Thursday, August 29, 2019

Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger

[FTC Standard Disclosure] I received no direct compensation for this post; however, I have accepted two trips to the Certified Angus Beef® Brand Culinary Center this year.

I just ate the best burger last night - a pan-seared Certified Angus Beef® Brand burger on a toasted bun topped with sauteed onions, homemade pepper jack pimento cheese, and our home-cured bacon.

Bacon and Pimento Cheese Burger featuring Certified Angus Beef Brand Schweid and Sons
This burger was cheesy, smoky, gooey, and slightly spicy from the poblano and pepper jack cheese.  I would be thrilled to get this burger at a sports pub.

Dinner was a last-minute thought process last night.  Alexis was calling me from Food City and I just told her to buy "burger stuff."  I wasn't sure what kind of burger I was going to make, burgers just sounded like a good idea.

Schweid & Sons burger patties are ideal for quick dinner solutions.
My favorite way to make a burger is to start with a home ground brisket and sirloin flap blend, but I wasn't about to do all of that tonight.  For quick nights like this, we often go with Schweid and Son's.  The C.A.B. All American is made with Certified Angus Beef® Brand chuck with the One Percenter burgers are made with USDA Prime Certified Angus Beef® Brand beef.

When Alexis got home, she reminded me that we had a batch of Pepper Jack Pimento Cheese that we made earlier in the week.  Naturally, we decided to make pimento cheese burgers.

Digging in the freezer, Alexis found some home-cured Sorghum and Bourbon Bacon that we smoked a while back.  The burgers just got upgraded.

My set up for the cook was a large Big Green Egg filled with Tennessee hardwood lump charcoal lit in three places with a gas torch.  I ran it with direct heat in the 400°f range for the bacon and onions.  When I put the burgers on, I upped the temperature to 450°f.

I placed a small cast-iron skillet directly on the grill grates.  I added a bit of beef tallow and then a thinly sliced onion for sauteed onions.  I just tossed them every few minutes until they were golden brown.  Then I seasoned them with some of my finely ground beef rub, but you could just use salt and pepper.

Cooking bacon in cast iron skillet on a Big Green Egg
This Sorghum Bourbon Bacon is a recipe from my second book, The Offset Smoker Cookbook.  That's cooking in a Lodge 8SK, a fantastic skillet for the grill.  It is inexpensive, built like a tank and fits well inside an Egg or other 18" sized grill.  Just take care of it, and you'll have a grill skillet for life.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Product Review: Challenger Designs Torch 48 Grilling Cart

Earlier this year, Grillin' Garry hosted a raffle fund-raiser benefiting The Center for Violence-Free Relationships.  The project doubled the raised funds thanks to a matching contribution from Blue Cross Blue Shield of California.

Alexis bought an entry ticket and that's the last we thought of it.  We frequently enter various charity raffles but never win, we just consider it a donation.  So Alexis was shocked when she got a notification that she had won the grand prize - a Challenger Designs Torch 48 grilling cart.

Review of Challenger Designs Torch 48 grill cart

Challenger Design grilling carts are recognized as the Ferrari of grilling tables. I've wanted one ever since my sister bought hers several years ago, because of the well thought out design and meticulous construction. 

My sister's Challenger Designs Torch 48 with a large Big Green Egg and Mini-Max.
My sister's challenger cart is over 5 years old and has spent the entire time exposed to the humid elements in Florida, but it remains in fantastic condition.  Here we are using it to smoke green chile pork butt for the North East Florida Eggfest a few years ago.

Why are the Challenger Design carts so good?  For me, it comes down to quality, dry-storage, and durability.

  • Quality - The Challenger Designs Torch is designed and made with a focus on "good enough isn't good enough."  Everything fits together, snug and secure.  When you shut a cabinet door, you can hear the quality.  When you slide a drawer out, it feels smooth and steady.  Just looking at the sleek cabinet, the quality is evident.
  • Dry-Storage - The cabinets are weatherproof and keep out the dirt and moisture.  Now I can keep things like my Flame Boss, my Thermoworks electronics, and my heat gloves out by the grill all of the time.  No more having to run inside to grab gloves or a Thermapen at the last minute.
  • Durability -Let's face it, the Challenger Designs Torch isn't cheap.  It had better last so you can spread the cost out over many, many years.  They use non-corrosive, lightweight aluminum that won't warp, rot, or rust and back it with a limited lifetime warranty.  My sister's cart stays in a rather harsh environment, and it has stood the test of time.

I was THRILLED to add the Challenger Designs Torch 48 to my outdoor line-up.  To the left is a large BGE with a BGE Modular Nest.  Center is a large BGE in the new Challenger Designs cart and to the right is my BGE Mini-Max on a basic stainless cart from Sam's.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Event Notice: AmazingRibs announces Pitmaster Club Meat-Up In Memphis

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  I received no compensation for this post.

If you follow my blog, you know that I love grilling meetups where grillings and BBQ enthusiasts from all over the country get together for a few days of amazing food, sharing techniques, and meeting new friends.  The number 1 BBQ website,, is putting together a Meat-Up in Memphis, one of the BBQ capitals of the US.  Here is the press release for more info - 


– Inaugural Event Brings BBQ Lovers Together In The Capital City Of Pork BBQ For
Spectacular Food, Seminars, And Fellowship –

MEMPHIS, TN (AUGUST 21, 2019) –, the world’s leading outdoor cooking
resource, today unveiled details for the Pitmaster Club Meat-Up In Memphis,
a first-of-its-kind BBQ weekend filled with spectacular food, seminars, and fellowship taking
place in Memphis from July 31 - August 2, 2020. The event is limited to 400 attendees, so early
registration is encouraged.

