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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Grilled Hasselback Potatoes

I have always been horrible with potatoes on the grill.  I have made many a foil wrapped package of sliced tater that came out one of three ways: too mushy, burnt, raw.  A few weeks ago, I had a request for a grilled spud that was not baked.  I wracking my brain for the next potentially disastrous foiled potato episode.  Then, I remembered Hasselback potatoes.  It has been many years since I have made these treats.  The Hasselback potato is kinda baked, yet nice and crispy.  So, I dug through the spud bin and pulled out two of the biggest red potatoes I could find and went to work.

After washing and drying the potatoes, I grabbed a knife and sharpened the blade for fine knife work.  I laid the potato on its side and started making slices about 3/4 of the way through the potato.  Each subsequent slice was as close to the last slice as I could make it and still make a slice.  We will say 1/8th inch slices overall.  The idea is to be able to fan the potato so that it can expand during the cooking process.  Here is what the potatoes looked like after slicing.


Next, I drizzled the potatoes with olive oil, making sure to coat the surface of the potato thoroughly and to also get as much of the oil between the slices as possible.  Then I seasoned them.  You can choose your seasonings to pair with your main course.  These spuds were sides for some nice steaks, so I added granulated garlic, onion powder, a bit of thyme, salt, and pepper.  You could also put some grated cheese on top if you like.  I have since I made these potatoes and it makes for a nice crispy cheese coating.


I placed the potatoes on indirect heat on my grill, put the lid on the grill, and walked away for 20 minutes.


After the first 20 minutes, I turned the potatoes 180 degrees and put the lid back on the grill and walked away for another 20 minutes.  Halfway through the cook, these potatoes were starting to look nice and brown.


After 40 minutes of total cook time, I placed the potatoes as far away from the fire as possible to keep them warm and grilled my steaks.

These potatoes were pretty good.  They were perfectly cooked the whole way through.  They also had that nice crispy coating on the outside.  I placed a dollop of sour cream on top of my potato.  I think I am done with foiled potatoes.


Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Smoking Bacon & Hog Cookbook - Award Winning Grilled Pork Chops

A month or so ago, the fine folks over at Page Street Publishing Co. sent me a copy of The Smoking Bacon & Hog Cookbook by Bill Gillespie.


Bill and his team Smokin' Hoggz BBQ, which also includes his wife Shaune and their friend Alan, are an accomplished competition BBQ team.  Over the years, they have won many competitions at both the regional and national level.  Signature wins include the American Royal Invitational and the Jack Daniels World Championship.  I have known Bill for about five years now.  We cross paths with him a few times a year on the KCBS competition trail.  He is a class act and knows how to BBQ.  If I had any problem with him, it is that he is a Patriots fan.  But, nobody can be perfect, right?

The sub title of the book states, "The Whole Pig & Nothing but the Pig BBQ Recipes."  After reading the table of contents, I think the only thing Bill hasn't covered is the Oink.  Recipes range from how to cook a whole hog, how to cure and smoke bacon plus numerous recipes that you can use with your bacon, how to make homemade sausage, and how to prepare and either smoke or grill ribs, chops, loins, hams, etc...  He even covers sauces, rubs, various types of hog breeds, smokers, and wood chip selection for any flavor you might be looking for in your smoked hog.  He's got you covered for sure.

One weekend, I was staring at some pork chops and was tired of the same old, same old.  After digging through the chop section, I was drawn to the Award-Winning Grilled Pork Chop recipe.  According to the book, this recipe was Bill's first first-place trophy in competition BBQ.  Could I go wrong?  Probably not.  After a quick check of the pantry, I confirmed that we had all of the ingredients.  Off to the kitchen we go...

Award-Winning Grilled Pork Chops by Bill Gillespie/Smokin' Hoggz

1 cup apple butter
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup Smokin' Hoggz All-Purpose Rub
4 double-boned pork chops, frenched (I used thick, single cut chops as it was all I had available)
1, 12 oz bottle of steak marinade.  I used the recommended Lawry's Steak & Chop Marinade

In a bowl, combine your first two wet ingredients and 1 tbsp of the rub, mix well, and set off to the side for use later.

Next, I placed the chops in a plastic bag along with the marinade and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.


The next day, I removed the chops from the marinade, patted dry, and applied a generous coating of the rub.


I let the chops sit at room temperature while I started a chimney of coals and set the grill up for indirect grilling (coals off to one side).  Allowing the chops to sit allowed the rub to adhere to the meat, forming a nice coating.


Next, I grilled the chops for three minutes a side over direct heat.  Then, I moved the chops into the indirect grilling zone and applied a generous coating of the sauce.  The lid was placed on the grill and the chops checked for temperature after 10 minutes of cooking.  The recipe calls for 20 minutes of cooking or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 145 F.  Since I only had thick, single cut chops, I kept a close eye on these chops.  After 10 minutes, they were around 130 F, so I applied a second coat of the sauce and covered the grill.  After about seven more minutes, I reached my target temperature of 145 F.


We sat down to dinner and dug into these great looking chops.  I was wary of how Hope would react as she is not a huge apple butter fan.  After about two bites, she declared these chops a success.  I would agree.  Tender, moist, and juicy, this chop recipe brings a lot of flavor to the table.  Count this recipe added to our do over list.

