Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Event Announcement: UT Institute of Agriculture to host Smoking School

 [FTC Standard Disclosure] We received no compensation for this post and paid full price for our admission tickets.

University of Tennessee's Institute of Agriculture is hosting its first Smoking School on June 19th, 2021. It will be held at the arena for the Brehm Animal Science Building. 

  • The school will be taught by George Ewart. George is an architect in Knoxville, he is the co-owner of Dead End BBQ and his team won the Tennessee State BBQ Championship in 2007-2008. 
  • Sponsors include Tennessee Beef Council, Tennessee Pork Producers Association, Bush's Beans, and Dead End BBQ
  • The class will cover brisket and pork ribs, but I know George will also likely cover sides as well.
  • The class costs $100 per person and there are only 50 spots available.

Here are the details from the school:

Sunday, April 11, 2021

FAQ: Replacing the Bands on a Large Big Green Egg

 [FTC Standard Disclaimer] We received no compensation for this post.

I got a brand new Big Green Egg!

Replacing the bands on a large Big Green Egg

Not really, but it does feel like a brand new Big Green Egg. In reality, I replaced the bands and hinges on both of our large Big Green Eggs.

This isn't a tutorial; rather, it is just my experience replacing the bands and hinges on our Big Green Eggs. For an excellent tutorial, use the one that I used - Jay Wilson's Big Green Egg New Style Band Installation. 

Are Bands Covered by the Warranty?

By the time you need it? Not likely. People often hear "lifetime warranty" about the Big Green Egg, but that's leaving out the keyword "limited." Here's what the BGE warranty says about the bands and other metal components:

Source: as of 04/10/2021

The good news is, I've owned 3 Big Green Eggs, and none of them have had band issues in the first five years. The downside is that if you need your bands replaced, they are likely out of warranty.

"The Big Green Egg makes every effort to utilize materials that resist rust..."
You know I'm a huge fan of Big Green Egg but I have to call them out on this one.
Several competing brands, like Grill Dome and Vision Grills, use stainless steel bands. This Vision Grills was the third kamado that we bought, and it is still rust-free. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Fire Roasted Whole Chicken on the Big Green Egg

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

This was one of the best yardbirds I've cooked in quite a while; it was juicy, well-seasoned, and had a crispy skin.

Whole chicken grilled on the big green egg
Spatchcocked chicken roasting "raised-direct" on a large Big Green Egg.

This isn't a recipe post, rather just a quick report about what I did, which wasn't a lot: no dry brining, no injections, no fiddling around with it. 

Smoked chicken leg with Denny Mike's Chick Magnet and Harold's Hog Wash sauce
Chick Magnet Chicken with a drizzle of Harold's Hog Wash mustard-based BBQ sauce.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Loaded Black Bean Dip

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

Even though my time lost in the first round this year, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching the NCAA tournament the past few weeks. We've been grilling up a lot of tasty game-day food like this Loaded Black Bean Dip. 

Loaded Black Bean Dip with homemade tortilla chips
Loaded Black Bean Dip with Homemade white corn tortilla chips.

I got the idea from this recipe from Eating Well magazine but called an audible on the ingredients based on what I had. For ours, we used:
  • Black beans, cooked and smashed with garlic salt, cumin, coriander, 
  • fire-roasted poblano, peeled and diced
  • fire-roasted yellow corn
  • cherry tomatoes, cut in 8ths and seasoned with fine salt
  • diced red onion
  • fire-roasted bell pepper
  • green onions
  • Pepper jack cheese

It really isn't much of a recipe rather just the general idea.  Here's the video from the cook, it pretty much explains everything.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken Pitas with Greek Relish

[FTC Standard Disclaimer]  We received no compensation for this post. Any Amazon Affiliate link for which I will earn a commission will be labeled [Amazon Affiliate link]. 

The spring rains were relentless this weekend but I managed to dodge the showers, lightning storms, and flash floods long enough to make these audaciously flavored chicken pitas. The brightly seasoned chicken and pungently flavored relish rock this dish.

Recipe for Grilled Lemon Oregano Chicken Pitas

I knew the storms were going to be coming in wave after wave, so I intentionally chose a fast grilling protein.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Cheddar Jack Double Stack Smash Burger Sliders

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

East Tennessee was blessed with sunshine and brilliant blue skies this past weekend so we decided to do our first big BBQ of the year. After a day of shopping and prepping brisket, pork, and chicken, Alexis and I realized that it was 4pm and we hadn't had breakfast or lunch. We were getting on the edge of hangry, something HAD to be done.

