I am excited to be working with SABER Grills this year and was thrilled when they upgraded my SABER Cast 500 with this SABER Elite SSE 1500.  

Before I get into any drawn out review of the SABER grill, the short version is that I love them because they replicate the power and style of the grills that I have gotten to use in commercial kitchens.

Working with grill & smoker manufacturers like I do, I have put together a lot of grills in the past decade and many of them are a real pain to assemble.  The quality of the SABER Elite 1500 was evident as soon as I started putting it together.


The SABER Elite 1500 was a piece of cake to assemble.  That's no accident, they engineer it that way.
  • The main part of the grill - the cooking container - is 100% pre-assembled.  You just have to build the base cart, put the cooking container on top, and attach the side pieces.  Easy peasy.
  • The entire assembly only uses two types of connectors - one size/type of bolt and one size/type screw.  Most grills come with blister packs of over a dozen types of connectors that can be confusing when reading the instructions.  With the SABER, it's almost impossible to use the wrong connector.
  • This seems like a small detail but I noticed it - even the bolts and screws are quality. Some grills have cheap bolts/screws made of softer metal and it is easy to strip out a screw head. They sometimes aren't machined just right, so they don't screw in easily.  That was never an issue with the SABER, the bolts and screws seem to be made with harder metals and are precision made.
  • There are touches that aren't necessary but make assembly SO much easier.  For example the side shelves and doors hang in place on their own, so you don't have to try to hold them in place while you try to fasten a screw or bolt.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Quick Camping Trip to Norris Lake

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] Certified Angus Beef is one of our sponsors and GrillGrates is an equipment sponsor.  

We did a quick 1 night camping trip at Norris Lake a few weekends ago to test out our truck tent and to see how Ramsay would deal with camping.

Nissan Titan XD Diesel with fitted tent accessory
The tent is fitted to the truck, so it pops up in the bed. The plus side is you are sleeping a few feet off the ground, making it less likely for ants, snakes, and creepy crawlies from bothering you. The down side is that you have to break camp if you need to drive anywhere.

We stayed on the East side campground and it was nice because it wasn't crowded at all due to vacancies.

Our site's previous occupants left us a stake on the grill.  Not sure if this was a meant as a pun   (steak/stake on the grill) or if they made this for self defense against nearby Sasquatches.

Turns out, Ramsay likes camping.
I brought Certified Angus Beef ribeyes #bestbeef #gorare and a set of #grillgrates with us
For dinner, Alexis bought and packed a few Certified Angus Beef ribeye steaks and some fresh corn. I brought a small grill because you never know what type of grill equipment you'll get at a campsite. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

June BBQ Giveaway: Praise The Lard - Recipes and Revelations by Mike Mills and Amy Mills

[FTC Standard Disclosure] We received no compensation for this post and paid list price for our copy of the book.  Amy Mills has graciously provided the giveaway package.

June's BBQ give away is a phenomenal one!

I am giving away a great BBQ/Grilling package from the father/daughter duo - Mike "The Legend" Mills and Amy Mills.  They own/operate 17th Street Barbecue, Oncue restaurant consulting, and 3 BBQ World Championships.  

The prize package includes

  • A signed copy of Praise The Lard - Recipes and Revelations From A Legendary Life in Barbecue,
  • A jar of the famous 17th Street Barbecue's Magic Dust,
  • A jar of 17th Street Barbecue Sauce (Mikes Original),
  • A 17th Street Barbecue koozie, and 
  • A 17th Street Barbecue sticker.
Praise The Lard is their follow up to the hugely successful and iconic Peace, Love, and Barbecue.  I bought my copy as soon as it became available for pre-order but I was just able to flip through it last night.  Initial impressions?  Wow!  I intended to just scan it but ended up enthralled and spent 3+ hours reading sections, marking recipes, and being impressed.

I'll do a full review this month but from all appearances, Amy and Mike have nailed this book. Coming from 3 time Memphis in May Champions, you might expect this to be all high-level, uber -pitmaster stuff. It does have advanced techniques but they did an amazing job at writing this as a "how to" book so the newbie griller will not be lost.  In fact, I think that if you are a beginning or average griller and cook through this whole book, you will end up gaining the full knowledge and experience needed to be grill master.

Praise The Lard will be a greatly appreciated Father's Day gift for Dad.  Or if you order it now, it will help you throw a 4th of July BBQ celebration that will be talked about by your guests for years to come. 

Giveaway Rules

  1. Giveaway entry period begins Wednesday, June 7 and ends Friday, June 16th at 11:59pm. Drawing will be held on Saturday around noon (All times are Eastern Time zone).
  2. To ENTER:  Leave a comment below.  If using an anonymous comment option, leave me a way to get back to you (email, Egghead or BBQ Brethren user forum name, etc).  For a bonus second entry, you can tweet or post a Facebook entry about this and post a link to that entry in a comment below.
  3. Comments will be numbered by order received and will generate a random number for the winner.
  4. Limited to residents of the continental US unless you want to pay the additional shipping charges.
  5. I am the final judge regarding any discrepancies, interpretations, grievances, etc about this drawing.
  6. 17th Street Barbecue, Mike Mills and Amy Mills are just sponsoring this prize package. They are not responsible for the drawing or the giveaway. 
  7. Winner must respond and claim the prize within one week of the winning announcement. If a winner does not claim the prize during the specified time, a reserve winner will be drawn from the original entries.
NOTE:  Comment moderation is turned on to fight the bots, so your comment won't appear right away.

