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Friday, August 22, 2014

Hudson Valley Ribfest 2014: NEBS Competition

Most BBQ competitions in New York are a two day affair.  One day is the traditional KCBS competition.  KCBS is the traditional smoked chicken, ribs, pork butt, and brisket.  Rules do not allow for much variation.  But, day two is usually a New England BBQ Society competition.  These contests consist of four entries that change from year to year and contest to contest.  Garnish is open and creativity is encouraged.  Basically, it is a throw down between teams.  Whose backyard recipe is the best.

While the KCBS part of the weekend was successful for us, NEBS was not so successful.  

The categories this year were Pizza,Wrapped in Bacon, Salmon, and Apple Dessert.  The Pizza and Apple Dessert categories are traditions at New Paltz.  The other two categories rotate from year to year.  

We were hopeful entering this contest.  But, success was not to be.  Why?  Keep on reading.

Our first entry was a Reuben Pizza.  Fresh made rye crust, Thousand Island dressing, homemade sauerkraut, corned beef, and shredded Jarlsberg cheese.  A delicious entry if I say so myself.

It was just not meant to be.  We were DQ'd for turning in 19 seconds late.  Why were were late?  Well, the clock the contest reps use is radio powered.  It syncs with the same time signal your cell phone gets.  Service is spotty in New Paltz and at the 8 am time check, my phone was a minute and a half fast.  No problem.  Mental note.  Someones clock must have found the signal along the way and synced to the correct time, hence we were late.  Our first DQ in three years.  It happens to the best of us and it was our fault for cutting it close.  My only comment is that there were five DQ's for late turn ins on Saturday.  It is rare to have one.  Five is unheard of in competition.  Who knows what happened.  Lesson learned.  

Our Wrapped in Bacon turn in was our Mega Meat Dog.  This time we used ground round, seasoned with brisket rub.  It looks quite good.

This box was 20th out of 27 teams.  The ground beef ended up a bit dry.  I think we will be retiring this recipe for competitions in the future.  

Next up was apple dessert.  We entered an Apple Bourbon Bread Pudding with Butterscotch Bourbon Sauce.  

We loved it.  The teams around us loved it.  The judges, not so much.  This entry came in 22nd.  Time to retire this recipe and go back to our Apple Blondies next year.  

The last entry of the day was our Grilled BBQ Steelhead Salmon.

We had a little bit of redemption on this entry.  Our salmon was good for 11th out of 27.  The skin did not get a crispy as I would have liked and I think it hurt us.  With some tweaks, I think we can do well with this in the future.  

Overall, we finished 26th.  While we did not fair well in the standings,we did have a fun day.  Our friend Ben who has moved to the area came up for the day to hang out with us and help when needed.  He was quite impressed at how serious the teams are that compete.  He thought we drank beer and cooked stuff on a Weber kettle grill.  Ben now has an appreciation for what competition teams do to succeed.  

Even though we did not do well, Ben did help us to be more stylish as you can see.  

Congrats to our Reserve Grand Champions Blazin' Butts and to our Grand Champions Good Smoke BBQ.  Brian and Kelly have been tearing up NEBS competitions this year.  We are going to have to make it a point to stop by their restaurant and sample their menu.  Keep up the good work!

Thanks for stopping by,


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hudson Valley Ribfest 2014: KCBS Competiton

The Three Dogs BBQ road show packed up and headed to New Paltz, NY this past weekend to compete in the Hudson Valley Ribfest for the weekend.

So, after picking up some provisions at Dave's Country Meats...

... and some other odds and ends, we hit the road for the long drive out east.

We were the first team on site Friday, so it was easy to back into our site.  Was this a good omen?

The smoke was rolling on Sunday morning...

And we had a rather large dancing chicken next to us as well.

How did we do?  Well, the scores tell the story.

In the "it tasted better than it looked" category was our chicken box.

I've never had so may legs with split skin.  These were our best looking six legs.  But, the taste and tenderness was good enough to net us a 9th place out of 60 teams.  A good start to the day.

Next up, our ribs.

We switched to baby backs for this competition and the change paid off for us.  We garnered our best KCBS score of the year, good enough for a 12th place.

Then, the pork box...

We should not have put the money muscle in the box.  It was underdone.  But, my heart won out over my brain and we paid for the decision.  We took 45th place with this box.  Lesson learned.

Finally, our brisket.

After a bit of struggling this year, we changed our cooking method this time around and it helped for sure.  This box came in 7th.  Add it all up and we came in 17th place overall out of 60 teams.  Our pork definitely kept us out of the top ten and maybe even the top five.  It was just not to be.  What can you do?