Fortunately, it is our "cheat day" so we made these killer Cheddar Jack Smash Burger Sliders on one of our Big Green Eggs.

Cheddar Jack Smash Burgers Sliders on the Big Green Egg kamado grill

Tips for Making Smash Burgers

  • Preheat. Whether you are using a grill, flat-top griddle, or skillet, preheat it thoroughly. The air temp of your grill gets to 450°f a lot faster than the metal will, so give it time.
  • Fresh is best. Use the freshest ground chuck you can get, it makes a difference. My Food City grinds beef in-store a few times a day. Some places ship it out to the store already ground up.
  • Thin is in. Use a thin, metal spatula (Amazon Affiliate link), sometimes called a "fish or filet spatula". It makes scraping under and flipping the burger easier and it helps keep your cast-iron cookware clean.

Cheddar Jack Double Stack Smash Burger Sliders

Published 03/22/2021

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Eight New BBQ and Grilling Books That You Will Want for Summer 2021

[FTC Standard Disclosure] I receive review copies of many BBQ and grilling cookbooks each year; however, none of them are guaranteed coverage and we don't accept any compensation from the publisher other than the review copy (typically, only in PDF format). The links given are Amazon Affiliate links so I will receive compensation if you purchase through Amazon.

There are eight new BBQ and grilling books on my radar for this summer. That's a lot since I'm a jaded, grizzled BBQ veteran and usually, there are only 3 or 4 books each year that catch my interest. 

To be clear, I have not yet checked these books out, except for BBQ Revolution. These are books that I am interested in based on a combination of:

  • Author's reputation in the industry
  • Experience with author's previous works
  • Experience with author's body of work
Here are the eight new BBQ and grilling books that I want to check out this summer. I am listing them in order of release date.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Shaved Steak Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry on the Big Green Egg

 [FTC Standard Disclosure] We received no compensation for this post

This Beef and Broccoli was one of the most delicious ones that we have done. We had the leftovers last night, and they were even better with a healthy dose of sriracha.

Shaved steak beef and broccoli on the Big Green Egg kamado grill

Stir-frying is an easy, quick, and generally healthier way to prepare food which fits our current goal of trying to lose those extra pounds we picked up during the pandemic. I cooked this on one of our Big Green Eggs, but these tips apply to stir-frying in general.

Stir-Frying Reminders

  • High heat - Chances are that you aren't cooking your stir fry hot enough. Commercial wok burners can run at 200,000 BTU while home ranges usually run from 15,000 to 20,000 BTU. Don't be bashful with the heat; it's almost impossible to stir-fry too hot at home.
  • Velvet your meat - Don't skip this preparation. It takes 45 minutes, but it ensures your meat is silky and doesn't dry out. You coat your meat with a mix of corn starch, rice wine vinegar, and egg whites and let it rest. Then you partially cook the meat before the stir-frying begins.
  • Parboil or steam hard vegetables - Firm vegetables, such as; broccoli, carrot, or daikon, benefit from being parboiled or pre-steamed and then shocking them with frigid water. 
  • Use dry ingredients - Wet ingredients will cause your stir fry to look dull/slimy and be mushy. Take a moment to pat any wet/damp ingredients with a paper towel.
  • Don't crowd the wok. Like with any cooking vessel, overcrowding will cause the food to steam instead of roasting, stir-frying, etc.

Shaved Steak Beef and Broccoli


Monday, March 8, 2021

Blue Cheese Burger with Deep Fried Asparagus

 [FTC Standard Disclosure] I received a package full of Bertolino Foods products as a thank you for some of the posts I have done about their shaved steak. No money exchanged hands and I'm under no obligation to post this. 

Last week I was happy to find a cooler full of Bertolino Foods beef products on my doorstep. It was loaded with their shaved steak and several of their gourmet burger patties. There were many varieties of burger patties and this weekend I decided to try their blue cheese burgers.

Typically, you'll see these on a menu or recipe as "black and blue" burgers but I wanted to try something a little different. I wanted something that reminded me of a wonderful steakhouse burger and came up with this...

Gourmet blue cheese burger with deep fried asparagus
Gourmet Blue Cheese Burger with deep-fried asparagus and dijon-mayo on a brioche bun.

We freaking LOVE crispy, deep-fried asparagus as a side so why not put it on a burger, right? They were fantastic. It had the delicious flavor of blue cheese, the crunch of the asparagus, and the rich dijon-mayo brought it all together. 

This was pretty straightforward, here is what we did, starting with the asparagus.