The winner of the giveaway is GrillinBeers who wrote:

I will shoot you an instant message on the BGE forum to get your mailing address and contact info.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Whole Beef Strip Loin Grilling Class

I'm going to be teaching a grilling class at Mannix Pools and Grills in Winter Haven, FL on July the 8th, from 4pm to 7pm.  You can purchase tickets here ($45 per person) or call (863) 326-9656.  (Note: class is 4pm to 7pm, NOT 4am)

Grilling BBQ class in Florida

Strip Class!
The whole beef strip loin is chuck full of great beefy options – from NY strip steaks to succulent beef roasts.  Chris Grove, author of The Kamado Smoker and Grill Cookbook and publisher of Nibble Me This, will cover what to look for when buying a strip loin, how to break down a strip loin into useful cuts, and several ways to utilize the strip loin, including the following:

Pepper Crusted Strip Loin Roast
Move over prime rib! A strip loin roast can be the epic center of a family gathering or holiday meal.

How to Make Beef Tallow
Don’t throw away those scraps when trimming a whole beef strip loin, ribeye, or brisket! Save them and make beef tallow – an excellent clean cooking oil with a relatively high smoke point. 

The Manhattan Filet
A great way to serve smaller portions but still get that thick, juicy steak.

Steak and Cheese Sandwiches on the Griddle Q
One portion of the strip loin isn’t as great for steaks but it is ideal for shaving thin and cooking on a griddle for steak and cheese sandwiches.

Reverse Pan Seared NY Strip Loin with Roasted Garlic and Bourbon Sauce
This modified technique gives you the best of reverse sear grilling and pan searing steaks – super tender, perfectly medium rare steak with a gorgeous crust and lip smacking pan sauce.

BBQ Grilling class at Mannix Pools in Winter Haven Florida
Reverse Pan Seared NY Strip Steak with Roasted Garlic and Bourbon Sauce
So if you're in the area - come on out to have some fun and enjoy some great food with us on July 8th in Winter Haven, FL at Mannix Pools and Grills.  Don't forget to get your tickets!!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Summer Favorite: Tequila Chicken Salad with Lime Shallot Vinaigrette

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  I received no compensation for this post. Char-Broil is a sponsor and I received my Signature Series grill as part of an overall compensation package but this is not a sponsored post.  I have no affiliation with Smoking Goat Farms, Coning Farms, Horntos tequila, or Thunderbird Wings.

We are trying to eat a bit healthier at our house.  I'm trying to eat more "heart healthy".  Alexis is focusing on weight loss/maintenance.  Trevor is in training for football and wanting low fat/high protein foods.  As a result, we are eating a bunch of lean beef, lean pork, and a lot of grilled chicken.

One of my favorite Summer grilled chicken dishes is grilled tequila chicken.  The peppery bite of the tequila and the tang of the citric acid wake up the chicken flavors.  Tequila chicken is excellent as an entree, served in tortillas, or on salads like we did for this one yesterday.  

Tequila Chicken Salad with Lime Shallot Vinaigrette

Thursday, June 1, 2017

2017 Memphis In May World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest

The Memphis In May International Festival is a month long celebration of music, food, and culture. It's a big deal featuring:
But of course, the part that I am always most excited about is the Memphis In May World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest.
  • Memphis In May is one of the four "majors" when it comes to the world of BBQ contests.
  • Each year there are about 250 teams and 100,000 visitors that come to Tom Lee Park on the banks of the Mississippi River for the smoke showdown.
  • It's not the biggest it terms of number of teams but it certainly has the most grandeur and the most excess.  Compared to other contests, Memphis in May is just bigger, crazier, and bolder.
  • It's a World. Freaking. Championship.  
I am fortunate enough to be a cook on the Grilla Grills Pro Team.  Here is an inside look back of our crazy week at the 2017 Memphis In May World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest.  

Monday and Tuesday - Load In and Set Up

The first days are what most people never see.  It is chaotic and hectic but it is a vital part of getting the job done. 

Nissan Titan XD with Cummins Diesel engine gets the job done.
It's an almost 6 hour drive plus we had a smaller site, so we didn't take our trailer. We fit our Grilla Grill, hot boxes, coolers, and gear into our truck and headed due West.

Due West on I-40 until we hit the Mississippi then we're basically there.  Battery Park and the Hernando de Soto bridge viewed from Tom Lee Park where MIM is held.

2017 Memphis In May World Championship BBQ Cooking Contest
Getting through the park on these days can take a long time.  Traffic is one way but the narrow path is blocked routinely as trucks have to back in smokers, scaffolding, tents, and equipment.  Vehicles just have to sit and wait for that to clear.

Pick ups as far as the eye can see in either direction.  It's like the first day at a freshman college dorm, everyone is trying to get loaded in at the same time.

Some over achievers are fully set up by Tuesday, like Pork Illustrated.  You're making the rest of us look bad, guys.  Mix in a break or two! ;)