This is THE ONLY barbecue conference for consumers, bringing enthusiasts together in one of
the BBQ meccas to experience some great educational sessions, enjoy some amazing food
prepared by renowned BBQ competitors and restauranteurs, and socialize with fellow Pitmaster
Club members.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Grilled Steak and Shrimp

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  I have taken the year off from sponsorships; however, I have accepted two educational trips to the Certified Angus Beef® Brand Culinary Center this year.

When you go to the store to pick something up for dinner, do you tend to:
  1. Go to buy a specific protein and have a recipe idea in mind, OR
  2. Go to see what protein looks so good that you can't pass it up and build the meal around that?
If we are just cooking for ourselves, we generally go with the latter.  Alexis and I went to Food City earlier this week and found a package of thin-sliced, USDA Prime, Certified Angus Beef® Brand NY strip steaks.  They also had 26/30 count shrimp for sale, so we decided to make a quick grilled steak and shrimp. 

Grilled NY Strip Steak with Shrimp featuring Certified Angus Beef Brand from Food City

These steaks were thin, weighing in at 6 ounces each.  That's what I call "breakfast steaks" because they are perfect for a quick sear in a skillet and serve along with some fried eggs.  Or in this case, a quick grill and served with buttery, garlicky shrimp.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Grilled Chicken Pita on the Big Green Egg

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  I received no compensation for this post.

I have been on a Middle Eastern food kick lately so Alexis and I made these fantastic Chicken Pitas with Tzatziki last week.  I marinated the chicken with a spicy oregano vinaigrette and then grilled it to perfection - juicy and bursting with flavor.

Grilled Chicken Pitas with Tzatziki cooked on a Big Green Egg kamado grill

I blame my Middle Eastern cravings on Knoxville's own Yassin's Falafel House.  Yassin's has a message of inclusivity and tolerance and won Reader's Digest's Nicest Place in America last year.  They also happen to make insanely good falafel and one of the best gyros I have ever had.

Yassin's Falafel House in Knoxville has the best gyros and falafel.

We ate at the Yassin's in West Knoxville last week, and it was fabulous as always.  The next night, I was still craving Middle Eastern delights, so we whipped up these pitas.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Recipe Cook: Spiralized Vietnamese Cucumber Salad.....with Chicken!

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  I received no compensation for this post.

Leave it to me to add meat to a vegetarian dish.

Like everyone, Alexis and I are trying to eat a little healthier as we get older.  Last night, we were going to make this Vietnamese Cucumber Noodle Salad from the May 2019 issue of Eating Well magazine.  It is spiralized cucumbers and carrots tossed in a version of nuoc cham and topped with cilantro and peanuts.  I just had to add some grilled chicken breast.  

I wanted to give the chicken a little Asian flair, but I didn't have time for a marinade, so I improvised.  I used Albukirky Green Chile Rub, which is Southwestern US, but with salt, pepper, chiles, and garlic, it isn't too big a stretch for Asian.  I took 1 tablespoon of the rub and added a 1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger and 1/4 teaspoon of Olde Virden's Spicy Verde for heat.  I seasoned two butterflied chicken breasts with that, and the flavor was passable as Asian.

My "weapon of choice" for this small cook was the Big Green Egg Mini-Max.  A small kamado (13-14") grill is perfect for small amounts like this, plus the grill heats up quickly and doesn't use much coal at all.  

My set up was a Kick Ash Basket full of Parker's Tennessee Hardwood Charcoal, a woo ring, and a stock BGE cast iron grate
I grilled the butterflied chicken breasts halves for about 6 minutes a side at 450°f until they registered 155°f on my Thermapen.  Butterflied thin like this, they will cook all the way through on the carryover cooking, so I pull them a bit early to keep them juicy.

So we made the salad as written and just topped it with this spicy grilled chicken.

I'm not a huge fan of cucumber, but this was surprisingly good.  I want to use the cucumber noodles and make some kind of gyro salad with some seasoned ground beef, shaved red onion, and tzatziki sauce.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Pepper Jack and Chili Juicy Lucy Burgers on the BGE Mini-Max

[FTC Standard Disclosure]  I received no compensation for this post.  I took a year off of sponsorships this year, but I still like to disclose that I have a close relationship with the Certified Angus Beef® Brand.

Last night, thunderstorms and hail were moving through our area while I grilled these knock-out Juicy Lucy style burgers stuffed with chili and pepper jack cheese. 

Juicy Lucy Style Certified Angus Beef Brand Burger Stuffed with Chili and Pepper Jack Cheese

I haven't done Juicy Lucy-style burgers in a month of Sundays.  The craving just hit me when I was standing at Food City looking at a pretty Certified Angus Beef® Brand chuck roast that was just begging to be fresh ground for burgers.

I've probably tried a dozen burger presses and Juicy Lucy tools.  In general, I find that just making patties by hand is the easiest way to go.  Just make two 3-4 ounce patties, put your cheese between them, and seal the edges.  But last night, I broke out the ol' Burger Pocket Press that I got years ago just for grins and giggles.  It actually does a good job, I just hate cleaning 4 pieces, that's the only downside.  Well, that and the cost.  No way it should cost $40.