Deep-Fried Asparagus

Published 03/08/2021

Friday, March 5, 2021

Green and Black Porterhouse on the Big Green Egg Mini-Max

 [Standard FTC Disclaimer] We received no compensation for this post. Product links may be Amazon Affiliate links.

I tried something a lil' different with a porterhouse this past week. I dry brined it with black salt and green peppercorns.

Green and Black Porterhouse Steak

Why black salt and green peppercorns? 


Hawaiian black lava salt and green peppercorns. If I have to tell you which is which....

  • Hawaiian Black Lava Sea Salt - It is made by mixing activated coconut charcoal with sea water, to create large, flavorful crystals. While there are health benefit claims, to be honest, they sound like a bit of a stretch to me.It tastes like premium sea salt with a slightly smoky finish.  I typically use it as a finishing salt for its dramatic appearance. 
  • Green peppercorns - These are the same thing as black peppercorns, the immature fruit from the piper nigrum plant, only picked earlier than the black ones. The result is a fruitier taste and a milder sting or heat. 

Here is what I did for this steak. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Antipasto Flatbread on the Big Green Egg

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

Alexis and I have been on an antipasto flatbread binge this year. This delicious and easy-to-make flatbread is loaded with artichoke hearts, olives, red onion, roasted red pepper, sliced pepperoncini, grilled chicken, a light amount of cheese, and a sun-dried tomato pesto for the sauce.

Antipasto flatbread pizza on the Big Green Egg

I was inspired by the December issue of Eating Well's Antipasto Sliders.  They were a vegetarian spin on those ham and cheese sliders that you make with pull-apart rolls. We made them as written and they were good but I couldn't help but think they'd be even better with a sun-dried tomato pesto so we made another version of them. The sliders are an excellent idea for heavy hors d'oeuvres.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Event Preview: Mini-Fest at Tuckaway Shores Resort - Indialantic FL

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

When I first started out on my BBQ journey, it was the early days of online communities. Instead of social media, #hashtags, and trending, groups of enthusiasts gathered on bulletin boards and forums like a clan of cavemen gathered around a fire in a cave. On the original Big Green Egg Forum, I heard tales of a private gathering of Eggheads (Big Green Egg aficionados) spending a weekend at a beachfront motel cooking great food for each other. 

Because of demand, it was a hard invite to get but I knew that one day, I would get to this legendary Mini-Fest. That finally happened in 2019 and I loved every minute of it. I thought I would preview the 2021 Mini-Fest since it was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The Mini-Fest is a weekend-long, end-of-the-Eggfest-season celebration. It is a small group, mostly of long-time Eggfest cooks, that gets together to close out the season.

Differences Between an Eggfest and the Mini-Fest.

Regular Eggfests are awesome. At these regional events, a local distributor and/or organizer hosts an event where teams of Eggheads grill up their best foods to serve to ticket-buying crowds. You can buy demo eggs and eggcessories onsite. Typically the ticket proceeds go to a local charity. They are a ton of fun for the cooks and crowds.

Mini-Fest is different on a number of fronts.

  • It's all about cooking and eating. Mini-Fest is an organic event created by and for Eggheads solely for the purpose of cooking together and for each other. No raffles, no sales, and no stress. 
  • No crowds. The only people you are cooking for is fellow cooks. 
  • Mini-Fest lasts for the entire weekend, morning, noon, and night.
  • No schedule of events. It's just a weekend of freestyle cooking. People cook what they want, when they want, and there is always something to eat.
  • No teams, no competition. This is just individuals cooking for other people. There is a ton of collaboration and sharing. "You've got scallops? I've got some beef tenderloin trimmings. Want to make a surf and turf appetizer for everyone?"
  • Fewer Eggs. Because there is no regional distributor with a supply of demo grills, there are only a handful of users' Big Green Eggs on hand but everyone shares and there's always a grill you can use.
Scallops searing in a cast-iron skillet on a BGE Mini-Max.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Dirty Rice with Cajun Chicken (RIP Popeye's Cajun Rice)

 [FTC Standard Disclaimer] We received no compensation for this post. We may use Amazon Affiliates links for products or supplies mentioned.

This weekend, Alexis and I made Cajun Chicken with our quick and easy dirty rice recipe.

We made it because we learned from Southern Living this weekend that Popeye's has discontinued their Dirty Rice, aka Cajun Rice. 

This has long been a personal favorite of mine, as well as Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza, which was also recently dropped from their menu. I mean, I don't eat much fast food anyway, but with these establishments dropping my favorites, I'm starting to take it a bit personally (haha). 