Hudson Valley was our first competition in 2011.  This competition holds a special place in our heart since it was our first.  Also, Rolf and Stephanie do a wonderful job organizing this competition.  Keep up the good job guys.

Finally, congrats to all who walked.  Team Eatapedia, nice to see you end your mini slump and Shortsville Smokers on their top 10 overall.  Also, big congrats to our Grand Champion Ack-Que and Reserve Grand Champion Blazin Butts BBQ.

We are already planning our trip for next year.  See you then.

Thanks for stopping by,


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Grilled Flank Steak with Orange-Ginger Marinade

We are currently running a Chest Freezer Dysfunctional Inventory Reduction Project.  I found this steak towards the bottom of the freezer.  Bingo.  Dinner!  We love flank steak around here.  Our butcher always has good looking steaks of high quality and low fat.  So, whenever he has them on sale, we stock up for those nights when we are looking for some good beef without all the fat.  The only problem is that a flank steak can turn into shoe leather if not cooked properly.  A good marinade is the solution.

I am partial to Asian flavors when cooking flank steak.  I just like how the Asian flavor mingles with that rich beefy taste.  Today, we are looking at a concoction with orange and ginger flavors.

First, I thawed the steak, rinsed well, and patted dry...

Then, I mixed my marinade:

1/2 cup Orange Juice (the acid helps to break down the proteins in the meat, helping to tenderize)
1/4 cup of Moores Beef Marinade.  We like this as it is one of the lower salt marinades on the market.  Soy sauce will work here as well.
1 Tbsp of Garlic Ginger paste.  Available at any Indian market.
1 Tbsp of Sesame Oil

I whisked it all together and combined in a plastic bag with my steak...

Every time I walked into the kitchen I flipped the bag over to ensure an even marinade.  The longer you let the meat sit in the marinade, more flavor will be imparted in the end product and the meat will be  more tender.  This one marinaded for about 5 hours.

To cook, I got a screaming hot grill and placed the steak directly over the coals.  I closed the lid, then flipped after 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes on the second side, I pulled from the grill and let the steak rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes before slicing...

Still medium in the middle.  I could have pulled this one a little earlier.  But, still moist and tender with hints of orange, garlic, and ginger.  We served this with a side of ginger accented rice pilaf.

For the pilaf, I sauteed sweet onion and celery in some olive oil, then added 1/2 tsp of ground ginger powder to the saute at the end...

This mixture was placed in 2 cups of beef broth and 1 cup of uncooked rice.  Brought to a boil, covered the pot, and simmered for 20 minutes..

While the rice was cooking, I lightly toasted some pine nuts in a skillet on low heat.  You do not need to add oil to the skillet, but you do need to keep your eye on them so they do not burn...

When the rice was cooked, I added the toasted pine nuts and served with the sliced flank steak...

Thanks for stopping by...


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Feta Cheese with Pickled Banana Peppers

John Thomson is the pit master for Team Eatapedia, a competition BBQ team based in Ottawa Canada.  He was preparing a wide range of bacon dishes for his appearance in BaconFest that was held in Ottawa a few weeks ago.  In the interest of public health, one of Team Eatapedia's offerings was a bacon wrapped cheese curd.  In this evil concoction a cheese curd, not known as low fat by any stretch of the imagination, was wrapped with bacon and then smoked until the cheese was gooey and the bacon was crispy.  My heart skipped a beat just looking at the picture.  It was a sheer genius pairing of porky goodness and creamy dairy.  I wanted to try this creation at home as a smoky treat.  Unfortunately, I have no idea where to find cheese curds in the Pittsburgh area, other than at an A&W where they are battered and deep fried.  So, I did a little research on what cheeses have a high melt point.  After scanning my options, I settled on feta cheese.  Creamy, tangy, and a very high melt point.  Perfect for my little experiment.

First, I purchased a block of feta and measured out my cube width before cutting with a strip of bacon.

I cut off my row, then cut into cubes that would accommodate one strip of bacon.

I placed my feta cube on one end of the bacon, topped with a pickled slice of banana pepper, rolled up, and held it all in place with a toothpick.

I placed these future nuggets of joy on a wire rack, then placed on the middle rack of my smoker.  The smoker temperature was 225 F and I had some hickory wood in my ash pan for some flavor.  Then, I cooked until the bacon was crispy.

One hour:

Two hours:

Done, about two and a half hours.

The cheese was hot and creamy on the inside.  The feta also formed a nice smoky crust on the exposed edges.  The banana pepper added some acid that helped to cut through the creaminess of the cheese and a nice spicy bite as well.  The bacon brought it all together like a nice crispy bow.  This appetizer will be making frequent appearances in the future when our smoker is chugging along on those long cooks.  Thanks for the idea John!

Thanks for stopping by,