I can't wait to try some of the other recipes in this cookbook.  Everything looks very good.  This cookbook may even motivate me to purchase a meat grinder to make sausage.  If anyone out there is looking for a Fathers Day gift for the backyard BBQ enthusiast, this cookbook is just what you are looking for this year.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Roc City Rib Fest 2016 - Rochester, NY

Last weekend, the Three Dogs BBQ roadshow packed up the trailer and headed to the 2016 version of the Roc City Rib Fest in Rochester, New York.  This competition is one of our favorites for many reasons.  But, I would say one of the biggest reasons is that this competition is sort of like the Super Bowl for New York BBQ.  This test of a pit masters skills attracts top teams from all over New York, the Mid Atlantic, and Canada.  

Another wild card can be the weather.  Three years ago Roc City was a complete mud fest with rain dominating the weekend.  Last year was sunny, but it was so cold that dishwater was freezing in everyone's pans overnight.  This year?  Mother Nature dialed up an August weekend with temps in the shade running in the 90's and inside trailers at 100+.  Sports drinks and bottled water kept everyone going during the hot muggy days.  George was a trooper though, sleeping through the muggy days in the shade between his numerous drive-by pettings from passers by.


The KCBS competition was on Saturday night through Sunday afternoon, so the day on Saturday was spent catching up with friends, slowly prepping meats, building parsley boxes, and maybe pulling a prank or two on our unsuspecting Canadian friends.


So, after a long night and morning of cooking, it was time to turn in the boxes.  Here is the Lil General in action from Old Virginia Smoke.  Kim runs the boxes as Luke is definitely not built for speed.


Lets got to our boxes, shall we?


The chicken box above came in 19th out of 50.  This entry did win the "Table of Death"  this table was labeled the TOD as all entries scored no higher than our 19th place, with most scoring in the 30's.


Our rib box came in 19th overall.  This table consisted of scoring that was clumped between 19 and 30.


For every TOD, there is also a Table of Angels.  This pork box, while finishing third on the table came in eighth overall, with scores skewed toward the high end of the judging.


Finally, our brisket box.  What used to be our worst category is turning out to be our most improved this year.  This entry came in second overall, with scoring on the table being evenly distributed from top to bottom.

All of the above added up to a fourth place finish overall out of fifty teams.  To be honest with you, I was not expecting much after our cook.  Mostly because we have never been able to manage a call in any of our previous four times at Roc City.  Perhaps the hard work and practice is starting to pay off dividends.  We shall see as the season progresses.



Congrats to our Grand Champion, Insane Swine, owners of one of the best logos in competition BBQ.  Congrats also go out to Old Virginia Smoke, our Reserve Grand Champion.

Finally, we would again like to thank Brian, Kelly, and their entire crew for making Roc City run smoothly.  They always do a great job and this year was no exception.

Next up for Three Dogs BBQ is the Covington Cork and Pork Festival, in Covington, VA.  We hope to see you there.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Salt City BBQ Festival - Syracuse, NY

Last weekend, the Three Dogs BBQ Roadshow packed up the trailer and headed to Syracuse to compete in the Salt City BBQ Festival.  We were looking forward to this competition as this was our first New York competition of the year.  Since we mostly compete in New York, it was a chance to catch up with old friends after the long winter layover.



We were also looking forward to this weekend for a few other reasons as well.

First, it was mine and Hope's fifth wedding anniversary.  I had some friends order a surprise cake on the sly to surprise Hope.  We loved the design!  To top it off, the cake even had cannoli filling.


Second, we added a new member this year for some of our competitions.  Our friend Dennis was a man without a team this year.  So, when his schedule permits, he is cooking with the team.  Dennis, you were a big help this weekend and we are looking forward to the rest of the year.

Finally, if you read this blog, you know that we lost two of our furry kids this past year.  When looking for a new rescue, we decided that we wanted a younger dog that would be trainable so that we could bring them to a competition.  Well, we found that dog in George.  He is a Lab Pointer (?) mix that is almost five months old.  He was great over the weekend.  Well behaved, polite, and a heart breaker.  A Rock Star was born this past weekend.


So, after dinner and some social time, it was time to get down to the business of cooking the standard KCBS meats consisting of chicken, pork ribs, pork butt, and brisket.  Here were our boxes.





We were happy with everything we cooked.  The chicken flavor was outstanding if not a little ratty looking.  We moved to thighs this year and my trimming is a bit rusty.  I promise they will look better as the season moves on.  The ribs were confusing.  Once comment card said it was the best rib they had ever had.  But, another said they were undercooked with a strange flavor.  We were not happy with the pork.  These butts took forever to cook for some reason and did not have the proper amount of time to rest.  We had to hunt for acceptable pieces to place in our boxes.  Finally, the brisket.  this was our best category of the weekend from a scoring standpoint.  I also think that is the best looking brisket box we have ever built.

Overall, we finished 18th out of 32 teams.  Not our best showing, but not our worst either.  Time to tweak some things and get ready for this week at the Roc City Rib Fest in Rochester, NY.

We would be remiss if we did not thank the owner of the building where our trailer was parked.  Let's just say that while Salt City is a good competition, they are logistically challenged at times.  We were 400 feet from the nearest water with 100 feet of hose.  The gracious building owner allowed us to run a hose through his building so that we could find a water source that worked so we could fill out tanks.  Thank you very much!


Finally, congrats to The Basic BBQ Team, our Grand Champion and to Good Smoke, our Reserve Grand Champion.  Also, a shout out to Holy Smokes for the strong showing!

We will see everyone this weekend at Roc City.  Stop by and say hi to George.

Thanks for stopping by,

Bill