Fortunately, both of these dishes are easy to make at home, and I've had "sort of clone recipes" for years. Here is our version of Dirty Rice. It's not an exact clone; it is more an "inspired by" type thing. 

Dirty Rice recipe similar to Popeye's Cajun Rice

This version has a mild heat to it from the Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning. If you can't tolerate much heat, then drop the Cajun Seasoning to 1/2 teaspoon. If you want more heat, use spicy sausage, increase the Slap Ya Mama, or swap jalapeno peppers for the green bell pepper.

You'll need to cook the rice in a covered pot, so use a large, lidded chef's pan or pot. I used my All-Clad Hard-Anodized 12" chef's pan, but I've also made this in a 3-quart pot as well.

Dirty Rice (aka Cajun Rice)

Friday, January 29, 2021

Gochujang Pork Chops with Noodle Stir Fry

 [FTC Standard Disclaimer]  We receive no compensation for this post. We may use Amazon Affiliate links when linking products or supplies used.

I'm by no means an expert in Asian cuisine but I sure like to dabble in it. Case in point, these pork chops with a compound butter featuring the amazing spicy, umami, and slightly sweet flavors of gochujang that we made last year. 

Gochujang pork chops with noodle stir fry

If you're not familiar with it, gochujang is a Korean condiment made with fermented bean paste, chiles, and rice. It is often lumped in with sriracha, sambal oelek, and garlic chile paste. They are all similar and based on red chiles, but I find that they each have their own unique taste and texture. For me, gochujang has more of the umami flavor.

I use the compound butter in the sous vide pack and in the stir fry. But the best part is using the butter at the end, letting it melt its deliciousness all over the juicy pork chop.

Gochujang pork chops with noodle stir fry
The gochujang butter is an avalanche of lusciousness and flavor.

Choosing A Wok For The Grill

Monday, January 18, 2021

Shaved Steak Gyros on the Big Green Egg

[FTC Standard Disclaimer] We received no compensation for this post. Links for referenced equipment may include Amazon Affiliate links.  
I love gyros. A pita stuffed with the heavily seasoned, mildly spicy lamb/beef mixture topped with a creamy, aromatic tzatziki sauce is Nirvana to my palate.  

Quick and easy shaved steak gyros on the Big Green Egg
Shaved steak gyros topped with tzatziki sauce.

To me, the only downside is that the process is time-consuming and usually requires that I start one day ahead of time. I have to find lamb, grind it with beef and seasonings, and then let it rest for a day before cooking.

Quick and Easy Solution

This is another case where the Bertolino's Certified Angus Beef® Brand shaved steak from Food City comes in handy. With a hefty dose of Greek seasoning, it tastes pretty darn close to my usual gyros with hardly any work, and I can have them ready within 30 minutes. So far, I have used this shaved steak in fajitas, stir-fry, cheesesteak sandwiches, and now gyros.

cooking Shaved steak gyros in a Griswold skillet on a Big Green Egg
Cooking shaved steak gyros in an 80-year-old Griswold skillet on a large Big Green Egg. You can see a Kick Ash Basket down there in the glowing coals; that one is 6 years old and holding up well.

Stovetop, Skillet, or Griddle

To be honest, I don't think doing this on the grill adds anything to the recipe; it's just a matter of preference. This recipe works well in a skillet on the grill, on the stovetop, or using a flattop griddle. 

Leftover Gyro Salad

If you have leftovers, this makes for an excellent salad as well. Just put the meat, seasoned onion, and tomato on a bed of mixed greens. Then you can thin the tzatziki with some buttermilk, lemon juice, or stock to make the salad dressing.

Shaved steak gyros with tzatziki sauce

Monday, January 4, 2021

Reverse-Seared Tomahawk Ribeye on the Big Green Egg

[FTC Standard Disclosure] We received no compensation for this post. I may use Amazon Affiliate links when referencing equipment.

We started off 2021 with a thick, juicy tomahawk ribeye steak that I dry-brined and then reverse-seared on one of my large Big Green Eggs. 

How I Reverse Sear Tomahawk ribeye steaks on the Big Green Egg kamado grill
Tomahawk ribeye steak with Worcestershire and shallot salt.

Being quite thick, there is a lot of meat that doesn't get touched by seasoning during cooking, so after slicing this behemoth steak, I seasoned it with homemade Worcestershire and shallot salt. A good finishing salt like this makes the flavor pop.

This isn't a recipe post; it's more about the process. Here's what we did on New Year's Day.